Tag Archives: new-england-fishery-management-council

NEFMC commitee votes to protect corals in Gulf of Maine

Federal regulars have decided to protect two areas in the Gulf of Maine that are home to slow-growing corals. The protected areas encompass almost 40 square miles and are called Outer Schoodic Ridge and Mt. Desert Rock. The areas would still be open to lobster fishing but not to bottom trawling. A committee of the New England Fishery Management Council voted on the protections on Thursday. click here to read the story 14:43

Many fishermen believe Stokesbury saved the scallop industry

Well, I guess that I had better start writing some of this stuff down, as it seems that my memory is getting fuzzier by the day. Not an uncommon affliction for an old fisherman, who has been put ashore, but who still has enough recall to remember some things that are just too important to allow to fade into obscurity! I had been a scalloper out of New Bedford for 32 years, both as a deckhand, and as a captain of several high-line scalloper vessels. Over all those years there were several trips that stay relatively fresh in my mind’s eye, but one of the most important and fulfilling ones actually occurred after I came ashore. By Jim Kendall click here to read the story 21:55

Gloucester Fishermen to council: Trust in data needed

One by one, the Gloucester fishermen settled in front of the microphone for those with something to say to the New England Fishery Management Council and, one by one, they delivered their thoughts. Some of the remarks, such as those from Tom Orrell of Yankee Fleet and Paul Vitale, captain of the Angela & Rose, were short and to the point. Orell wanted to know why the for-hire boats faced so many restrictions in the Gulf of Maine and Vitale simply wants more fish quota. Now. Joe Orlando of the Santo Pio talked science and cod, while longtime fishermen Al Cottone and Rick Beal (powerful comment) adopted more philosophical tones, speaking to the council on the need for a two-lane channel of trust and truth. click here to read the story 20:59

Atlantic Herring: Council Discusses Amendment 8 ABC control Rules; Passes on Picking“Preferred Alternative”

The New England Fishery Management Council yesterday discussed the list of potential acceptable biological catch (ABC) control rules outlined in Draft Amendment 8 to the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan. The document contains nine new control rule alternatives plus the standard “no action.” After considerable debate and a review of the varying impacts of each option, the Council declined to pick a “preferred alternative.” Instead, the Council intends to wait to hear the full range of public comments during future public hearings before indicating any preferences. ABC control rules define how catch or fishing mortality changes with stock size. Click here to read the story 16:51

Amendment 22: Lack of action on whiting pleases most local fishermen

The New England Fishery Management Council on Tuesday didn’t appear to have much interest in limiting future access to the whiting fishery that includes Ipswich Bay. “It’s a victory of sorts,” said longtime Gloucester fisherman Al Cottone, who also is the executive director of the city’s Fisheries Commission. “It showed that the council really has no appetite for limiting access to the whiting fishery.” The proposal, developed by the council’s whiting committee during the formation of proposed Amendment 22, still will include the option of limiting access when it goes out to public comment at some point this winter.,, Cottone, along with fellow Gloucester fishermen Joe Orlando and Russell Sherman, spoke in opposition to limiting access to the fishery,, click here to read the story 09:15

New England Fishery Management Council meeting in Gloucester, Sept. 26th thru 28th

The New England Fishery Management Council will be meeting at the Beauport Hotel in Gloucester. To read the final agenda, click here  Register click here to listen live via webinar. 17:40

Something fishy in the quotas?

The clatter reverberated in the refrigerated cold as workers offloaded fish and wheeled full bins into a storage area on Fisherman’s Wharf. The catch was sorted, weighed, labeled, and eventually loaded onto large trucks headed for New York. It was a big haul, but not a big payday for Tom Testaverde Jr., captain of the Midnight Sun. “Our season’s been good. We caught a lot of fish, but the prices have been killing us all year,” Testaverde said. He pointed to imports that drive prices down, and regulations that limit what kinds of fish he can catch. Those federal limits on some species — particularly groundfish such as cod and flounder — are at odds with what commercial fishermen say they are seeing in the ocean. click here to read the story 14:34

Conservation Law Foundation submits victim impact statement in Carlos Rafael case

