Tag Archives: National Marine Fisheries Service

Vineyard Wind: delayed project reveals bluster in US’s offshore wind ambitions

The recent decision by the Interior Department to hit the pause button on plans to build the first major US offshore windfarm off the Massachusetts coast means the project now hangs in the balance. Amid federal agency infighting, does the country risk squandering a vital resource of clean energy? We investigate. The waiting game: could Vineyard Wind be the new Cape Wind? >click to read< 16:09

Ropeless Fishing Gear: New Crab Pot Could Help Reduce Whale Entanglements

Last year 46 whale entanglements were reported off the West Coast, and crab gear was responsible for about a third of them. According to Derek Orner, a bycatch reduction program coordinator with the National Marine Fisheries Service, this a growing problem,,, His agency recently announced grants for several ropeless fishing gear projects, including a new kind of crab pot developed by Coastal Monitoring Associates of California. >click to read< 09:43

NOAA Argues to Allow Makah Tribe to Hunt Gray Whales off Washington Again

More than two decades ago, Makah tribal members killed a 30-foot gray whale in the waters off the Olympic Peninsula amid bitter protests from animal-welfare activists. The tribal hunt in May 1999 touched off a protracted legal battle that on Thursday took center stage inside a Seattle federal building. The proceedings over the tribe’s treaty right to hunt gray whales are expected to last more than a week in the courtroom-like setting. >click to read< 23:12

Lobstermen’s Association rejects DMR whale proposal

Efforts to find consensus over how to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from entanglement in fishing gear without decimating the Maine lobster industry took a blow last week. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA) announced that it would not support a plan developed by the Department of Marine Resources “because it seeks reductions that exceed the documented risk posed by the Maine lobster fishery” and “creates unresolved safety and operational challenges for some sectors of the lobster industry,”,,, >click to read< 10:43

Lobster industry split over whale protection plan called Maine’s ‘line in the sand’

Some fishermen at the South Portland meeting cheered the plan. One gave Keliher a standing ovation, saying the new proposal was much better for the lobster fleet than the task force plan rolled out in August that called for 50 percent fewer buoy lines. But fishermen in Ellsworth and Waldoboro, the site of the first two meetings this week, urged Keliher to resist federal pressure to make concessions that would hurt lobster fishermen when they pose no real threat to the whale.,, “Grow a backbone,” one lobstermen told Keliher. “Don’t give them anything now.” >click to read<  07:47

Cull! Plan Mulls Killing More Sea Lions to Save Salmon

Decades of efforts, including billions of dollars spent, to prevent the extinction of 13 species of Columbia River salmon and steelhead were stymied by the resurgence of gregarious mammals who themselves returned from the brink. Now, a new plan backed by Native American tribes and three states would attempt to protect the fish by killing more sea lions. >click to read< 08:54

DMR’s answer to whale rules focus offshore

Last week, DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher announced that after “rigorous scientific analysis,” the department had come up with a new draft plan to address “both the risk to right whales and concerns of fishermen” that is “in keeping with the real risk the Maine fishery presents.” Last March, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that the risk of injuries to right whales in the Gulf of Maine had to be reduced by at least 60 percent. Last March, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that the risk of injuries to right whales in the Gulf of Maine had to be reduced by at least 60 percent.,,, The rule also would extend electronic vessel monitoring now required on boats that hold permits to fish for species other than lobster in federal waters to all federally permitted lobster boats. >click to read< 11:27

Efforts underway to streamline fisheries disaster relief

With an increasing number of fisheries disaster requests coming from all over the United States, members of Congress and the federal government are looking for ways to improve the relief process.,, Summer 2018 brought disappointing results for many fishermen across Alaska,,, The slow process isn’t unique to Alaska. ways to improve the relief process, introduced Senate Bill 2346 by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., in July, seeks to speed up that process, in part by expediting relief funds being disbursed to fishermen. It also seeks to add avenues for relief for non-commercial fishermen, including charter operators. >click to read< 15:00

