Tag Archives: NOAA

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

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

NOAA – Their mission

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

Coronavirus: NOAA Cancels Five Large-Scale Fishery Surveys

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

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

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

Activist Seeks Preliminary Injunction To Halt Lobster Fishing In Maine

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

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

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

NOAA Fisheries is extending the waiver granted to vessels with Greater Atlantic Region fishing permits to carry human observers or at-sea monitors for an additional two weeks, through May 30, 2020. Administrator authority to waive observer requirements, and is also consistent with the criteria described in the agency’s emergency rule on observer waivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor and evaluate this situation. As we have done in other parts of the country,  >click to read< 15:04

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

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

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

Maine: Elver price plummets; lobster industry seeks help

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

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

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

SE Alaska Chinook controversy attracts more user groups

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

‘Another punch in the gut’: Gulf Coast shrimpers navigate the coronavirus crisis

Shrimping is a hard business. Gulf Coast shrimpers, who bring in three quarters of the nation’s catch, have been battered with waves of bad luck. Hurricanes. A flood of cheap imports. The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Fresh water diversions that kill seafood. And now the coronavirus. Restaurants buy 80% of both imported and domestic shrimp, according to the Southern Shrimp Alliance. With restaurants closed or offering only takeout, no one is buying much shrimp. Next month would typically launch the peak of shrimp season as Gulf states begin their annual opening of nearshore waters to shrimping. >click to read< 07:45

Crab fishing industry not canceled yet, but,,,

Humboldt County’s crab fishing season will remain open for now, unlike fisheries south of the Sonoma and Mendocino counties line, which have been ordered to close on May 15. An ongoing settlement agreement allows the season to be ordered closed when there’s too high a risk of whales becoming entangled in fishing gear. For now, the North Coast has been spared of closure, though a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration flags one humpback whale, which beached at Samoa in October 2019. The whale later died. Overall, the report indicates California had 17 whale entanglements in 2019, down from 34 the year before. >click to read< 21:46

Maine lobstermen are not a threat to right whales

The voices of Maine’s lobster fishermen are being drowned in a sea of injustice. I’m determined to speak for them. U.S. District Court Judge James Boasburg’s recent ruling is the latest blow to Maine’s billion-dollar industry. Boasburg’s decision that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration violated the Endangered Species Act by authorizing the American lobster fishery despite its potential to harm the North Atlantic right whale population comes on the heels of new regulations imposed on fishermen last year. With many fishermen just starting to mark their fishing gear according to the new regulations, Boasburg’s ruling has left them in a state of uncertainty. Will this be the end of the industry as they know it? by Carol Smith, >click to read< 09:15

Seafood industry visa fix in question after Coronavirus outbreak

With the aid of lawmakers, seafood businesses in Maryland, Virginia, Alaska and North Carolina last month won federal approval of an additional 35,000 visas for non-immigrant workers, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. Within days, the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down businesses, including restaurants and retail outlets the seafood industry supplies. Some seafood operations let employees go, while others have hired fewer people than they would in a more typical season. Jack Brooks, president of J.M. Clayton Seafood Co. in Cambridge, Maryland, explained that the seafood industry is a seasonal business and the coronavirus has hit the hardest during the industry’s prime time.  >click to read< 13:16

Court Finds American Lobster Fishery Requires Incidental Take Statement for Impacts on North Atlantic Right Whale

As commercial fisheries across the United States continue to adjust operations in the face of new legal requirements, such as the shift from single-species to ecosystem-based management, one challenge in particular has dominated the courts: the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recent court decisions have vacated commercial longline fishing permits in federal waters off the coast of California that could endanger the Pacific leatherback sea turtle and restored prohibitions on gillnet fishing gear in a known New England feeding ground for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. This trend continued on April 9, when a federal district court judge in Center for Biological Diversity,,,The American lobster fishery is managed cooperatively by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and NMFS,  >click to read< 14:45

Ruling in whale case signals turmoil for lobster industry

It is too early to know exactly how the ruling in a lawsuit brought by a group of environmental organizations will affect the lobster industry. U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg asked those groups and NOAA to file briefs suggesting an appropriate “injunctive remedy” against further violations of the Endangered Species Act. Whatever that remedy may be, it is likely to come soon and have a significant impact on Maine lobstermen. During the past several months, Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher hosted a series of meetings along the coast with members of the lobster industry,, Throughout the process, Keliher warned that the pending federal lawsuit against NOAA was a “wild card” that could affect the regulatory process in undetermined ways. Last week, Keliher said that with the release of the court’s decision the wild card had been played. >click to read< 17:51

