Tag Archives: National Marine Fisheries Service

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

Alaska asks US Supreme Court to overturn decision giving Cook Inlet salmon management to feds

The state is asking the US Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision putting the federal government in charge of the salmon fishery in Cook Inlet rather than Alaska. The case began in 2013 when two commercial fishing groups — the United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund — sued the National Marine Fisheries Service. They argued that the state had not adequately managed the fishery and that the federal government should exercise more control as designated in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. A U.S. District Court judge initially ruled in favor of state management. But in September, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the federal government — not the state — should exercise management of the Cook Inlet salmon fishery in federal waters. continue reading the story here 12:19

For fisheries regulations, a Trump edict signals uncertainty

New England fishermen and conservationists fear one of President Trump’s executive orders will have disruptive effects on fisheries management, although it will not affect routine seasonal fisheries regulation, as some had initially feared. The order prompted a fiery letter three days later from two prominent Democratic congressmen pointing out it could have “devastating impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries and the businesses and communities they support.” “Effectively what it means is that nobody can do anything because agencies will have to stop doing major regulatory actions because you can’t comply with this order, which may be the point,” says a former top federal fisheries management official, Andrew Rosenberg, who is now director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Drew Minkiewicz, a Washington, D.C., lawyer representing larger Eastern Seaboard scallop fishermen, says fishermen need not be concerned about most regulations. “This executive order has zero impact on 99.9 percent of the fishing regulations going out, so people who are wondering if the fishing season will be delayed don’t need to,” he says. “It’s much ado about nothing.” Read the article here 08:39

North Pacific council director a possibility for Assistant Administrator position at NMFS replacing Eileen Sobeck

Chris Oliver, the executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for the past 16 years, didn’t ask for a consideration as the new assistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service; rather, the most powerful fishing industry voices in the nation’s most profitable region asked. He doesn’t know if the new administration will offer it or if he’d want it if it did. Still, looking at his history, knowledge and reputation, he seems in many ways a natural fit. Oliver said when it became known that the current administrator, Eileen Sobeck, won’t be staying with the new administration, parts of the fishing universe aligned. In the North Pacific and elsewhere, catch share systems are a contentious issue; Oliver said in an interview he’s already had fisheries stakeholders from other regions probing for what his intent would be with their respective fisheries. Oliver’s answer sums up both his attitude and in part that of the new administration. “It’s not my call,” he said. “What makes sense in the North Pacific…may not make sense in New England, or in the Gulf of Mexico. Read the story here 10:47

Fish Industry Says Tighter Monitoring Will Hurt Business

Several seafood and restaurant industry groups sued the National Marine Fisheries Service over its plan to more closely monitor where market-bound fish are coming from to thwart those who profit from illegal catches. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, (Click here to read the complaint) the plaintiff associations claim the new policy would increase the costs incurred by their members and that those costs would further hurt their businesses when they were, of necessity, passed on to consumers. The fisheries service believes a large amount of the fish and other sea life consumed by Americans is being caught by illegal means or in ways that flout conservation and sustainable fishery management practices. For instance, plaintiff Alfa Seafood, a family-owned seafood importer and distributor located in Miami, Florida, claims they would need to hire three additional employees in order to comply with the Rule, which they say would cost them $195,000 per year, including benefits. If the cost of production were to go up, the cost of fish and other seafood to the consumer would also rise, Alfa says. Read the story here 10:53

Feds Facing Order to Redirect Klamath River Water for Salmon

Two Native American tribes sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation last year, claiming its bungled management of Klamath River waterways allowed a deadly parasite to infect 91 percent of endangered juvenile Coho and Chinook salmon.  The Yurok and Hoopa Valley Tribes say they depend on the salmon for subsistence, income and for traditional ceremonies that define their people. Lawyers for the federal government and an industry group of farmers and ranchers argue that diverting water to help salmon will harm businesses that support local jobs and communities and threaten another set of endangered fish, the shortnose sucker and Lost River sucker. In separate complaints against the federal government, the tribes say infection rates caused by the deadly parasite C. shasta, should have required the bureau to review its Klamath Irrigation Project’s impact on threatened salmon two years ago, but the bureau failed to take action in violation of the Endangered Species Act.During a hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III agreed the bureau should have reviewed the project when infection rates climbed to 81 percent in 2014 and 91 percent in 2015, well beyond the maximum 49 percent estimated in a 2013 biological opinion issued by co-defendant National Marine Fisheries Service. Read the story here 16:47

These California and Oregon farmers lost water in 2001. Now they want to be paid.

