Tag Archives: NOAA

Maine: Next Generation Of Lobstermen Brace For Unprecedented Change

On a boat near Kennebunkport in late July, lobsterman Chris Welch demonstrated new ropeless gear made by a Massachusetts company. It costs about $4,000 per trap, several times more than a traditional lobster trap, which is usually $80-180. “So far it is retrievable,” Welch says. “But the challenge of the Maine fishery is there’s 5,000 lobstermen and we all fish amongst each other and attempt not to fish on top of each other. With these units unless you’re staring at your electronics all day or your iPad, there’s no way of knowing where the next guy is.”  The 33-year-old is against going ropeless and thinks the gear is a long way from being practical or affordable for most lobstermen. “I foresee it becoming a big boat fishery,” >click to read<  10:55

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

NOAA Ok’s plan to cut West Coast nontribal salmon fishing when fish are needed to feed orca

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries adopted the plan Tuesday as recommended by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. It calls for restricting commercial and recreational salmon fishing when chinook salmon numbers are especially low. It’s one of the the first times a federal agency has restricted hunting or fishing one species to benefit a predator that relies on it. The fishing restrictions would extend from Puget Sound in Washington to Monterey Bay in central California, and they would be triggered when fewer than 966,000 chinook are forecast to return to Northwest rivers. >click to read< 08:57

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

Rep. Sherm Hutchins – Maine’s lobster industry is under siege

Maine’s lobstermen and women are under attack by the Biden Administration after a recent set of rule changes restricting seasonal lobster fishing in 950 square miles of federal waters off Maine’s coast. This is an inflexible and poorly considered attempt to protect the North Atlantic right whale population. The series of rule changes are the most heavy-handed in a long line of attempts to undermine the lobster industry here in Maine. If our fisheries are not protected, and if these rules are not reversed, Maine’s fishermen and women will not recover. >click to read< 09:47

More siege from the non-productive slugs of the enviroscam movement – Zack Klyver, science director with the group Blue Planet Strategies, has a different view on the issue. I’m sympathetic to them and know that they work extremely hard,,, >click to read< 11:25

Unexpected Changes – Backlash from lobster industry and elected officials on restrictions, closures

Barry Baudanza hadn’t had the chance to fully absorb all the changes headed his way after federal officials announced new rules governing the lobster industry the day before, but he knew one thing right off the bat: “This was the worst-case scenario.” But lobstermen, the fishing industry and elected officials are pushing back. They say the new rules will be expensive, dangerous, burdensome and impractical, and won’t reduce the risk to whales.  And despite lobstermen’s concerns and protestations that they aren’t even seeing right whales in Maine waters, conservationists argue that the plan does not go far enough to protect the critically endangered animals. >click to read< 10:07

16 proposed laws that could be on the Massachusetts ballot in 2022 – # 10, Proposed by a conservationist known as the “Prince of Whales,” the ballot question would “ban the use of commercial fishing gear likely to entangle whales and sea turtles.” State officials would have to determine exactly which gear falls into that category, but anything that “employs vertical buoy ropes or gill nets would be prohibited.” >click to read< 

Why Are The Chum Runs So Low? It’s not just an Alaskan/Yukon phenomenon.

The State of Alaska has closed fishing for chum to protect the runs. For Yukon River families, chum is particularly important. Chinook salmon have been low for decades, but chum were the fish families could depend on until last year, when the summer chum run dropped below half of its usual numbers. This year the run dropped even further, to record lows. Biologist Katie Howard with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said that the chum declines are not just occurring in the Yukon River. “When we talk to colleagues in the lower 48 and Canada, Japan, Russia, they are all reporting really poor chum runs. So it’s not just a Yukon phenomenon. It’s not just an Alaska phenomenon, but pretty much everywhere,” So why are the chum numbers so low? The short answer is no one really knows for sure. >click to read< 10:38

NOAA Predicts 70 Percent Chance of Rainy La Niña Weather Across the Pacific Northwest

The drought-stricken Pacific Northwest is expected to see heavy rainfall in the coming months, scientists say. The NOAA predicts that the La Niña weather pattern could emerge as early as August, and have the potential to dump heavy rainfall across Pacific Northwest throughout the 2022 winter season. The storms will likely provide relief for much of America’s Northwest, which is currently experiencing various stages of intense drought. Video, >click to read< 10:59

Feds botched the review of Vineyard Wind, lawsuit alleges – Concern over right whales in lawsuit

