Tag Archives: NMFS

Maine lobstermen say ‘red listing’ a threat to their livelihoods without cause

“I truly believe the lobstermen have done everything we’ve been asked by National Marine Fisheries and the DMR,” said Gerry Cushman, who has been lobstering in Port Clyde for 38 years. “We’re not the bad guys here,” he said. “You ask us to do it, we do it. So why are you putting us on the red list? “ The Seafood Watch listing is recommending consumers not buy American lobster from either the U.S. or Canada. Maine is the primary producer of that lobster for the U.S. Cushman said he believes Seafood Watch has taken the action against Maine fishermen to pressure them to stop fighting proposed regulations in court. Steve Train, a lobsterman from Long Island in Casco Bay, echoed those points, saying Maine fishermen have followed all the whale protection rules, even though they have also been challenging them in court. Video, >click to read< 19:37

On The Ropes – Federal court rules against lobster industry in appeal of whale protection regulations

“Obviously, it’s devastating to the lobster industry,” Stonington Town Manager Kathleen Billings told the Islander. Stonington lands by far the most lobsters in the state. In total, Maine lobstermen added an estimated $724,949,426 worth of lobster landings to the state commercial fishery in 2021.  “We have a lot at stake,” Billings continued. “[Lobstering] makes up $60 [million] to $70 million to our economy and to have this recent ruling, and also too with the Seafood Watch list designation, they pretty much put a torch to our industry and burnt it to the ground for us.” >click to read< 08:55

Maine Delegation Presses Fisheries Agency for Fair Treatment of Maine Lobster Fishery

After the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) gave lobster industry participants just two business days to submit proposals for a new risk reduction plan to protect right whales and denied lobstermen and their allies access to a key data tool, Maine’s congressional delegation pushed back today against these decisions by the agency. In their letter to NMFS, Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02), Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME), and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) called out the agency for drastically accelerating the timeline for proposals in the aftermath of a recent decision by the U.S. District Court invalidating a biological opinion for the North Atlantic Right Whale. >click to read< 09:21

Maine lobstermen, politicians rally in protest of fishing restrictions and Seafood Watch’s recommended boycott

At a rally in Portland’s Old Port on Friday, they protested a federal judge’s ruling issue Thursday allowing the National Marine Fisheries Service, a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to impose limits on where and how lobstermen fish in order to protect endangered North Atlantic Right Whales. The rally was also protesting Seafood Watch, a California-based sustainable seafood advocacy group affiliated with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, now recommending food distributors and restaurants boycott Maine lobster in the name of saving the whales. Video, >click to read< 09:55

NMFS survey delivers more bad news to Bering Sea crab fleet

A Bering Sea survey by federal scientists contains more bad news for Alaska, Washington and Oregon-based crabbers hoping for an upturn in upcoming harvests that last year fell to rock-bottom levels. The federal survey results for Bristol Bay king crab are bleak and crabbers have been warned that for a second consecutive year there may not be a fall harvest, according to Jamie Goen, executive director of the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers. “We have got an emergency,” Goen said. “I’m trying to get Congress to act to help.” The National Marine Fisheries Service survey does offer hope for improved harvests three to five years from now, as young snow crabs grow to adult size. >click to read< 12:20

NOAA lays out plans for expanded testing of ropeless fishing technology

In an effort to address the two main causes of human-induced whale mortality, vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released rules to reduce ship speeds and its “Ropeless Roadmap” to prepare for widespread adoption of ropeless fishing. The vertical lines that connect strings of traps on the ocean floor to buoys on the surface can get caught on a whale’s fins or in its mouth as it swims, leading to death in some cases. There are fewer than 350 North Atlantic right whales, according to NOAA. On-demand fishing gear would eliminate the need for the vertical lines in the water until the lobster trap, pot or gillnet is being hauled. >click to read< 15:50

Regardless of party or office, Alaska candidates are targeting trawling

Republicans, Democrats and independents seeking a variety of elected offices across Alaska appear united by a desire to restrict deep-sea trawling. In candidate questionnaires submitted to the Alaska Beacon, candidates for statewide and legislative races, regardless of party, say the restrictions are the best way to improve salmon returns on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. “I support efforts to reduce the wasteful bycatch of Alaska’s seafood by Seattle-based high seas fishing corporations,” said Mary Peltola, the Democratic candidate for Alaska’s U.S. House seat. “Science provides the best guide. However, I think most Alaskans agree it is past time to get high seas trawler bycatch under control,” said Tuckerman Babcock, a Republican candidate for an Alaska Senate district on the Kenai Peninsula. >click to read< 19:46

