Tag Archives: NOAA

North Atlantic Right Whale: Maine Certified Sustainable Lobster Association loses MSC certification despite sustainable management of the Maine lobster fishery

The Maine Certified Sustainable Lobster Association (MCSLA) announced today that its Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification will be suspended due to a recent decision in the federal case Center for Biological Diversity v. Ross. The certificate suspension is occurring despite continued sustainable management of the Maine lobster fishery and remains the direct result of NOAA’s 2014 biological opinion on the impact that lobster fishing has on right whales. The MCSLA is anticipating NOAA’s 2020 draft biological opinion, which may be made public as soon as August 2020. Once the 2020 biological opinion is finalized and implemented, the MCSLA will work to quickly regain its MSC certification. >click to read< 11:45

Florida fisheries wait for federal aid as prices take a deep dive – fisheries across the nation have experienced steep sales decline

Federal officials Wednesday defended the delay in releasing $300 million on fisheries assistance funding, including $23.4 million for Florida, saying the pandemic has set them behind in analyzing data to determine how much each fishery is due. Senators on the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee urged faster action to offset the impacts of COVID-19 on the seafood industry. Committee Chairman Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., noted that fisheries across the nation have experienced up to a 90 percent decline in sales.,, In May, the CARES Act allocated $300 million for fisheries assistance funding. Florida received $23,447,815, according to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. However, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has not approved the state’s plan. >click to read< 13:03

Coronavirus: COVID-19 and mandated on-board fisheries observers during the pandemic resurgence

The NOAA/NMFS “Navy’s” at-sea surveys in the Northeast region were cancelled at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and will not be resumed for at least the remainder of this year. “Since March, we have been rigorously analyzing various options for conducting cruises this year and are taking a  survey-by-survey, risk-based approach. After much deliberation, we determined that there was no way to move forward with these surveys while effectively minimizing risk and meeting core survey objectives,” according to officials at the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in a statement issued July 10.,,, But mandatory on-board observers pose no COVID 19 threat to commercial captains or crew?,, the mandatory on-board observers are scheduled to be back aboard commercial fishing vessels come August. >click to read< By Nils Stolpe, http://fishnet-usa.com/ 21:08

Fishing industry seeks emergency waiver from federal fishery observer requirement.

West Coast trawlers and fishing industry leaders looking to minimize the risk of exposure to the coronavirus are asking for an emergency waiver from a requirement to carry human observers. The National Marine Fisheries Service provided a two-week waiver from observer coverage in the spring. Chris Oliver, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, clarified in a message posted Thursday that waivers remain available on a vessel-by-vessel basis. According to a spokesman, the federal agency has issued some individual vessel waivers for trips in the past three months — all were for times when observers were not available, not for other reasons, such as a vessel operator’s concerns about the coronavirus. >click to read< 15:54

Fisheries across nation seeking monitor waivers

What began in the fisheries of New England has spread across the country. Fishing stakeholders from as far away as the West Coast and Alaska have joined Northeast commercial fishermen in pressuring NOAA Fisheries to extend — and uniformly apply — waivers from having to carry at-sea monitors and other observers on vessels while the COVID-19 pandemic still rages. The Seafood Harvesters of America, an umbrella organization that represents 18 separate fishing groups from Maine to Alaska, wrote to NOAA Fisheries and Department of Commerce officials this week to advance many of the same safety arguments against reinstating observers aboard commercial fishing vessels in the midst of the pandemic. >click to read< 16:30

NOAA Cancels Three Northeast Research Surveys due to Coronavirus Uncertainties

Due to the uncertainties created by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and the unique challenges those are creating for NOAA Fisheries, we are cancelling three research surveys off the Northeast United States. The cancelled surveys include those for sea scallop, Atlantic surfclam/ocean quahog, and an advanced technology survey investigating the ocean’s mesopelagic layer—the “twilight zone.” These are difficult decisions for the agency as we strive to balance our need to maintain core mission responsibilities with the realities and impacts of the current health crisis. >click to read<  20:42

