Tag Archives: NOAA

Florida Man Sentenced for Killing Endangered Sawfish

Chad Ponce, a 38-year old commercial fisherman, is facing 2 years probation, 80 hours of community service and a $2,000 fine for killing an endangered smalltooth sawfish. A judge determined this sentence on December 19, 2019, after a joint investigation by NOAA Fisheries and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) confirmed Ponce used a power saw to cut the rostrum (saw or bill) off of the live fish before discarding its body back into the ocean. >click to read< 08:35

NOAA Satellites Helped Save Record 421 Lives in 2019: Registered Emergency Beacons Proven to Save Lives

Of the 421 U.S. rescues last year, 306 were water rescues, 38 were from aviation incidents and 77 were from events on land, where PLBs were used. Florida had the most SARSAT rescues with more than 100, followed by Alaska with more than 50. The previous rescue record of 353 (total) was set in 2007. When a NOAA satellite pinpoints the location of a distress signal in the U.S., the information is relayed to the SARSAT Mission Control Center at NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland. From there,,, >click to read< 14:21

Letter: Shaheen stands by fishermen

Commercial fisherman up and down the coast are fortune to have Jeanne Shaheen on our side. When you take into consideration that her home port is New Hampshire, a small fishing state, you ask why does she come out fighting. I tell you why she cares — after a fisherman from her state took the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to court and lost regarding paying for monitoring, she came out swinging to help him and others. >click to read< 09:09

New Hampshire: Lobstermen lament coming whale entanglement regulations

Seacoast lobstermen weighed in on the proposal at a meeting Thursday night in Portsmouth with the state Department of Fish and Game. They’re still skeptical that their fishery poses enough of a threat to the whales to merit new regulations. And they want more details and input on the new, more easily breakable lines or gear they’ll have to use to keep whales from being entangled. >click to read< 07:10

Carlos “Codfather” Rafael settlement rankles local fishermen

By the start of the new fishing year on May 1, Carlos Rafael, once owner of one of the largest fishing fleets in the country and known as the “Codfather” will officially be little more than a memory on the New Bedford waterfront. According to his attorney John Markey, Rafael will have sold off all of his fishing empire as part of a settlement agreement with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and will be out of the fishing industry forever. >click to read< 20:32

Fishing Money found for at-sea monitors

As part of a $1.4 trillion spending package, the U.S. Senate passed a $79.4 billion appropriations bill that includes another $10.3 million for NOAA Fisheries — once again secured by New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen — to fully fund at-sea monitoring in the Northeast groundfish fishery for the 2020 fishing season that begins May 1. When President Donald Trump signed the bill into law the next day, the mandated shouldering of the full financial weight of at-sea monitoring by the groundfish industry — at a cost of up to $700 per day per vessel — had been deferred for at least another fishing season. >click to read< 12:24

Sea lions are cash cows in the Bay Area. Farther south, fishermen say, ‘Shoot ‘em’

Sea lions are increasingly living in parallel universes along the California coast, a disparity best observed amid the noisy, stinking spectacle that rolls out daily at San Francisco’s Pier 39 shopping center. There, hundreds of these enormous, mostly male California sea lions bark, defecate, urinate and regurgitate, but are immensely popular with tourists.,, Officials in Washington, Oregon and Idaho are so irate at marauding sea lions that they have asked for federal permission to shoot certain ones identified as feasting on salmon and steelhead,,, >click to read< 10:01

BASE withdraws its bid to buy Carlos Rafael’s boats

An attempt to gain control of a large portion of Carlos Rafael’s fleet by the local seafood auction has been withdrawn after a fight over the vessels made its way to court.,, The fight is an important one as New Bedford is trying to keep the fishing and scallop boats, as well as their federal permits, in the city. Though both entities have pledged to do that, Blue Harvest would consolidate ownership and BASE has said it would resell the boats to individual owners. >click to read< 16:12

Lobstermen throw cold water on Maine state plan to protect whales

Fishermen in the heart of Maine’s $485 million lobster industry don’t like a state proposal to protect endangered right whales from buoy lines, arguing that it forces them to give up too much to fix a problem they aren’t causing.About 75 people packed a local lobster board meeting in Deer Isle on Thursday night to vent about the plan, which they argue is overly complicated, puts them in danger and is unlikely to help the species it is trying to save. >click to read< 09:40

NOAA says days-old North Atlantic right whale already injured by propeller

North Atlantic right whale researchers were thrilled to find out a fourth calf had been spotted this year. But the excitement disappeared after learning the newborn, estimated to be only days old, has been injured, according to NOAA. The American agency said in a statement Thursday the injuries “were consistent with the propeller of a vessel.” >click to read< 09:12

Future of offshore fish farming in federal waters at issue in court

The potential environmental and economic consequences posed by proposals for fish farming in federal waters dictate that Congress — not a federal agency — must decide how to regulate the industry, an attorney told a federal appeals court Monday. At issue before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was a September 2018 ruling by a federal judge who threw out National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s rules for fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico, saying Congress never gave the agency authority to make them. >click to read< 14:58

Meet Chris Schillaci who Joins Greater Atlantic Region’s Aquaculture Program! – In December, Chris Schillaci joined the Greater Atlantic Region’s aquaculture program, bringing ten years of experience to his new role. We asked Chris a few questions as he was settling in. >Click to read<

Virginia faces a threatened shutdown of its large commercial fishery for Atlantic menhaden.

