Tag Archives: NOAA

NOAA opens public comment period – National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments

NOAA opens public comment period on Sec. 4(b) in Executive Order 13795 focused on National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments NOAA is soliciting comment on National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments designated or expanded since April 28, 2007, during a 30-day public comment period, which will open June 26, 2017, to assist the Secretary of Commerce in his review under section 4(b) of the Presidential Executive Order (EO) 13795, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” (signed April 28, 2017). There are a total of six National Marine Sanctuaries expanded and five Marine National Monuments designated or expanded since April 28, 2007, that are a part of this review (see table 1). NOAA is asking the public to focus their comments, for this 30-day comment period, on those criteria outlined in Section 4(b)(i) of EO 13795: Click here to read the notice. 15:47

DFO concerned by deaths of 5 endangered North Atlantic Right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is working with marine mammal experts, scientists, and fishery officers from across Atlantic Canada to determine what has caused the recent deaths of several rare North Atlantic Right whales in eastern Canada. At least five dead Right whales have been seen recently in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This situation is very concerning. The cause of death is unknown at this time and DFO is committed to finding out what happened to these animals and to protecting this species. DFO is reaching out for assistance from a broad range of expertise from the Marine Animal Response Society, the Canadian Whale Institute and wildlife pathology veterinarians from the Atlantic Veterinary College and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative to find answers. DFO is also working with partners including Transport Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the USA’s National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (as this is a cross border issue) and commercial area fishermen. click here to read the press release 09:21

State and Federal Authorities’ visit to fish house remains a mystery

Business appeared to be carrying on as usual Friday at Lou-Joe’s Fresh Seafood, a day after agents from the Internal Revenue Service and two other government agencies visited the small fish processing plant. Workers were cutting fish on Friday inside the 3,800-square-foot plant at 24 Washburn St., New Bedford, near where Interstate 195 crosses the Acushnet River. Fish trucks were coming and going from the loading docks. An employee in the office said he was not the owner and declined to comment on the situation. On Thursday, about a dozen officials from the IRS, Massachusetts Environmental Police, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration visited the plant. click here to read the story 21:50

Garden State officials make their case to feds as fluke battle rages on

With New Jersey’s summer flounder fishing industry on the line, Garden State officials made their case to fisheries on Tuesday afternoon. In a hearing with the federal agency, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection officials argued that the state’s regulations for summer flounder (or fluke) fishing reach conservation equivalency with new federal regulations. The cornerstone of New Jersey’s argument: That the state’s proposed regulations will actually preserve more of the summer flounder stock than the measures being put forth by the feds. Tuesday’s call was closed to the press, but in a statement following the call NJDEP spokesperson Bob Considine described it as a “good discussion.” click here to read the story 08:37

Chris Oliver Appointed to Lead NOAA Fisheries

Today, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, with concurrence from the White House, named Chris Oliver Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. The Texas native assumed his new position on June 19, taking the helm from Acting Assistant Administrator Samuel Rauch who will return to his position as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs.,,, Oliver most recently served as Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, a position he held for the past 16 years. He has been with the Council since 1990, also serving as a fisheries biologist and then deputy director. During his tenure as executive director he led the way on several cutting edge management initiatives, including development of limited access privilege programs and fishery cooperatives and catch share programs, the North Pacific’s comprehensive onboard observer program, numerous bycatch reduction programs, extensive habitat protection measures, commercial and recreational allocation programs, and coastal community development programs. He was also responsible for all administrative and operational aspects of the Council process, and lead staffer for legislative and international issues. click here to read the press release 11:32

NOAA Fisheries Announces Reimbursement Rate of 60 Percent for 2017 At-Sea Monitoring Costs in Groundfish Fishery

