Tag Archives: NOAA

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

Federal regulators put an end to turbulent season in northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishery

Federal authorities are closing the scallop fishery in the northern Gulf of Maine at 12:01 a.m. Thursday after a contentious three-week season that pitted the interests of part-time, small-boat fishermen from Maine against large, full-time scallop operators. Fisheries regulators announced the closure Wednesday after small-boat fishermen – many of them Maine lobstermen operating 40- to 45-foot boats – met their annual quota of 70,000 pounds. The developments do not apply to the scallop fishery in state waters, which extend to 3 miles from shore. This year’s federal harvest has been contentious because the large, full-time boats are believed to have caught more than 1 million pounds of scallops in the northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishing area, but owing to a quirk in federal rules the fishery could not be closed until the small vessels caught 70,000 pounds. This month’s storms and unseasonable weather had kept the small boats in port, delaying their ability to meet their annual quota and close the area to the larger vessels, who were permitted to continue harvesting large quantities of scallops under federal rules. continue reading the story here 07:57

Small-boat scallop fishermen worry about being overwhelmed by larger boats in the Gulf of Maine

Since the start of the scallop season this month, Jim Wotton has dragged heavy dredges along the seabed off Gloucester, hauling in as much as 200 pounds a day of the valuable clams, the area’s federal limit for small-boat fishermen. Now, to his dismay, dozens of larger, industrial-sized boats have been steaming into the same gray waters, scooping up as many scallops as they can. Unlike their smaller counterparts, the large vessels have no quota on the amount they can catch; they’re only limited by the number of days they can fish.,, NOAA officials acknowledge the fishermen’s concerns, but have declined to take emergency action to close the fishery.,, Representatives of the larger boats say they have every right to fish in the area, and insist their catch won’t threaten the fishery.,, “The situation this year can’t continue and support a strong fishery year in and year out in the Gulf of Maine,” said Pete Christopher, a supervisory fishery policy analyst at NOAA Fisheries. “The council needs to change the way the fishery operates.” read the story here 18:52

Maine Lawmakers ask NOAA about trouble in scallop fishing industry

Two lawmakers from Maine want to know what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is doing to address trouble in the Atlantic scallop fishing industry. U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent, and U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, say NOAA should work to ensure sustainability in the high-value fishery. A disagreement over the right to fish for the scallops has recently pitted small boats against big boats in the northern Gulf of Maine, a key fishing area. The federal government maintains different rules for the small- and big-boat fisheries, though they work some common areas. Pingree and King say they’ve heard concerns that the scallops are being overfished. They sent a letter to NOAA saying they’re concerned that an emergency action doesn’t seem to be on the table. Link 18:21

How the illegal pursuits of a fishing empire could affect an entire industry already struggling under intense regulation.

He’s been dubbed the Codfather. Carlos Rafael, owner of a fishing empire that is the largest in the Northeast if not the country, is accused of exploiting federal fishery regulations to get ahead and misreporting hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish. His alleged crimes expose the pitfalls of a system meant to help fishermen and their catch coexist. It’s a tale of fraud, smuggling and organized crime better suited to the big screen than the docks of New Bedford.,, Besides tax evasion and fraud, the problem with Rafael’s plan is that it undermined the efforts of federal authorities to manage healthy fisheries and avoid over fishing.  Fishermen from Rhode Island to Maine have had their catches limited by federal quotas since 2009 under a program regulators say promotes sustainable fishing, but for many fishermen it’s meant hanging up their hooks. During the first year of the catch-share program, there were 440 commercial boats. That number dwindled to just 120 by 2013. Read the story here 09:16

GARFO: At-Sea Monitoring 2017 Coverage Levels for Groundfish Sector Fishery

NOAA Fisheries announces that for fishing year 2017 the total target at-sea monitoring coverage level is 16 percent of all groundfish sector trips.  This target coverage level is a 2 percentage point increase from the 2016 coverage level (14 percent). As the target coverage level is set based on an average of at-sea monitoring data from the past 3 full groundfish fishing years, this level is set based on data from the 2013-2015 fishing years. Federally funded observer coverage provided by the Northeast Fishery Observer Program to meet the Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology (SBRM) requirements will partially satisfy the 16 percent coverage requirement. Sectors will therefore actually pay for at-sea monitoring coverage on less than 16 percent of their groundfish trips, but the total will depend on the SBRM coverage rates, which are not yet out. Read the press release here, For more information, please read the Summary of Analysis Conducted to Determine At-Sea Monitoring Requirements for Multispecies Sectors FY2017  13:59