Markey: Aid for fishermen only the beginning – Fishermen Getting Hammered By Restaurant Shutdowns

Sen. Edward Markey warned members of the fishing community Saturday that the country was just at the beginning of the coronavirus health crisis. “These numbers are mounting, the number of cases, and it could go on potentially for a sustained period of time,” Markey said to dozens of fishing industry leaders, state legislators and mayors on a weekend conference call. “Three hundred million is a great start, but it’s hard to imagine it will go very far,” said Jeffrey Reichle, president of Lund’s Fisheries of Cape May, New Jersey,,, >click to read< 07:27

Fishermen Getting Hammered By Restaurant Shutdowns – They are also looking for relief from government rules. >click to read< 07:30

Federal study surveys spawning Atlantic Cod – Research area sits in waters zoned for offshore wind projects.

NOAA, the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology are all participating in the study, which is funded by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. The research is focused on what may be one of the last remaining major seasonal spawning gatherings in the Northwest Atlantic, according to the state Division of Marine Fisheries. “It’s certainly been a persistent spawning aggregation and there are not many in New England,” said fisheries scientist Steve Cadrin, principal investigator on the project for the School of Marine Science and Technology. Atlantic cod populations are at historic lows, hammered by chronic overfishing and climate change. >click to read< 07:06

Coronavirus: NOAA Fisheries is temporarily waiving requirement for vessels to carry a fishery observer or at-sea monitor.

As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NOAA Fisheries is temporarily waiving the requirement for vessels with Northeast fishing permits to carry a fishery observer or at-sea monitor. The waiver will be in effect through April 4, and future extensions of this waiver will be evaluated weekly.
For details, please read the letter from the Regional Administrator Dear Partners and Stakeholders: As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NOAA Fisheries is temporarily waiving the requirement for vessels with Northeast fishing permits to carry a fishery observer or at-sea monitor. The waiver will be in effect through April 4, and future extensions of this waiver will be evaluated weekly. >click to read the rest< 15:56

Coronavirus: Fishermen cite at-sea monitors as potential virus source

Groundfishermen and sector managers are growing increasingly frustrated at NOAA Fisheries over what they perceive as the lack of clarity on at-sea monitoring requirements in the midst of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Dave Leveille, manager for Northeast Fishing Sectors II and VI, said Thursday that he has fielded numerous queries from fishermen asking why they still are being forced to accept assigned at-sea observers on their boats while health experts and the federal government are encouraging measures to reduce human contact to try to halt the spread of the dangerous virus. >click to read< 11:19

Coronavirus: NOAA closes Gloucester office to public, takes meetings to web

NOAA Fisheries is restricting access to its Gloucester office and the New England Fishery Management Council is converting many of its meetings to webinars as precautions against further spread of the novel coronavirus. NOAA Fisheries said its Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office in the Blackburn Industrial Park continues to operate, but it is limiting access to the building to employees, as well as to visitors and deliveries deemed essential to its mission. “This measure is taken out of an abundance of caution and our commitment to protecting the health and safety of our employees and constituents during the COVID-19 virus pandemic,” NOAA Fisheries said in a statement. Suspend the observer program, right now!  >click to read< 07:01

Some of the many reasons why federal marine sanctuary management is a bad idea

The claim: A sanctuary will enhance our economy. The fact: Not true.,, The claim: Sanctuaries have never harmed commercial or recreational fishermen.
The fact: Monterey sanctuary leadership led the effort in California’s marine protected area process to close many of the best fishing areas. This occurred despite early promises made by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) and elected leaders that the sanctuary would not create fishing regulations nor take actions that would threaten fishermen’s livelihoods. Mr. Christie refers people to sanctuary leadership’s testimony before the Morro Bay City Council in 2016. People who heard this testimony and who know of the sanctuary’s role in creating no-fishing zones found this testimony to be disingenuous, if not dishonest. The claim: Sanctuaries offer protection for endangered species,,, >click to read< 18:05

