Tag Archives: NMFS

Re-Deploying Observers and At-Sea Monitors: Northeast Observer Waiver Extended Through July 31, 2020

Although we had announced plans to resume observer deployments on July 1, we recognize the Coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve and as such, has required us to re-evaluate and adapt to changing circumstances.  In response, NOAA Fisheries is extending the waiver granted to vessels with Greater Atlantic Region fishing permits to carry human observers or at-sea monitors through July 31, 2020. This action is authorized by 50 CFR 648.11, which provides the Greater Atlantic Regional Administrator authority to waive observer requirements, and is also consistent with the criteria described in the agency’s emergency rule on observer waivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. >click to read< 16:00

Update on Fishery Observer Program Restart, Which Resumes July 1st

On May 29, NOAA Fisheries announced that on July 1, the waiver of fishery monitoring will expire, and we will begin deploying observers and at-sea monitors on vessels fishing in northeast fisheries. In a letter released today, Northeast Fisheries Science Center Director Jon Hare is providing an update on preparations  for a safe and efficient redeployment. For more details and to download the letter, >click to read< 18:30

Judge James Boasberg’s court ruling puts future of Maine lobster industry at risk

United States District Judge James Boasberg’s order found that the National Marine and Fishery Services violated the Endangered Species Act by licensing the lobster fishery. In the second phase of the case, the judge will decide what action is necessary to rectify the situation. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association, an intervenor, and other industry stakeholders around the Gulf of Maine, will submit information for the judge to consider in his ruling.,, Activist Richard Strahan filed a motion in federal court in Bangor to stop fishing in Maine May 15, citing violations of the Endangered Species Act, Maine Public reported. The Maine Department of Marine Resources has no intention of curtailing lobster permits, said spokesperson Jeff Nichols. >click to read< 09:45

Family Fishermen Move to Block Industry-Killing At-Sea Monitoring Rule

Cause of Action Institute (CoA Institute) today filed a motion for summary judgement on behalf of a group of New Jersey fishermen, asking a D.C. Federal Court to vacate job-killing fisheries regulations called the “Omnibus Amendment.” CoA Institute filed suit in February to challenge the industry-killing rule, which requires certain boats in the Atlantic herring fishery to carry “at-sea monitors” at their own cost. The Omnibus Amendment—designed by the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and finalized by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Commerce—is expected to cost fishermen upwards of $700 a day, leading to a projected 20% drop in returns-to-owner (profit). Not only is this industry already overregulated, but the agencies are forcing this unlawful rule upon fisherman without any statutory authority to do so. >click to read< 15:25

Court Finds American Lobster Fishery Requires Incidental Take Statement for Impacts on North Atlantic Right Whale

As commercial fisheries across the United States continue to adjust operations in the face of new legal requirements, such as the shift from single-species to ecosystem-based management, one challenge in particular has dominated the courts: the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recent court decisions have vacated commercial longline fishing permits in federal waters off the coast of California that could endanger the Pacific leatherback sea turtle and restored prohibitions on gillnet fishing gear in a known New England feeding ground for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. This trend continued on April 9, when a federal district court judge in Center for Biological Diversity,,,The American lobster fishery is managed cooperatively by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and NMFS,  >click to read< 14:45

Ruling in whale case signals turmoil for lobster industry

It is too early to know exactly how the ruling in a lawsuit brought by a group of environmental organizations will affect the lobster industry. U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg asked those groups and NOAA to file briefs suggesting an appropriate “injunctive remedy” against further violations of the Endangered Species Act. Whatever that remedy may be, it is likely to come soon and have a significant impact on Maine lobstermen. During the past several months, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher hosted a series of meetings along the coast with members of the lobster industry,, Throughout the process, Keliher warned that the pending federal lawsuit against NOAA was a “wild card” that could affect the regulatory process in undetermined ways. Last week, Keliher said that with the release of the court’s decision the wild card had been played. >click to read< 17:51

With Coronavirus pandemic ravaging our country, temporary relaxation of fishery regulations is urged to help fishing industry

Thanks to our Senators and Congressmen who worked to get specific aid to the fishing industry, that has been hit particularly hard by the closure of restaurants, where 70 per cent of seafood in this country is consumed. Fishermen and wholesalers have had to adapt on the fly and find other ways to market their product to various degrees of success. The closure of so many vital aspects of our domestic economy will have effects that will still be felt a long time after the Virus is tamed.,, I am requesting that NMFS immediately contact the various management councils and commissions to request that special meetings [webinars] of fishery advisory panels be held to discuss the pro’s and cons of this idea, and what fisheries could benefit.,,, By Jim Lovgren. >click to read< 20:48

New England: Fishing Industry and offshore windfarmers no closer to finding solutions

