Tag Archives: NOAA

Feds review annual bowhead whale quotas for Alaska Native hunters

Federal officials are reviewing annual catch limits for 11 Alaska Native communities whose subsistence hunters are authorized to harvest bowhead whales. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says the public has until Sept. 14 to comment on quotas for a six-year period to begin in 2019. The International Whaling Commission, which has final say on quotas for subsistence harvesting of large whales, meets next in Brazil in 2018. click here to read the story 10:46

URI, Commercial Fisheries Center combine to create apprentice program in commercial fishing

In early July, a group of apprentices joined a pilot program designed to train new commercial fishermen and women. When the program ended 20 days later, not a single apprentice had dropped out. “We were very pleased with that,” said Barbara Somers, a research associate at the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Science who helped put the program together. “We started with 12 and we ended with 12.” The program, funded by a $100,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was a joint initiative of URI and the Commercial Fisheries Center of Rhode Island, a non-profit group representing nine fishing organizations. The goal was to produce skilled crews to replenish the declining ranks of the Rhode Island commercial fishery. click here to read the story 08:26

Carlos Rafael files a motion of opposition to forfeiture

Carlos Rafael filed a court motion Monday opposing the government’s motion for preliminary order of forfeiture. The New Bedford fishing heavyweight made the request in light of “ongoing discussions” regarding the vessels and permits associated with the guilty plea he made four and half months ago. Rafael pleaded guilty to falsifying labels and fish identification, cash smuggling and tax evasion on March 30. In the plea agreement, Rafael admitted the vessels listed in the indictment were subject to forfeiture. The agreement reserved Rafael the right to challenge the forfeitures. Rafael took advantage of that right,,, click here to read the story 20:49

Despite guilty plea, ‘Codfather’ continues to fish

New England fishermen are wondering how the fishing fleet owned by New Bedford fishing mogul Carlos Rafael continues to fish nearly five months after he pleaded guilty on March 30 in federal district court in Boston to 28 offenses, including conspiracy, false labeling of fish, bulk cash smuggling, tax evasion and falsifying federal records. Those vessels include many Rafael agreed to forfeit in his plea deal for their role in his scheme to sell fish he didn’t have enough quota to catch, under the name of species for which he had enough quota. The fishing year starts May 1 and Rafael won’t be sentenced until Sep. 25 and 26. Many are angry that Rafael’s fleet has been allowed to operate through the summer months when fishermen traditionally catch most of their fish. click here to read the story 09:51

Cruise ship arrives in port with massive whale carcass on bow

A cruise ship reached an Alaska port with a surprise on its bow: the carcass of a humpback whale. The Grand Princess, a 290 metre ship pulled into Ketchikan yesterday with the marine mammal lodged on its submerged, bulbous bow, a device designed to avoid wave-making. Princess spokesman Brian O’Connor said the company was surprised and saddened to discover the whale. “It is unknown how or when this happened as the ship felt no impact,” he said in a statement. “It is also unknown, at this time, whether the whale was alive or already deceased before becoming lodged on the bow.” The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investigating the incident. click here to read the story 15:28

Wanchese fisherman pleads guilty to federal charges

Gaston L. Saunders, 53, of Wanchese, pled guilty on Aug. 3 to federal charges regarding the illegal harvest and sale of Atlantic striped bass from federal waters. The charges stem from a 2010 Lacey Act investigation by NOAA, assisted by the Coast Guard. Since 1990, there has been a ban on harvesting Atlantic striped bass in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which spans between three miles and 200 miles seaward of the coastline. Eleven other commercial fishermen have entered guilty pleas for conduct uncovered in the investigation. Saunders also pled guilty to one count of federal tax evasion and three counts of failure to file federal taxes. In the plea agreement, he agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $544,946.35 payable to the Internal Revenue Service. A sentencing hearing will be set at a later date. Saunders faces a total maximum sentence of 13 years imprisonment and/or a $800,000 fine. click here to read the story 14:19

Feds slash Red Hake possesion limit – BIG reduction from 3,000 lbs per trip to 400 lbs per trip

The northern red hake commercial possession limit is reduced from 3,000 lbs per trip to 400 lbs per trip. Effective immediately, federally permitted vessels may not possess on board or land more than 400 lb of northern red hake per trip for the remainder of the 2017 fishing year (i.e., through April 30, 2018). This reduction is required because the northern red hake fishery is projected to have reached or exceeded 37.9 percent of the total allowable landings. Vessels that have started a fishing trip when this possession limit reduction becomes effective may retain northern red hake under the previous possession limit of 3,000 lb for the remainder of that trip Dealers issued federal dealer permits for small-mesh multispecies may not purchase more than 400 lbs of northern red hake per trip from federally permitted vessels for trips started after August 7, 2017. Read the full notice click here 21:19

