Tag Archives: NOAA

Southeastern fishery closures floated for 2023 federal right whale rule

Don’t call them “proposals,” but four draft packages arose this week in high-level brainstorming sessions among scientists and fishers on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team. The task force’s purpose is to lead the effort to save North Atlantic right whales from extinction. The ultimate goal is a 90% risk reduction to North Atlantic right whales in U.S. waters. “It’s mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, so this isn’t optional,” said Colleen Coogan, branch chief for the Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Team in the Protected Resources Division of the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office. “This is a legal mandate.” >click to read< 10:01

Lobstermen Don’t Deserve Monterey Bay Rating

This past February Monterey Bay hinted it might consider red listing Northeast lobster, not because the fishery isn’t healthy but because of the danger of entanglement in lobster trap lines for the highly endangered North Atlantic right whales. The announcement, which became official on Sept. 6, has spurred an intense campaign to reverse this classification. Some of the data suggest this recommendation might be an overreaction. Another thing missing from this story is how much our fishermen are doing to avoid entanglements: removing “ghost gear,” doing 10 m.p.h. in the bay, and, most significantly, holding back until May, which keeps their gear out of the water when the whales are here. >click to read< 08:36

Future of right whale safe fishing gear could be in Southern waters

Getting heavy ropes out of the water column in Atlantic Coast saltwater fisheries is key to averting the extinction in our lifetimes of the North Atlantic right whale. Northeastern and Canadian lobstering and crabbing operations are deeply invested in heavy traps and the ropes used to access them, so most of the discussions about ropeless gear technology have a decidedly New England accent attached. However, red snapper hasn’t completely chased out pot fishing for black sea bass in South Atlantic waters, so fishers in this part of the world — albeit using lighter lines — are also in the conversation. >click to read< 19:25

Something’s fishy: NOAA urges vigilance after catching fraudulent fishing permit site

NOAA fisheries issued a Notice of fraudulent alert Friday over a website that claimed to process both federal and state fishing permits. It calls itself the Commercial Fishing Permits Center and depending on the permit you want, charges different fees. However, NOAA said the site is in no way affiliated with NOAA or any State. They advise the public to not use the site when applying for a State of federal fishery permit. Links, >click to read< 12:09

NOAA must show proof of right whale claims

A port association that includes the Georgia Ports Authority and a large organization in South Carolina that represents hundreds of anglers and others associated with the recreational and commercial fishing industry have submitted a simple request to the federal agencies that regulate U.S. waters. The request: Provide the data behind an amended regulation that could lead to dire consequences for industries that generate billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs. The National Marine Fisheries Service and its mothership, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, are proposing to amend the Atlantic Right Whale Strike Reduction Rule. If adopted, fishing craft between 35 and 65 feet in length will be required to follow the same speed mandate as large vessels. From Nov. 1 to April 15, none would be allowed to exceed 10 knots, roughly 11.5 mph, when in waters frequented by right whales. >click to read< 12:43

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

F/V Aleutian Isle: Diesel oil from sunken vessel is ‘nonrecoverable’

More than 200 feet below the surface of Haro Strait, a major shipway for British Columbia, a fishing vessel has settled on the sea floor near Sunset Point off the west coast of San Juan Island. The 49-foot purse seiner F/V Aleutian Isle began sinking on Aug. 13, sending waves of a glossy diesel sheen two miles north of the sink. What was initially a search-and-rescue response quickly turned into minimizing the environmental impact. Initial reports of the sinking said there were about 2.500 gallons of diesel on board the Aleutian Isle. This diesel, and the sheen it creates, poses a unique issue for agencies tasked with its maintenance and cleanup. Photos, >click to read< 21:22

Invasive Green Crab Detected in Alaska for the First Time

The green crab is an invasive marine species spreading throughout the coastal waters of the United States. Efforts between NOAA Fisheries and Metlakatla Indian Community have been leading the way on monitoring to detect this species’ presence in Alaskan waters. The green crab has been found in U.S. waters since the 1800s, but this is the first confirmed presence in Alaska. They are a threat to native species and habitats. They are highly competitive predators that can decimate shellfish populations, outcompete native crabs, and reduce eelgrass and salt marsh habitats. They are a serious threat for Alaska’s tidal habitats. >click to read< 11:47