Virginia faces a threatened shutdown of its large commercial fishery for Atlantic menhaden after federal officials found the state had allowed too many of the commercially and ecologically important fish to be taken from the Chesapeake Bay. In a letter released Thursday, the head of the Commerce Department agency that regulates federally managed fisheries declared Virginia out of compliance with an interstate management plan for menhaden. >click to read< 09:12

RODA Calls for 4 Nautical Mile Transit Lanes in New England Offshore Wind Areas

Today, RODA submitted a proposal to the U.S. Coast Guard, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the National Marine Fisheries Service calling for the designation of 4 nm transit lanes through the New England wind energy lease areas. 4 nm transit lanes would preserve safe and efficient passage along the routes most often used by fishermen. >click to read< 08:30

Fishermen call for 4-nautical-mile lanes between offshore wind turbines>click to read<

In Alaska, commercial fishing remains dangerous despite increased safety measures

Commercial fishing was once the most dangerous job in the country, (Scott Wilwert said, and during the 1970s and 1980s an increase in accidents and deaths ultimately led to the passage of the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act of 1988. The regulations required boats to have survival suits and life rafts and to carry out onboard safety drills, among other safety measures.,, “There was a time in the ’70s and ’80s where, I think, even the fishermen would tell you that there was a mentality, that ‘you have to go out but you don’t have to come back’ kind of thing,” Wilwert said. “That just doesn’t exist, nobody thinks that way anymore.” >click to read< 07:29

“This is our line in the sand,”: Facing new threats, lobstermen take hard line against right whale protections

“My administration will not allow any bureaucrat to undermine our lobster industry or our economy with foolish, unsupported, and ill-advised regulations,” Governor Janet Mills told a crowd of cheering lobstermen at a protest this summer at a protest this summer in Stonington. The backlash started shortly after a government-appointed team of scientists, fishermen, and others urged the agency to require lobstermen to reduce their buoy lines, among other measures.,, But with increasingly vocal protests across Maine’s rugged coast from rank-and-file lobstermen, the state’s leaders — including their entire congressional delegation,,,  >click to read< 12:17

New England: Crackdown needed on fishing violations

The local fishing industry has seen itself beset with a seemingly never-ending barrage of challenges during the past few decades. Collapsing fishing stocks, rising fuel prices, and strict government oversight have created an imperfect storm that has decimated what was once a thriving and vibrant industry. Now a new report by the United States Coast Guard has revealed an extensive series of efforts by some to circumnavigate those restrictions,, >click to read< 09:46

Have you had enough?

Since its inception in 1976, the agency charged with managing our fisheries, the NMFS, has overseen their decline, a decline which in most cases was a product of their own machinations.Usually most ideas the government has for managing our lives are well intended but terribly executed, this was a prime example. NMFS, for all that it was intended to be and do for our fisheries, has failed and in some cases, this wasn’t by mistake, but by design. By John Rice, >click to read< , and the comment venue is open there! 13:37

NOAA Issues Final Rule to Require Turtle Excluder Device Use for all Skimmer Trawl Vessels 40 Feet and Greater in Length

NOAA originally published a proposed rule in December 2016 that would have required all skimmer trawl, pusher-head trawl, and wing net vessels to use TEDs in their nets. In response to public comment and further deliberation, however, the final rule was revised. >click to read details<, Meanwhile, the enviro groups Plan to Save Sea Turtles From Shrimp Boats Scaled Way Back – “We’re scratching our heads on why this change happened,” said Gib Brogan, fishery campaign manager for Oceana, which sued to get the devices into inshore shrimp nets in NOAA’s Southeast Region. >click to read< 10:20

Cod could choke catch of other fish

The New England Fishery Management Council approved the management framework that sets Northeast multispecies groundfish catch limits for 2020-2022 earlier this month. And local groundfishermen are looking at significant increases in several flounder stocks, American plaice and haddock. But the state of the cod fishery in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank remains a point of contention. >click to read< 09:06

Your View: Turning fishery into police state won’t stop fraudsters like Carlos Rafael