The National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, had refused to endorse BOEM’s draft EIS for Vineyard, complaining that fishing concerns were not addressed adequately. This helped trigger the government’s ongoing analysis of offshore wind’s cumulative impacts in the region.,, In public comments on the USCG port-access study, Meghan Lapp, fisheries liaison for frozen fish supplier Seafreeze, a subsidiary of Spain-based conglomerate Grupo Profand, called for the lanes.,, Lapp also called for an assurance of maritime safety that she said would be compromised by radar interference from wind turbines. >click to read< 08:34

NCLA Sues Commerce, NOAA, NMFS over Its Unlawful New at-Sea Monitor Mandate

The New Civil Liberties Alliance today filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island,,, The suit challenges the agencies’ unconstitutional and statutorily unauthorized effort to force fishing companies to pay for a new agency enforcement program. NCLA represents Relentless Inc., Huntress Inc., and their related company, Seafreeze Fleet LLC,,,  The at-sea monitor mandate for the nation’s Atlantic herring fleet violates the U.S. Constitution’s Article I, and the agencies have exceeded the bounds of their statutory authority because Congress never allowed these agencies to create or to require the industry to finance at-sea monitors or an at-sea monitoring program in the Atlantic herring fishery. more >click to read< 15:07

Enviro group says it may sue NMFS and Coast Guard to prevent whale deaths from ship strikes

The Center for Biological Diversity, which has an office in Los Angeles, alleges that the government agencies are ignoring the requirements of the Endangered Species Act in agency consultations, studies and actions such as speed limits in shipping lanes or protecting critical habitat areas. Ship strikes are a leading cause of death and injuries to whales migrating along California’s coast and are more lethal than previously understood >click to read< 16:22

Scientists weigh in on whale risk tool!

The word is out, almost, on what a panel of independent scientists thinks about the controversial “decision support tool” used by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service last spring when it drafted proposed rules aimed at protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales and other large marine mammals from entanglement with fishing gear. When the fisheries service made its decision last spring on how best to reduce the risk to whales, it relied on a “decision support tool” based on a poll of Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team (TRT) members, rather than extensive data collected over the years, as to where the whales are found and how much interaction there has been between them and Maine lobster gear. >click to read< 11:31

Decision Support Tool Helpful to Those Finding Ways to Reduce Whale Entanglement in Fishing Gear – From NOAA! >click to read<

Family Fishermen Challenge Illegal, Industry-Killing At-Sea Monitoring Rule from Department of Commerce

Cause of Action Institute (“CoA Institute”) today filed a lawsuit on behalf of a group of New Jersey family fishermen to block a new regulation that would force them to pay for third-party “at-sea monitors.” The industry-killing rule—which was designed by the New England Fishery Management Council and promulgated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Department of Commerce—will require certain boats in the Atlantic herring fishery to carry “at-sea monitors” and at their own cost. >click to read< 14:40

NMFS: Maine’s proposal to keep right whales from getting entangled in lobstering gear doesn’t go far enough

The National Marine Fisheries Service has concluded that Maine’s plan to use a combination of weak rope and a 25 percent reduction in the number of buoy lines in state waters achieves, at best, a 52 percent risk reduction, while federal regulators are demanding a 60 percent reduction. “Because your proposal does not meet the 60 percent risk reduction target, we will be obligated to consider additional measures through our federal rulemaking,” said Michael Pentony, regional administrator of NMFS’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office. includes letter, >click to read< 08:09

New Hampshire: Lobstermen lament coming whale entanglement regulations

Seacoast lobstermen weighed in on the proposal at a meeting Thursday night in Portsmouth with the state Department of Fish and Game. They’re still skeptical that their fishery poses enough of a threat to the whales to merit new regulations. And they want more details and input on the new, more easily breakable lines or gear they’ll have to use to keep whales from being entangled. >click to read< 07:10

Lobstermen throw cold water on Maine state plan to protect whales

Fishermen in the heart of Maine’s $485 million lobster industry don’t like a state proposal to protect endangered right whales from buoy lines, arguing that it forces them to give up too much to fix a problem they aren’t causing.About 75 people packed a local lobster board meeting in Deer Isle on Thursday night to vent about the plan, which they argue is overly complicated, puts them in danger and is unlikely to help the species it is trying to save. >click to read< 09:40

Maine Department of Marine Resources Submits Right Whale Proposal to NMFS

In response to requirements under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) has submitted a proposal for regulatory changes to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in advance of federal rule making. >click to read< 13:21

Have you had enough?