Effective at-sea monitoring (ASM) programs are essential to the success and sustainability of Greater Atlantic Region fisheries. Groundfish vessels in the Greater Atlantic Region that participate in the sector program are required to carry a fisheries observer or an at-sea monitor for a portion of their trips. Fisheries observers are provided and typically paid for by the Federal government in the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) program and at-sea monitors are partially paid for by industry in the at-sea monitoring program. In 2016, industry began paying their portion of at-sea monitoring costs and NOAA Fisheries was able to reimburse 85 percent of industry’s expenses for July 2016-April 2017. Read the press release here 13:01

Pyrosomes: The Borg of the ocean, clogging fishing and research gear

A strange organism has taken over the ocean waters off Oregon this spring, clogging fishing and research gear and confounding beachcombers and biologists. Fishermen compare them to pickles, gummy bears and sea cucumbers. They are the Borg of the ocean, one researcher suggested, referencing characters from the “Star Trek” TV show. They are called pyrosomes, and they are everywhere. In all his decades doing survey and research work off the coast, Richard Brodeur, research fishery biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has never encountered pyrosomes in these kinds of numbers, or really at all. He knew about them, had seen them down in California, but never off the Oregon Coast. Then, “starting in 2014, we started seeing a few of them,” he said. In 2015 and 2016, he saw a few more. This spring, on a survey cruise, they pulled up 60,000 pyrosomes in a five-minute tow. click here to read the story 15:15

Sea Levels Are Stable To Falling At About Half Of The World’s Tide Gauges

A few years ago, a comprehensive analysis of selection bias in tide gauge measurements between 1807-2010 indicated that (a) sea levels are only rising at a rate of about 1 mm/yr (as of 2010), and (b) a total of 65% of the world’s tide gauges have recorded stable to falling sea levels. Out of a database of over 2,100 tide gauge measurements available from the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level, NOAA has selected 240 tide gauges for their analysis of global-scale sea level rise. Of these, there are about 15 gauges that did not extend far enough into the last few decades (for example, Latvia, Antarctica, Ghana, Colombia), precluding a recent trend analysis. Of the remaining 225 tide gauges in the NOAA database, there are at least 100 located in regions where sea levels are stable (no significant change in either direction) or falling.  A graphical illustration of these non-trend tide gauge measurements is provided below. click here to read the story, see graphs 13:49

Coastal Alabama Rep. slams NOAA ‘junk science’ behind shortest red snapper season ever

Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne shares the frustration of most in his district when it comes to the federal government’s overregulation of red snapper fishing. According to him, Coastal Alabamians are infuriated over the announcement that the much-anticipated red snapper season will only last a pitifully short three days. He believes they have a right to be mad. “[My constituents] have every reason to be outraged, because they have a right to fish in the waters of the United States, and they’re being deprived of that right by junk science. Put junk science in, you’re going to get a bad result out, and that’s exactly what we’ve got here,” Rep. Byrne said. Every year, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), announces how long the fishing season will last based on the size and stock of red snapper fish. click here to read the story 13:45

Louisiana’s New Red Snapper Catch-Share Program

When it comes to the great red snapper management mess, the consensus of opinion among recreational-fishing interests and advocates is that states (vs. the feds) can manage coastal fish stocks more effectively and fairly. One assumption here is that states are much more in tune with recreational fishing in their waters. Well, in that regard, Louisiana has just delivered a solid bitch slapping to the recreational-fishing community. At least, that has been the reaction of many anglers groups to the surprise announcement made by the Louisiana Department of Fish and Wildlife on Thursday (May 25th) that a group of 150 anglers would be gifted with 25,000 pounds of red snapper in 2018 and again in 2019. In case you haven’t yet made the connection, let me make that for you. In two words: catch shares. click here to read the story 09:41

NOAA Forecasts Busy Hurricane Season for Atlantic

Less than a year after Hurricane Matthew raked the East Coast, killing 34 people and causing $10 billion in damage in the U.S. alone, coastal areas are once again preparing for the onset of the Atlantic hurricane season. This year, forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are expecting to see above-average storm numbers in the Atlantic, despite the uncertainty of whether an El Nino will develop over the summer. The forecast is currently for 11 to 17 named storms to form, of which five to nine are expected to become hurricanes, and two to four major hurricanes. The forecast, though, does not predict when, where, and how these storms might hit, Ben Friedman, the acting NOAA administrator said during a press conference, as he and other officials urged coastal residents to begin their preparations. Click here to read the story 10:38