Final stretch for herring protections

“After 10 years of debate, the New England Fishery Management Council has finally accepted the proposals favored by Cape communities and what would keep midwater trawls off our coast year round. It will have benefits for all our commercial and recreational fisheries and the nearshore ecosystem,” said John Pappalardo, chief executive officer of the Chatham-based Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, which has worked to advance the rules. “This is it,” said Pappalardo. “We need people to speak out for herring one more time to make sure these important rules become a reality.” >click to read< 19:55

Feds Tap 300,000 Square Miles of Pacific for Humpback Whales

The proposed rule is the result of a settlement with the National Marine Fisheries Service, who were sued last year for not following through on a 2016 plan to designate two groups of Pacific Ocean humpback whales as endangered and a third group as threatened. The Center for Biological Diversity, joined by Turtle Island Restoration Network and the Wishtoyo Foundation, filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of California claiming the lack of action by the Trump administration violated the Endangered Species Act. >click to read<  16:25

Truro lobsterman says rules to protect right whales costly to his business

Cheryl Souza is ending her lobster sales after October. But third-generation lobsterman Billy Souza, as it turns out, is considering quitting as well. “It’s all the whale issues,” Souza said. Unlike the lobstering in the days of Souza’s grandfather, Frank Souza, and his father, William Souza, the current generation fishing off Cape Cod is under an intense and unique scrutiny..,, “The whales could get entangled anywhere in the world, but there’s so many eyes on them here it looks like we’re the bad guys and we’re not.” >click to read< 07:38

Nation’s first mega-offshore wind project stalled for additional study

On most afternoons in Point Judith, Rhode Island, commercial fisherman Brian Loftus steers his trawler back into port after a 12-hour day. Loftus unloaded some 1,500 pounds of whiting, scup, skate and squid. Estimated revenue: $3,000. Loftus has fished for three decades here, but to him there’s a looming problem: Offshore wind developers plan to plop turbines more than 70 stories high into his fishing grounds. >click to read< 08:46

Plan for fish farm off Florida’s Gulf Coast raises environmental concerns

A Hawaiian fish farming company wants to expand into the Gulf of Mexico near Sarasota, Fla., prompting opposition from some fishing associations and environmental groups.,,, Although it’s only proposed as a demonstration project, such a plan pits the company’s desire to increase the local seafood supply against commercial fishing interests and some environmental groups, which believe industrial fish farms do more harm than good in the long run.,, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has green-lighted the Florida project,,, Other groups that oppose Kampachi’s project include the Louisiana Shrimp Association, Friends of the Earth and the Recirculating Farms Coalition >click to read< 10:44

Fewer Whales Caught in Crabbing Gear After Settlement, but,,, there’s always that but,,,

The National Marine Fisheries Service reported 18 whale entanglements through Aug. 23, 2019, compared to 40 ensnared whales found during the same period last year. “We are really happy that the numbers are lower this year, but we think there still needs to be progress made on reducing the risk of entanglement,” said Catherine Kilduff, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. >click to read< 09:06

Proposal would kill more sea lions to protect fish

More than 1,100 sea lions could be killed annually along a stretch of the Columbia River on the Oregon-Washington border to boost faltering populations of salmon and steelhead, federal officials said Friday. The National Marine Fisheries Service said it’s taking public comments through Oct. 29 on the plan requested by Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Native American tribes. The agency says billions of dollars on habitat restoration, fish passage at dams and other efforts have been spent in the three states in the last several decades to save 13 species of Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act. >click to read<  13:43

PCFFA Reacts to News of Jeopardy Finding for Salmon, Southern Resident Killer Whales

