Tag Archives: National Marine Fisheries Service

Trump Admin Won’t List Non-Endangered Tuna As An Endangered Species

The Trump administration declined a petition to list the Pacific bluefin tuna as “endangered” Tuesday after the Department of Commerce (DOC) found that the fish was not facing any significant threat of extinction. A petition from the Center of Biological Diversity to list the fish under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) triggered the Commerce Department’s review. The review began under former President Barack Obama, and lasted for 12 months before the DOC’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued its findings, according to the notice published in the Federal Register. The Center for Biological Diversity claimed the tuna was at risk of extinction, based on findings by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). click here to read the story 20:01

NMFS Requests Comment on a Change to Bluefin Regulations

NOAA is seeking public comment regarding a request from the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance for an exemption from a regulation that prohibits having unauthorized gear on board while fishing for, retaining, or possessing a bluefin tuna. In their application, the Alliance suggest that the use of electronic monitoring, already required by federal fishing authorities is a sufficient at-sea monitoring to verify that the catch of bluefin tuna occurred on authorized gear.,,, The National Marine Fisheries Service is accepting public comment on the matter. Comments must be received by August 1, 2017, and may be submitted online. click here to read the story 15:09

Lawsuit seeks to protect whales, turtles from California gillnets

Oceana filed a lawsuit seeking to force U.S. fisheries managers to implement plans for restricting the number of whales and turtles permitted to be inadvertently snared in drift gillnets used for catching swordfish off California’s coast. The proposed rule, endorsed in 2015 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, would place numerical limits on “bycatch” of whales and other marine creatures, and suspend swordfish gillnet operations if any of the caps are exceeded.  The regulation was expected to gain final approval from the National Marine Fisheries Service. But it was withdrawn last month after the Commerce Department agency determined the cost to the commercial fishing industry outweighed conservation benefits, agency spokesman Michael Milstein said on Thursday. click here to read the story 17:11 Geoff Shester, a senior scientist at Oceana, who was “furious” when he found out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had decided to against adopting the rule. (lmao!) click here to read 17:13

Time is running out to protect the Atlantic coast from Seismic Testing for oil exploration

President Trump recently proclaimed that his administration is seeking “American energy dominance.” The reality is we’re already there. The United States produces more natural gas and oil than any other nation. We do import about 25% of our oil needs mostly from Canada and Mexico. However, that’s only because we export about one million gallons a week of the type of domestically produced oil we don’t want. The U.S. is beholding to no other country for our energy security.,,, The government estimates that up to 138,000 whales and dolphins could be injured or harassed if seismic airgun blasting was allowed in the Atlantic.,,, The government doesn’t even try to estimate the number of fish and invertebrates killed or harassed due to seismic airgun blasting. Ironically, in spite of its name the federal agency that approves applications for seismic testing, the National Marine Fisheries Service, requires absolutely no procedures to reduce the destructive impact of airguns on fish and invertebrates like squid. click here to read the op-ed 08:15

Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling renews push against seismic testing as a deadline nears

Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling has formally opposed federal permits that would allow companies conducting seismic testing to harass marine life as a byproduct of the process. A public comment period seeking input on the authorizations ends Thursday. Five companies have applied to use seismic air guns to survey the Atlantic Ocean for potential oil and gas deposits. Seismic testing requires separate approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the companies “to incidentally, but not intentionally, harass marine mammals.” The proposed testing would violate federal law by affecting more than a small number of animals and would have more than the “negligible impact” required for the authorizations,, click here to read the story 17:26

Rutherford, others sign letter opposing Atlantic coast seismic testing for oil exploration