“Looking Back”: The Keep Fishermen Fishing Rally

Measured by any meaningful criteria the Keep Fishermen Fishing rally held on the steps of the Capitol on March 21 was a stunning success. It was attended by thousands of fishermen from as far away as Alaska, twenty one Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, and at least a half a dozen other VIPs made room in their busy schedules to come out and address the people who attended. From the most conservative of the conservatives to the most liberal of the liberals, these politically divergent speakers had one message; fix the Magnuson Act and bring back the balance between conservation and harvest. For the second time at the national level recreational and commercial fishermen – no matter what fisheries they participated in, no matter what their disagreements on allocation or lesser issues were, and no matter where they were from – were standing together and demanding a return to the original intent of the Magnuson Act;,,, >click to read< 08:09

Maine lobstermen tell federal regulators: We’re not killing the whales

The Maine Lobstering Union accuses the agency of caving to environmental organizations when it should be defending the industry. Kristan Porter, a Cutler lobsterman who heads up the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, said the modeling tool the agency had come up with to determine risk had been sharply criticized by a team of independent scientists during a peer review conducted late last year. Stonington lobsterman Julie Eaton urged regulators to stop playing dangerous games with fishermen’s lives and livelihoods. We don’t want to see any animal go extinct, but blaming us for the right whale’s decline is like blaming Mexico for the plight of the polar bear, she said.  >click to read< 09:47

NCLA Sues Commerce, NOAA, NMFS over Its Unlawful New at-Sea Monitor Mandate

The New Civil Liberties Alliance today filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island,,, The suit challenges the agencies’ unconstitutional and statutorily unauthorized effort to force fishing companies to pay for a new agency enforcement program. NCLA represents Relentless Inc., Huntress Inc., and their related company, Seafreeze Fleet LLC,,,  The at-sea monitor mandate for the nation’s Atlantic herring fleet violates the U.S. Constitution’s Article I, and the agencies have exceeded the bounds of their statutory authority because Congress never allowed these agencies to create or to require the industry to finance at-sea monitors or an at-sea monitoring program in the Atlantic herring fishery. more >click to read< 15:07

Federal fishries disaster funds granted To NC Fishing Industry

North Carolina will receive $7.7 million in federal fisheries disaster assistance to help the State’s fishing industry recover from Hurricane Florence. An assessment from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that the September 2018 storm caused $38 million in damages to vessels and businesses and nearly $57 million in lost revenues. >click to read< 19:33

Are they overpopulated, and should they be managed? Study Documents Growing Population of Gray Seals

Gray seal pupping season comes to an end off the coast of Massachusetts and Maine, as a group of federal, state and local scientists are finishing a study on the health of the animals. One of the research teams did its work on Muskeget island, a 240-acre spit of sand west of Nantucket that hosts the largest gray seal pupping colony in the U.S. Referred to by some as the diesel engine of the booming seal population in the region, which in the 1970s faced near extinction (BS), Muskeget has become dominated by breeding seals during pupping season.,, Ms. Murray said a 2016 study found 27,000 seals in Cape and Islands waters,, >click to read< 09:36

U.S. Commerce allocates $35M for P-cod, Chignik fisheries disaster relief

Fishermen affected by the 2018 Pacific cod and Chignik sockeye disasters will soon have access to about $35 million in relief funding. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross allocated about $65 million to fisheries disaster relief, about $35 million of which is for Alaska,, about $24.4 million will go to the Pacific cod fishery disaster and about $10.3 million to the Chignik sockeye fishery. The funding was appropriated when Congress passed the 2019 Consolidated and Supplemental Appropriations Act. >click to read< 15:02

Graves requests $100M in fisheries disaster assistance to La. after record-setting opening of Bonnet Carre Spillway

Congressman Garret Graves has written a letter to the National Oceanic an Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asking them to allocated the remaining $100 million in fisheries disaster assistance to Louisiana to go towards mitigating the impacts of the recent openings of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.,, “To rub even more salt in the wound, our fishing industry has been taking it on the chin for years, punished by previous, man-made disadvantages, including falsely labeled crawfish from overseas and imported shrimp taking precedent in the market over our domestic and sustainable seafood products,” said Graves. >click to read< 12:50

NOAA grants Alaskan Fisheries $24.4 million in disaster relief funding. When, though?!

Thursday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), approved a $24.4 million dollar disaster relief package to help restore the loss of fisheries impacted by the 2018 pacific cod fishery disaster and sockeye salmon failure in Chignik. The money will be administered by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission who will distribute the relief payments to fishermen and their deckhands, processors, and fishery research in the affected regions. >click to read< 10:26