Northeast Fisheries Science Center study says Gulf of Maine will become too warm for many key fish

A new study by federal fisheries scientists predicts the warming of the Gulf of Maine will cause a dramatic contraction of suitably cool habitat for a range of key commercial fish species there. On the other hand, lobsters are more likely to find hospitable areas. The study by seven scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, used a high-resolution global climate model and federal fisheries survey data to model how key fisheries species would likely be affected by predicted warming over the next 80 years. “This is not telling you that in the future this is what the species’ abundance and distribution will be, only how much suitable thermal habitat each has,” says lead author Kristin Kleisner, who recently joined the staff of the Environmental Defense Fund and is based in Boston. “A lot will depend on how these species shift and the interactions they have with other species.” click here to read the story 09:58

Read Marine Species Distribution Shifts Will Continue Under Ocean Warming @NOAA/NEFSC – Funding for this joint project between NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center and The Nature Conservancy study was provided by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Offshore exploration and drilling back on table for Georgia

The Trump administration announced earlier this month that it is moving forward on seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean, the first step toward offshore drilling in a region where it has been blocked for decades. The Interior Department plans to review six applications by energy companies that were rejected in January by the Obama administration. Local and state environmental groups as well as many coastal municipalities oppose the surveys, saying loud sounds from seismic air guns could hurt marine life. Sen. David Perdue, R-Georgia, and Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Savannah, remain in favor of seismic testing and offshore drilling. “With a vibrant commercial fishery industry and the only known calving ground for endangered North Atlantic right whales just off our coast, Georgians oppose seismic testing for offshore oil exploration and the risks it poses to our state’s wildlife, wild places, and quality of life,” said Alice Keyes, vice president for coastal conservation at Coastal Georgia-based One Hundred Miles. Click here to read the story 19:19

Pallone Supports Potential Compromise on Summer Flounder Cuts

This week, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) expressed support for a potential compromise between the State of New Jersey and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) on Summer Flounder Cuts. ASMFC agreed to consider a proposal by the State for conservationally-equivalent management measures for the 2017 summer flounder fishery, and is expected to reach a decision in the next two weeks. In exchange for a 104-day fishing season and the 3 bag limit, the size limit would be decreased to 18 inches. The Commission postponed a decision on that until the next meeting of the Interstate Fisheries Management Program in two weeks. Pallone and Senator Booker sent a letter to NOAA Fisheries about its proposal to reduce the ABC recreational and commercial quotas for summer flounder in 2017 and 2018. The New Jersey lawmakers requested that NOAA Fisheries postpone any decision on reducing summer flounder quotas until it conducts a new benchmark summer flounder assessment.  Click here to read the letter 14:37

Report: Increase in Alaska commercial fisheries landings despite nationwide decline

A recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a slight decline overall in the United States’ commercial fishing industry, but one state – the Last Frontier – stands far ahead of the rest. The NOAA report, which include 151 pages of data on commercial fisheries landings nationwide for 2015, says there was an increase in pounds of fish landed across the United States by about 2.4 percent. However, there was a decrease in value of those fish by about 4.5 percent. But in Alaska, it’s a different story. The Last Frontier led all states in both volume and value, with a 6 percent increase in the former and a 3 percent increase in the latter.(there is also an interactive data chart that shows state by state data)  Video, click here to read the story 07:55

U.S. fishing generated more than $200 billion in sales in 2015; two stocks rebuilt in 2016