The same day that President Donald Trump touted new energy policies during a speech at the U.S. Department of Energy that he said were part of a “golden era of American energy,” Rep. John Rutherford’s office released a letter signed by him more and than 100 other members of Congress that voiced opposition to the use of a controversial oil and gas exploration technique off the Atlantic Coast. “We are writing in strong opposition to your recent secretarial order to move forward with offshore oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic Ocean,” the letter, signed by members of both parties and addressed to Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, began. “Offshore oil and gas exploration, the first step of which is seismic air gun testing, puts at risk coastal economies based on fishing, tourism, and recreation,” it said before asking Zinke not to issue any permits for the surveys. click here to read the story 09:10

NMFS Proposes State Water Exemptions for Scallop Fisheries in Maine and Massachusetts

The National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking comment on a proposed rule that would revise the State Waters Exemption Program under the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan. Under this proposed rule, vessels holding both a Massachusetts state scallop permit and either a Limited Access General Category (LAGC) Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) or LAGC Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Federal scallop permit could continue to fish in state waters once the Federal Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the NGOM Management Area has been fully harvested. This action would also modify the State Waters Exemption for Maine, which already has this exemption for vessels holding state scallop permits and LAGC NGOM permits, to include vessels that have both a state scallop permit and an LAGC IFQ permit. Read the notice in the Federal Register 12:17

The “Redheaded Stepchild of Fishing” – Controversial drift-gill net fishery wins long-fought battle

Federal fishery managers denied a proposal this week to immediately shut down Southern California’s most controversial fishery in the event that wide-mesh gill nets accidentally kill a handful of certain marine mammals or sea turtle species. The swordfish and thresher shark fishery will remain open, even if it kills several whales or sea turtles, the NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries decided. The decision not to institute so-called hard caps on the fishery comes after a public review period initiated last year was extended to discuss the law proposed by the state’s Pacific Fishery Management Council in 2014. For the few dozen fishers who still catch swordfish and thresher sharks off Southern California in deep-water drift gill nets, the decision brought a big sigh of relief.  click here to read the story 08:38

US cancels new protection for endangered West Coast whales

The Trump administration on Monday threw out a new rule intended to limit the numbers of endangered whales and sea turtles getting caught in fishing nets off the West Coast, even though the fishing industry had proposed the measure. The National Marine Fisheries Service said it decided the new protection was not warranted. The action is one of the first by the Trump administration targeting protections for threatened species off the Pacific coast, said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity conservation group. The regulation was designed to reduce the numbers of humpback whales, leatherback sea turtles and other large creatures that accidentally become tangled in mile-long nets set adrift by commercial fishermen overnight to catch swordfish off California and Oregon. click here to read the article  (read between the lines, folks) 18:00

 

We must fight any plan to drill off the Jersey Shore

Drilling for oil and natural gas off the coast of New Jersey is a bad idea that never goes away.,,, Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, oil companies actually drilled exploratory wells off Atlantic City. They didn’t find significant enough deposits to continue the effort. But here we are again. New Jersey’s two U.S. senators and House members from coastal districts are opposing the latest push for offshore drilling, just as they have done every time this issue has bubbled to the surface, no matter their party. And the argument — a good one — against offshore drilling is always the same: Why endanger the state’s $44 billion-a-year tourism industry and the 500,000 jobs it supports? Half of that revenue is generated from counties along the coast. Offshore drilling could also threaten the state’s $7.9 billion-a-year fishing industry and the 50,000 jobs it creates. click here to read the story 17:54

Advancing fishing rule aims to protect deep-sea coral in New England waters

Fishing trawlers bring in an average of $6.4 million annually to Bay State ports from fish scooped off seabeds 600 meters or more below the surface of New England waters. In an effort to save coral on the ocean floor, the New England Fisheries Management Council is advancing a proposed restriction on draggers and trawlers fishing at those depths. The council’s Habitat Committee signed off Tuesday on the proposal, which affect fishing operations in a roughly 25,000 square mile area. If it is passed by the full council it would need to go through the National Marine Fisheries Service, also known as NOAA Fisheries, before it would go into effect. Environmental groups Wild Oceans, Earthjustice, Pew Charitable Trusts and Conservation Law Foundation urged the council’s scientists to study an alternative proposal, which they said would protect more coral than the plan the council advanced. The council agreed to study the conservation groups’ proposal. click here to read the story 16:30