Northern California and Oregon farmers who lost irrigation water in 2001 for the sake of fish are plunging into a climactic courtroom battle for tens of millions of dollars in compensation. Years in the making, the trial set to start Monday in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims near the White House involves a lot of money, but that’s not all. For other Westerners, too, it can have broader implications, clarifying what the government may owe for water steered away from crops toward environmental protection. “It’s a civil rights case, at bottom,” farmers’ attorney Nancie Marzulla said in an interview. “It involves the protection of private property. We all expect the government to respect private property rights.” The same court ruled in 2001, for instance, that the federal government had taken water without paying compensation to California’s Tulare Lake Basin Water Storage District and others that had been deprived of water for the sake of the delta smelt and the winter-run chinook salmon. The judge later concluded the water districts were owed $13.9 million plus interest, and the case is still cited. Read the rest of the story here 15:10

Connecticut’s fishing fleet facing potentially ‘disastrous’ quota cuts for fluke

“It’s going to put us out of business,” Stonington fisherman Robert Guzzo, vice president of the Southern New England Fishermen and Lobstermen’s Association, said Wednesday. “I’ve never seen so many fish in the ocean. The fish are out there, but the science and the regulators haven’t caught up with what’s actually out there.” On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., pressed commerce secretary nominee Wilbur Ross to use his authority to change how quotas for fish species including fluke — also called summer flounder — are allocated among states from the mid-Atlantic to New England. In response, Ross said he is interested in helping the fisheries and ensuring quotas are allocated properly. The Department of Commerce includes the National Marine Fisheries Service. Blumenthal’s statements during the hearing came a day after he and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, sent a letter to the current commerce secretary urging that the new quotas be withdrawn. Read the story here 10:30

NFI sues NOAA over new IUU rule

The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) has sued the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Commerce over a recently enacted rule that could cost the commercial fishing industry as much as USD 1 billion (EUR 946 million) annually. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service issued a final rule on 9 December that requires U.S. seafood importers to trace the origin of the fish they import to either the specific boat that caught the fish or to its collection point, as well as the location and date the fish was caught. The regulation was designed to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing regulation, but it will cost the industry at least USD 100 million (EUR 95 million) per year, NFI said in a press release. Read the story here 14:11

South Shore Lobstermen brace for third year of fishing ban

It’s a classic New England scene, colorful lobster traps stacked up along a dock. But for fishermen in South Shore lobster ports, those grounded traps are a symbol of hard times ahead. Aban that keeps most of their gear out of the water for the winter is entering its third year, despite arguments that it causes them unfair economic hardship. “If it made sense, that would be one thing,” Irvine Nash, a lobsterman for 48 years, said as he stood on a dock in Green Harbor. “But it don’t,” he said. Behind him, fishermen were pulling traps out of the water and loading them on trucks. They will sit empty in yards and garages until May, when the government lifts the ban. Under a recent rule from the National Marine Fisheries Service, all traps from outer Cape Cod to Cape Cod Bay and parts of Massachusetts Bay must be out of the water by Feb. 1. That’s an area just under 3,000 square nautical miles. The federal agency first imposed the ban in 2015, to decrease the likelihood of endangered North Atlantic right whales, which come to Cape Cod Bay every winter, from entangling themselves in lobster lines. Read the story here 08:36

Obama Administration Issuing New Rules to Curb Illegal Fishing, Seafood Fraud

The Obama administration is issuing new rules it says will crack down on illegal fishing and seafood fraud by preventing unverifiable fish products from entering the U.S. market. The new protections are called the Seafood Import Monitoring Program, and they are designed to stop illegally fished and intentionally misidentified seafood from getting into stores and restaurants by way of imported fish. The rules will require seafood importers to report information and maintain records about the harvest and chain of custody of fish, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. The program will start by focusing on “priority species” that are especially vulnerable to illegal fishing, such as popular food fish like tuna, swordfish, Atlantic cod and grouper. The government hopes eventually to broaden the program to include all fish species, NOAA officials said. Read the rest here 17:50