NOAA tests camera systems to monitor fish catch

When we think of technological innovators, most picture daring entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who make clever devices for their investors. However, in the Bering Sea and other waters off the coast of Alaska, NOAA Fisheries scientists are testing innovative technologies, tools and methods to keep U.S. fisheries strong and profitable. Together with the fishing industry, we have made real progress advancing the use of camera systems to monitor fish catch and identify the best ways to safely release unwanted species. These systems help us count fish both in the net and when it is hauled onto the deck of a fishing vessel. Our scientists have designed software applications to automate the process of identifying fish species and measure fish length. Until recently, obtaining this critical information for fisheries stock assessments was only possible with the help of a human observer. continue reading the story here 09:40

Cape officials push for Sea Grant program’s survival

Judith McDowell and Bob Rheault were both drawn to Washington this week for the same reason: They wanted to salvage a threatened federal program that plays a key role in Cape Cod’s marine-dependent industries. McDowell, the director of the Woods Hole Sea Grant program, and Rheault, the executive director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, were hoping to save the national Sea Grant program from elimination. The Washington Post reported last week that the program’s $73 million budget is part of a proposed 18 percent cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. McDowell said she couldn’t comment on a budget cut she said hadn’t been officially released but was leaked to news organizations. But Rheault, who was making the rounds of congressional offices this week, was highly critical of the proposal to scrap Sea Grant, calling it a “job killer.” His time in D.C. revealed there might be a chance the program, which President Lyndon Johnson created in 1966, could be saved, Rheault said. read the story here 10:41

NOAA Turns a Blind Eye – How manipulation and corruption are making a mockery of federal fisheries management

This question often comes up in discussions about the federal fisheries management process: Why are people who profit from the harvest and sale of America’s marine resources allowed to sit on management bodies that make regulations governing those resources? It’s a good question. The most contentious issue in the Gulf of Mexico is privatization of the red snapper fishery in which millions of dollars’ worth of a public resource was gifted to select commercial operators to harvest for their own personal profit. Gifted, for free. Yet, someone who owns red snapper shares can sit on the Gulf Council and vote on every aspect of that fishery. And one does. Over the past few years, certain members of the charter/for-hire sector have worked to launch a privatization program in which they, too, could own shares and use red snapper as their own. Yet, on the Gulf Council, people who own charter businesses and stand to directly benefit from the program are never required to recuse themselves from votes on that program. continue reading the article here 08:24

Clam Boats Test Paperless Reporting – eClams (Electronic Clam Logbook and Account Management Software)

NEFSC cooperative research and data management staff are offering to install equipment on commercial fishing vessels for electronic trip reporting in the surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries. So far, 35 vessels from New Bedford, MA to Atlantic City, NJ have been outfitted to voluntarily test the system, and more than 700 e-trip reports have been transmitted. Called eClams (Electronic Clam Logbook and Account Management Software), the system allows fishermen to electronically record all the information required on the paper-based fishing trip report. These data are transmitted to NOAA Fisheries after the trip using land-based communication services such as WiFi. Read the rest here 11:28

N.J. Reps LoBiondo and Pallone talk tough, announce legislation to prevent absurd summer flounder quotas

Reps. Frank LoBiondo and Frank Pallone on Thursday, Feb. 23 announced plans to introduce new legislation to prevent the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 2017 and 2018 summer flounder quotas for recreational and commercial fishing from going into effect. In a press release, Pallone and LoBiondo said the rules would do damage to the economies of coastal communities and the state. Under the NOAA quotas, the allowed summer flounder catch for recreational and commercial fishing were both reduced by approximately 30 percent in 2017 and 16 percent in 2018. The Pallone-LoBiondo legislation would maintain the 2016 quota levels and require that NOAA conduct a new assessment before issuing new quotas. Continue reading the story here 07:31