Two new reports reveal the nation’s progress in sustainably managing marine resources U.S. commercial and recreational fishing generated $208 billion in sales, contributed $97 billion to the gross domestic product, and supported 1.6 million full- and part-time jobs in 2015—above the five year average, according to NOAA’s Fisheries Economics of the United States report released today. Also out today, the Annual Report to Congress on the Status of U.S. Fisheries shows that the number of domestic fish stocks listed as overfished or subject to overfishing remain near all-time lows, with two new stocks rebuilt in 2016. The reports highlight the collaborative role of NOAA Fisheries and many partners in making continued progress towards ending overfishing, rebuilding stocks, and realizing significant benefits to the U.S. economy. Click here to read the press release 14:13

NOAA to announce annual U.S. fishing economic data, species information in press teleconference Tuesday, May 9, 2017, at 2:00 p.m

On Tuesday, NOAA Fisheries will announce findings from two new reports that measure the nation’s economic impact in commercial and recreational fishing, and the progress made in ending overfishing and rebuilding stocks. Join our press teleconference Tuesday, May 9, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. ET, to hear findings from NOAA’s Fisheries Economics of the U.S. 2015 and Status of U.S. Fisheries 2016 reports, and ask questions of our experts. Click here to read the notice, and instructions to listen. 16:53

41 humpback whale deaths in Atlantic force fed probe

An unusually high number of dead humpback whales washing ashore along the Atlantic coast has prompted marine mammal experts to open a federal investigation of the cause. But the cause may never be fully determined, according to experts. Since January 2016, 41 of the mammals have washed ashore from North Carolina to Maine. The only cause of death determined so far are cases in which the whales showed signs of being hit by a vessel. But ship strikes only account for a quarter of the deaths. The high number of deaths forced the country’s top marine agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to declare an “Unusual Mortality Event,” prompting the federal probe. click here to read the story 19:57

Former Obama Official: Bureaucrats Manipulate Climate Stats To Influence Policy

A former member of the Obama administration claims Washington D.C. often uses “misleading” news releases about climate data to influence public opinion. Former Energy Department Undersecretary Steven Koonin told The Wall Street Journal Monday that bureaucrats within former President Barack Obama’s administration spun scientific data to manipulate public opinion. “What you saw coming out of the press releases about climate data, climate analysis, was, I’d say, misleading, sometimes just wrong,” Koonin said, referring to elements within the Obama administration he said were responsible for manipulating climate data.,,  Press officers work with scientists within agencies like the National Oceanic Administration (NOAA) and NASA and are responsible for crafting misleading press releases on climate, he added. Koonin is not the only one claiming wrongdoing. House lawmakers with the Committee on Science, Space and Technology, for instance, recently jumpstarted an investigation into NOAA after a whistleblower said agency scientists rushed a landmark global warming study to influence policymakers. Click here to read the rest, and click here to watch the video 16:06

US warns threat of an export ban over continued killing of seals by Scots fish farms

Ministers have received a warning about the continued shooting of seals by fish farms as the US poses the threat of an export ban which could cost the Scottish economy £200 million a year. New figures reveal that despite the salmon industry giving a “clear intention” to cut the number of seals shot to zero, fish farms and fisheries were continuing to kill them at a rate of over eight a month last year, under licence from the Scottish Government. The details have angered protesters who are concerned that that instead of finding alternative ways to deal with seals, fish farms are continuing to be content to shoot to kill. The US is now requiring proof that its seafood imports are harvested in a way that minimises harm to marine mammals. Later this year, the US is expected to release a country-by-country list of fisheries deemed acceptable and those deemed non-compliant.  continue reading the story here 09:31