MDMR officials oppose proposed changes to NOAA shark regulations

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources oppose proposals by NOAA Fisheries that would increase shark regulations for recreational and commercial fishermen. NOAA proposes recreational and commercial fishermen required to complete an online shark identification and fishing regulation training course and use circle hooks when fishing for or landing sharks. DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller recently sent a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Miller believes the NOAA’s plan would “place punitive regulations on shark species that assessments have indicated healthy stocks which impact both recreational and commercial sectors.” Read the rest here 10:35

South Shore charter fishermen oppose new federal Dusky shark regulations

The National Marine Fisheries Service, a federal agency that regulates fishing in U.S. waters, is proposing new rules to protect a vulnerable shark species off the East Coast. Some charter boat captains who fish off the South Shore, however, see a problem with that. They argue that the shark in question – the dusky shark – does not even exist in much of their New England fishing grounds. “There are no duskies north of Cape Cod. None, zero,” Capt. Mike Pierdinock, who sits on the board of the Marshfield-based Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association, said last week. His charter boat, “Perseverance,” fishes out of New Bedford. “It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It smells of someone sitting at a desk and not looking at the realities of how things really are.” The National Marine Fishery Service’s proposed regulations are a response to a lawsuit by the environmental advocacy group Oceana. Read the rest of the story here 07:56

Plan for Dusky shark doesn’t please Oceana cons

The federal government isn’t going far enough with a plan to protect a threatened shark that lives off the East Coast and has been decimated by the fin trade, some conservationists argue. The National Marine Fisheries Service is proposing changes to federal fishing rules with the goal of protecting dusky sharks, a large species that is down to about 20 percent of its 1970s population off the East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico because of commercial fishing for the species that’s now illegal off the U.S. Dusky sharks were long hunted for their meat and oil, as well as their fins, which are used to make soup in traditional Chinese cooking. The fisheries service is proposing a suite of new rules for recreational and commercial fishermen designed to protect the shark, which is sometimes still killed via accidental bycatch by fishermen seeking other species. But conservation group Oceana said the rules aren’t strict enough and leave the sharks vulnerable. Read the story here 11:29

NMFS Seeks Public Comment-Proposed Rule to Require Turtle Excluder Device Use for Skimmer Trawls, Pusher-Head Trawls, and Wing Nets (Butterfly Trawls)

More shrimp fishermen would have to use nets equipped with turtle escape hatches, to prevent sea turtle deaths, under proposed new federal rules. The National Marine Fisheries Service wants to require more shrimp fishermen to use “turtle excluder devices.” The devices are metal grates that allow turtles to escape the boats’ nets. The fisheries service announced the proposed rules Thursday. They will be subject to a public comment process through mid-February. Thursday was the deadline for the federal government to propose regulations to protect turtles under a settlement with the conservation nonprofit Oceana. Oceana sued the government in April 2015, arguing that government estimates indicate that more than 500,000 sea turtles get caught in shrimp nets each year, and more than 53,000 of them die. Link  NMFS Seeks Public Comment for Proposed Rule Click here  11:39

Federal judge tosses another fisheries management rule

alaska-halibut__frontFederal judges keep smacking down the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s decisions. For the second time in the last three months, a federal court has overturned a management decision made by the North Pacific council and enacted by the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS. The United States District Court of Washington overturned a 2011 decision relating to halibut quota shares harvested by hired skippers on Nov. 16. Federal courts have overturned several council decisions in recent years. In September, a the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the council’s 2011 decision to remove Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound and Alaska Peninsula salmon fisheries from federal oversight.  In this case, the North Pacific council made a decision in 2011 regarding which halibut quota holders can use a hired skipper instead of being required to be on board the vessel. Read the story here 14:09

LI fisherman indicted in connection with illegal fluke harvest

An East Northport commercial fisherman who was once an outspoken critic of federal regulators was indicted Tuesday on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and falsification of federal records in connection with illegally harvest more than $400,000 worth of fluke, authorities said. A federal grand jury returned the indictment against Thomas Kokell, a North Shore clammer who once operated a commercial trawler at Point Lookout. Prosecutors with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes section charged Kokell was involved in a scheme to cover up the illegal harvest of 196,000 pounds of fluke by falsifying dozens of fishing trip and dealer reports, which are required as part of commercial fishing regulations. The case against Kokell was investigated by agents of the National Marine Fisheries Service. Read the rest here 09:39