For fisheries regulations, a Trump edict signals uncertainty

New England fishermen and conservationists fear one of President Trump’s executive orders will have disruptive effects on fisheries management, although it will not affect routine seasonal fisheries regulation, as some had initially feared. The order prompted a fiery letter three days later from two prominent Democratic congressmen pointing out it could have “devastating impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries and the businesses and communities they support.” “Effectively what it means is that nobody can do anything because agencies will have to stop doing major regulatory actions because you can’t comply with this order, which may be the point,” says a former top federal fisheries management official, Andrew Rosenberg, who is now director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Drew Minkiewicz, a Washington, D.C., lawyer representing larger Eastern Seaboard scallop fishermen, says fishermen need not be concerned about most regulations. “This executive order has zero impact on 99.9 percent of the fishing regulations going out, so people who are wondering if the fishing season will be delayed don’t need to,” he says. “It’s much ado about nothing.” Read the article here 08:39

NOAA Says Its Hot As Ever? A NOAA Whistle Blower Turns The Heat Up On Them!!

A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015. The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. But the whistleblower, Dr John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data. It was never subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process – which Dr Bates devised. The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers. Read the full story here 20:55

At NOAA – Trump team may emphasize climate science uncertainty

The uncertainty surrounding climate research could be emphasized at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the Trump Administration. The Trump Administration landing team at NOAA may focus on data used by the agency to formulate its climate research, calling into question the accuracy of temperature measurements that inform the public’s understanding of global warming, according to an official involved in preliminary talks. In particular, the team has discussed the ways that the instrumentation used in some NOAA temperature readings could be flawed and has raised the possibility of including a section on the NOAA online home page that would emphasize uncertainty.,, Sterling Burnett, a research fellow at the Heartland Institute, argued that the administration is not interested in stifling climate science so much as shifting research to other fields like short-term weather predictions and maintaining the health of commercial fishing stocks. He said scientists are going to have to get used to the idea of facing more scrutiny, particularly if they want to receive federal research grants, and predicted cuts to those grants as money is shifted to other fields he called more relevant to the economy. Read the article here 20:05

Pallone Opposes Cuts to Summer Flounder Quotas at Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting

Today, at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, a spokesperson for Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) provided a statement arguing that proposed reductions for Summer Flounder quotas would harm many coastal communities including those along the Jersey Shore that rely on the recreational and commercial fishing industries. The Commission, despite opposition by New Jersey representatives, elected to finalize regulations that will result in a 34% cut in summer flounder quotas for the state. The bag limit will decrease to 3 fish, and the minimum size will increase one inch to 19 inches on the New Jersey coast and 18 inches in Delaware Bay. The recreational and commercial limits would both be reduced by approximately 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. Read the press release here 18:57

Catch Share Program Review for the Atlantic Surfclam and Ocean Quahog Individual Transferrable Quota Fisheries

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) is accepting proposals to conduct a Catch Share Program Review of the present and past social and economic conditions in the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog (SCOQ) fisheries which are managed using individual transferrable quotas (ITQs). Section 303A(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) includes requirements for the regular monitoring and review of the operations of catch share programs by the Council and the Secretary of Commerce. In 1977, the Council developed a fishery management plan for the Atlantic surfclam and ocean quahog fisheries in federal waters. These fisheries were initially managed using a combination of limited entry restrictions, fishing quotas, and time limits to constrain landings and distribute fishing effort throughout the fishing year. In 1990, the Council developed an ITQ program that was implemented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries. The fisheries have been operating under this program since then. Read the Request for Proposals (RFP) – Closing Date: March 31, 2017  12:21