A group of Nantucket residents opposed to an offshore wind farm planned for waters south of the island filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking to stop its construction, arguing that several federal agencies violated laws intended to protect endangered species. BOEM and NOAA, which are named in the suit, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Vineyard Wind, a joint project of a Danish company and a U.S. subsidiary of the Spanish energy giant, Iberdrola, also declined to comment. Vallorie Oliver, another Nantucket resident and group member, argues federal officials haven’t provided adequate research to back up their claims that the wind project will have minimal impact on the right whales and other marine life. >click to read<Concern about endangered right whales cited in lawsuit over Nantucket Wind Farm – ACK Residents Against Turbines said Vineyard  Wind’s proposed project of some 60 turbines 22 kilometres south of the island is in a crucial area for foraging and nursing for the species, which researchers estimate number less than 400. Mary Chalke, a Nantucket resident and member of the opposition group, said the lawsuit isn’t just about Vineyard Wind, but other turbine projects also in the pipeline up and down the Eastern Seaboard. >click to read< 17:35

Second phase of regulation changes to protect North Atlantic right whales include groundfisheries

The federal Large Whale Take Reduction Team instituted sweeping changes in the rules governing the Northeast lobster and Jonah crab fisheries to help reduce gear entanglements. Now, the team is turning its attention to other fisheries in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic The second phase is expected to significantly impact a number of commercial gillnet fisheries in New England and elsewhere along the East Coast, including monkfish, spiny dogfish, skate and other groundfish fisheries. The second phase also will address trap/pot fisheries not covered in the first phase, including Atlantic deep-sea red crab, slime eels, black sea bass, shrimp, scup and others. >click to read< 18:25

Kodiak Fisherman Sentenced to Prison and fined $1M for Lacey Act violation

According to court documents, James Aaron Stevens, 47, an experienced commercial fisherman, vessel owner and captain, pled guilty in November 2020 to falsely labeling fish in violation of the Lacey Act. Stevens, owner and operator of F/V Alaskan Star and F/V Southern Seas, falsely reported where he harvested 903,208 pounds of individual fishing quota (IFQ) halibut and sablefish. Stevens knowingly falsified numerous documents, IFQ landing reports, Alaska Department of Fish and Game fish tickets, and fishing logbooks, to show that he harvested fish in locations and regulatory areas where he did not fish and omitted areas where he actually fished. Stevens committed this offense over the course of 26 fishing trips spanning four IFQ fishing seasons (2014-2017).  Taken together, the halibut and sablefish that Stevens falsely reported had an approximate dock value of $4,522,210 and market value of $13,566,630. Stevens sold the falsely labeled fish caught during these trips, which were, or were intended to be, transported in interstate and foreign commerce. >click to read< 19:08

Challenges abound, but lobstermen say they’re in it for the long haul

Around 2 a.m. each morning, a parade of trucks from around the region begins the journey down to the Stonington docks, marking the start of another day of lobstering in Maine. In short, a large part of coastal Hancock County and beyond depend on lobster. One of the locals that has made her living off lobster is Julie Eaton, a member of Stonington’s 300-plus lobster boat fleet. She’s been at it for 39 years now and to her it’s not just a job, it’s a way of life. Every fisherman has their own story, but almost all of them say they got into the business because they love working on the ocean. For the hundreds of lobstermen in the region, things are going pretty well at the moment, even with the pandemic. While things are going well, if you talk to almost any Downeast lobstermen about the future of their industry, the conversation will come to two things: right whales and wind turbines. >click to read< 13:28

Crackpottery? A Ropeless Future for Lobster Fishing, they say!

The object thrown overboard was not in fact a trap but a ropeless fishing system deployed in a demonstration for passengers on the boat, including a film crew, a reporter and three people who study or advocate for right whales. Zack Klyver chartered the boat and arranged the demonstration. Through his consultancy, Blue Planet Strategy, he has been working as an intermediary between manufacturers, whale advocates and lobstermen, who find themselves on various sides of a regulatory survival equation as the federal government moves to protect endangered right whales. In ropeless fishing, Klyver sees a potential win for everyone involved, but getting there may take time and a fair amount of persuasion. Some funky photos,  >click to read< 17:40

Peconic Bay bay scallop fishery – Scallop Disaster Declared, But Some Hope for 2022