Since its inception in 1976, the agency charged with managing our fisheries, the NMFS, has overseen their decline, a decline which in most cases was a product of their own machinations.Usually most ideas the government has for managing our lives are well intended but terribly executed, this was a prime example. NMFS, for all that it was intended to be and do for our fisheries, has failed and in some cases, this wasn’t by mistake, but by design. By John Rice, >click to read< , and the comment venue is open there! 13:37

Uncle Sam wants you to eat more shark

Late last month, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) sent out a newsletter,, “While overfishing has greatly depleted some shark populations overseas, U.S. shark fisheries are some of the most sustainable in the world,” it read. I did a double take, racking my memory for the last time I saw shark as an option at the grocery store or on a restaurant menu.,,  So why is NMFS encouraging eaters to eat more shark? Pointing to its strict fishing quotas, the agency suggests that eaters buying American-caught shark can now do so without guilt. >click to read<  07:19

North Pacific council votes to hike observer fees in 2021

The costs for on-board fisheries observers will be increasing, and no one in the industry is particularly happy about it. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to adjust the observer fee percentage to 1.65 percent of ex-vessel values. It was previously set at 1.25 percent. The increase is intended to cover additional observer services to reach the target coverage rate set out by the council for the various fisheries across the North Pacific region. >click to read< 14:15

Sides battle over Monterey Bay’s anchovy population

A fishing industry group says it has new findings supporting its contention that there is a healthy population of anchovies, which is counter to a nonprofit’s lawsuit challenging how the number of anchovies are determined. Meanwhile, Monterey fishermen say there are tons of the little guys in the local fishery. Gino Pennisi and Neil Guglielmo have been fishing out of Monterey for years, in Guglielmo’s case, since 1956. Both say anchovies are plentiful. But the nonprofit group Oceana,,, >click to read< 13:07

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

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

NOAA answers lobstermen’s critique of whale rules science

NOAA Fisheries released a more detailed response Wednesday to criticisms of the science it used to develop new protections for North Atlantic right whales,,, The response was attached to a letter from NOAA assistant administrator Chris Oliver to Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. (The letter is attached at the article) >click to read< 14:50

Eighteen scientists, environmentalist, blast Maine lobstermen’s stand on whale safety

“Reducing entanglement in East Coast waters of the United States is a critical part of a comprehensive strategy for right whale survival and recovery,” Scott Kraus, chief scientist for marine mammals at New England Aquarium’s Anderson Center for Ocean Life, and Mark Baumgartner, associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and chairman of the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium, said in a letter Tuesday to Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. >click to read<  19:44

LePage And The Whales

Fisheries managers from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are developing new rules that are likely to fall heavily on the lobster industry in New England, especially in Maine, where fishing activity is greatest.,,, Maine’s lobstermen and lobsterwomen found an ally in former Gov. Paul LePage, who recently wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal decrying the proposed rules as misdirected and unnecessary. >click to read<  13:14

Whale entanglments are down on the West Coast. The reason for the reduction is in question.

According to the NOAA, as of Aug. 23, the National Marine Fisheries Service reported 17 confirmed whale entanglements in 2019, compared to 40 for the same period a year prior.,,, The reason for the sharp reduction in entanglements is in question.,,, Pieter Folkens, a permitted whale disentangler for NOAA, said the Center for Biological Diversity’s claim of victory is premature. He said shortening the crab fishing season had little influence on the number of entanglements this year. >click to read< 11:01

IFAW Officials Disappointed with Lobsterman Association’s Position on Whale Issue

The Yarmouth Port-based International Fund for Animal Welfare is expressing disappointment for the Maine Lobstermen’s Association decision to withdraw its support for the Take Reduction Team Agreement concerning right whales. The association withdrew support last week due to what it calls “serious flaws in the data” presented during the agreement process.,, The MLA review of the data also found that current whale protection measures have been effective. Changes to the right whale plan in 2009 and 2014 resulted in a strong downward trend in the incidence of entanglement cases involving U.S. lobster gear, from seven cases prior to 2010 to only one case since then. >click to read< 12:40

Proposal would kill more sea lions to protect fish

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

CT offshore wind may face some rough seas

The state and its offshore-wind-loving neighbors all face a year-end expiration of a federal tax credit that helps finance these projects – the first major attempts in the U.S. But in Connecticut some problems – including at least one self-inflicted one – could mean forgoing that money.,, One part of that balancing act involves the fishing industry, which seems to have driven the delay after the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a division of NOAA, refused to sign off on the Vineyard Wind environmental impact statement. Indeed, the fishing industry is among the few cheering the government’s protracted analysis of the plan.,,, >click to read<  09:48

Maine: Second round of meetings scheduled on right whale issue

Earlier this week, DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher announced that he would hold a second round of meetings with each of the state’s seven Lobster Zone Management Councils to consider area-by-area suggestions of how to deal with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s proposed rule that would require a 50 percent reduction of vertical endlines on lobster traps in much of the Gulf of Maine. >click to read<  11:27

BOURNE: Lobstermen seek help in protecting right whales, Testimony cites burden on local industry.

Commercial lobstermen urged federal regulators Wednesday to take Canada to task for its failure to protect North Atlantic right whales and to remember that local lobstermen carrier a heavier burden of regulation than others in U.S. waters. “We as lobstermen do not want to see harm come to the right whale,” Plymouth lobsterman Tom O’Reilly said at a public forum at Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School, the eighth in a series of meetings held this month,,, >click to read<08:40