Coastal Alabama Rep. slams NOAA ‘junk science’ behind shortest red snapper season ever

Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne shares the frustration of most in his district when it comes to the federal government’s overregulation of red snapper fishing. According to him, Coastal Alabamians are infuriated over the announcement that the much-anticipated red snapper season will only last a pitifully short three days. He believes they have a right to be mad. “[My constituents] have every reason to be outraged, because they have a right to fish in the waters of the United States, and they’re being deprived of that right by junk science. Put junk science in, you’re going to get a bad result out, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here,” Rep. Byrne said. Every year, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announces how long the fishing season will last based on the size and stock of red snapper fish. click here to read the story 13:45

As I see It: More US action required on New England fishery – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva

On March 30, Carlos Rafael – the infamous “Codfather” of New Bedford, Massachusetts – pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges.,,, His fraud in mislabeling nearly 800,000 pounds of fish to evade quotas on cod, flounder and sole was so massive that scientific studies using the misreported landings may have to be scrapped, adding additional uncertainty to a fishery that has been teetering on the edge of complete collapse for decades.,,, The Fisheries Service must also start saying ‘no’ to the New England Fishery Management Council, a regional regulatory body that includes many industry representatives.,,,It’s time to end the convenient and false narratives that blame science-based fisheries regulations and ocean conservation initiatives, such as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument on the edge of the continental shelf off Cape Cod, for problems they did not create. Click here to read the op-ed 09:41

PFMC OKs new electronic fisheries monitoring system for certain West Coast groundfish fisheries

The Pacific Fishery Management Council on April 27 recommended new regulations governing the use of electronic equipment to monitor at-sea discards of target, non-target and prohibited fish for certain West Coast groundfish fisheries. If approved by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), this will mark the culmination of a four-year process to develop and implement regulations for electronic monitoring system use in these fisheries. Under the council’s catch share program, every vessel must carry a human observer to help monitor catch that is allocated to each vessel owner, including discards that happen at sea. click here to read the story 18:31

A Hudson Canyon-sized power struggle is developing 100 miles off N.J.’s coast

In November 2016, the Wildlife Conservation Society nominated Hudson Canyon to be designated a National Marine Sanctuary. The WCS selected the canyon, the largest submarine crevice on the Atlantic Coast, due to its wide biodiversity. The canyon is home to more than 20 protected species, including the North Atlantic right whale, according to the conservation group. “This is a canyon the scale of the Grand Canyon,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, the Vice President of the WCS and the director of the New York Aquarium. “It seemed like something that could really benefit from awareness and protection.” But commercial fishermen see this as the latest in a series of moves that could lead to increased fishing restrictions from the Gulf of Maine to the Gulf of Mexico. Commercial fishermen in New Jersey fear losing access to a profitable fishing ground. According the Greg DiDomenico, the executive director of the Garden State Seafood Association, click here to read the story 09:54

South Shore lobstermen dismayed by failed bid for longer season

Lobstermen are busy loading their boats with traps and buoys and getting their gear back in the water after a three-month closure lifted this week for most of the South Shore. But Marshfield lobsterman John Haviland said he is starting the season feeling more disenchanted than ever after federal regulators turned down a proposal to allow lobstermen to fish year-round with a new rope line designed to reduce the chance of entangling endangered whales. “I’m disappointed that we put three years worth of research and meetings into trying to do the right thing, and it was not successful,” Haviland, president of the South Shore Lobster Fishermen’s Association, said. “It makes you question if you should keep doing the one thing you’ve always done.” Since 2015, federal regulations have banned the use of lobstering equipment from Feb. 1 to April 30 off Cape Cod Bay and beyond, shutting down the local industry for the winter. The goal is to reduce the chances of whales becoming entangled in the gear. click here to read the article 12:09

What’s next for Carlos Rafael’s fishing permits?