NOAA Fisheries Issues On-Demand Gear Exempted Fishing Permit

August 23, 2022 – Yesterday, NOAA Fisheries issued an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) to the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center (Center) to continue trials of on-demand gear in the American lobster fishery. The EFP will provide an exemption from Federal lobster gear marking requirements for approximately 30 federally permitted commercial lobster vessels, with the potential to increase to up to 100 vessels total during the one-year project period.  The EFP will allow participating vessels to test alternatives to static vertical lines in trap/pot fisheries (also referred to as on-demand gear), including up to 30 vessels fishing in Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Restricted Areas with no static vertical lines. >click to read< 14:18

Marine biologist perplexed by snow crab disappearance

 It’s a mystery perplexing marine biologists that could lead to a loss of one of Alaska’s most prized seafood exports — the Bering Sea snow crab. Many theories have been hypothesized as to what is causing the declining crab populations throughout Alaska, ranging all the way from migration of the crustaceans to predators taking them out. However, Erin Fedewa, a research fishery biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the disappearance of this Alaskan staple could be a warning about how quickly a fishery can be wiped out in a new, shifting world. Video, >click to read< 12:39

Bycatch stirs debate at fisheries roundtable

Hosted at Kenai Peninsula College by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, the three-hour event brought together a who’s-who lineup of fisheries and policy experts from Alaska. That lineup included Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang, who said Bering Sea trawling is not responsible for Alaska’s declining chinook salmon runs. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act defines bycatch as fish harvested in a fishery that are not sold or kept for personal use. The phrase is sometimes used generally to refer to the capture of fish that are not being targeted by a specific fishery that are discarded. >click to read< 09:59

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

Some ship operators push back at rules requiring slowdown for whales

Federal regulators who want to enforce new vessel speed rules to help protect rare whales can expect some pushback from ship operators. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the new proposed rules, which are designed to protect the last remaining North Atlantic right whales, last month. The rules would expand seasonal slow zones off the East Coast and require more vessels to comply with the rules. The American Pilots’ Association is concerned the new rules would make operations more hazardous for pilot boats, said Clayton Diamond, executive director of the group. >click to read< 13:41

NOAA rejects Trump-era expansion of rock shrimp fishing on Oculina Bank

In a surprise and unusual move last week, NOAA Fisheries rejected the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s request to allow this type of commercial fishing in 22 square miles of the area, where it has been prohibited since 2014. The ruling will keep about 19 permitted rock shrimpers, mostly from the Port Canaveral area, from working in a region believed to be habitat for the delicacy. Rock shrimp, known for their unique flavor, sell in Brevard County seafood markets for $29 a pound. Conservationists celebrated the decision, but the matter isn’t settled yet. >click to read< 08:04

Annual fisheries meeting tackles lobster lawsuits, whale protections

Tuesday in Washington D.C., key players from Maine’s lobster fishery tackled what it considers its most pressing issues. The first issue was an update regarding Judge James Boasberg’s July ruling in the U.S. District Court case involving the Center for Biological Diversity versus Secretary Raimondo and the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. This case made the news in early July after Boasberg ruled regulators aren’t doing enough to protect the right whale. Just days after, he sided with environmental groups in another lawsuit to allow Area 1 to close again to fishermen this coming fall and winter. Another issue was a proposal to shrink the size limit for lobsters over the course of five years in order to replenish the declining population of young lobsters. Also, reduced boat speeds and the future of ropeless lobster traps. >click to read< 20:15

Don’t Cage Our Oceans: Fish farming may threaten rare Gulf whale

The site approved for the Velella Epsilon fish farm in federal waters west of Venice is one of just three potential aquaculture opportunity areas under consideration off Florida’s Gulf coast. There are six others — three in the central Gulf south of Louisiana and Mississippi and three east of Texas — as well as 10 in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast. It’s part of a collusive effort between fish farming companies and the federal government to divide up national waters for profit, James Mitchell, legislative director of Don’t Cage Our Oceans, said. >click to read< 13:49

Ship Strikes: Ships must slow down more often to save whales, feds say

Vessels off the East Coast must slow down more often to help save a vanishing species of whale from extinction, the federal government said Friday. Efforts to save the whales have long focused on fishing gear, especially that used by East Coast lobster fishermen. The proposed vessel speed rules signal that the government wants the shipping industry to take more responsibility. “Changes to the existing vessel speed regulation are essential to stabilize the ongoing right whale population decline and prevent the species’ extinction,” state the proposed rules, which are slated to be published in the federal register. Fishermen are unfairly being held accountable for whale deaths that occur due to vessel strikes, said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, which is the largest fishing industry association on the East Coast. >click to read< 11:33