As reported today in the LA Times, the National Marine Fisheries Service determined in an important draft biological opinion [link to the document here] that the changes to California’s Central Valley Project (CVP) and State Water Project (SWP) operations championed by the Department of the Interior would result in jeopardy to spring and winter run Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and southern resident killer whales (SRKW). The draft opinion was transmitted to the Department of the Interior, which immediately convened a team of outside lawyers and scientific staff from its own agencies to adulterate NMFS science and suppress the document’s findings. >click to read< 20:18

Lobstermen, environmentalists weigh in on right whale rules

Some of the largest and most powerful animal and environmental groups – including the Pew Charitable Trust, the U.S. Humane Society, the Conservation Law Foundation and Oceana – sent representatives to the hearing. They urged National Marine Fisheries Service to take immediate action to protect the whale, including proposals that even the team tasked by the fisheries service to come up with its whale protection plan had dismissed, such as offshore closures and ropeless lobster fishing. >click to read< 20:58

Lobstermen threatened with the extinction of their way of life

The word “extinction” has been thrown around a lot lately by environmental groups,,, Large, well-funded, out-of-state environmental groups would have you believe that these whales are going extinct and that Maine fishing gear entanglement is a major reason why. These groups have proposed things like ropeless fishing and refuse to believe that ideas like this are not practical in Maine. Can you imagine how a fisherman could set his 20- to 30-trap trawl into water 300 to 400 feet deep, not knowing where any of his competitors’ trawls might have been set days before? >click to read< 11:37

About 70 frustrated fishermen tell feds at a hearing in Machias that Canada, not Maine, is mostly to blame.

About 70 fishermen came to the first fisheries service public meeting in Maine on the latest round of lobster rule changes being considered to protect the endangered whales. They expressed safety fears and their mounting frustration. The state’s $485 million-a-year lobster industry is facing a federal mandate to lower the number of buoy lines in the Gulf of Maine by 50 percent to protect right whales.,,, >click to read< 12:09

Yurok Tribe and Commercial Fishing Group, PCFFA, File Suit to Save Klamath Salmon

This afternoon, the Yurok Tribe and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Marine Fisheries Service in response to low flows and high salmon disease rates under the federal agency’s new management plan for the Klamath River. The groups are represented by the environmental law firm Earthjustice. >click to read<  08:39

Fishermen Are At Heart of Delay in Vineyard Wind Project

The fishermen’s breakthrough with the National Marine Fisheries Service mirrors their breakthrough last month with the Edgartown Conservation Commission, which voted 5-1 on June 27 to reject a permit for Vineyard Wind to lay cable on the ocean floor about a mile east of Martha’s Vineyard’s eastern shore. That meeting was not audiotaped or videotaped, according to a town official, but reports say that fishermen raised concerns that electromagnetic radiation from the cable may disrupt the ability of fish to communicate with each other, and therefore decrease the number of fish. Fishermen were also concerned the laying of the cable could itself damage the fishery. >click to read<12:08

Governor Charlie Baker eyeing ‘cure plan’ for Vineyard Wind project

After a “really productive and substantive” meeting with new U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt in Washington, D.C., on Monday morning, Gov. Charlie Baker said his administration will be working with Vineyard Wind,,, On Monday, Reuters reported that the National Marine Fisheries Service “triggered the delays by declining to sign off on the project’s design, as proposed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management” and that a regional director for the agency “said his agency could not support the environmental permit for Vineyard Wind because the project failed to fully address the concerns of the fishing industry.”,,, Pressed by a reporter as to why he would not say fishing was among the concerns, Baker responded: “Can you read the comments? They’re not that hard to find. Certainly, there were issues that were raised by fishing. There were issues that were raised by a number of other federal agencies as well.” >click to read<  19:44

The 2020-2021 Scallop RSA Competition is underway; the Project Proposal Deadline is September 20th!