Within the past 10 days, the Conservation Law Foundation sent three letters to various individuals involved — either directly or indirectly — with the Carlos Rafael case. The foundation doesn’t represent any party directly, but its goal is to “use the law, science and the market to create solutions that preserve our natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy,” according to its website. CLF sees Rafael’s guilty plea in March to illegal fishing as infringing on its principles. click here to read the story 21:18

New England Fishery Management Council meeting in Portland, Me. June 20 thru 22, 2017

The New England Fishery Management Council will be meeting at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, Portland, ME., June 20, 2017 –
June 22, 2017  To read the final agenda, click here  Register click here to listen live via webinar. 16:52

New England Fishery Management Council seeks voice in marine monument review

New England fishery regulators might seek to reclaim some of the authority they lost when President Barack Obama virtually walled off thousands of square miles of ocean south of Cape Cod to commercial fisheries. On Tuesday, the New England Fisheries Management Council’s Habitat Committee recommended that the regulatory council provide feedback to the Trump administration about the designation of the 4,913 square-mile area by the continental shelf. “I would strongly suggest we take the opportunity to comment,” said Eric Reid, a council member and the general manager of Seafreeze Shoreside, a seafood processing facility in Galilee, Rhode Island. While the committee members did not delve into what the letter should say during Tuesday’s meeting, the council chairman, former Rep. John Quinn, the director of public interest at the UMass School of Law in Dartmouth, made clear he believes the council should have jurisdiction. click here to read the story 07:57

Maine lobstermen worry about possible closure to protect coral

Charles Kelley began fishing for lobster on Outer Schoodic Ridge about 20 years ago, preferring the solitude of deep waters to the crowded inshore fishery.,, Kelley is worried that he could lose his winter fishing territory if interstate regulators decide to ban all fishing in a 31-square-mile area at the ridge and an 18-square-mile area southwest of Mount Desert Rock to protect deep-water coral gardens found in those waters.,,, Some environmental groups have banded together to oppose the lobster exemption, among other aspects of the proposal, including the Conservation Law Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana and The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Heavy offshore trap gear … poses a threat to long-lived and vulnerable deep-sea coral communities,” they wrote in an April 11 letter. “Trap fisheries directly damage corals.” Click here to read the story 07:58

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

Series of coral protection hearings planned for New England

Federal fishery managers will hold a host of public hearings in New England and New York about a plan to protect corals in key East Coast fishing areas. The New England Fishery Management Council is hosting seven public hearings about alternatives it is considering about the protection of corals in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. The hearings will take place from May 22 to 25 in Montauk, Narragansett, New Bedford, Gloucester, Portsmouth, and Ellsworth. There will also be a web-based hearing on May 26. The fishery council says it wants to collect feedback from fishermen and other stakeholders about the coral protection Link 21:28

Cape fishermen and environmentalists push to protect herring stocks from “Localized Depletion”

Local fishermen are hoping the New England Fishery Management Council will help protect tuna and other fisheries from the herring fleet by agreeing to have measures asking for year-round closures of up to 50 miles east of the Cape analyzed and included during a vote expected later this year. The council is meeting in Mystic, Connecticut, today through Thursday, when the board will work on herring regulations. “There’s a strong feeling that fisheries that used to happen here have been displaced by 10 years of intense herring removal,” said John Pappalardo, executive director of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, and a member of the New England council and its herring committee. “The haddock resource is robust, but there’s no meaningful haddock fishery close to shore.” Localized Depletion. Are they not considering that with the squid fishery too? Oh yes they are! click here to read the story 08:08

You can listen to all the council action by clicking these links. To read the final agenda, click here  Register click here to listen live via webinar.