DC North Atlantic Right Whale Ruling

“The MLU is exploring all legal options to ensure that forthcoming judicial decisions on NOAA and NMFS’s arbitrary assumptions will finally result in some meaningful protections for the NARW that do not needlessly jeopardize Maine’s heritage industry without any corresponding benefit to the right whale population” Virginia Olsen. Judge Boasberg was correct in stating “the crux of the problem is that the 2021 BiOp projects that in the coming years the American lobster fishery will continue to potentially kill and seriously injure North Atlantic right whales at over three times the sustainable rate.” That projection is not supported by the best scientific available – far from it in fact. Until NOAA and NMFS stop relying on arbitrary assumptions and apportionments and start paying attention to the best scientific data available, which reveals that Canadian fisheries are the source of almost all known causes of entanglements, then both the North Atlantic right whale and the American lobster fishery will go extinct. 13:02

Midwater trawler critics intend to appeal court decision

Fishermen in the Gulf of Maine are seeking to appeal a federal judge’s reversal of an exclusion zone that keeps herring trawlers 12 miles offshore. The March 4 ruling by US District Court Judge Leo Sorokin in Boston could reopen some Northeast waters to midwater herring trawlers, reversing the 2019 rule change that excluded them from a wide swath. from the Atlantic coast from Long Island to the Canadian border. In his opinion, Judge Sorokin wrote that the concept of “localized depletion” put forward by opponents of midwater trawlers has not been adequately defined by NMFS, leading him to rule that the exclusion zone decision violated Magnuson-Steven National Standard 4. Fishing Management and Conservation Law. >click to read<  14:28

Golden asks for more lobstermen on panel

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden (ME-02) called on the National Marine Fisheries Services March 16 to expand representation of lobstermen on its Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team by including members of Maine Lobstering Union Local 207. The Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team is charged with making recommendations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for addressing rising North Atlantic right whale mortalities. Only four of the members of the 60-person team are Maine lobstermen. >click to read< 17:46

Mid-Water Herring Trawlers to Return to Inshore Waters – Court Overturns Exclusion Zone

Herring fishermen from New England and the Mid-Atlantic won a crucial decision last week when a federal judge in Boston ruled in their favor against an exclusion zone in Northeast U.S. waters. The court ruled that a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) measure excluding the mid-water trawl fleet from productive inshore fishing grounds violated the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation’s premier fisheries law. The lawsuit was brought by the Sustainable Fisheries Coalition (SFC), a trade group representing herring and mackerel fishing companies. >click to read< 08:16

New rules for scallop fishery scheduled to take effect April 1 in Northern Gulf of Maine

A Feb. 17 presentation on upcoming changes to Northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishery management drew a number of New England fishermen to listen to scallop leaders from the New England Fishery Management Council and NOAA. The biggest change for scallop fishermen is that vessels fishing in Northern Gulf of Maine waters will be required to take industry-funded scallop observers on board when selected to do so. Additionally, a portion of Stellwagen Bank in Massachusetts Bay will open for scallop fishing. >click to read< 10:14

Maine wants whale protections delayed

Maine’s governor and congressional delegation are calling on the federal government to push back new fishing rules designed to protect whales so fishermen can comply with them. New lobster fishing rules require fishermen to start using weakened rope or special inserts to weaken existing rope beginning in May in some waters. They said a lack of compliant gear is making it hard for harvesters to comply with the rules. >click to read< 07:27

Maine: Whale rules, pending lawsuits focus of gloomy Lobster Advisory Council meeting

A complicated and potentially grim future is predicted for the commercial lobster industry, with environmental groups, gear changes, the closure of offshore waters to lobster fishing and judicial rulings painting a “doom and gloom” picture, in the words of Department of Marine Resources  Commissioner Patrick Keliher. “I think there’s going to be a lot of moving pieces,” Some of those pieces could spell the end of the commercial lobster fishery in Maine, DMR Deputy Commissioner Meredith Mendelson said, as she ran through the current lawsuits aimed at preserving the North Atlantic right whale. If any or all prevail, the lobster fishery will bear the brunt of the results. >click to read< 08:12

Maine lobster rules should be based on real-world data – the government needs more than guesswork

The people involved in the Maine lobster fishery got a reprieve from new federal whale protection rules last week. U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker ruled  Saturday that the Maine Lobstering Union had successfully shown that a temporary ban on fishing would cause some of their members “irreparable harm.”  Walker found that the government scientists failed to show that the rules would protect any whales, or even that there would be any North Atlantic right whales in protected areas to benefit from a closure. >click to read< 10:55

Offshore wind won’t fish – There is no compatible mixing of wind turbines and fishing!