Ask any bayman, and all would agree that the bay scallop fishery in the Peconic Bay estuary system in the past two years was a total calamity. As such, it was no surprise to learn that the United States Department of Commerce recently declared the events of 2019-20 a fishery disaster. The declaration makes the fishery eligible for disaster assistance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Baymen may also qualify for disaster assistance from the Small Business Administration, according to the Department of Commerce. The department has balances remaining from previously appropriated fishery disaster assistance and will determine the appropriate allocation,,, >click to read< 10:27

Stonington fishermen fight for their livelihoods: The fleet’s past, present and tenuous future

While they have weathered storms, the loss of 41 fleet members at sea, declining catches and restrictions on how much fish they can land, the aging group of mostly men who make up the Town Dock Fleet now face a set of new challenges that threatens their future and that of the state’s last surviving commercial fleet. These include the difficulty of luring young people into a grueling but potentially lucrative occupation and the leasing of vast areas of their fishing grounds to offshore wind energy companies that plan to erect hundreds of massive turbines. >click to read< 09:17

Long Island: When will bay scallops once again be plentiful?

After years of up and down harvests, 2021 is shaping up as another potentially poor year for bay scallops. Bay scallops have been a multi-million-dollar crop for the fishing industry, from the baymen or women who work hard to harvest them in, to the markets that sell them and the restaurants that feature them prominently on menus. The loss of this cash crop, such an iconic symbol of our bays, hurts many people and calls into question the present and future health of our bays, as changes in water temperatures and steady sea rise continue. For perspective, consider this: After the huge crops of previous years, a die-off in 1985 caused by algae blooms brought the scallop almost to extinction. >click to read< 11:07

RODA Receives NOAA Fisheries Grant

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, a broad membership-based coalition of fishing industry associations and fishing companies, has received an additional $155,000 grant from NOAA Fisheries to conduct a second “Synthesis Of the Science” symposium on floating offshore wind interactions with fisheries. This funding builds upon the $150,000 grant the agency awarded to RODA in 2020 to conduct the first-of-its-kind symposium on the current science regarding fisheries and offshore wind interactions. >click to read< 16:04

Another ‘red tide’ left 15 tons of dead fish on Tampa Bay’s shore. Experts warn of more destruction

The dead fish have been washing up on the shores of Tampa Bay in West Central Florida since at least early June, thanks to a natural phenomenon known as “red tide”, large “blooms” of toxic algae that spread through the water. They can harm sea creatures and even humans. Since Tropical Storm Elsa swept Florida last week, the problem has become worse, as strong winds pushed scores of lifeless fish onto the shores of St. Petersburg, surrounding residents and visitors in a miasma of rotting death. >click to read< 11:01

F/V Scandies Rose: Inaccurate Stability Instructions, Ice Accumulation Led to Fatal Sinking

NTSB issues 7 Safety Recommendations from its investigation into the F/V Scandies Rose sinking. The 130-foot crab fishing vessel capsized and sank on December 31, 2019, The investigation found that although the crew loaded the Scandies Rose per the stability instructions on board, the instructions were inaccurate and, as a result, the vessel did not meet regulatory stability criteria and was more susceptible to capsizing. The NTSB made seven recommendations, including four to the Coast Guard, one to the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners’ Association, one to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and one to the National Weather Service. The agency also reiterated two safety recommendations previously issued to the U.S. Coast Guard. >click to read<,– to review all related articles, >click here<10:32

Lobster industry is anxious over upcoming North Atlantic right whale protection rules

The federal government is working on new rules designed to reduce risk to North Atlantic right whales,,, One of the threats the whales face is entanglement in ropes that connect to lobster and crab traps in the ocean. Early indications show that the changes required by the rules could be significant. They’re also vulnerable to ship strikes, and face the looming threat of warming oceans. Acting NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Paul Doremus said in June that the U.S. and Canada, which also harvests lobsters, must “take and sustain additional efforts to reduce right whale mortalities and serious injuries.” >click to read< 10:39

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

Herring Fishermen lose challenge to rule requiring at-sea monitors

A federal judge in Washington D.C. on Tuesday denied the bid of New Jersey-based herring fishermen who sued the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) last year to block a new regulation that will require them to pay for third-party “at-sea monitors” who will survey by-catch. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that the agency had not acted in violation of the MSA,,, About half-a-dozen small fishing vessel operators, including the Loper Bright Enterprise, brought the lawsuit last year. >click to read< 11:57