Withdraw Unlawful Plan Forcing Fishermen to Pay for At-Sea Monitors – Cause of Action Institute

Cause of Action Institute (“CoA Institute”)  has submitted a regulatory comment to the New England Fishery Management Council (“NEFMC”) questioning the Council’s legal authority to move forward a controversial amendment that would force more fishermen to pay for costly at-sea monitors, which are the government’s responsibility.  CoA Institute advised the NEFMC to abandon the Omnibus Amendment, which would imperil an already hard-hit fishing industry by requiring certain fishermen to pay for monitors to police their at-sea activity.  The plan would also open more regional Atlantic fisheries to industry-funded monitors. “The Omnibus Amendment is unlawful and will make it virtually impossible for countless small-business fishermen to pursue their livelihood,” said Julie Smith, CoA Institute Vice President. “Many of these fishermen come from families that have fished American coastal waters for generations.  The federal government should not regulate them out of business. Congress has not authorized it and the economic consequences are too dire. If an agency lacks statutory authority or appropriated funds, it has no power to act. The New England Council should withdraw the Omnibus Amendment.” The cost for a monitor under the amendment is expected to range from $710 to $818 per day at sea.  That would exceed the revenue a fisherman typically lands from his daily catch. CoA Institute represents fishermen challenging another industry-funded monitoring program in the Northeast groundfish fishery.  In that case, a government study predicted that industry-funded monitoring would result in up to 60 percent of mostly small-scale vessels going out of business—a result that the government blithely characterized as a “restructuring” of the groundfish fleet.  Learn more about the case HERE 14:00

Trying to make a living

As soon as Old Man Winter indicates he’s loosening his grip on the Maine coast and spring is finally in the air, lobstermen will begin to rig their traps in preparation for the upcoming fishing season. One of their prime concerns this year, as in any year, will be questions about bait supplies and costs. Like other businessmen, how much money lobstermen take home at the end of the day, and what their annual profits will be, depends upon their costs and the price per pound their lobsters bring at the dock. In addition to any boat payments they may have, and for some fishermen with newer boats, these are high, they’ll be eyeing current fuel and bait costs.,, continue reading the op-ed here 10:32

Small-boat scallop fishermen worry about being overwhelmed by larger boats in the Gulf of Maine

Since the start of the scallop season this month, Jim Wotton has dragged heavy dredges along the seabed off Gloucester, hauling in as much as 200 pounds a day of the valuable clams, the area’s federal limit for small-boat fishermen. Now, to his dismay, dozens of larger, industrial-sized boats have been steaming into the same gray waters, scooping up as many scallops as they can. Unlike their smaller counterparts, the large vessels have no quota on the amount they can catch; they’re only limited by the number of days they can fish.,, NOAA officials acknowledge the fishermen’s concerns, but have declined to take emergency action to close the fishery.,, Representatives of the larger boats say they have every right to fish in the area, and insist their catch won’t threaten the fishery.,, “The situation this year can’t continue and support a strong fishery year in and year out in the Gulf of Maine,” said Pete Christopher, a supervisory fishery policy analyst at NOAA Fisheries. “The council needs to change the way the fishery operates.” read the story here 18:52

Out-of-state scallop boats threaten survival of Maine fishermen

After years of waiting for the northern Gulf of Maine scallop population to flourish, small-boat fishermen from Maine say federal mismanagement of scallop stocks in the area could result in larger boats wiping them out. Hancock fisherman James West said that larger boats, most of which are based out of state, should not be allowed unlimited catches when he is capped at harvesting only 200 pounds of meat a day. And he said he’s angry that the New England Fishery Management Council has known about the regulatory disparity for years and has done nothing to address it. “That’s what makes me so mad about it,” West said Sunday. “I’m shocked the council couldn’t figure out a way to fix this. We’re really getting the shaft.” Council officials say protecting the lucrative resource is a high priority that they plan to address in the coming year. But Maine fishermen say a year could be too late to ensure that federal scallop grounds in the gulf stay productive. continue reading the story here 07:36

Potential coral protection rules could have big impact on Downeast lobstermen

The New England Fishery Management Council has put rules to protect deep sea corals on the fast track, rules that will have a major impact on lobstermen — primarily from zones A and B with some from Zone C — who set their gear around Mount Desert Rock and Outer Schoodic Ridge. The council is considering management measures to reduce impacts to corals from commercial fishing activities in three areas in the Gulf of Maine. One of the proposals would impose a total ban on fishing in the protected areas which, according to an analysis the Department of Marine Resources submitted to the council several months ago, are located in waters that produce about one-third of Maine’s lobster landings in terms of value. Now DMR is asking lobstermen who fish in the potentially closed areas for information that will help the department in its efforts to prevent the fishing bans. continue reading the article here 08:38