Further proof El Niños are fueled by deep-sea geological heat flow

The 2014-2017 El Niño “warm blob” was likely created, maintained, and partially recharged on two separate occasions by massive pulses of super-heated and chemically charged seawater from deep-sea geological features in the western North Pacific Ocean. This strongly supports the theory all El Niños are naturally occurring and geological in origin. Climate change / global warming had nothing to do with generating, rewarming, intensifying, or increasing the frequency of the 2014-2017 El Niño or any previous El Niño. If proven correct, this would revolutionize climatology and key aspects of many interrelated sciences such as oceanography, marine biology, glaciology, biogeochemistry, and most importantly meteorology. Information supporting a geological origin of El Niños is diverse, reliable, and can be placed into five general categories as follows,,, Read the article here 13:19

ITS HUGE! Grey Sole limits nearly doubled as scientists use ’empirical approach’ to set new specifications

Meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the New England Fishery Management Council approved an acceptable biological catch of 878 metric tons of witch flounder, also known as grey sole, for 2017. When adjusted for management uncertainty, the move will result in a 2017 annual catch limit of 839 metric tons — nearly twice the 2016 annual catch limit of 441 metric tons. The unanimous vote by the council also underscored the escalating distrust commercial groundfishermen reserve for the science NOAA Fisheries uses to fuel its stock assessments. In December, NOAA Fisheries scientists were forced to concede that the model being used to develop the witch flounder stock assessment was irretrievably flawed after it failed the peer review phase of the process. Read the story here 07:51

Commerce nominee Ross promises to protect “peer-reviewed research” at NOAA

Under Wilbur Ross, President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will continue to provide accurate and factual data to the public, including peer-reviewed research, without political filters, Ross wrote last night in a letter to Senator Bill Nelson (D–FL), the ranking member of the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. “I see no valid reason to keep peer reviewed research from the public,” Ross wrote. “To be clear, by peer review I mean scientific review and not a political filter.” Read the rest here 17:03

NOAA Quietly Deletes Apology For Sharing Anti-Trump Facebook Post

A branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) responsible for tracking hurricanes apologized Saturday for sharing a Facebook post critical of President Trump. The National Hurricane Center (NHC), rather surprisingly, deleted the apology from its Facebook page, which claimed a “hacked” personal account was responsible for sharing a post by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. NHC’s Facebook page shared a Sanders post highlighting Saturday’s march in Washington, D.C., in protest to Trump taking office. NHC then quietly deleted off its Facebook account, but not before meteorologist Dr. Ryan Maue captured a screenshot.  Read the rest here 10:59

Has the Trump administration already made fluke fishing great again?

On Friday, January 20, just hours after the official transition of presidential power, the White House ordered an immediate freeze of pending regulations until they can be reviewed by the new Trump administration. In an inauguration day memo to federal departments and agencies, new White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the freeze was designed to ensure that President Donald Trump’s appointees or designees “have the opportunity to review any new or pending regulations.” Sent to the current heads of all executive departments and federal agencies, the memo from Priebus applies to any regulations not yet sent for final publication in the Federal Register and asks federal agencies to not send any regulation to the Federal Register until reviewed by the Trump administration. President Trump has tabbed New York businessman Wilbur Ross as the next Secretary of Commerce, the cabinet head with ultimate authority over NOAA Fisheries. Read the article here 20:36

Trump’s NOAA Pick Says He Won’t Censor Global Warming Data

The Trump administration won’t censor climate scientists or delete temperature data, nominee for Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said during his confirmation hearing Wednesday. If confirmed, Ross will oversee the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has caused environmentalists to become terrified Trump and Ross will censor scientists or delete government data about global warming. They even tried create back-ups of NOAA temperature data to prevent this. Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson asked Ross during the hearing if he would change existing policies to prevent NOAA scientists from sharing their opinions about global warming with the press or public, or suppress federal data about global warming. “I support the dissemination of valid information to the public,” Ross responded. “I don’t think valid information should be concealed, and in general I have great respect for the scientific quality of NOAA. Its my understanding that there are four Noble prize winners at NOAA, and that is certainly a measure of their expertise.” Read the rest here 17:10

81 False killer whales die off South Florida coast

81 false killer whales have died after stranding themselves off the South Florida coast. NOAA announced the grim news on Monday afternoon. NOAA initially reported that 95 false killer whales were stranded in South Florida. Then on Monday afternoon, NOAA Fish Southeast tweeted that 81 whales had died and also said the whales were at a remote location off of Hog Key in the Everglades. One whale was seen alive on Monday and 13 others are unaccounted for, NOAA Fish Southeast said on Twitter on Monday afternoon. The National Park Service has closed the area around the whale stranding location. The National Park Service is asking that aircraft not fly over the area and that boats stay away from the area. Read the rest here 15:14