The endangered species of the Maine fishing family is already dancing around the newly announced National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) restrictions to protect the right whales from gear entanglement. Add several 10,000-ton floating wind turbines, and even more whale restrictions on the NOAA docket (98 percent gear reduction in 10 years), and you have a severely impacted Maine fishing industry.,, I fear NOAA is more a friend to the Green New Deal than to our fishermen, or even our whales. By Rep. Sherman H. Hutchins, >click to read< 14:21

Maine Legislature threatens legal action while Maine Lobstering Union moves ahead – Files Federal Lawsuit

The Maine Legislature is threatening to fight the federal government in court over a set of controversial new seasonal restrictions on lobster harvesting in the Gulf of Maine. Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a new set of rules for New England’s lobster fishery aimed at reducing the risk to critically endangered North Atlantic right whales and other whale species. >click to read<  The Maine Lobstering Union (MLU) has filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the District of Maine, seeking emergency relief related to the impending closure by agencies of the federal government of productive lobster grounds utilized by Maine’s lobster fishermen and women. >click to read< 11:04

DMR briefs legislature on impact of NOAA’s new lobstering rules, options for appeal

On September 14, the Maine Legislature’s Committee on Marine Resources met and discussed the impact new rules recently released by the NOAA will have on Maine’s lobster industry, as well as the state’s legal options for appealing the rules.,, The new rules not only close nearly 1,000 square miles to lobstering between October and January, a time of year when lobster prices are at their highest, but changes the kind of gear lobstermen can use. Also discussed were threats to the right whale posed by Canada. As Keliher pointed out, the NMFS’ biological opinion noted that even if Maine is 100% successful in taking steps to protect right whales, whales will continue to go extinct if they continue to be hurt in Canada. Keliher also stated that he has had conversations with the head of> NOAA, Richard W. Spinrad, Ph.D < who hasn’t yet had a meeting with the Canadian government, but has agreed to raise the issue of including state representatives in Canadian affairs. Keliher also said NOAA’s head considers these conversations to be a government-to-government issue. He stated he disagrees and continues to press the issue. >click to read< 15:51

151 Maine legislators call on Biden to rescind new lobster fishing reg’s, while the real threat remains

State legislators have submitted a letter to President Joe Biden requesting (DEMAND!) that his administration take steps to immediately rescind new regulations on lobster fishing. The new regulations, which are intended to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale,,, Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, a lobster fisherman, initiated the letter. Maine Senate President Troy Jackson also criticized the new reg’s,, “The new federal regulations are an affront to the men and women who have made a living on Maine’s working waterfront for generations,,, I’m deeply disappointed that NOAA has decided to dismiss the voices of Maine’s lobstering workforce and chosen to go ahead with damaging regulations that do nothing more than hurt our fishermen, while the real threat to right whales remains, Canadian ships.” Video, >click to read< 16:03

Raimondo picks Janet Coit, a source of trusted counsel, to lead the National Marine Fisheries Service

On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Coit’s former boss in the Rhode Island State House, announced the selection of Coit to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries office.,, But the work of the fisheries service is getting even harder as it’s faced with stepping into a brewing fight over coastal waters between fishermen and the developers of offshore wind farms. Coit wouldn’t say much about the expectations for her new job in Washington as she waited for the official word to come down from the Commerce Department. But she was certain that offshore wind will be in the mix. “That’s going to be such a hot-button issue that I’m heading into,” she said.  >click to read<16:46

Biden-Harris Administration Approves First Major Offshore Wind Project in U.S. Waters

Today’s Record of Decision (ROD) grants Vineyard Wind final federal approval to install 84 or fewer turbines off Massachusetts as part of an 800-megawatt offshore wind energy facility. The project is expected to create 3,600 area jobs and will power up to 400,000 homes. Turbines will be installed in an east-west orientation, and all the turbines will have a minimum spacing of 1 nautical mile between them in the north-south and east-west directions, consistent with the U.S. Coast Guard recommendations in the Final Massachusetts and Rhode Island Port Access Route Study. >click to read< 15:05

We’re on the Highway to Hell!