New Bedford – Almost a week ago, City Council members asked for their names to be attached to a late file agenda pertaining to Carlos Rafael’s groundfish permits. Behind Ward 4 Councilor Dana Rebeiro, Council President Joseph Lopes and Ward 5 Councilor Kerry Winterson, the council requested “that the Committee on Internal Affairs meet with Attorney General Maura Healey and NOAA to discuss how current owners and mariners operating in New Bedford have the first right of refusal to acquire licenses to be auctioned as result of the plea agreement in the case of The United States vs. Carlos Rafael… The written motion was a bit premature. Following Thursday’s council meeting, Rebeiro acknowledged the measure was “to get ahead of the ball” in terms of where the permits may land. So what’s next? click here to read the story 19:11

New Bedford among crowd staking claim to Carlos Rafael’s permits

Before Carlos Rafael uttered the word “guilty” last month, the judge made the New Bedford fishing mogul aware of the possibility of forfeiting his assets, which means permits, too. About two months remain before Rafael’s sentencing date, but cities and states have started to acknowledge that possibility as well. “The goal for me is to get ahead of the ball to make partnerships with people that have the same interests, which is keeping the licenses local,” Ward 4 Councilor Dana Rebeiro said. John Pappalardo and Maggie Raymond, the executive director of Associated Fisheries of Maine, expect the status of Rafael’s permits to be decided on the sentencing date. Still, Raymond is already lobbying for any forfeited permit to go to Maine. click here to read the story 08:16

The Plight of ‘Fish Delight’

It’s the kind of headline meant to grab the attention of the president: “Say Goodbye to the Filet-O-Fish.” The New York Times op-ed by Bren Smith, Sean Barrett, and Paul Greenberg warned that the proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had implications for the pollock, the fish used in McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish, which Trump has lovingly called the “fish delight.”,,, Smith, Barrett, and Greenberg contend that the Trump administration’s proposed 17 percent cut in funding for NOAA and its subsidiary, the National Marine Fisheries Service, will have an adverse impact not only on the president’s sandwich, but also the fishing industry. ” ,,, The Seafood Harvesters of America, which represents the interests of commercial fishing (lol!),,, click here to read the story 08:37

Who gets the fish? Support H.R. 200 – The “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act”

Capt. Chuck Guilford has been searching the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for the bounty of the sea for 41 years. When Guilford started his career as charter boat captain and commercial fisherman there wasn’t a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and he said the fisherman handled the fishery themselves. Now Guilford feels as if he has no control. He used to go to the meetings of the NMFS as far away as Washington D.C., but he’s missed the last two. “I haven’t attended last two meetings because it was a waste of my dollars and my time,” Guilford said. “I have finally come to the conclusion after 10 years of attending meeting, that when the Marine Fisheries Council has a meeting they have already decided what they are going to do.” Some of Guilford’s concerns may soon be answered. The “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act” or H.R. 200 would amend the “Magnuson-Stevens Act” which is currently the law of the fisheries. The amendment would have NMFS take in account the economic costs of regulation, allow for greater community involvement, greater transparency in procedure and collected data, a limitation on future catch-share programs, and independent privately funded fish stock assessment to be used when available. click here to read this article, and contact your representative and TELL them to support HR 200 07:24

Snapper silliness still has anglers seeing red

The bumper sticker on the white Ford pickup truck could not have been more clear: “National Marine Fisheries Service: Destroying Fishermen and Their Communities Since 1976!” Poignant. Harsh, even. But tame by today’s standards. The sticker made me think of an issue affecting offshore bottom fishermen who depart inlets between the Treasure Coast and South Carolina. I’m no mathematician, but something fishy is going on with red snapper statistics. Red snapper, a larger cousin of mutton snapper and mangrove snapper, resides in waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It is presently off limits to harvest by east coast anglers, and has been since 2010. The reason? Because 10 years ago, fisheries statisticians determined that the red snapper fishery was “undergoing overfishing.” Along with “jumbo shrimp,” that expression is still one of my all-time favorite oxymorons. click to continue reading the story here 08:28