ITS HUGE! Grey Sole limits nearly doubled as scientists use ’empirical approach’ to set new specifications

Meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the New England Fishery Management Council approved an acceptable biological catch of 878 metric tons of witch flounder, also known as grey sole, for 2017. When adjusted for management uncertainty, the move will result in a 2017 annual catch limit of 839 metric tons — nearly twice the 2016 annual catch limit of 441 metric tons. The unanimous vote by the council also underscored the escalating distrust commercial groundfishermen reserve for the science NOAA Fisheries uses to fuel its stock assessments. In December, NOAA Fisheries scientists were forced to concede that the model being used to develop the witch flounder stock assessment was irretrievably flawed after it failed the peer review phase of the process. Read the story here 07:51

New England Fishery Management Council meeting in Portsmouth January 24 thru 26, 2017

The New England Fishery Management Council will be meeting in Portsmouth N.H.  at the Sheraton Harborside. To read the final agenda, click here  Register click here to listen live via webinar. 12:06

Coral plan threatens fishing grounds

 The NEFMC is working with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to preserve deep-sea corals from the Canadian border to Virginia. Area lobstermen could lose valuable fishing grounds if a federal proposal to close four areas of Gulf of Maine waters comes to fruition. The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) has drafted a plan that would close a span of 161 square miles offshore to commercial fishing in an effort to conserve deep-sea coral there. Two of those areas, Mount Desert Rock in Lobster Management Zone B and Outer Schoodic Ridge in Lobster Management Zone A, are preferred fishing grounds for local fishermen when lobster head further offshore in the winter. The other proposed offshore closure areas lie in Jordan Basin and Lindenkohl Knoll to the south.  Read the story here 09:34

Atlantic Halibut under Council scrutiny as Maine’s catch increases

atlantic-halibut-1Federal fishing regulators say they are looking to change the way they manage Atlantic halibut in the wake of a surge in catch of the fish. The government lists Atlantic halibut as “overfished” and conservationists want to protect it. But many fishermen say the catch is up because the stock has been rebuilt over recent years. East Coast fishermen caught more than 215,000 pounds of Atlantic halibut in 2015 in the most productive year of fishing for the flatfish since 1972. Catch of the fish in nearshore Maine waters is helping drive the increase, regulators say. The regulatory New England Fishery Management Council decided last month to review management of halibut, which is popular with diners and chefs for its thick, meaty steaks. Exactly what form regulation changes could take isn’t yet known. We’ve identified that this is an issue, and this will be a priority for 2017,” Janice Plante, a spokeswoman for the council, said. Read the story here 08:35

Cape Cod: Summing up the seals

When David Pierce seated himself at the table at the Nantucket Seal Symposium last month, one image came to mind: private pilot Aaron Knight’s video from last April showing miles of gray seals – a dozen deep, cheek by jowl, banding the Monomoy shoreline. Recently appointed as director of the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Pierce is a veteran of decades of fisheries negotiations as former director Paul Diodati’s proxy on the New England Fishery Management Council. Fishery managers live and die by population estimates, known as stock assessments, that help set sustainable catch levels for commercial fishermen, so it was disconcerting to hear that the same level of science had not been applied to the predators who eat them. “The determination of population size is extremely important, especially in the context of ecosystem management in New England,” Pierce said. “If they (gray seals) are out there in large numbers foraging, what might their impact be on the Georges Bank ecosystem?” The answer will not be coming any time soon, according to federal fisheries officials at the symposium. Read the story here 09:43