It’s time to end the era of billion-dollar ‘sealords’ and heed the fishermen

The recent New Bedford Light/ProPublica investigative report, revealing how a billionaire Dutch family currently operates as the largest New England fish-quota owner, confirms what fishermen have been warning lawmakers for decades: that replacing independent fishermen with outside investment firms will undermine economic, social and environmental goals. However, these warnings extend well beyond New England. The report outlines how Bregal Equity, a multi-billion dollar private equity firm based in the European Union, maximizes fishing profits from their New England quota holdings by slashing costs and reducing income to captains and crew. Catch share programs have been implemented in Alaska, the West Coast, and the Gulf of Mexico, as well as internationally, where the next generation of independent fishermen are being systematically replaced by non-fishing, outside investors who follow in the wake of Bregal. >click to read< By Captain Ryan Bradley 15:57

New Proposed Vessel Speed Regulations and New Draft Ropeless Gear Roadmap to Boost Protection of North Atlantic Right Whales

Today, NOAA Fisheries announced two important steps in a series of actions the agency is taking to protect and conserve North Atlantic right whales. We announced proposed changes to federal vessel speed regulations to further reduce the likelihood of right whale deaths and serious injuries that result from collisions with vessels. We also announced a new draft Ropeless Roadmap: A Strategy to Develop On-Demand Fishing. Both of these efforts are part of our North Atlantic Right Whale Road to Recovery, a strategy that encapsulates all of our ongoing work across the agency and in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders to conserve and rebuild the North Atlantic right whale population. >click to read< 11:03

Maine’s fishermen and farmers are under assault – When a flag is more than a symbol

With the livelihoods of both Maine’s fishermen and farmers under assault, Sam Patten talks about the importance of keeping the traditional state flag. In the event this should come up again, (Last year, the Maine Legislature shot down a bill,) I’d go a step further and suggest that changing the state flag is anti-human, and anti-Mainer. Does this take the question to the extreme? Maybe, but it matters. Right now, both fishermen and farmers in Maine are under assault. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has put in place restrictions on the lobster fishing industry in an ill-conceived effort to save the endangered right whale. Science does not support NOAA’s finding, but well-heeled environmentalists do. So does the wife of the chief-of-staff to the president of the United States. Meanwhile, the question of “forever chemicals,” or PFAS, has already spelt ruin for some Maine farmers whose soil was contaminated,,, >click to read< 15:47

Fishermen fear Hudson Canyon sanctuary will mean more restrictions

The canyon is a prolific fishing ground that starts about 90 miles offshore from Manasquan Inlet and is in the crosshairs of a public debate over the sanctuary designation, which would give NOAA more leverage managing the resources of the largest submarine canyon off the Atlantic Coast. Commercial vessels fish for tunas, squid and lobster, while the state’s recreational fishing fleet of for-hire vessels continually run anglers out to the canyon to catch fresh tuna and tilefish. “We’re probably the greatest and strictest fishery management country in the world. Why do we need this extra layer on top of everything we have now?” said Jason Bahr, a seafood wholesaler and vice president of Blue Water Fisherman’s Association, a trade group of commercial longline fishermen who fish for pelagic species such as tuna and swordfish in the Hudson Canyon. >click to read< 07:50

Evidence of invasive green crab that could wreak havoc on Alaska fisheries found near Metlakatla

An invasive species that could wreak havoc on commercial and subsistence fisheries has been found in Alaska for the first time. Biologists with Metlakatla Indian Community say they found the first evidence of European green crabs on Annette Island, near the southern tip of Southeast Alaska, in mid-July. NOAA Fisheries biologist Linda Shaw says they’re a particular threat to fellow shellfish. “They compete with juvenile Dungeness crab. They are shellfish predators, so things like clams, they would directly eat,” she said. “And then there’s also anecdotal information from British Columbia that they predate on juvenile salmon.” >click to read< 11:49

Senators Demand Federal Scrutiny of Private Equity’s Incursion Into Fishing

Three U.S. senators, including two members of a Senate subcommittee that oversees the fishing industry, are calling for greater federal scrutiny of private equity’s incursion into East Coast commercial fishing. The ProPublica/New Bedford Light investigation found that a federal regulatory system known as “catch shares,” which was adopted in 2010 to reduce overfishing, has fostered private equity’s consolidation of the industry at the expense of independent fishermen. The single largest permit holder in the New England groundfish industry is Blue Harvest Fisheries, which has rights to catch 12% of groundfish, approaching the antitrust cap of 15.5%. The current antitrust cap “fails to prevent excessive consolidation in the fishery,” said Geoff Smith, one of 18 members of the New England Fishery Management Council, which advises NOAA. >click to read< 10:23

