Tag Archives: NMFS

2017 Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries NMFS is pleased to present the 2017 Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries managed under the science-based framework established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). The 2017 report highlights the work toward the goal of maximizing fishing opportunities while ensuring the sustainability of fisheries and fishing communities. Due to the combined efforts of NOAA Fisheries, the eight regional fishery management councils, and other partners, three previously overfished stocks were rebuilt and the number of stocks listed as overfished is at a new all-time low. >click to read<16:04

New England Fishery Management Council to hear Sector IX’s post-Rafael plans

The New England Fishery Management Council will be updated on the groundfish crisis involving several New Bedford-based fishing sectors when it convenes for three days of meetings next week in Mystic, Connecticut. The groundfish presentation by staff from the Gloucester-based Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office will be the centerpiece of the groundfish report on Wednesday and is designed to provide “an overview of (Northeast Fishing) Sector IX’s steps to address its shortcomings, as well as a summary of Sector IX’s operations plan,” according to the agenda for the meetings. >click to read<19:26

Can anyone save the North Atlantic right whale? A group of South Shore lobstermen say they know what the answer is

By the time Mike Lane shoves off the Cohasset docks, it’s past 8 a.m. — practically lunch time for a lobsterman. But it’s early spring, and the South Shore fisheries are mostly closed, so Lane is keeping a somewhat relaxed schedule. Lobsters tend to hole up for the season several miles farther offshore, and Lane would like to be there, fishing his 800 traps. That area also happens to be a feeding area for North Atlantic right whales — one of our planet’s most endangered species. And so, four years ago, the federal government closed these grounds for much of the winter and spring. That means all Lane can do right now is set a few traps in a small area just outside Cohasset Harbor. >click to read<11:37

NOAA/NMFS to foot at-sea monitoring costs – Thank You Senator Shaheen!

Timing may not be everything but it sure counts for a lot. Just ask New Hampshire groundfisherman David Goethel. Goethel, who had persevered through cascading years of escalating regulation, slashed fishing quotas, a failed lawsuit and, more recently, the prospect of paying the full cost of at-sea monitoring, was ready to get out of commercial groundfishing. “I had planned to sell my boat this summer,” Goethel said Wednesday, referring to his 44-foot, Hampton, New Hampshire-ported Ellen Diane. “I was done.”  Last week, following a full year of working behind the scenes with U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Goethel got the news he and other groundfishermen wanted to hear: >click to read<08:24

Gear is in wrong place for right whales, scientists say

Speaking at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum on Friday,,, The NOAA Fisheries Large Whale Take Reduction Team recently established separate working groups to study two proposals to reduce the risk of entanglement: splicing several 1,700-pound breaking strength “weak link” sleeves into vertical lines such as those that connect lobster buoys to traps; and removing those ropes altogether by requiring the use “ropeless” fishing gear. Those working groups will focus on whether either solution is technologically feasible, whether it will actually work for fishermen, and whether it can be cost effective for fishermen.,, >click to read<10:32

NMFS Weighing Privately Funded Assessment of Summer Flounder Stock

For the first time, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will consider privately funded science in formulating regulations for summer flounder. Funded by the Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund (SSFFF) and its contributing partners, a groundbreaking sex-structured model created by Dr. Patrick Sullivan of Cornell University was presented in January to the NMFS’ Stock Assessment Workshop in the hope of obtaining a clearer picture of the summer flounder population. The ultimate goal is to improve the accuracy of the next stock assessment,,, >click to read< 23:14

World’s largest sea turtle could come off ‘endangered’ list

An arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has received a petition from a fishing group asking that the Northwest Atlantic Ocean’s leatherback sea turtles be listed as “threatened,” but not endangered, under the Endangered Species Act.,,, NOAA officials have said the agency has reviewed the petition from New Jersey-based Blue Water Fishermen’s Association and found “substantial scientific and commercial information” that the move might be warranted. The agency now has about eight months to make a decision about the status of the turtles. >click here to read< 13:56

Seeking a 41 percent butterfish quota decrease, NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments on Proposed Quotas for Squid and Butterfish

NOAA Fisheries proposes squid and butterfish quotas for the 2018-2020 fishing years and will maintain the mackerel quotas previously set for 2018. Based on the status of these stocks, we are proposing a 41 percent decrease in the 2018 commercial butterfish quota compared to 2017, and a 2 percent increase for longfin squid. Annual quotas for Illex squid would be maintained at current levels, as they have been since 2012. A March 2017 butterfish assessment update indicates that recent low recruitment may soon reduce biomass below target levels. click here to read the notice 12:55

Listing the Bearded Seal as Threatened: A Disturbing Victory for Untestable Hypotheses and Flawed Models.