Pacific bluefin tuna not considered engangered

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries branch has determined that Pacific bluefin tuna are not endangered and do not need protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. The determination was announced Monday by Chris Yates, assistant regional administrator for protected resources, NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region, in response to a petition from activists and environmental groups across the nation asking the Trump administration to list Pacific bluefin tuna as endangered.,, A scientific review team found that the population is large enough to avoid the risks associated with a small population, such as a year with low survival, and that Pacific bluefin has recovered from similarly low levels in the past. click here to read the story 09:17

Offshore Aquaculture: Groups divided over Gulf fish farming

While proponents of aquaculture support expanding fish and shellfish farming in the Gulf of Mexico, local fishermen and food safety groups are wary of the consequences. “Developing offshore aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico will benefit everyone. Consumers will get additional access to sustainable domestically grown seafood,” said Jim Gossen, president of the Gulf Seafood Foundation. “Using the latest proven management practices, this should provide more wild fish to both the recreational and commercial fisheries.” In 2016, NOAA filed a final rule implementing the nation’s first comprehensive regulatory program for aquaculture in federal waters. The rule allowed for the establishment of a regional permitting process to manage the development of an environmentally sound and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in the Gulf. However, local and national groups oppose the current plan in its entirety or how it’s being implemented. click here to read the story 08:56

The American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act: S-1322 – Sam Parisi, Gloucester

Last year I served on a panel to review applicants for S-K Grant money in Saint Petersburg, along with ten other experienced fisherman thru out the USA. After two days of reviews we graded those and our mission was done. We had no idea who was awarded the grant money at the end of the two days. After a month the ones that were chosen were published. I notice one recipient from the East Coast was awarded $375,000 dollars yet I never saw come before the panel. I called the head man in Saint Pete and ask why I never saw it, and he said it was on a different panel. I was on both panels and it never came up. I believe that NOAA decides who gets the funds and the panel is there to appease the public. A Senator from Alaska heard my story and told me he was putting in a bill to go back to an advisory panel like it had in 1954. Bear in mind, this a year in the making and he asked for my help by contacting our Politian’s in the North East which I did. Two days ago Commerce Department approved his bill S-1322. The vote was 26 to one. What this means is NOAA will no longer receive the SKG money. A panel will be chosen by the Secretary of Commerce. Perhaps our fisherman will now see some of this money. Thank You, Sam Parisi,  Gloucester Mass.  click here to read the bill  Commerce Approves Eight Bills and 10 Nomineesclick here Thank you, Sam!  10:46

NOAA seeks jurisdiction of Lake Michigan waters next to Wisconsin – Protecting shipwrecks or shipwrecking the economy?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is preparing to designate the waters of Lake Michigan next to Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and Ozaukee counties as a national marine sanctuary, and that has set off a howl of protest that the state is surrendering its jurisdictional authority to the federal government, which critics say could threaten commercial fishing and coastal recreational activities, among other things. Meanwhile, both the Trump administration and Congress are looking into the national marine sanctuary program and into what some say are its overreaching and unilateral power to impose restrictions in the sanctuary areas. click here to read the story 09:41

Jury clears fish broker in alleged tuna smuggling scheme

A Marblehead tuna broker has been cleared of federal charges  that he orchestrated a scheme to illegally catch and export bluefin tuna. Robert Kliss and his Lynn-based business North Atlantic Traders were found not guilty of charges that included conspiracy, smuggling and falsifying records, by a U.S. District Court jury on Friday. Kliss, his business and a captain-for-hire, John Cafiero, were indicted in April following a four-year investigation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and federal prosecutors. The allegations came to the attention of investigators in 2012, after a member of the crew on the famous fishing boat the F/V Hannah Boden came back from a swordfishing trip off the coast of Long Island, New York, and reported to the boat’s manager that Cafiero had also been fishing for bluefin. click here to read the story 21:17

New Hampshire fleet dwindles as at-sea monitoring decision heads to Supreme Court

A New Hampshire fisherman leading the fight against a decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to shift the cost of at-sea monitoring to industry has appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. David Goethel of Hampton, New Hampshire, said he filed the appeal in early July. He is challenging the decision of a federal district court and the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in NOAA’s favor, according to the Associated Press. Goethal, who filed his original suit in December 2015, has been joined in his appeal by the Northeast Fishery Sector 13, which represents fishermen from Massachusetts to North Carolina. His legal support is being provided pro bono by the Cause for Action Institute.,, In Goethel’s appeal to the Supreme Court, he argues that NOAA’s requirement of at-sea monitors represents an illegal, warrantless search of private property, and that forcing the industry to pay for its own monitoring represents a violation of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. click here to read the story 10:51