Turtle Excluder Devices: Public meeting on shrimping regulation gets little feedback

A new federal regulation on Coast shrimpers may add more stress on an already stressed industry. Wednesday’s meeting discussed expanding the use of Turtle Excluder Devices to shallow water skimmer nets. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meeting drew more than 50 fishermen. However, only one was willing to talk about the potential impact of the new TED regulation. “If this is implemented, you will lose more fishermen,” said Thau Bu, director of the Mississippi Coalition for Vietnamese American Fisherfolks and Families. “Livelihoods threatened, families facing serious hardship. We lose so much of the cultural traditional heritage and value the fishing communities have contributed for hundreds of years.” Bu was also upset that Vietnamese families in attendance didn’t get enough time to translate the information to even understand what was facing them. So, she spoke for them. Video, read the story here 12:02

From the Mayor’s Chair by Absecon Mayor John Armstrong – Keep summer flounder limits as they are

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to do everything possible to preserve jobs and to attract new ones for our local residents. As a local mayor, my direct influence over regional issues affecting our economy is necessarily limited. Nevertheless, I still have a voice and I need to raise it when I see something happening which may affect the opportunity for Absecon residents to earn a living. Statement in Opposition to Implementation of Summer Flounder Draft Addendum XXVIII – As the Mayor of the City of Absecon, Atlantic County, New Jersey, I write to voice my firm opposition to the regulations promulgated by NOAA Fisheries and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Fishery Management Council which would reduce the commercial quota and recreational harvest limits for summer flounder in 2017 and 2018. Read the rest here 13:30

El Nino, Pacific Decadal Oscillation implicated in domoic acid shellfish toxicity

Using a combination of time-series data spanning two decades, the scientists not only showed a clear link between domoic acid and these larger climatic phenomena, but also developed a new model to predict with some accuracy the timing of domoic acid risks in the Pacific Northwest. The model is based on interpreting the status of the “Oceanic Niño Index” and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation – both of which are measures of climate, ocean water movement, currents and temperature. It’s designed to help coastal resource managers more effectively monitor this issue and protect public health. The findings were made by researchers from Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The work was primarily supported by NOAA. Read the article here 08:01

NFI sues NOAA over new IUU rule

The National Fisheries Institute (NFI) has sued the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of Commerce over a recently enacted rule that could cost the commercial fishing industry as much as USD 1 billion (EUR 946 million) annually. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service issued a final rule on 9 December that requires U.S. seafood importers to trace the origin of the fish they import to either the specific boat that caught the fish or to its collection point, as well as the location and date the fish was caught. The regulation was designed to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing regulation, but it will cost the industry at least USD 100 million (EUR 95 million) per year, NFI said in a press release. Read the story here 14:11

Are Maine halibut headed for trouble?

Go to Scales, an elegant waterfront restaurant on a Portland pier, and a plate of pan-roasted halibut with hazelnuts, brown butter and new potatoes will cost you $38, tax and tip extra. Go down to the dock in Lubec or Stonington during May and June, when Maine fishermen are allowed to harvest halibut from state waters inside the three-mile limit, and $38 would buy you about 5 pounds of halibut, if you could buy less than a whole fish directly off the boat. And that’s the problem. Over the decade between 2006 and 2015, the last year for which the Department of Marine Resources has figures, the boat price for halibut increased some 44 percent and landings increased from just 30,018 pounds worth about $139,000 to more than 93,000 pounds that brought fishermen some $623,000. Now federal fisheries regulators are saying that halibut may be in trouble. Read the story here 12:14

NMFS Seeks Public Comment for Proposed Rule to Require Turtle Excluder Device Use for Skimmer Trawls, Pusher-Head Trawls, and Wing Nets (Butterfly Trawls)