NOAA ups observers in commercial snapper-grouper fishery from NC to east Florida

The federal government plans to increase observation of the commercial snapper-grouper fishery from North Carolina to east Florida, with an eye to improving population assessments. “Historically the observer data have been lacking from the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries division said in a news release Friday. Information gathered will verify coastal logbook catch rates, counts and measurements of discarded fish, and the catch per unit effort for the commercial sector. >click to read< 18:39

Maine lobster industry braces for tough season after back-to-back legal losses

“We recently got our license to be able to start processing small amounts on site, so that is cooking the lobster and picking out the meat … in hopes of taking out one step,” Jillian Robillard said. A step that she said could give lobstermen another 25 to 50 cents per animal. “That would really be a gamechanger for some of these guys,” Robillard said. “This year has been really tough so far … we’re banking on the fall season to give these guys two-thirds of their income … but with the closures and stuff we’re just not going to see that happen.” The closure she is talking about is the latest development in three lawsuits involving Maine lobstermen. Two of which that have recent rulings within the last week overturned in favor of environmental groups. >click to read< 11:13

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

After many years, New England cod seems to be rebounding from overfishing

Atlantic cod, a fish that was foundational to New England’s economy, is being caught at historically low levels. But a research scientist says cod is in the early stages of a comeback. Before Raymond Lees goes fishing, he stops by Reidar’s Trawl Gear in New Bedford, Mass., where he buys custom nets that help him avoid certain types of fish. For commercial fishermen like Lees, cod is known as a choke species, meaning fishermen catch so much of it by accident, they sometimes hit their quota and have to stop fishing for what they really want. But new research from Kevin Stokesbury, a professor of fishery science at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, is challenging that claim. Audio report, >click to listen/read< 15:30

NOAA – A Failed Agency

The Magnuson Act became the law of the land in 1977. Seven years later, the 200-mile limit between Canada and the United States was decided at the world court in the Hague, Netherlands. Both had good intentions, however both failed. Magnuson was supposed to keep fish stocks at a sustainable level and keep maritime communities, like Gloucester prosperous. It made sense. Plenty of fish meant plenty of fishing, processing and a strong waterfront economy. After NOAA Magnuson was signed into law and kicked out the foreign vessels, they contradicted their own intentions of “overfishing” and built up the American fleet by offering government-backed low interest loans. This set off a frenzy of boat building at a time when fish stocks were plentiful. The fleet doubled in size in less than a decade. This offset the gains made from keeping foreign vessels out. Well, it backfired. While we like to think that the foreign fleets raped our fish stocks, it was really NOAA’s’ misguided encouragement and failed policies. “Go get’em boys, it’s all ours now” was their signal to fishermen. >click to continue<, By Sam Parisi. Gloucester, Mass. 18:32

Potential aquaculture sites in Gulf of Mexico concern commercial fishermen

Capt. Casey Streeter’s crew is waist deep in the commercial icebox on its 36-foot Thompson boat. Ice is shoveled overboard, while fish are pulled from the ice into bins, some separated by size and others by species. Fishermen Greg Trammell and Jimmy Bergan just returned from being on the water for seven days. Bins and baskets full of fish filled to the rim as they offload their catch to be sold at Island Seafood Market in Matlacha. It is owned by Streeter and his wife, where they catch and sell their own fish. Streeter is a first-generation fisherman, fishing commercially for 10 years. Streeter’s livelihood relies on the health of marine ecosystems. With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s search for aquaculture opportunity areas in the Gulf of Mexico, he fears the lifeline of his career may be at stake. >click to read< 09:35

Maine lobster industry may receive nearly $14 million in federal aid

U.S. Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree, both Democrats from Maine, helped secure the funding and pledged to keep advocating for the fishery. In a statement, Golden called the regulations misguided, indefensible and economically damaging. “NOAA has been unable to prove that these regulations will work, but lobstermen are still being forced to pick up the tab,” he said. “It’s just wrong.” Virginia Olsen, director of the Maine Lobstering Union, said the money will help keep fishermen in business as they “work to right the wrongs” of the new regulations. Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, agreed. >click to read< 19:58