Fisherman David Goethel takes case to US Supreme Court

After losing a lawsuit alleging a federal agency has imposed unfair regulations, Hampton fisherman David Goethel is taking his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Cause of Action Institute, which is representing Goethel and a group of other fishermen pro bono, filed a petition to be taken up by the Supreme Court Tuesday. The suit was originally filed in U.S. District Court against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Department of Commerce in 2015. It alleges NOAA unfairly requires commercial groundfishermen to fund at-sea monitors to join them on fishing trips and observe their compliance with regulations.  click here to read the story 15:52

NMFS Chief Chris Oliver suspends large whale rescues in U.S. following rescuer death

An American agency that responds to marine mammals in distress has halted its efforts to free large whales trapped in fishing gear following the recent death of a whale rescuer in New Brunswick. Chris Oliver, assistant administrator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, extended condolences Wednesday to the family of Joe Howlett of Campobello Island. Howlett, who also worked as a lobster fisherman, was killed Monday after freeing a North Atlantic right whale that had been entangled in fishing gear near Shippagan, N.B. “Because ensuring the safety of responders is of paramount importance, NOAA Fisheries is suspending all large whale entanglement response activities nationally until further notice, in order to review our own emergency response protocols,” Oliver said in a statement. click here to read the story 14:37

NMFS: Public Comment Period Opens – Review and Streamline Regulatory Processes and Reduce Regulatory Burden

On January 24, 2017, President Trump issued Executive Order (E.O.) 13766, “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects” (82 FR 8657, January 30, 2017). This E.O. requires infrastructure decisions to be accomplished with maximum efficiency and effectiveness, while also respecting property rights and protecting public safety. Additionally, the E.O. makes it a policy of the executive branch to “streamline and expedite, in a manner consistent with law, environmental reviews and approvals for all infrastructure projects.” click here to read the press release. click the links to comment. Let ‘er rip. This is your chance to be heard. 16:46

N.J.’s fluke question will be answered next week

New Jersey will get an answer to the question of whether the state is out of compliance with its 18-inch summer flounder regulation next week. State officials from the Department of Environmental Protection were able to plead their case to NOAA Fisheries on a June 27 conference call. “We were able to go into great detail about the data behind New Jersey’s management measures that will conserve more fish and reduce the number of larger breeding females removed from the fishery, and therefore provide stronger recruitment for the future,” said NJDEP Spokesperson Bob Considine. click here to read the story 09:36

NOAA Officials May Be Illegally Deleting Skype and Google Chat conversations

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) might illegally be destroying records of a recent meeting discussing new regulations against the fishing industry, according to a conservative legal group in Washington, D.C. Cause of Action Institute (CoA) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the NOAA to obtain communications during a New England Fishery Management Council meeting hashing out new rules foisted upon the country’s fishing industry. The group believes the agency is deleting Skype and Google Chat conversations that took place during the April meeting. The NOAA General Counsel considers communications through Google Chat to be off the record and will not be recorded anyway, according to a 2012 handbook guide CoA obtained. CoA disputed the agency’s claim, and pointed to provisions within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The NARA, which maintains government records, states that any communications created on NOAA’s Gmail interface qualify under the Federal Records Act. CoA Institute requested e-mails, instant messaging, Google chat messages, text messages, and any Skype messages NOAA employees sent during the April 18–20, 2017 NEFMC meetings. click here to read the story 16:32

Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling renews push against seismic testing as a deadline nears

Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling has formally opposed federal permits that would allow companies conducting seismic testing to harass marine life as a byproduct of the process. A public comment period seeking input on the authorizations ends Thursday. Five companies have applied to use seismic air guns to survey the Atlantic Ocean for potential oil and gas deposits. Seismic testing requires separate approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the companies “to incidentally, but not intentionally, harass marine mammals.” The proposed testing would violate federal law by affecting more than a small number of animals and would have more than the “negligible impact” required for the authorizations,, click here to read the story 17:26

NMFS Proposes State Water Exemptions for Scallop Fisheries in Maine and Massachusetts

The National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking comment on a proposed rule that would revise the State Waters Exemption Program under the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan. Under this proposed rule, vessels holding both a Massachusetts state scallop permit and either a Limited Access General Category (LAGC) Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) or LAGC Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) Federal scallop permit could continue to fish in state waters once the Federal Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the NGOM Management Area has been fully harvested. This action would also modify the State Waters Exemption for Maine, which already has this exemption for vessels holding state scallop permits and LAGC NGOM permits, to include vessels that have both a state scallop permit and an LAGC IFQ permit. Read the notice in the Federal Register 12:17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Oliver Appointed to Lead NOAA Fisheries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Louisiana’s New Red Snapper Catch-Share Program

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