Navy to Expand Sonar, Other Training off Northwest Coast

navy-sonar-sonobuoy-2953763The U.S. Navy has finalized a plan to expand sonar testing and other warfare training off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and northern California. The Navy decided to implement its preferred plan after a lengthy review that included a determination from the National Marine Fisheries Service that the exercises would not have major impacts on endangered orcas and other marine mammals. It announced its decision on Nov. 4. The fisheries service last year renewed the Navy’s five-year permit, through 2020, to conduct the activities in areas from the inland waters of Puget Sound in Washington state to the northern coast of California. The plan includes expanding the use of “sonobuoys,” devices that send out underwater sonar signals used by air crews training to detect submarines. Read the rest here 16:54

U.S. to Auction 79,000 Acres Offshore New York for Wind Energy

wind farmThe United States Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that 79,350 acres offshore New York will be offered in a December 15 commercial wind lease sale. The New York Wind Energy Area starts approximately 11.5 nautical miles from Jones Beach, New York, on Long Island. From its western edge, the area extends approximately 24 miles southeast at its longest portion. The lease area consists of five full Outer Continental Shelf blocks and 143 sub-blocks. After reviewing comments received on the environmental assessment, BOEM removed about 1,780 acres from the lease area due to environmental concerns regarding a seafloor feature known as the Cholera Bank. In a comment letter, the National Marine Fisheries Service identified the Cholera Bank feature as a sensitive habitat to be avoided for the placement of structures. As a result of this removal, the revised lease area will be approximately two percent smaller than the lease area considered in the proposed sale notice. In response to concerns raised by commercial fishing interests, BOEM also has included a lease requirement for the lessee to develop a publicly available fisheries communications plan and work with a fisheries liaison to facilitate communication with the fishing industry. Read the rest here 16:09

Editorial: Fishing essential in monetary and cultural ways

map1For fishing communities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual publication about commercial landings makes great reading. As we’ve observed in the past, “Fisheries of the United States” is interesting here in much the same way crop reports are a topic of fascination for farmers. Make no bones about it: Irrespective of decades of impressive economic diversification, the Lower Columbia and nearby places like Garibaldi, Newport, Willapa Bay and Westport, Washington, are fishing communities in essential cultural and monetary ways. Fishing dollars bounce around coastal towns and bolster the business climate in much the way fish fertilizer makes plants prosper. Analysis of multiyear trends points out some disturbing news about the strength of commercial fisheries on the Lower Columbia. The 2015 edition of the annual fisheries compendium from the National Marine Fisheries Service finds Astoria-area landings at something of a low ebb. Read the editorial here 09:10

Department of the Interior to auction over 79,000 acres offshore New York for wind development

U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Abigail Ross Hopper announced that 79,350 acres offshore New York will be offered in a December 15 commercial wind-lease sale. The New York Wind Energy Area starts approximately 11.5 nautical miles (nm) from Jones Beach, NY. From its western edge, the area extends approximately 24 nm southeast at its longest portion. The lease area consists of five full Outer Continental Shelf blocks and 143 sub-blocks. After reviewing comments received on the Environmental Assessment, BOEM removed about 1,780 acres from the lease area due to environmental concerns regarding a seafloor feature known as the Cholera Bank. In a comment letter, the National Marine Fisheries Service identified the Cholera Bank feature as a sensitive habitat to be avoided for the placement of structures. As a result of this removal, the revised lease area will be approximately two percent smaller than the lease area considered in the Proposed Sale Notice. Read the rest here 13:55

National Marine Fisheries Service issues annual report on Fisheries of the United States, 2015

noaa nmfs logoThis publication is the annual National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) yearbook of fishery statistics for the United States for 2015. The report provides data on U.S. recreational catch and commercial fisheries landings and value as well as other aspects of U.S. commercial fishing. In addition, data are reported on the U.S. fishery processing industry, imports and exports of fishery-related products, and domestic supply and per capita consumption of fishery products. Information in this report came from many sources. Field offices of NMFS, with the generous cooperation of the coastal states and Regional Fishery Information Networks, collected and compiled data on U.S. commercial landings and processed fishery products. The NMFS Fisheries Statistics Division in Silver Spring, MD, managed the collection and compilation of recreational statistics, in cooperation with various States and Interstate Fisheries Commissions, and tabulated and prepared all data for publication. Sources of other data appearing in this publication are: U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Read the press release here, Read the full report here 09:34