In an effort to strengthen sea turtle conservation efforts, NOAA Fisheries NMFS is seeking comments on a newly proposed rule.  The rule, if implemented, would require all skimmer trawls, pusher-head trawls, and wing nets (butterfly trawls) to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in their nets.  A TED is a device that allows sea turtles to escape from trawl nets.  The purpose of the proposed rule is to aid in the protection and recovery of listed sea turtle populations by reducing incidental bycatch and mortality of sea turtles in the southeastern U.S. shrimp fisheries. We have scheduled six public hearings in January 2017 to solicit public comment on the proposed rule.  The dates, times, and locations of the hearings are as follows: Larose, LA – January 9, 2017, 4pm-6pm, Larose Regional Park and Civic Center, 307 East 5th Street, Larose, LA 70373. Gretna, LA – January 10, 2017, 12pm-2pm, Belle Chasse, LA – January 10, 2017, 4pm-6pm Biloxi, MS – January 11, 2017, 4pm-6pm, Bayou La Batre, AL – January 12, 2017, 10am-12pm Morehead City, NC – January 18, 2017, 12pm-2pm Read the bulletin here 09:33

NOAA plans to open federal waters in Pacific to industrial-scale fish farming – Even Sylvia Earle thinks its wreckless

As traditional commercial fishing is threatening fish populations worldwide, U.S. officials are working on a plan to expand fish farming into federal waters around the Pacific Ocean. The government sees the move toward aquaculture as a promising solution to overfishing and feeding a hungry planet. But some environmentalists say the industrial-scale farms could do more harm than good to overall fish stocks and ocean health. NOAA has been trying to establish an aquaculture industry in federal waters for many years. But attempts to get legislation to implement open-sea aquaculture have failed. “And so (NOAA) moved into the fishery management process … as a means to move forward with ocean aquaculture under the radar of the public,” said Marianne Cufone, executive director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition. NOAA received input from thousands of people during a public comment period last year on its plans. Cufone’s New Orleans-based organization has been developing land-based aquaculture systems that are fully contained. Cufone says these types of farms are more sustainable than ocean aquaculture, and Earle agrees. Read the rest here 12:42

Congress Members Ask Commerce Secretary to Stop Summer Flounder Quota Cuts

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) and a bipartisan group from the New Jersey Congressional delegation sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker asking her to prevent rulemaking that would reduce the summer flounder quotas for recreational and commercial fishing from going into effect. The letter asks the Secretary to direct NOAA Fisheries to reexamine its methodologies and conduct a new benchmark summer flounder assessment before making any decision to reduce summer flounder quotas. Under the rule, the summer flounder Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) would be reduced 29% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. The recreational and commercial limits would both be reduced by approximately 30% in 2017 and 16% in 2018. Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker and Congressmen Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) and Tom MacArthur (NJ-03), joined Pallone in the letter. Read the rest here 09:12

Obama Administration Issuing New Rules to Curb Illegal Fishing, Seafood Fraud

The Obama administration is issuing new rules it says will crack down on illegal fishing and seafood fraud by preventing unverifiable fish products from entering the U.S. market. The new protections are called the Seafood Import Monitoring Program, and they are designed to stop illegally fished and intentionally misidentified seafood from getting into stores and restaurants by way of imported fish. The rules will require seafood importers to report information and maintain records about the harvest and chain of custody of fish, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. The program will start by focusing on “priority species” that are especially vulnerable to illegal fishing, such as popular food fish like tuna, swordfish, Atlantic cod and grouper. The government hopes eventually to broaden the program to include all fish species, NOAA officials said. Read the rest here 17:50

MDMR officials oppose proposed changes to NOAA shark regulations

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources oppose proposals by NOAA Fisheries that would increase shark regulations for recreational and commercial fishermen. NOAA proposes recreational and commercial fishermen required to complete an online shark identification and fishing regulation training course and use circle hooks when fishing for or landing sharks. DMR Executive Director Jamie Miller recently sent a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service. Miller believes the NOAA’s plan would “place punitive regulations on shark species that assessments have indicated healthy stocks which impact both recreational and commercial sectors.” Read the rest here 10:35

There are more fish in the sea – A high-tech battle for the future of the New England fishing industry