The federal competition for 2020-2021 awards through the Scallop Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program is now open. The deadline for submitting full proposals is Friday, September 20, 2019 at 5 p.m. The New England Fishery Management Council established the Scallop RSA Program under the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan. The Council sets research priorities for this program, while the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS/NOAA Fisheries) administers the RSA competition, oversees award projects, and monitors set-aside harvest activities through the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO). >click to read< 16:27

Cape Coral fishing captain admits illegal grouper, snapper hauls, federal prosecutors say

A Cape Coral fishing boat captain faces possible federal prison time after admitting in federal court Monday that he illegally caught and sold 50,000 pounds of red grouper and red snapper over five years, in defiance of Gulf of Mexico limits. Federal prosecutors said Mark Zywotko lied about the size of his boat’s haul of the grouper and snapper in reports fishing boats must file reporting catches of some popular and protected gulf reef fish. >click to read< 12:40

California fishermen report the biggest salmon season in a decade

California commercial fishermen are reporting the biggest king salmon season in a decade, on the heels of three years of disastrously low catches because of the drought. The sudden bounty has resulted in a price drop for the coral-pink, fatty fillets to $20 per pound in many markets, down from the $30- to $35-per-pound range of recent years. “You might say this is the old normal, because we’ve been so used to catastrophe,” said Noah Oppenheim, >click to read<19:37

Our View: Lobster gear changes not yet warranted

A plan to drastically reduce the amount of fishing line in the waters off Maine has lobstermen up and down the coast worried about their future. It is pitting small inshore operators against those who haul in deeper waters. And there’s little evidence it will work. The plan is part of an effort by federal regulators to save the North Atlantic right whale,,,, The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates that fishing rope kills or seriously injures five to nine right whales a year,,, But none of the deaths has been tied conclusively to Maine lobster gear.  >click to read<09:20

Groundfishermen not hooked by monitoring alternatives

For more than two years, the New England Fishery Management Council has worked on an intricate groundfish monitoring amendment that could have wide-scale economic and regulatory consequences for groundfishermen. It has been a thorny, winding path that involves a host of groundfish committees, plan development teams and assorted staff within the far-flung fisheries regulatory landscape. Now a group of groundfishermen are weighing in. And they are not pleased. >click to read<07:53

New rules are meant to save whales; lobstermen wonder if they’ll survive

The state Department of Marine Resources has until September to come up with a way that it can cut the number of buoy lines in the Gulf of Maine by 50 percent. Federal regulators say that’s what it will take to reduce the risk of fatal entanglement enough for the species to survive. Scientists estimate only 411 right whales remain. The species has been on the brink of extinction before, most recently in 1992, when its population bottomed out at 295. It rebounded to about 500 in 2010, but low calving rates, ship strikes and fishing line entanglements have sent its numbers tumbling, yet again. But many in Maine’s $485 million industry worry it is the lobsterman who will face extinction,,, >click to read<10:28

Maine lobster fishery agrees to deep cuts to protect whales

After a long and difficult week in late April in which the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Mammal Take Reduction Team met to address protections for the endangered right whale, the Maine lobster fishery now has a sense of what the future holds. There were some hard battles along the way, in which we lobster industry advocates fought to ensure a viable Maine fishery, both for today’s lobstermen and for future generations. By Patrice McCarron >click to read<14:39

Competing interests – “The farmer and the cowman should be friends,” according to Richard Rodgers’ lyrics in “Oklahoma!” Can a similar peace pact be visited upon Maine’s lobstermen and the advocates of whale safety? >click to read<

King salmon arrives in stores, commanding royal prices; relief could come soon

King salmon, once as ubiquitous as burgers in backyard Bay Area barbecues, has commanded astonishingly high prices in recent years,,, Since the 2019 season opened on May 1, supply has been very limited, so prices have remained steep, reaching as high as $40 a pound in San Francisco.,,, That should start to change on Thursday, when 200 more miles of coast will open to commercial salmon fishing,… there will likely be more salmon on the market this summer is because some crab boats are planning to go out for salmon fishing, because the Dungeness crab fishery closed several months early as part of a settlement,,, >click to read<21:54