The Center for Biological Diversity also petitioned to list thriving populations of Bearded Seals as threatened or endangered by melting sea ice. In response to their petition, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) assembled a Bearded Seal Biological Review Team (BRT). The BRT’s report can be read here. Oddly, despite promoting a threatened designation, the BRT reports Bearded Seals have existed for over 1-2 million years, surviving far greater bouts of climate change as the earth bounced between several ice ages and warmer interglacials. An interesting (click here) read by Jim Steele 18:25:37

NOAA/NMFS seeks input on proposed sea lion removal at Willamette Falls

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public input on an application from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) to remove, by lethal means if necessary, California sea lions preying on endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead at Willamette Falls on the Willamette River near Oregon City. The approach would be similar to the ongoing removal of sea lions preying on vulnerable populations of protected fish at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.  Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), each application NOAA Fisheries receives for removing problematic sea lions must undergo independent consideration. info, click here to read the story 08:36

NOAA/NMFS Seeks Comments on Proposed Rulemaking for American Lobster Fishery

NOAA Fisheries seeks comments on the American lobster control date, changes to lobster trap gear marking requirements, and allowing substitute vessels to fish lobster traps for federally permitted but inoperable vessels. In accordance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Addenda XXI and XXII to Amendment 3 of the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for American Lobster, NOAA Fisheries may select January 27, 2014, or another date, as a control date for the lobster fishery, depending on public comment and input from the Commission. click here to read the press release 12:53

NOAA Fisheries Seeks Comments on Proposed Scup Quotas

NOAA Fisheries proposes to revise the 2018 quotas and announce projected 2019 quotas for the scup fishery. Compared to the current specifications in place for 2018, this action would increase the commercial quotas and recreational harvest limits each by approximately 40 percent. The recent scup stock assessment update indicated that the stock is not overfished and overfishing did not occur in 2016. The update also showed that the 2015 year class was about 2.1 times larger than the average recruitment (i.e., number of age 0 scup) from 1984 to 2016. huh! click here to read the press release 17:28

NOAA Approves State Water Exemptions for Scallop Fisheries in Maine and Massachusetts

The State Waters Scallop Exemption Program allows federal permit holders to fish in the state waters scallop fishery on a more equitable basis where federal and state laws are inconsistent. The Program specifies that a state with a scallop fishery may be eligible for state waters exemptions from specific regulations if it has a scallop conservation program that does not jeopardize the objectives of the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan. click here to read the press release 12:41

Alabama Red Snapper Reporting System – Snapper checks show fear of exceeding quota unfounded

Preliminary numbers from the Alabama Red Snapper Reporting System, aka Snapper Check, indicate the fear that Alabama anglers would exceed the 2017 quota were unfounded. “Using the Alabama Snapper Check numbers, we’re going to be well within the historic allocation for Alabama, so the 39-day season did not put us over, which was a concern for the commercial fishing community and part of the charter fishing community,” said Scott Bannon, Acting Director of the Alabama Marine Resources Division (MRD). “Now the concern we have is what the MRIP (Marine Recreational Information Program) numbers will show, and those numbers are not out yet.” click here to read the story 09:11

Senator Warren: New Bedford should keep Rafael’s fishing permits

And another voice enters the fray. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has weighed in on the debate over the ultimate fate of Carlos Rafael’s seized commercial fishing permits, saying in a letter to NOAA Fisheries the permits should remain in New Bedford. “It has been reported that (Rafael’s) fishing permits may be cancelled or seized by the federal government and I am urging you to do everything possible to ensure that those permits stay in the port of New Bedford,” Warren wrote to Chris Oliver, NOAA Fisheries’ assistant administrator for fisheries. “Not doing so has the potential to devastate the local economy and effectively punish numerous innocent workers and businesses in New Bedford for Mr. Rafael’s crimes.” click here to read the story 18:57

SAFMC – Officials OK red snapper fall season

Federal fishery officials approved a plan Monday to allow Southeastern anglers to harvest red snapper in the Atlantic Ocean later this fall, which would be the first open season for the popular game fish since 2014. Under the plan, the season would last six to 12 days spread out over several three-day weekends and would begin at the end of October. The decision must be approved by NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency that oversees all fishing regulations in federal waters. If the agency approves the decision, it will set the exact number of days the season will last and when it will start. The decision also opens red snapper to commercial fishing, although boats will be limited to just 75 pounds of fish per trip. click here to read the story 19:12