Loss of ‘Codfather’ permits could hurt New Bedford

By late morning just before Easter weekend, three fishing vessels lined up at the docks to unload their catch, and they all belonged to one man — the local mogul known as the “Codfather,” Carlos Rafael. “It’s a good haul,” a passing auction worker at the Whaling City Seafood Display Auction said under her breath, as crew members, some still in their orange waterproof bibs, unloaded the ice-packed fish. But now, Rafael’s recent conviction on federal charges that he cheated fishing regulations to boost his profits is putting his many vessels and permits up for grabs — potentially distributing them to ports along the New England coast. That would deliver an economic blow to New Bedford and the people who depend on the business created by Rafael’s fleet. If his permits are seized as expected, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the regulatory agency known as NOAA, could reissue the permits to fishermen elsewhere in the region. “There are a lot more innocent people who could get punished by this,” said Jim Kendall, a former fisherman who runs New Bedford Seafood Consulting. click here to read the story 09:00

NOAA Fisheries Approves Amendment 18 to Address Fleet Consolidation in Groundfish Fishery

NOAA Fisheries has approved Amendment 18 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. The Amendment establishes permit accumulation limits to minimize fleet consolidation in the groundfish fishery. Amendment 18 limits the number of permits and annual groundfish allocation that an entity could hold. Also, to increase fishing opportunities and promote fleet diversity, Amendment 18 increases flexibility for fishermen on limited-access handgear vessels. Read the final rule as published in the Federal Register, and the permit holder letter posted on our website.Questions? Contact Jennifer Goebel at 978-281-9175 or [email protected]

Is the United States ready for offshore aquaculture?

Harlon Pearce walks muck-booted past processors gutting wild drum and red snapper to showcase a half-full new 5,000-square-foot (500-square-meter) freezer he hopes will someday house a fresh boom of marine fish. Harlon’s LA Fish sits just across the railroad tracks from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, perfectly positioned to ship fish out of Louisiana. As president of the New Orleans–based Gulf Seafood Institute, seafood supplier Pearce is a big fish himself in these parts, connected to fishermen, federal agencies, restaurateurs and even the oil industry. He knows better than anyone that wild fisheries alone can’t supply U.S. consumers’ growing demand for fish. Which is why he’s doing his best to bring everyone to the table to achieve one goal: farming the Gulf of Mexico. click here to read the story 16:31

Telling it like it is! NOAA has done enough already and has failed in spectacular fashion

One wonders why a Marine Sanctuary is needed to protect shipwrecks.  Sanctuaries are usually established to protect ecosystems.  The typical reason for establishing a Sanctuary off our shores is inapplicable because our native ecosystem has been destroyed. After the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 1959 NOAA was assigned the responsibility of protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species, essentially making the entire region a sanctuary.  NOAA has failed in spectacular fashion.,, NOAA allowed the Lamprey Eel and Alewife into our native waters shortly after the Seaway opened. These and other foreigners decimated our native fishery.  Smelt survived until the 1980’s but now they too have been displaced by some other invasive species that NOAA failed to protect us from, was it the Quagga Mussel or the Round Gobi? (must read) Click here to read the letter. 10:04

North Pacific council takes first step in creating salmon fishery management plan

A lot of new faces are coming to the table at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and not a lot of them are happy about it. Fishermen who had never previously been involved with the council now have to show up to have a hand in how their fisheries will be incorporated into a federal fishery management plan. The council, which regulates federal fisheries off the coast of Alaska, on Thursday started in on the topic of the salmon plan for Cook Inlet, part of the Alaska Peninsula and part of Prince William Sound near Cordova. After removing the three areas from the plan by amendment in 2011, effectively exempting them from federal oversight and delegating entirely to the state despite occurring partially in federal waters, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the move was illegal. Now, the council is having to initiate the process of revising the salmon FMP to include the net areas, which is likely to take years. click to continue reading the article here 12:12

Wake Up, Fishermen! Proposed closure of coral grounds in Gulf of Maine has lobster industry on edge