The high-tech battle for the future of the Massachusetts fishing industry is being waged aboard a western-rigged stern trawler named the Miss Emily. Onboard the commercial groundfish vessel, in addition to the satellite positioning system and other sophisticated tools that have become standard in the industry, are at least five computer monitors and a $14,000 fish-measuring board that has halved the time it takes to gauge the catch. State officials say it’s money well spent. Federal catch limits — caps on how many fish each boat can catch — have devastated the state’s most iconic commercial sector, fishermen say. In response to an outcry from the struggling local groundfishing industry, environmental officials are now using the Miss Emily to try to come up with a new — and, they say, more accurate — estimate of codfish in the Gulf of Maine. Under a survey launched last April, local fishermen hope new technology and an aggressive timetable will yield what they have concluded based on their own anecdotal evidence: There are more fish in the sea. Read the story here 09:59

Georges Bank said to be ‘paved with fluke! Fishermen Assail NOAA Quotas – Schumer fears major job losses

Commercial fishermen on the draggers seen offshore last week took advantage of calmer seas and the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s raising of the daily limit on fluke from 70 to 210 pounds. The higher limit was in effect from Dec. 18 through Friday as the state’s annual quota for the fish, highly sought by commercial and recreational fishermen alike, had not been reached.,, Mark Phillips, who fishes on the F/V Illusion out of Greenport, was once among the largest harvesters of fluke in the state, landing a few hundred thousand pounds per year, by his count. The problem, Mr. Phillips said, is that stock assessments are inaccurate because NOAA conducts surveys — such as with its ship the Henry B. Bigelow, which collects data in waters from Maine to North Carolina — when fluke are migrating from undersea canyons to inshore waters. Read the story here 14:49

Year in Review: Ocean changes upend North Coast fisheries

In any other year, the large bins of Dungeness crab that are loaded dockside in this busy fishing village and rolled out by truck to be sold and served during the holidays would seem like no big deal. But after an unprecedented delay in the 2015-16 commercial season forced local crabbers to leave their boats tied up through winter and on into spring, the tons of meaty crustaceans landed in port this month have been a welcome sign of normalcy restored, if only for a moment. For here on the edge of the Pacific, where commercial fishing remains a way of life, once reliable ocean rhythms have been seriously unsettled of late, confounding those who depend on predictable, seasonal cycles and highlighting future uncertainties. Even the current Dungeness season lurched off to a bumpy start, with the fishery opening piecemeal and mostly behind schedule, a symptom of widespread marine anomalies that have prevailed for the past three years, threatening everything from seabirds and sea lions to treasured catches such as salmon and abalone. Read the story here 10:04

Fishing advocates seek delay in new limits on fluke fishing

Fishing advocates seeking to head off what they described as “devastating” reductions in the New York quota for fluke next year are calling on federal regulators to forestall planned 2017 cuts until a more current assessment of the fish population is completed. Led by frequent fishing advocate Sen. Chuck Schumer, a group of 50 recreational and commercial fishing boat captains and advocates gathered at the Captree Boat Basin in Babylon Thursday to say a planned 30 percent reduction would threaten hundreds of businesses. Schumer said he plans to reach out to the U.S. Department of Commerce and its newly nominated secretary, Wilbur Ross, to address his concerns, including requesting an expedited fluke population assessment and a suspension of the new cuts until improved data is available. Schumer said he was hopeful that Ross, a New Yorker who was once an adviser on the Long Island Lighting Co. buyout by LIPA, could step in to forestall management moves by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees councils that manage the fluke fishery. Schumer said he would reach out to President-elect Donald Trump, Ross and “whoever I have to to get this changed.” Read the story here 20:06