The Last of the Port Clyde Groundfishermen – Once robust, Maine’s groundfishery is on the ropes

When Randy Cushman was growing up in Port Clyde, some 300 trawlers were moored up and down Maine’s coast,,, Today, Cushman is 59 years old and might be Maine’s most knowledgeable commercial fishermen.,, But Cushman is barely scraping by. Prices for cod, flounder, and other groundfish have all but collapsed in Maine. The combination of rock-bottom prices, the need to protect the state’s fish stocks, and a dearth of fishing infrastructure make it harder than ever to be a fisherman here. Today, the robust Maine trawler fleet of Cushman’s youth has been reduced to around 30 boats. photos, >click to read< 14:21

Massachusetts Lobstermen fear end of their livelihood

Dan Pronk is worried a new set of proposed NOAA and NMFS restrictions aimed at saving the North Atlantic right whale could be the nail in the coffin for the lobstering industry on Nantucket. “We’ve got five years left of lobstering down here,” said Pronk, the only commercial lobsterman on Nantucket, and one of only a handful of lobstermen around the region with traps south of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. “It’s career ending if they get their way. We’re bending over backwards to appease these people. >click to read< 13:28

NCLA Seeks Summary Judgment in Case Challenging NOAA’s Unlawful at-Sea Monitor Mandate

The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group, has filed a motion asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island to award summary judgment in favor of NCLA’s clients in Relentless Inc., et al. v. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, et al. NCLA argues that the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Marine Fisheries Service have no power to make fishermen pay for monitors the government puts on their boats. So, NCLA is asking the Court to declare NOAA’s regulation seeking to implement an industry-funded, at-sea-monitor mandate on the nation’s Atlantic herring fishermen unconstitutional and set it aside. >click to read<20:31

Local Dungeness crab fishermen oppose new fish and wildlife regulations

The regulations are a product of concerns surrounding how often whales and other endangered species are getting caught in the ropes used to fish crabs. The regulations were met with some resistance from the local fishing community. However, conservationists argue the rules will do more good than harm to wildlife. Tim Obert, a fisherman, strongly opposes,,, “You’re driving down the street and you accidentally run over a squirrel or maybe you hit a deer on a mountain road, it doesn’t mean you go park your car in the garage and never turn it on again or never leave your house,” he said. Ben Platt, the President of the California Coast Crab Association, also opposes the regulations,,, >click to read< 08:13

NOAA Fisheries Approves Electronic Reporting Requirements for Mid-Atlantic and New England Commercial Vessels

NOAA Fisheries has approved a recommendation from the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils to require federally permitted commercial fishing vessels to submit vessel trip reports electronically as eVTRs within 48 hours of the end of a trip. This requirement will take effect November 10, 2021. This action affects all commercial vessels holding federal permits for any species managed by the Mid-Atlantic or New England Fishery Management Councils, >click to read< 14:59

Zone C lobster council OK’s trawl limit plan for new whale protection rules

Zone C Lobster Management Council held a special meeting on the internet in late September to get an update on the situation from Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher and consider a zone-specific plan for gear modifications that will likely be required by NMFS. On Aug. 19, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg gave NMFS nine months to craft new rules to protect endangered right whales from entanglement,,, DMR asked the state’s seven Lobster Zone Management Councils to come up with zone-specific proposals,,, Last week, the Zone C council met to consider the recommendations of its working group. >click to read< 16:07

Zone B waits to present recommendation

Even though a deadline to present a state plan designed to minimize potential harm to right whales is fast approaching, members of the Zone B Lobster Management Council asked Department of Marine Resources officials to check numbers for the area 6-12 miles offshore before agreeing to a plan specific to that fishing zone. “The timeline is short,” said DMR Commissioner Pat Keliher,,, While most members of the Zone B council seemed in favor of the subcommittee’s recommendations, there was some hesitation.   “I support thisit would work for me,” said Howland. “I’d hate to railroad it if there are some concerns. This is better than it could be, but it doesn’t sound like it’s ideal for some guys.”,, “There’s a side of me that feels like this is getting stuffed down my throat,” said council member James Hanscom after asking if the decision could be tabled.  >click to read< 08:09

Electronic monitoring long-awaited boon for Cape Cod fishermen

Cape fishermen first started advocating for the use of electronic monitoring in 2006, said Melissa Sanderson, chief operating officer of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “I would say it’s a long time coming,” said Sanderson of the 14 years it took to finally have approval. But six years ago, Maine fishermen revived interest with their own pilot program and Cape fishermen joined the following year using equipment and technical support provided by The Nature Conservancy and grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. >click to read< 09:09

District Court judge denies injunction that would shut down lobster and gillnet fishing in Massachusetts

In a hearing Thursday in United States District Court, Judge Indira Talwani denied an injunction that would have shut down lobster and gillnet fishing in Massachusetts to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales until a trial seeking that closure takes place. Richard “Max” Strahan, who identifies himself in court documents as a lobster fishermen, whale watcher and “protector of endangered wildlife species,” sued the state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs last April under the federal Endangered Species Act. >click to read< 11:41

Gloucester: Lobstermen push against whale rules – ‘We’ve borne the brunt’ – >click to read<