Over the past 10 years, the issue of how to protect endangered whales from getting tangled in fishing gear has been a driving factor in how lobstermen configure their gear and how much money they have to spend to comply with regulations. Now federal officials have cited the need to protect deep-sea corals in a proposal to close some areas to fishing — a proposal that, according to lobstermen, could pose a serious threat to how they ply their trade. “The [potential] financial impact is huge,” Jim Dow, a Bass Harbor lobsterman and board member with Maine Lobstermen’s Association, said Wednesday. “You’re talking a lot of the coast that is going to be affected by it.” The discovery in 2014 of deep-sea corals in the gulf, near Mount Desert Rock and along the Outer Schoodic Ridges, has prompted the New England Fisheries Management Council to consider making those area off-limits to fishing vessels in order to protect the coral from damage. According to Maine Department of Marine Resources, fishermen from at least 15 harbors in Hancock and Washington counties could be affected by the proposed closure. click here to read the story  Wake Up, Fishermen! 11:15:30

Lawsuit filed seeking $464,000 in lawyer fees, Former fish auction owners renew battle with NOAA

The long and torturous legal battle with NOAA that sent the former Gloucester Fish Exchange into bankruptcy and to its ultimate sale may not be over just yet. The owners of GFX — the forerunner to the Cape Ann Seafood Exchange on Harbor Loop — are suing NOAA in federal court to recoup about $464,000 in legal fees the company paid during its battle and ultimate settlement with the federal fisheries regulator. The action names current Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as defendants. The suit, prompted by NOAA’s final decision on March 6 denying GFX any reimbursement for legal fees, rekindles the battle that began as far back as 2005. The long-running affair resulted in two NOAA enforcement actions against the former auction — and a subsequent apology by then Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco for the excesses of the agency’s law enforcement unit. Click here to continue reading the story 13:07

Fishermen oppose camera mandate – could potentially infringe on their Fourth Amendment rights

A proposed mandate from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration could require fishermen to purchase a camera monitoring system to ensure that they are adhering to regulations — a requirement that local fishermen and First Selectman Rob Simmons see as a violation of their rights. Based on a study done by the NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, electronic monitoring would potentially cost the fishermen around $500 per day per boat and require them to pay $60,000 for startup costs and annual maintenance of the equipment. While it’s less costly on a daily basis than the $700 per day cost of having a person doing at-sea monitoring on board a vessel, critics say the startup costs alone have the potential to put local fishermen out of business. Aside from the costs of the proposed mandate, many see it as a violation of privacy. click here to continue reading the story 08:07

Houston restaurateur Bruce Molzan accused of operating illegal seafood network

A well-known Houston restaurateur has been accused of operating an illegal seafood network that allegedly funneled nearly 28,000 pounds of unlawfully-caught finfish through his restaurants. Texas game wardens allege that Bruce Molzan, 59, bought and then sold the illegal finfish off the menus at Ruggles Green and Ruggles Black. Molzan hasn’t been associated with Ruggles Green since 2016 but still owns Ruggles Black. In addition, another restaurant illegally sold shrimp to Molzan for use in his restaurants in violation of commercial fish wholesale regulations, according to investigators.  The illegal catches were made by a web of about a dozen unlicensed commercial fishermen and sold to the restaurants, according to Texas Parks & Wildlife investigators. Their catches consisted primarily of highly-regulated red snapper, along with other protected game fish species, including tuna, amberjack, grouper and red drum. click here to read the story 17:08

Researchers: Columbia spring chinook forecast might be too high

Fisheries managers have been predicting a slightly below-average run of spring chinook salmon on the Columbia River this year, but a newly published suggests that it may be worse. According to researchers from Oregon State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, ocean conditions were historically bad in the spring of 2015, when migrating yearling fish that will comprise the bulk of this spring’s adult chinook salmon run first went out to sea. In fact, Pacific Decadal Oscillation values — which reflect warm and cold sea surface temperatures — suggest it was one of the warmest nearshore oceans encountered by migrating chinook salmon dating back to at least 1900. The lack of food for the salmon in 2015 may have resulted in significant mortality that will show in this year’s run of Columbia River springers. One way or another, it will provide new information on fish survival and whether juvenile salmon prey data can help resource managers predict future returns. continue reading the story here 10:11