US Embargo Hits Mexican Shrimp Industry Hard

The United States has suspended certification of wild-caught Mexican shrimp, preventing producers from export part of their production to the USA. Already financially weakened Mexican shrimp exporters are confident that the decision will be reversed soon, but have concerns about the severe economic consequences. US inspectors identified non-conformities in the turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in dozens of fishing gears inspected at Sonora, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Campeche ports. News of the embargo was received with concern by the shrimp fishermen all over Mexico. ‘But we haven’t felt any impact yet, given that we had already exported all stocks and we’re now waiting for the next shrimp season to start in September,’ >photos, click to read< 13:13

N.J. fishing industry to get another $9.5M for Coronavirus relief

An incoming tide of federal dollars aims to lift a few boats, bait shops and seafood markets in the Garden State. New Jersey is set to receive another $9.5 million in COVID-19 relief money for the state’s fishing industry,,, The influx of cash comes from the $900 billion relief package passed by Congress and signed by former President Donald Trump in December. The money will be given to New Jersey by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, after the state Department of Environmental Protection gets a spending plan for the money approved. The DEP plans to submit its plan in coming days. >click to read< 17:50

Fed Right whale plan could mean lobster industry changes – a reinvention of the fishery as we know it

Federal officials recently released plans,,, But it’s the risk reduction target, an aggressive 98 percent, that Maine Department of Marine Resources officials said means only one thing, “a complete reinvention of the fishery as we know it.” The conservation framework, an addition to the 582-page biological opinion, creates a four-phased approach to all but eliminate the death and serious injury of the whales in federally managed fishing grounds. The first phase calls for a 60 percent reduction in right whale deaths and serious injuries this year. Patrice McCarron, Maine Lobstermen’s Association, fears the industry can’t sustain that level of change.  “If you look at the changes we’ve made over the last 25 years, there’s not a lot left to give,”, >click to read< 10:27

Whales Are Shrinking. Scientists Blame Commercial Fishing Gear

The findings, published today in the journal Current Biology, reveal that when fully grown, a North Atlantic right whale born today would be expected to be about one meter shorter than a whale born in 1980. The stunted growth of the whales coincides with an increasing rate of entanglements. A 2012 study from the New England Aquarium revealed,,, Researchers acknowledge that entanglements do not explain all of the reduced growth. Other factors might be climate change, collisions and noise from ships, and the shifting availability of tiny crustaceans called copepods, their primary food source. >click to read< 13:30

NOAA Fisheries Releases Final “Batched” Biological Opinion & North Atlantic Right Whale Conservation Framework

NOAA Fisheries released its Endangered Species Act (ESA) section 7 Biological Opinion on the authorization of eight federal fisheries management plans under the MSA two interstate fishery management plans under the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act, and the implementation of the New England Fishery Management Council’s Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2. We also released the North Atlantic Right Whale Conservation Framework for Federal Fisheries in the Greater Atlantic Region (Conservation Framework). NOAA Fisheries has evaluated the effects of the authorization of the fisheries, as modified by the Conservation Framework, on endangered and threatened species. The 10 fisheries included in the Opinion are:  >click to read< 12:22

Silence from Shoreline Press on Undersea Electric Problems – We’re not talking what you can see, it’s what you can’t

All the exciting press about the installation of windfarms focuses on the seemingly blithe turbine blades swirling innocently in the free breeze,,, the mantra offered by Baker, Raimondo, Lamonte and Cuomo. The necessary undersea electric cables that connect the swan like turbines to the shore are viewed by the wind industry itself as their Achilles Heel. It has already shown its ugly face in the functioning of the five turbines off Block Island. This has placed an unexpected $80 million repair bill (just five turbines, mind you, and less that 18 miles of cable) on the rate payers. Orsted, which has  bought the Rhode Island wind company, has publicly said “we do not discuss our financial matters.” The repair will take two years, and a large swath of ocean is closed to commercial fishing—blues, sword, squid, lobster, clams, flounder, haddock. No fishing! Trawl gear hauled along the bottom will catch on that now exposed cable and strum it like a banjo string. Twang! Snap!!  >click to read< 16:54

Two dead whales found lodged under hull of Australian warship docked in San Diego

The whales were discovered as the ship, HMAS Sydney, berthed at Naval Base San Diego, the Australian Royal Navy said in a statement. Experts say the physics of the situation are somewhat common, even if the presence of more than one whale makes this scenario rare.,, John Calambokidis, a leading expert on West Coast ship strikes, said the incident highlights what he’s concluded in his research: ship strikes are dramatically underreported. “We think it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 5 or less of the number of ship strikes occurring are getting documented,” >click to read< 08:55

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!