Oceana bites back at proposed rule for US dusky shark conservation

angry enviroU.S. President Barack Obama and his administration have released a proposal addressing the chronic overfishing of dusky sharks in U.S. waters. But suggested rule comes up short on its objective, according to marine conservation group Oceana. Oceana, which sued the federal government in 2015 in a challenge to its policies on dusky sharks,  has deemed the proposed rule as “grossly inadequate,” and charged that that the National Marine Fisheries Service fails to offer measurable means to stop dusky shark decline and facilitate the species’ recovery. Over the past two decades, dusky shark populations across the Atlantic and Gulf coasts have dropped by 65 percent as a result of bycatch and overfishing, said Oceana. Because the species is slow to grow and reproduces at low rates, recent studies suggest that the population would need between 70 and 180 years to recover. Read the story here 12:06

Pacific Bluefin Tuna Heads Toward Protection

pacific bluefin tunaThirteen conservation groups and a former National Fisheries biologist petitioned for federal protection for Pacific bluefin tuna, and the marine agency agreed listing may be warranted. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced Tuesday that it will begin a 12-month status review of the iconic fish as the first step in the long process to secure Endangered Species Act protection for the overfished species.  The Center for Biological Diversity, a frequent petitioner and litigator on behalf of imperiled species, was joined by Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, WildEarth Guardians, Sierra Club, Turtle Island Restoration Network, the Ocean Foundation, Center for Food Safety, Greenpeace, Mission Blue, Recirculating Farms Coalition, The Safina Center, SandyHook SeaLife Foundation, and Jim Chambers, a retired NMFS biologist, owner of Prime Seafood sustainable seafood restaurant supply company and member of the Seafood Choices Alliance. Read the rest here 08:42

Fishermen, state, in flux after circuit court overturns state control of Cook Inlet salmon

09282016_erik-huebsch_mcchesney-300x200In Cook Inlet, managing the salmon runs for commercial, sport and subsistence interests is so controversial, it’s often called a fish war. A group of commercial fishermen who think the state is mismanaging the fisheries, have won the latest battle. A three-judge panel at the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last week that the area needs federal oversight. But no one knows exactly what that will mean. The United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund say that instead of addressing habitat problems or fighting invasive species that eat salmon in Cook Inlet – the state simply restricted commercial fishing. So the fishing groups sued the National Marine Fisheries Service. They argued against a 2011 decision to remove several Alaska salmon fisheries — including Cook Inlet — from federal management and transfer the responsibility of managing salmon to the state.  A three-judge panel of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. For commercial fishermen like Brian Harrison, in Homer, the court’s decision is a victory. But, he’s not sure what to expect going forward. Read the story here 18:53

Ushering industrial aquaculture into the Pacific Islands Region EEZ is anything but sustainable

NOAA ScientistRight now, anyone can throw a cage into the open ocean within the Economic Enterprise Zone and begin an aquaculture operation, said Joshua DeMello, of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. The beginning of that aquaculture management program for the Pacific Islands Region is in the works, under the eye of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service and in conjunction with Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. The entities are preparing a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) analyzing the possible environmental impacts of the proposed management program and alternatives. “The purpose of it is to develop a management program to support sustainable, economically sound aquaculture in the Pacific Island Region,” DeMello said. The PEIS process looks at options for permit duration, whether cages should be metal or net pens, and allowable species. But ushering industrial aquaculture into the EEZ is anything but sustainable, poses a threat to the environment and could impact commercial fishing, according to a biologist. Read the story here 20:13

The government wants more offshore fish farms, but no one is biting

Off the coast of San Diego, America’s eighth largest city, commercial fishermen harvest about 1,100 metric tons of seafood from the Pacific every year. That sounds like a lot. But it isn’t much to Don Kent, who says he can do better with just one fish farm. If Kent gets his way, he would raise 5,000 metric tons of yellowtail jack and white sea bass in a grid of net pens measuring about a square mile, anchored four miles off San Diego in federal waters. The species are prized in Southern California sushi restaurants, which now serve their customers imported fish almost exclusively, most of it from China, Japan, Greece or Chile. The US imports about 91% of its seafood. Whether consumers know it or not, about half of that is farmed in aquaculture facilities much like the one Kent wants to build. While the federal government has permitted shellfish farming for years, it didn’t allow farming of finfish such as bass and salmon until earlier this year. Read the story here 10:41