NOAA Fisheries Announces Illex (Shortfin) Squid Fishery Closure on September 15

After reviewing new landings information, we now project that the Illex squid fishery will reach its domestic quota for the 2017 fishing year on September 15. NOAA Fisheries is therefore closing the directed fishery in federal waters effective September 15 through the end of the fishing year, December 31, 2017.click here to read the notice 12:24

Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program – 2017 Awards

NOAA Fisheries has awarded more than $2.3 million to partners around the country to support innovative bycatch reduction research projects through its . Bycatch of various species–fish, marine mammals, or turtles–can have significant biological, economic, and social impacts. Preventing and reducing bycatch is a shared goal of fisheries managers, the fishing industry, and the environmental community. click here to read the notice 14:10

Fish pie – Everyone wants a piece

Representatives of the haves and have-nots of American ocean fisheries gathered in a packed college classroom here on Wednesday to offer Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, their ideas on what he could do with the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act. The now 40-year-old federal fisheries legislation is the legacy of the late and revered Alaska Sen.Ted Stevens.,,, And there is no doubt the MSA has problems when it comes to dealing with recreational fishing. Anglers, charter-boat operators, commercial fishermen and environmental groups are at the moment all in a Gulf of Mexico scrum fighting over red snapper. It is in many ways a tussle that almost makes the long-running fish war in Cook Inlet look tame. click here to read the story 08:25

Pacific bluefin tuna not considered engangered

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries branch has determined that Pacific bluefin tuna are not endangered and do not need protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. The determination was announced Monday by Chris Yates, assistant regional administrator for protected resources, NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, in response to a petition from activists and environmental groups across the nation asking the Trump administration to list Pacific bluefin tuna as endangered.,, A scientific review team found that the population is large enough to avoid the risks associated with a small population, such as a year with low survival, and that Pacific bluefin has recovered from similarly low levels in the past. click here to read the story 09:17

Time is running out to protect the Atlantic coast

President Trump has proclaimed that his administration is seeking “American energy dominance.” The reality is we’re already there. The United States produces more natural gas and oil than any other nation. We do import about 25 percent of our oil needs mostly from Canada and Mexico. However, that’s only because we export about 1 million gallons a week of the type of domestically produced oil we don’t want. The U.S. is beholding to no other country for our energy security. If these facts come as a surprise to you, then you are ripe for being deceived by those who want to use airgun blasting to explore for oil and gas off the Atlantic Coast. The petroleum industry and its allies are trying to convince you that current technology and procedures for testing for offshore oil and gas deposits are safe. click here to read the story 09:13

NMFS Chief Chris Oliver suspends large whale rescues in U.S. following rescuer death

An American agency that responds to marine mammals in distress has halted its efforts to free large whales trapped in fishing gear following the recent death of a whale rescuer in New Brunswick. Chris Oliver, assistant administrator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, extended condolences Wednesday to the family of Joe Howlett of Campobello Island. Howlett, who also worked as a lobster fisherman, was killed Monday after freeing a North Atlantic right whale that had been entangled in fishing gear near Shippagan, N.B. “Because ensuring the safety of responders is of paramount importance, NOAA Fisheries is suspending all large whale entanglement response activities nationally until further notice, in order to review our own emergency response protocols,” Oliver said in a statement. click here to read the story 14:37

NMFS: Public Comment Period Opens – Review and Streamline Regulatory Processes and Reduce Regulatory Burden

On January 24, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13766, “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects” (82 FR 8657, January 30, 2017). This E.O. requires infrastructure decisions to be accomplished with maximum efficiency and effectiveness, while also respecting property rights and protecting public safety. Additionally, the E.O. makes it a policy of the executive branch to “streamline and expedite, in a manner consistent with law, environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects.” click here to read the press release. click the links to comment. Let ‘er rip. This is your chance to be heard. 16:46

N.J.’s fluke question will be answered next week

New Jersey will get an answer to the question of whether the state is out of compliance with its 18-inch summer flounder regulation next week. State officials from the Department of Environmental Protection were able to plead their case to NOAA Fisheries on a June 27 conference call. “We were able to go into great detail about the data behind New Jersey’s management measures that will conserve more fish and reduce the number of larger breeding females removed from the fishery, and therefore provide stronger recruitment for the future,” said NJDEP Spokesperson Bob Considine. click here to read the story 09:36