Northern Right Whales Are on the Brink, and Trump Could Be Their Last Hope

The task of responding will fall to an unlikely champion, President Trump, whose recent appeals for support from Maine lobstermen could clash with the task of saving the right whale. Peter Corkeron, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium who spent nearly a decade chronicling the gruesome deaths of right whales as the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s research program for large whales, said he feared the listing would have little impact. “Lobstermen certainly recognize the dire circumstance that the right whale species is in right now,” Patrice McCarron, “We’re in this awkward situation where right whales are not doing great, and it’s certainly not the fault of the commercial fisheries.”PEER also filed a complaint last year with the inspector general of the Commerce Department, which oversees NOAA, arguing that federal officials intent on reopening fishing areas have been ignoring their own scientists on climate change as well as other threats to whales. >click to read< 11:37

America Needs To Stop Relying On Countries Like China For Seafood Markets

When Americans visit a supermarket and wander past the meat counter, they see this century’s equivalent of the fishmonger’s stall: the seafood department. Laden over crushed ice in glass cases sits an array of fish products — whole snapper or shrimp, maybe, but almost always pre-sliced filets in a bevy of hues. Oysters and clams complete the display. In the rare cases where stores divulge the provenance of seafood, placards will often list Thailand, China or South American countries. Less frequently, however, will one see U.S-raised or caught seafood in such displays. This is disappointing to the patriot who wishes to ‘buy American.’ >clickto read< 07:00

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

#FishermensLivesMatter: Until this pandemic is over, say no to fishery observers being placed on fishing vessels

On July 1st the Trump Administration’s agency, NOAA will require that fishing vessels resume taking fishery observers on their fishing trips. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic these activities have been suspended for almost three months due to the danger of spreading the deadly disease among the
fishing industry and their families. Fishery observers are required by National Marine Fishery Service regulations to observe commercial fishing operations in almost all of our countries fisheries based on various criteria that include likelihood of interaction with marine mammals or other protected species, amount of bycatch in each fishery, adherence to regulations, and anything else they can justify to support this huge taxpayer money gobbling con game they have created. >click to read< by Jim Lovgren #FishermensLivesMatter 22:27

Officials examining right whale found dead off N.J. – wounds are “consistent with a vessel collision”

The whale’s carcass was spotted floating in the ocean near Monmouth Beach at 12:15 p.m. Friday after first being seen a few miles south in the water off of Long Branch, according to a statement from NOAA.,, was working on a plan to tow it to shore so it could be examined and its cause of death could be determined by a team of investigators.A preliminary examination of the mammal showed several wounds along its head and body that are “consistent with a vessel collision,” however its official cause of death was still unknown, NOAA officials said. >click to read< 08:50

Coronavirus: LI fishermen concerned about restart of onboard monitoring program

Some fishermen in Montauk this week said they plan to refuse to allow the federally mandated observers and monitors to board their boats, given the resurgence of COVID-19 around the country and the uncertainty around potential infection from observers, some of whom are housed in Hampton Bays, once considered a Long Island hot spot for the virus. The federal agency ordering the resumption of monitoring said it has enacted a series of safety protocols to protect fishermen and observers, including requiring that observers quarantine for 14 days before the start of a fishing trip. >click to read< 17:14

Displacement of fishermen? Offshore Wind Could Have Major Adverse Impact on Commercial Fisheries

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) draft supplemental environmental review for Vineyard Wind off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts indicates that offshore wind farms could have a major “adverse” impact on commercial fisheries.,, The study also notes concern that offshore wind turbines and transmission cables could entangle with fishing vessels and gear, and that wind farms could result in the temporary or permanent displacement of fishermen in certain areas.  >click to read< 13:02

N E looks to Europe to assess environmental impacts of offshore energy facilities – “In the next 20 years there will be more than 2,000 wind turbines off the coastline,” “We think there’s lots of potential for environmental benefit of putting offshore aquaculture together with offshore renewable — from an environmental point of view, but also from an economic point of view,” she said. “Sharing space is going to be the only way I think we can move forward in this industry,,, >click to read<

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

Crab Command and Control – California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group

“Whales getting entangled in fishing gear is a huge crisis,” says John Mellor, a commercial fisherman and a member of the working group since its inception. “It has to be dealt with, and dealt with in real time.” Once or twice a month during Dungeness crab fishing season, which normally runs from November 15 to July 15, scientists in the working group conduct a series of mini research projects looking at four risk factors for entanglements: how many whales and sea turtles are around, where whales are likely to forage, the number and locations of recorded entanglements, and information about fishermen, including their landing data, license numbers, and the locations of their traps. >cxlick to read< 08:35

Congressmen urge NOAA to extend at-sea monitor waiver for Northeast commercial fishing vessels