Shrimp fishermen take issue with proposed TED rule

Shrimp boats that fish offshore already use TEDs. Turtle excluder devices use metal grates that prevent turtles from getting caught in the nets. The new rule would apply to skimmer nets, which generally shrimp in shallower waters. “It would affect about half of our fleet, which currently uses skimmer nets. They’ve been having to adhere to tow time restrictions. Now, they’ll have to use TEDs instead,” said Rick Burris, who directs the DMR Shrimp and Crab Bureau. The proposed regulation to expand the use of TEDs is the result of a federal lawsuit filed by a nonprofit conservation group called Oceana, which blames commercial fishermen for killing hundreds of sea turtles each year. “Certainly they’re being singled out. Oceana has had the shrimp industry as a target for a long time. Particularly as it relates to turtles,” said David Veal, executive director of the American Shrimp Processors Association. Veal says the statistics cited by the conservation group are suspect. Video, read the rest here 08:14

Party boat captains irate over summer flounder cuts

Few things are causing more ire among recreational fishermen than the summer flounder cuts. Some party boat captains have called it “nail in the coffin” measures that are being taken by fishery management that starts from the top down with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It seems that every time we make a sacrifice there ends up being less boats on the water. It seems like they want us off the water,” said Gambler party boat owner and captain Bob Bogan. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is recommending a 3.77 million pound recreational harvest limit for 2017. That’s down from 5.42 million in 2016. Read the story here 18:32

Warming waters have fish on the move. Regulators need to act now! Captain Sam Novello, Gulf of Maine Fisherman

T0 NOAA & NEFMC – Because of our warming ocean temperatures fish & squid stocks are moving into north for cooler waters to survive. In the near future , these stocks will be moving into the  waters and these stocks will be more abundant there than in the southern  waters. Most Gulf of Maine fishermen have very little quota of these stocks and most have no quota at all!  Our  regulators and the NEFMC should be addressing the issue now. Today in the Gulf of Maine, most of fishermen and boats are now out of commercial  fishing. At one time there was 2500 fishing  permits in the fishing  industry. Today I believe there about 200 active permits left. Most  of these permits are  small family day boats who are struggling to stay in business fishing. It would  be  a devastating disaster to our natural fishing resources and having Gulf of Maine fishermen dump these fish because of  lack of quota. Regulators and Management should consider using incidental catch limits on new stocks. Example- 2000 lbs, per trip. All Gulf of Maine communities and  fishermen would  benefit by using  incidental  catch limits in Gulf of Maine waters!  Captain Sam Novello, Gulf of Maine Fisherman 15:01

NMFS Seeks Public Comment-Proposed Rule to Require Turtle Excluder Device Use for Skimmer Trawls, Pusher-Head Trawls, and Wing Nets (Butterfly Trawls)

More shrimp fishermen would have to use nets equipped with turtle escape hatches, to prevent sea turtle deaths, under proposed new federal rules. The National Marine Fisheries Service wants to require more shrimp fishermen to use “turtle excluder devices.” The devices are metal grates that allow turtles to escape the boats’ nets. The fisheries service announced the proposed rules Thursday. They will be subject to a public comment process through mid-February. Thursday was the deadline for the federal government to propose regulations to protect turtles under a settlement with the conservation nonprofit Oceana. Oceana sued the government in April 2015, arguing that government estimates indicate that more than 500,000 sea turtles get caught in shrimp nets each year, and more than 53,000 of them die. Link  NMFS Seeks Public Comment for Proposed Rule Click here  11:39

NMFS Final Rule on Mid-Atlantic Council’s Frank R. Lautenberg Deep Sea Coral Protection Area

The Council approved the Deep Sea Corals Amendment to the Mackerel, Squid, Butterfish Fishery Management Plan in 2015 in order to protect deep sea corals from the impacts of bottom-tending fishing gear. Within the protected area, commercial fishermen are prohibited from using most types of bottom-tending fishing gear such as trawls, dredges, bottom longlines, and traps. The rule does not apply to recreational fishing, commercial gear types that do not contact the sea floor, or the American lobster trap fishery. An exemption is provided for the deep sea red crab commercial trap fishery. Vessels may transit through the area if fishing gear is stowed and not available for immediate use. Development of the deep sea coral protection area was informed by several recent scientific research efforts undertaken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, including several deep sea surveys and the development of a predictive deep sea coral habitat suitability model. Using this information, the landward boundaries for the protected area were developed cooperatively by members of the Council’s advisory panels, deep sea coral experts, fishing industry members, and other stakeholders. Read the rest here with links to Fed Register 11:35