New York State Extends Commercial Black Sea Bass Season to October 13th

dec-logoGovernor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state has extended the commercial black sea bass fishing season to October 13. Originally scheduled to close on September 17, the recent tropical storm contributed to a lower rate of black sea bass landings, making New York’s waters prime for an extended harvest season. After review of the most recent landings data, Department of Environmental Conservation and Division of Marine Resources staff determined that the commercial season could be extended. The current trip limit of 50 lbs. per day remains in effect. For certain commercially harvested species like black sea bass, annual commercial quota allocations are provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Fishery management tools such as fishing trip limits and quota management plans have been implemented for quota managed species. The Department of Environmental Conservation continues to work closely with commercial fishermen to expand black sea bass harvest opportunities, and also has called for a revised, more equitable federal management strategy to improve the fishery experience. Link 19:06

Ninth Circuit Sides With Cook Inlet Fishermen

A pair of setnetters push their boat to shore in Cook Inlet in 2013.The Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday that the federal government must manage fisheries in federal waters that require conservation, unless a fishery-management plan cedes control to a state. Reversing a decision from the Alaska Federal Court, the Ninth Circuit panel held that the National Marine Fisheries Service is required by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to include the Cook Inlet in its fishery-management plan. It may not hand over control of the inlet to the state of Alaska without first drawing up a plan, according to the 20-page ruling. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has jurisdiction over Cook Inlet. In 2011, the Council voted and passed Amendment 12 to remove the net-fishing areas from its plan, arguing that the plan was vague on management goals and that the state was the most appropriate management authority. However, the amendment was opposed by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund, two groups of commercial fishermen.  However, the amendment was opposed by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Cook Inlet Fishermen’s Fund, two groups of commercial fishermen. They argued that the state’s failure to deal with carnivorous northern pike and its improper escapement management have contributed to a 51 percent reduction in the sockeye salmon catch since 1981. Read the story here 08:14

National Marine Fisheries Service Announces Industry-Funded Monitoring Amendment Public Hearings and Comment Period

NMFSThe Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils have been working on an omnibus amendment to allow for industry-funded monitoring over the past several years. The amendment being developed includes alternatives that would modify all the fishery management plans managed by the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils to allow for future industry-funded monitoring programs. Through the notice published today in the Federal Register, we are announcing public hearings and the opportunity to comment on the various amendment alternatives for future industry-funded monitoring programs, including cost responsibilities, processes, administrative requirements, priorities, and set-aside programs. If this is an issue you are interested in, this is an important opportunity to provide your input. Read the notice here 18:01

Charlie Melancon’s Department Of Wrongdoing And Falsehood

charlie-melanconHave you been paying attention to the chaos at hand with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries? It appears that there is a full three-ring circus going on with DWF and its secretary, the former Democrat congressman Charlie Melancon. And after eight months on the job it’s pretty clear that perception among the in-the-know crowd was largely correct. The department is awash in controversy, if not criminality, and those affected by it are furious. To full explain this, we should go back several years to a program set up at the federal level. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, which is a federal commission set up to govern offshore fishing in the five Gulf states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas), and the National Marine Fisheries Service set up something called the Individual Fishing Quota system, or IFQ, to govern commercial fishing for red snapper. Meaning, the federal government resorted to crony capitalism as a means to govern Gulf red snapper fisheries. If you were a big player in the red snapper harvest before the program got started, you were one of the cronies and your incumbency would be protected.  Read the story here. 19:20

New Rules Ban Seafood Imports That Don’t Meet Strict U.S. Standards for Marine Mammal Protection

MarineMammalsThe National Marine Fisheries Service issued regulations Thursday prohibiting seafood imports from nations whose fisheries kill more whales and dolphins than U.S. standards allow. Each year around 650,000 whales, dolphins and other marine mammals are unintentionally caught and killed in fishing gear worldwide. Under the new rule, foreign fishermen must meet the same marine mammal protection standards applied to U.S. fishermen or their fish will be banned from the lucrative American seafood market. The rule is the result of a settlement in a lawsuit brought by conservation groups two years ago. The new rules will be put in place gradually with full implementation by 2022. Exporting nations will now need to track and monitor fisheries and whale, dolphin and other marine mammal populations, modify fishing gear, and may even have to close fishing in some areas to limit entanglement risk. Read the rest here 10:51  Today, NMFS published a final rule implementing import provisions of the.