Two Vessels suspected of catching too many Monk fish are under investigation

From the Massachusetts Environmental Police: On Wednesday, March 29, 2017, a Massachusetts Environmental Police Officer was on patrol in Saquatucket Harbor, an area that has recently received several fisheries complaints regarding vessels offloading catch that exceed the legal limit. While on patrol, the officer observed two vessels offloading monkfish. The Officer subsequently approached the vessel Captains and began the process of conducting an inspection of the catch offload. The inspection resulted in each vessel offloading catch over the legal limit; Vessel 1 was 1293 pounds over, Vessel 2 was 977 pounds over. The case has been turned over to the National Marine Fisheries Service for further investigation. The Massachusetts Environmental Police remain committed to providing quality and professional enforcement of conservation laws. Link 08:09

Thiele Acts for Fishermen ‘Under Siege’

Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. has introduced a package of legislation intended to aid the commercial fishing industry. Two of the three bills were introduced in the 2015-16 legislative session. One would direct the state attorney general to bring legal action against the National Marine Fisheries Service, or any other federal agency, to challenge existing quotas that the bill calls inequitable and discriminatory against New York State commercial fishermen. The bill is now in the Assembly’s environmental conservation committee. A second bill, also introduced in the 2015-16 legislative session, adds a new element in its current form. It would establish a commercial fishing advocate and, in its new version, create a commercial fishing jobs development program under State Department of Economic Development jurisdiction. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo vetoed the bill last year, Mr. Thiele said yesterday. continue reading the story here 15:11

North Pacific Fishery Management Council forced back into Cook Inlet salmon fray

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will open up a process next week that will likely take years to redesign the Cook Inlet salmon fishery management plan. A federal appeals court decided last fall that the council, which oversees all federal fisheries management in the North Pacific between 3 and 200 nautical miles offshore — known as the United States Exclusive Economic Zone — has to craft a management plan for the salmon fishery. The council decided in 2011 to hand over several of Alaska’s salmon fisheries to state managers by removing them from the existing fishery management plan, and though an Alaska U.S. District judge ruled that it was legal in 2014, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously reversed the decision this past September. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is tentatively scheduled to hear the first discussion paper prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service on what the plan could look like and how they should proceed during the council’s meeting April 6 in Anchorage. How did we get here? continue reading the story here 12:01

Pacific sardine population remains low, says National Marine Fisheries Service

A study released Friday by the National Marine Fisheries Service puts the northern Pacific sardine population off the West Coast at perilously low levels for the third straight year. The findings, which will be reviewed next month by The Pacific Fishery Management Council, while disheartening for both environmentalists and fishermen, are also disputed by some in the fishing industry who question the method by which these forage fish are counted.,, But Diane Pleschner-Steele, who is the executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association and represents the majority of boat fishermen and processors who harvest wetfish, said that there’s significant error in the way the sardines are counted and that current government surveys are not surveying adequately the fish that are in the near shore ocean. “Closing the sardine fishery basically closes everything for us, except for squid,” said Pleschner-Steele. “We are seriously considering applying for disaster relief.” read the article here 09:26:19

Federal regulators put an end to turbulent season in northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishery

Federal authorities are closing the scallop fishery in the northern Gulf of Maine at 12:01 a.m. Thursday after a contentious three-week season that pitted the interests of part-time, small-boat fishermen from Maine against large, full-time scallop operators. Fisheries regulators announced the closure Wednesday after small-boat fishermen – many of them Maine lobstermen operating 40- to 45-foot boats – met their annual quota of 70,000 pounds. The developments do not apply to the scallop fishery in state waters, which extend to 3 miles from shore. This year’s federal harvest has been contentious because the large, full-time boats are believed to have caught more than 1 million pounds of scallops in the northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishing area, but owing to a quirk in federal rules the fishery could not be closed until the small vessels caught 70,000 pounds. This month’s storms and unseasonable weather had kept the small boats in port, delaying their ability to meet their annual quota and close the area to the larger vessels, who were permitted to continue harvesting large quantities of scallops under federal rules. continue reading the story here 07:57