Chris Oliver Appointed to Lead NOAA Fisheries

Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, with concurrence from the White House, named Chris Oliver Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. The Texas native assumed his new position on June 19, taking the helm from Acting Assistant Administrator Samuel Rauch who will return to his position as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs.,,, Oliver most recently served as Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a position he held for the past 16 years. He has been with the Council since 1990, also serving as a fisheries biologist and then deputy director. During his tenure as executive director he led the way on several cutting edge management initiatives, including development of limited access privilege programs and fishery cooperatives and catch share programs, the North Pacific’s comprehensive onboard observer program, numerous bycatch reduction programs, extensive habitat protection measures, commercial and recreational allocation programs, and coastal community development programs. He was also responsible for all administrative and operational aspects of the Council process, and lead staffer for legislative and international issues. click here to read the press release 11:32

NOAA Fisheries Announces Reimbursement Rate of 60 Percent for 2017 At-Sea Monitoring Costs in Groundfish Fishery

Effective at-sea monitoring (ASM) programs are essential to the success and sustainability of Greater Atlantic Region fisheries. Groundfish vessels in the Greater Atlantic Region that participate in the sector program are required to carry a fisheries observer or an at-sea monitor for a portion of their trips. Fisheries observers are provided and typically paid for by the Federal government in the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) program and at-sea monitors are partially paid for by industry in the at-sea monitoring program. In 2016, industry began paying their portion of at-sea monitoring costs and NOAA Fisheries was able to reimburse 85 percent of industry’s expenses for July 2016-April 2017. Read the press release here 13:01

NOAA Fisheries Approves Amendment 18 to Address Fleet Consolidation in Groundfish Fishery

NOAA Fisheries has approved Amendment 18 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. The Amendment establishes permit accumulation limits to minimize fleet consolidation in the groundfish fishery. Amendment 18 limits the number of permits and annual groundfish allocation that an entity could hold. Also, to increase fishing opportunities and promote fleet diversity, Amendment 18 increases flexibility for fishermen on limited-access handgear vessels. Read the final rule as published in the Federal Register, and the permit holder letter posted on our website.Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel at 978-281-9175 or [email protected]

NMFS – Revised black sea bass quotas for the 2017 fishing year and projected specifications for 2018.

NMFS proposes revised black sea bass specifications for the 2017 fishing year and projected specifications for 2018. In addition, this rule proposes to remove an accountability measure implemented at the start of the fishing year designed to account for commercial sector overages in 2015. Updated scientific information regarding the black sea bass stock indicates that higher catch limits should be implemented to obtain optimum yield, and that the accountability measure is no longer necessary or appropriate. This action is intended to inform the public of the proposed specifications for the 2017 fishing year and projected specifications for 2018. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. local time, on May 1, 2017. continue reading the notice here 10:38

GARFO: At-Sea Monitoring 2017 Coverage Levels for Groundfish Sector Fishery

NOAA Fisheries announces that for fishing year 2017 the total target at-sea monitoring coverage level is 16 percent of all groundfish sector trips.  This target coverage level is a 2 percentage point increase from the 2016 coverage level (14 percent). As the target coverage level is set based on an average of at-sea monitoring data from the past 3 full groundfish fishing years, this level is set based on data from the 2013-2015 fishing years. Federally funded observer coverage provided by the Northeast Fishery Observer Program to meet the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) requirements will partially satisfy the 16 percent coverage requirement. Sectors will therefore actually pay for at-sea monitoring coverage on less than 16 percent of their groundfish trips, but the total will depend on the SBRM coverage rates, which are not yet out. Read the press release here, For more information, please read the Summary of Analysis Conducted to Determine At-Sea Monitoring Requirements for Multispecies Sectors FY2017  13:59

Clam Boats Test Paperless Reporting – eClams (Electronic Clam Logbook and Account Management Software)

NEFSC cooperative research and data management staff are offering to install equipment on commercial fishing vessels for electronic trip reporting in the surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries. So far, 35 vessels from New Bedford, MA to Atlantic City, NJ have been outfitted to voluntarily test the system, and more than 700 e-trip reports have been transmitted. Called eClams (Electronic Clam Logbook and Account Management Software), the system allows fishermen to electronically record all the information required on the paper-based fishing trip report. These data are transmitted to NOAA Fisheries after the trip using land-based communication services such as WiFi. Read the rest here 11:28