WPFMC asks for transparent analysis of proposed marine monument expansion

The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council on Wednesday agreed to a resolution that asks the U.S. government to address a suite of concerns before acting on the proposed expansion on the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument or MNM in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Council members Suzanne Case, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources chair, and Julie Leialoha, Conservation Council for Hawaii president, voted against the proposal. National Marine Fisheries Service or NMFS Pacific Islands Regional Administrator Michael Tosatto abstained. The resolution requests a “public, transparent, deliberative, documented and science-based process” to address the proposed expansion, which could prohibit fishing in two-thirds of the U.S. exclusive economic zone, i.e., waters out to 200 miles from shore, around Hawaii. The resolution is being sent to President Obama, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the secretaries of Commerce, the Interior and State. Read the rest here 16:47

Enviro Defense Fund Applauds 9th Circuit’s Pacific whiting fishery ruling

The Ninth Circuit on Wednesday upheld a federal program that limits the number of Pacific whiting, or hake, fishermen can catch off the Northwest Coast. Two fishing companies, Pacific Dawn and Jessie’s Ilwaco Fish Co., sued the Secretary of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2013, claiming the Fisheries Service unreasonably refused to consider fishing activity after 2003 and 2004 when it set new quotas in 2011 and 2013. The three-judge panel Wednesday refused to overturn U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson’s 2013 grant of summary judgment. Writing for the panel, Judge Sandra Ikuta agreed that the Fisheries Service considered more recent fishing activity when it set quotas but that it “gave greater weight to historic participation” in setting the new limits. Pacific Dawn said it was “disappointed’ with the ruling. “The decision upholds an individual fishing quota program that resulted from no meaningful consideration of current harvests or present participation in the fishery, as Congress requires,” Pacific Dawn said in a statement. Read the rest here 11:59

Author Alan Stein Says US Commerce FOIA Lawsuit Yielded Results

commerceA federal lawsuit moved the U.S. Department of Commerce to hand over thousands of pages of withheld documents needed to write a book, the lawyer of an environmental activist and author said Thursday. Writer, fisherman and environmental activist Alan Stein sued the Commerce Department under the Freedom of Information and Administrative Procedures Acts in July 2015. He claimed the department and two of its agencies — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Office of the Inspector General — had stonewalled his requests for documents he needed for a book he was writing. Last year, Stein told Courthouse News (click here)  the planned book required materials from an investigation of Arne Fuglvog, a former fishing vessel operator and fisheries official who spent time in prison for making false statements in fishing quota reports. Read the rest here 08:12 Read  The NOAA Oversight Project – Fisherman’s FOIA’s Squeeze NOAA, to see the that James Balsiger, the acting head of the National Marine Fisheries Service, was going to be replaced by fisherman/ Senate staffer Arne Fuglvog who favored catch shares or scientist Brian Rothschild who did not. Click here

National Marine Fisheries Service Announces Final Rule to Adjust the 2016 North and South Atlantic Swordfish Quotas

noaa nmfs logoThis final rule adjusts the 2016 annual North and South Atlantic swordfish quotas based on 2015 underharvests and international quota transfers, and modifies the annual quota adjustment public notice in certain circumstances. The final adjusted quota for North Atlantic swordfish is 3,359.4 metric tons (mt) dressed weight (dw).  This quota is allocated as follows: the directed category quota = 3,009.4 mt dw; the incidental category = 300 mt dw; and the reserve category = 50 mt dw.  The final adjusted quota for South Atlantic swordfish is 75.1 mt dw. Read the rest here  National Marine Fisheries Service Announces Proposed Rule To Remove Vessel Upgrade Restrictions For Swordfish Directed And Atlantic Tuna Longline Category Limited Access Permits Read the rest here 16:41

Federal Agencies start work on Columbia River fishing deal

57827b9669a4a.imageFederal authorities are working on a plan aimed at deciding how much sport, commercial and tribal fishing for salmon and steelhead will be allowed in the Columbia River and its tributaries as part of a long-term agreement starting in 2018. The other main component considered in the environmental review being prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is hatchery production levels. The agencies will use the document as they work to craft an agreement with Idaho, Oregon and Washington, as well as tribes in those states with harvest treaty rights. The length of the agreement has yet to be determined, but a 10-year timeframe is generally supported. Read the story here 16:20