First, I want to point out that none of this is to defend Carlos Rafael. The nicest thing he ever said about honest, small boat fishermen like me was to compare us to mosquitoes to his elephant. (“The maggots screaming on the sidelines, they’re done. They can scream all they want. Nobody can save them,>click to read<) I do, however, think this case has one notable shortcoming in that the New York dealer who delivered his “bags of jingles” was never charged. Why? Maybe it is because enforcement used a crooked dealer as its star witness,,, by David Goethel >click to read< 22:23

Resident orcas’ appetite likely reason for decline of big Chinook salmon

“We have two protected species, resident killer whales and Chinook salmon, and we are trying to increase abundances of both—yet they are interacting as predator and prey,” said lead author Jan Ohlberger, a research scientist at the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. “Killer whales don’t show a lot of interest in Chinook until they reach a certain size, and then they focus intensely on those individuals.”>click to read<  19:02

NOAA Closes Nantucket Lightship and Closed Area I Closure Areas to Gillnet Gear

In compliance with a recent Federal District Court Order, NOAA Fisheries is implementing a closure of the Nantucket Lightship and Closed Area I Groundfish Closure Areas for gillnet gear only. This rule is effective tomorrow. All gillnetters must remove their gillnet gear from these areas as soon as possible, consistent with safe vessel operations. Background,,, >click to read< 13:59

Letter: NOAA just another deep state bureaucracy

Stephen Rappaport’s Nov. 28 article “Scientists review divisive whale risk reduction model” indicates to me that NOAA has become just another deep state bureaucracy with a political agenda rather than a fact-finding, scientifically based regulatory agency. Its Large Whale Take Reduction Team (TRT) proposes a 50 percent reduction in lobster trap to buoy vertical lines. The TRT includes nearly 60 members as follows: by Dudley Gray >click to read< 10:32

Waiting Game: Gear ready, the North Coast’s commercial crab fleet is on hold

Fishermen are optimistic by nature, but spending $5,000 on new crab gear this year is still a risky proposition for commercial crabbers like Curt Wilson. The equipment is expensive, prone to being lost and there has been no certainty in recent years that the commercial Dungeness crab season will start on time, if at all. “I just want a chance to fish,” said 34-year-old Wilson,,,>click to read< 07:06

Rafael’s misreported fish ‘disappeared’ at Whaling City auction

A NOAA official has charged that if federal officials were not watching when Carlos Rafael offloaded fish at the Whaling City Display Auction, the catch simply “disappeared.” “If there was no observer on the boat, no dockside monitor, no state environmental police, no NOAA law enforcement officer, the fish would just simply disappear,” NOAA Special Agent Troy Audyatis said, “Thousands upon thousands of fish would simply disappear.” >click to read< 18:23

Extremely low cod numbers lead feds to close the Gulf of Alaska fishery for the first time

A stock assessment this fall put Gulf cod populations at a historic low, with “next to no” new eggs, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research biologist Steve Barbeaux, who authored the report. At their current numbers, cod are below the federal threshold that protects them as a food source for endangered Steller sea lions. Once below that line, the total allowable catch goes to zero — in other words, the fishery shuts down. >click to read< 08:32

Maine congressional delegation wants more info before whale rules released

The four members of Maine’s delegation said Wednesday they want information from NOAA about how new findings will be incorporated into the draft rules. NOAA completed a peer review process of the data tool it’s using to create the regulations, and the delegation wants to know what impact that will have on the rules, the members said. >click to read<  14:03

Coast Guard Report: Catch misreported on 350 fishing trips by Northeast multispecies groundfishery vessels

In its 21-page report, the Coast Guard said the analysis by its Boston-based First District enforcement staff identified more than 350 vessel trips during the period of 2011 to 2015 in the Northeast multispecies groundfishery “where there appears to be evidence of misreporting.” The analysis placed a particular focus on potential misreporting by vessels fishing in seasonal fisheries or fishing the same stock in more than one stock area. The goal of the misreporting, according to the report, is to keep fishing without exceeding catch limits and annual catch entitlements. >click to read< 07:10

Opposite forecasts for SE pinks, Bristol Bay reds; Cook Inlet busts

Biologists are forecasting another weak pink salmon year for Southeast and another strong sockeye salmon run for Bristol Bay coming in the 2020 season. The forecasts for Southeast Alaska and for Bristol Bay, released in late November, continue the trends of the past few years in both areas. In Southeast, biologists are forecasting about 12 million fish to be harvested, with a range of 7 million to 19 million fish. >click to read< 11:51

Scientists review divisive whale risk reduction model

A panel of scientists gathered in Woods Hole, Mass., last week to evaluate a controversial “decision support tool” used by NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to design proposed rules aimed at protecting endangered North Atlantic right whales and other large marine mammals from entanglement with fishing gear. Last spring, the NOAA Fisheries Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team (TRT) recommended that the fisheries service adopt new rules that would, among other requirements, force Maine lobstermen to remove from the water 50 percent of the vertical lines used to connect traps on the bottom to marker buoys on the surface. >click to read< 11:07