Low Numbers of Sacramento and Klamath River Salmon Point to Poor Season

Recreational and commercial fishermen attending the annual salmon fishery information meeting in Santa Rosa on March 1 received grim news from state and federal biologists – they will see reduced salmon fishing opportunities in both the ocean and the Sacramento and Klamath River systems, due to low returns of spawning fish to the rivers last fall. The pre-season numbers unveiled by Dr. Michael O’Farrell of the National Marine Fisheries Service estimate only 230,700 Sacramento River fall run Chinook adults and 54,200 Klamath River fall run adults will be in the ocean this year. Biologists noted that both forecasts are lower than those of recent years, with the forecast for Klamath fall run being among the lowest on record. Salmon originating from these river systems typically comprise the majority of salmon caught in the state’s ocean and inland fisheries. Ocean regulatory management for salmon fisheries on the ocean from Cape Falcon in Oregon to the Mexico-US Border is heavily based on these runs. continue reading the article by Dan Bacher here 11:22

Commercial longline seasons to open March 11th, on time

Commercial longliners in Alaska can go fishing on March 11 after all. The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Friday. March 3 that March 11th will be the start date for halibut and black cod fishing. March 11th is the halibut fishing start date approved by the International Pacific Halibut Commission back in January. The National Marine Fisheries Service typically opens long-line fishing for black cod on the same day. President Trump issued an executive order in January requiring that for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination. The start dates, catch share plan and other changes are all regulations that need to be published in the federal register. As of late last month, the National Marine Fisheries Service was still unsure of the impact of the presidential order on the fisheries. Fishermen in Alaska were questioning whether they’d be able to start fishing on that date. However, the federal agency confirmed Friday that the season would be starting on the 11th for both halibut and black cod. Read the rest here 08:52

Controversy brewing over snapper-grouper Exempted Fishing Permit

A storm is brewing in the South Atlantic region, a storm of controversy over snapper-grouper fisheries access and allocation. A group of four commercial fishing businesses – the South Atlantic Commercial Fishing Collaborative – filed an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) application with the National Marine Fisheries Service on Feb. 6. If approved by NMFS, the EFP would allow a group of 25 snapper-grouper boats operated by the four businesses to harvest blueline tilefish, gag grouper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, vermilion snapper and species in the jacks complex for two years (2018-19) in a pilot program while being exempt from numerous fishing regulations. The generic name for such a fisheries management method is catch shares, which, according to NOAA Fisheries, is a program in which “a portion of the catch for a species is allocated to individual fishermen or groups. Each holder of a catch share must stop fishing when his/her specific share of the quota is reached.” But it is a concept the huge majority of saltwater fishermen – recreational fishermen and small commercial fishing operations – have proven to be vehemently opposed to. continue reading the story here 08:12

National Marine Fisheries Service Policy Directive – Catch Share Policy

PURPOSE The purpose of this policy is to encourage well-designed catch share programs to help maintain or rebuild fisheries, and sustain fishermen, communities and vibrant working waterfronts, including the cultural and resource access traditions that have been part of this country since its founding.  DEFINITION “Catch share” is a general term for several fishery management strategies that allocate a specific portion of the total allowable fishery catch to individuals, cooperatives, communities, or other entities. Each recipient of a catch share is directly accountable to stop fishing when its exclusive allocation is reached. The term includes specific programs defined in law such as “limited access privilege” (LAP) and “individual fishing quota” (IFQ) programs, and other exclusive allocative measures such as Territorial Use Rights Fisheries (TURFs) that grant an exclusive privilege to Continue reading this here 15:50