Summer flounder’s new status from “viable” to “concern”reduces allowable catch

Fluke Summer FlounderThe stock status of most coastal fish did not change in the 2016 N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Stock Status Report, but one species was reclassified from the 2015 report. Summer flounder moved from “viable” to “concern” based on a 2015 National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Fisheries Science Center benchmark stock assessment for U.S. waters north of Cape Hatteras. The assessment indicated the stock of summer flounder was not overfished but overfishing was occurring, according to a NCDMF news release. As a result of the stock assessment, federal fisheries authorities lowered the allowable biological catch by 29 percent, which lowered the state-by-state commercial quotas proportionately. North Carolina receives the highest commercial quota share at 27.4 percent. Read the rest here – Read NCDMR Stock Assessment here 14:51

Yurok Tribe Files Intent to Sue National Marine Fisheries Service and the Bureau of Reclamation

272106c4c2f6f8b444d177f854f5ab8aIn response to massive fish disease outbreaks in back-to-back years on the Klamath River, the Yurok Tribe submitted a 60-day notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Bureau of Reclamation. “We cannot stand by and do nothing while our salmon hover over the brink of extinction,” said Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr., Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “We will not continue to watch water managers jeopardize the fate of our fish and our river.” 91 percent of the juvenile, Klamath salmon were infected with a deadly parasite in 2015, as were a nearly identical number of fish in 2014. Given the nearly 100 percent mortality rate associated with the disease, approximately 90 percent of the Chinook salmon and likely an equal quantity of coho died in the main-stem Klamath River during those years, according to the notice. This year’s predicted adult salmon run is one of the lowest on record, which forced the Yurok Tribe to make a difficult decision to completely forgo all commercial fishing in 2016. Read the rest here 15:22

NMFS looks at catch reduction of Atlantic herring

atlantic herringThe National Marine Fisheries Service might reduce the herring catch limit by about 3 percent to slightly less than 105,000 metric tons. The limit was a little less than 108,000 metric tons for the 2013 to 2015 period; any new limit would apply to the years 2016 to 2018. The proposal is up for public comment until July 21. The herring fishery takes place off of New England and the mid-Atlantic, but is principally based in Maine and Massachusetts, with a substantial amount of herring also coming ashore in Rhode Island and New Jersey. It was worth a little less than $30 million in 2014, when fishermen caught about 92,000 metric tons. Read the rest here 09:16

Chris Elkins, Ph.D., President of the CCA of NC calls NC marine fisheries advisory committee a sham!

fishing ncAll coastal states in our nation, except North Carolina, have a Joint Enforcement Agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service because a JEA makes sense: It saves money and aids law enforcement. A special legislatively mandated group called the JEA Advisory Committee has been studying whether North Carolina should enter into a JEA with the National Marine Fisheries Service. A JEA would allow enforcement of federal fisheries rules by N.C. Marine Patrol officers and bring hundreds of thousands of dollars to the patrol. On June 1, the committee, charged with advising the legislature on the JEA, met in New Bern. It has become clear that the committee is indisputably a sham. Read the rest here 19:18

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council propose changes to Yellowtail Snapper fishery

yellowtail-snapper-side_mediumThe change comes following requests from a group of Florida Keys fishermen, as yellowtail snapper are primarily harvested in the Keys.  The commercial yellowtail fishery was closed in October in 2014, after National Marine Fisheries Service projected the fishery would meet its annual catch limit of 1.6 million pounds. The fishermen want the season to end in July when there is less fishing pressure and the fish are spawning, said Bill Kelly, executive for the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association.  “The closure should occur when prices are at their lowest and demand is at its lowest,” Kelly said. “Also, the season should be closed when the fish is spawning.” In addition, commercial fishermen have lobbied to reallocate some of the recreational catch to the commercial side, as the recreational side has only caught a little more than half of its 1.4 million pound annual limit, according to federal fishery managers. Read the rest here 08:40

Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB) releases draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan

map regional planning areas nopThe Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB) is proud to release the draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan for public review and comment. Several years of public engagement, scientific study and data analysis, and collaboration has led to this draft, and the RPB looks forward to hearing the feedback of everyone who is interested in the future of New England’s ocean and its resources. The RPB wants your feedback on this draft Plan. The public comment deadline is July 25, 2016, and you can comment on each chapter electronically at each chapter landing page, in-person at any of our upcoming public comment meetings, through the comment form below, or by submitting written comments to: Betsy Nicholson, NE RPB Federal Co-lead National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Regional Office 55 Great Republic Drive  Gloucester, MA 01930-2276. You may also provide comments by sending an e-mail to: [email protected].  Here it is, all 198 pages of it click here 17:36