In a letter to Neil Jacobs, an acting undersecretary at the Department of Commerce, U.S. Reps. Seth Moulton and Bill Keating said a continuation of the at-sea monitor waiver is “critical to both protect the health and welfare of fishermen who are working to sustain their operations and to maintain our region’s seafood supply during the continued COVID-19 pandemic.” On March 24, NOAA Fisheries implemented the at-sea monitor waiver and took the observers off the boats. It has extended the waiver at least twice. >click to read< 07:44

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

Fighting for fishermen on a bi-partisan, bi-coastal basis during Coronavirus crisis – Senator Ed Markey

Restaurants have shuttered and large export markets have been disrupted. Fishermen have lost access to critical points of sale and sources of income. With a decreased demand for fresh seafood, many boats sit idle in port. Meanwhile, boat payments are due and families need to be fed. In the U.S. Senate, I have been fighting on a bipartisan basis alongside Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Alaska senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan to secure dedicated economic assistance for the fishing and seafood industries in COVID-19 economic relief packages. Thankfully, this bi-coastal effort got results. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted into law on March 27, included $300 million in assistance for fishery participants and $9.5 billion for affected agricultural producers. >click to read< 12:22

Judge weighs shutting down Southeast Alaska Chinook fishery

Fishermen in Southeast Alaska could see their season cut short if a federal judge issues an injunction requested by a Washington environmental group to protect the food supply of a subpopulation of orcas. The Wild Fish Conservancy filed a lawsuit against NOAA,,, “We are getting blamed for harvesting their food source, which really isn’t the cause of the problem,” Amy Daughery, executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association said. “The problem as we see it, is the exponential population growth in Seattle, which has lead to a lot of toxicity and pollution and habitat loss in that area. And so these whales are really struggling, this one population. The Northern killer whales that we see off the coast of Southeast Alaska are doing very well. In fact they’ve increased.” >click to read< 10:19

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

Commercial Fisheries and Fishermen Can Apply for CARES Relief But Not Yet

On May 7, the Secretary of Commerce announced the allocation of $300 million in fisheries assistance funding provided to states, tribes, and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID-19. As a next step, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration will use these allocations to make awards to its partners – the interstate marine fisheries commissions, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands – to disburse funds to address direct or indirect fishery-related losses as well as subsistence, cultural or ceremonial impacts related to COVID-19. But relief may take some time. No funds have yet been made available to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission or states. The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection staff is working diligently to develop a spending plan and application process that must be approved by NOAA. >click to read< 11:07

NOAA – Their mission

Back in the sixties when I was fishing with my dad we would fish about a one hundred miles east of New Bedford for whiting in the spring. We had a ninety foot dragger. And there were Russian vessels there that were three hundred foot  and they were using a small mesh net that caught everything in the water. At the time there was no 200 mile limit. The Russians and other foreign vessels could come into our waters and were restricted to within fifteen miles of our coast. Today  no one knows how much damage they did but our fisherman would eventually pay the price. Finally in 1978, we enacted the 200 mile limit. That was great so we thought, but we created a monster. That being NOAA. >click to read< Thank You, Sam Parisi 08:52

Coronavirus: NOAA Cancels Five Large-Scale Fishery Surveys

NOAA announced Friday that it will cancel five out of its six large-scale research surveys in Alaskan waters this year due to COVID-19. The canceled surveys include the Aleutian Islands bottom trawl survey, the eastern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey, the northern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey, the Bering Sea pollock acoustics survey, and the Fall Ecosystem Survey. The Alaska Longline Survey is not affected.  “We determined that there is no way to move forward with a survey plan that effectively minimizes risks to staff, crew, and the communities associated with the surveys. For instance, conducting the key groundfish and crab surveys in a limited timeframe would require extraordinarily long surveys, well beyond standard survey operations,” >click to read< 11:47

Presidential order on aquaculture draws environmental concerns over proposed fish farm, like pollution and escapements?