East Coast fishermen file appeal over cost of government-required ‘at-sea monitors’

fisheries observerThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, requires groundfishermen — those who catch cod, haddock and other common bottom-dwelling species — to carry on board “at-sea monitors.” The observers, hired by three for-profit companies, are third-party workers whose task it is to observe fishermen’s compliance with federal regulations and ensure annual quotas are not exceeded.  The dispute lies in the cost of the monitors and who should pay for them: Fishermen are billed on average $700 a day when a regulator is present. NOAA, meanwhile, says monitors were placed on fishing boats like Goethel’s only 14 percent of the time in 2016 — and claims the fishing industry supported this system of regulation in 2010 when a vote went before the New England Fishery Management Council, an advisory board to NOAA that sets the rules. “At sea monitors were originally supported by the sectors when we went from a days-at-sea form of management to a quota based form of management in 2010,” said John Bullard, the regional administrator for NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office.  Read the story here 14:22

Atlantic Herring MSE Workshop – Dec. 7-8 Live Streaming Information

atlantic herringDear Interested Parties, Please note that registration for the New England Fishery Management Council’s Dec. 7-8 Atlantic Herring Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) Control Rule Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) Workshop is closed.  We are at room capacity at the meeting venue. However, the Council is inviting anyone who wants to listen to the general workshop presentations to participate via webinar or telephone.  Small-group break-out discussions will not be broadcasted through the webinar.  Here are the details. Location:  Sheraton Harborside Hotel, 250 Market Street, Portsmouth, NH 03810. Time-9:00 a.m. Online access to the meeting will be available. Click here for access.  To listen by telephone, dial+1(526)247 8422.  The access code is 257-927-141. The agenda, a workshop overview, and all meeting materials are available on the Council’s website at Atlantic Herring MSE Workshop. 10:11

Effort to protect deep-sea coral has lobster industry on alert

10042762_h13584979-600x450Over 400 Maine lobstermen could lose their traditional fishing territory under a proposal to protect deep-sea corals in the Gulf of Maine. The New England Fishery Management Council is considering a plan that would ban fishing in four designated coral zones spanning about 161 miles of federal waters in the Gulf of Maine – Mount Desert Rock, Outer Schoodic Ridge, Jordan Basin and Lindenkohl Knoll. Here, often on steep rock walls deep under water where sunlight cannot penetrate, scientists have found dense, delicate and slow-growing coral gardens of sea whips, fans and pens. During the cold-weather months, when 52-year-old Jim Dow usually fishes for hard-shell lobsters in deep federal waters, his buoys will encircle Mount Desert Rock, where the lobster is so plentiful that boats will sail for hours to drop traps there. As a result, fishermen call it the Meeting Grounds. He said word is just starting to spread about the coral protection plan, but he said the fishermen he has talked with say they didn’t even know there was coral in the deep canyons below. Read the rest here 10:16

Scallop fishermen will be able to catch more next year

scallops2The New England Fishery Management Council approved rules on Wednesday that are expected to yield about 47 million pounds of scallops during the fishing year that begins in spring 2017. The decision is expected to allow fishermen to continue catching more scallops than they did just a few years ago. “We’re happy. It’s a valuable fishery right now,” said Jimmy Wotton, a Maine scallop fisherman. “People are starting to recognize it’s a top quality product, and they are willing to pay for it.” Fishermen are expected to land the extra scallops in an era when price to consumers is increasing and scallops are growing in popularity. Regulators are also allowing fishermen slightly more access to limited scallop fishing areas next year. Read the story here 17:44

New England Fishery Management Council meeting in Newport, RI November 15-17, 2016 – Listen Live

NEFMC SidebarThe New England Fishery Management Council will be meeting in at the Hotel Viking, Newport, RI November 15, 2016 –  November 17, 2016 . To read the final agenda, click here  Register here to listen live via webinar. click here  They will send you an email notification.  www.nefmc.org 19:15

Cause of Action Institute sues NOAA For New England Fishery Management Council information on member selection

cause_of_action_transparent_273_x_259In its July 13 FOIA request, Cause of Action sought information on how the Secretary of Commerce and NOAA select members in the New England Fishery Management Council, which regulates fishing off the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. “The records at issue in this case, which include records of communication between high-ranking agency officials, will permit the public to understand how the most recent round of membership selection for the NEFMC was handled, and whether that process was at all tinged by political considerations or other untoward government action,” the complaint states. Cause of Action claims that NOAA has never disclosed information about how it selects members of the eight regional regulatory councils operating under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and that the membership might not accurately represent the fishing industry. Read the rest here 10:44