The federal waters of the contiguous United States are free of aquaculture farms, but a new executive order from President Donald Trump could hasten attempts by fish farm companies to take the plunge. Southwest Florida could be at the forefront of the push for more farms as a pilot program works through a permitting process. Environmental groups worry the order will greenlight offshore operations, creating concentrated sources of pollution and putting wild species at risk. The executive order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth was signed May 7,,, Ocean Era, formerly Kampachi Farms, is waiting on permits for its pilot finfish farm, Velella Epsilon. The farm will be about 41 miles southwest of Sarasota in the Gulf of Mexico and raise 88,000 pounds of almaco jack fish each year. >click to read< 10:45

Activist Seeks Preliminary Injunction To Halt Lobster Fishing In Maine

There are new developments Friday in the legal battle over whether rope used by Maine lobstermen poses a deadly threat of entanglement to endangered North Atlantic right whales. Richard Strahan’s case is similar to one he brought in Massachusetts, where a federal judge ruled recently that the lobster fishery there violates the Endangered Species Act. Strahan says state governments and NOAA have deliberately ignored the law. In another case, a coalition of conservation groups late Friday filed their proposals for protecting the right whales. That’s after a judge’s finding that the federal government violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to stall the whales’ slide toward extinction. The Conservation Law Foundation and others say the judge should immediately bar use of vertical rope,,, >click to read< 11:42

Massachusetts Lobstermen push against whale rules – Aug 22, 2019 >click to read<

The Northeast Observer Waiver Has Been Extended Through 5/30/2020!

NOAA Fisheries is extending the waiver granted to vessels with Greater Atlantic Region fishing permits to carry human observers or at-sea monitors for an additional two weeks, through May 30, 2020. 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. NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor and evaluate this situation. As we have done in other parts of the country,  >click to read< 15:04

 Coronavirus: The country is shutting down. Shutdown NOAA’s Fisheries Observer Program, nationally. Right Now. – 06:06 March 20, 2020, I am writing this editorial today as a responsible, conscientious American fishermen and citizen, in complete disbelief of the irresponsibility of a U.S. government agency during the current international coronavirus crisis. >click to read<

CARES Act Stimulus: Funding process for Florida Keys fishermen slowly unfolds

Both commercial and for-hire fishermen in the Florida Keys hit hard by the economic shutdown spurred by the novel coronavirus may apply to receive a portion of $23.6 million allocated to the state through the CARES Act Stimulus. Of the $300 million slugged for federal fisheries’ assistance, Florida is to receive about 12.7%, or the fourth largest share behind Alaska, Washington and Massachusetts. While Capt. Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, says the Keys fisheries have been slighted, he remains optimistic about the upcoming lobster season. NOAA will administer the funds through the interstate marine fisheries arms. For here, that’s the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which will, in turn, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to identify and establish a plan for fishermen to apply for funds. >click to read< 11:44

Maine: Elver price plummets; lobster industry seeks help

Earning a living as a fisherman is tough in the best of times. Right now, times are bad and Maine fishermen have to hope they don’t get any worse.
Last year, according to the Department of Marine Resources, Maine harvesters landed 9,620 pounds of elvers, juvenile eels, and dealers paid $20,119,194 for the catch, an average price of $2,091 per pound for the fishermen. Things are markedly different in this year of the coronavirus pandemic.,, Like elver harvesters, members of Maine’s lobster industry have experienced an extraordinary disruption of their fishery. Most lobsters are consumed in restaurants or other commercial settings,,, >click to read< 16:30

North Atlantic Right Whale: State must secure incidental take permit within 90 days to to avoid fishery closures

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani said that Massachusetts has done the most of any state in the country to keep endangered North Atlantic right whales from becoming entangled in lobster pot and gillnet lines.,, In her April 30 decision, Talwani postponed ruling on closing fisheries, but gave the state just 90 days to obtain an incidental take permit under the Endangered Species Act from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On Monday, a federal judge in Maine ruled that a similar suit could proceed, denying NOAA’s motion to dismiss. Both injunctions were brought forward by Richard “Max” Strahan, a longtime and controversial right whale activist with several prominent cases over the past two decades who sued under the Endangered Species Act. >click to read< 11:35

SE Alaska Chinook controversy attracts more user groups

A controversy over whether NOAA Fisheries is properly managing Chinook salmon stocks in Southeast Alaska, with consideration for a hungry whale population in decline, has been joined by sport and charter fishermen who say Alaska is not the problem. The environmental organization SalmonState, along with the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association and Alaska Trollers Association said on Monday, April 27, that sport and charter harvesters have joined them in support of NOAA Fisheries in a lawsuit brought by Wild Fish Conservancy, of Duvall, Washington. The group characterizes as misguided the decision of WFC to sue NOAA Fisheries in federal court to halt Chinook salmon trolling in Southeast Alaska effective July 1. >click to read< 16:15