Tag Archives: NOAA

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

East Coast fishermen file appeal over cost of government-required ‘at-sea monitors’

fisheries observerThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, requires groundfishermen — those who catch cod, haddock and other common bottom-dwelling species — to carry on board “at-sea monitors.” The observers, hired by three for-profit companies, are third-party workers whose task it is to observe fishermen’s compliance with federal regulations and ensure annual quotas are not exceeded.  The dispute lies in the cost of the monitors and who should pay for them: Fishermen are billed on average $700 a day when a regulator is present. NOAA, meanwhile, says monitors were placed on fishing boats like Goethel’s only 14 percent of the time in 2016 — and claims the fishing industry supported this system of regulation in 2010 when a vote went before the New England Fishery Management Council, an advisory board to NOAA that sets the rules. “At sea monitors were originally supported by the sectors when we went from a days-at-sea form of management to a quota based form of management in 2010,” said John Bullard, the regional administrator for NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office.  Read the story here 14:22

Don’t bite on risky lure of ‘catch shares’

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing-scaled500-e1371562470325I can’t think of a more appropriate saying to use than “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” to describe the reality of what the Seafood Harvesters of America want to do with our offshore fisheries. The Post and Courier recently published an article and editorial that bought into the sheep’s clothing side. Year-round fishing and better fisheries data are touted. Who could be against that? But there’s a wolf: privatization of our fisheries through a scheme called “catch shares,” where fishermen and corporations are actually given ownership of our fisheries with shares that can be bought or sold like stock on Wall Street.  That’s the real reason for the Seafood Harvesters of America’s existence. They’re working hard to ensure commercial fishermen own our fisheries, and in this case it’s our snapper and grouper, starting with a pilot program that could be considered by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries next year. Read the op-ed here 08:02

North Carolina Commercial Fisherman Pleads Guilty to Illegally Harvesting and Selling Atlantic Striped Bass

The department-of-justice-logoannounced that today in federal court, James Ralph Craddock, 71, of Manns Harbor, pleaded guilty to federal charges regarding the illegal harvest and sale of Atlantic Striped Bass from federal waters off the coast of North Carolina in 2010. According to information in the public record, in February 2010, a Special Agent with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) received information that commercial trawlers were illegally fishing for Atlantic Striped Bass in federal waters off the coast of North Carolina. A single patrol vessel in the area intercepted one of 17 commercial trawlers in the EEZ, the fishing vessel Lady Samaira, boarded the vessel and found 173 Atlantic Striped Bass.  The captain later admitted to taking the fish from the EEZ. Given the other commercial trawlers in the same area, NOAA conducted an analysis of electronic data and written reports from those vessels.  Based on its review, NOAA determined that during the North Carolina 20-day ocean trawl season in January/February 2010, Craddock, then Captain of the 74-foot commercial fishing vessel Capt Ralph, harvested over 12,000 pounds of Atlantic Striped Bass. Read the rest here 19:50

Sheriffs Deputy accused alongside ‘Codfather’ reportedly told investigators of cash smuggling

antonio freitasA sheriff’s deputy accused of cash smuggling alongside scallops magnate Carlos ‘Codfather’ Rafael reportedly admitted his actions to investigators, court records show. Rafael’s lawyers argue that because the deputy, Antonio Freitas, allegedly made incriminating statements to officials, trying the cases together would jeopardize Rafael’s constitutional rights. They have asked for a judge to agree to hold the two trials separately.  Freitas is accused of having received $17,500 in bulk cash from Rafael and on Feb. 5, 2016, allegedly divided that money between himself and his fiancé and flew to Portugal without declaring it. The funds were later deposited into a Portuguese bank account controlled by Rafael, the indictment states. According to the recent motion made by Rafael’s lawyers, Freitas detailed his role in the cash smuggling when questioned by officers. Read the story here 14:12

The $100 Million U.S. Government Fish Farm Nobody Wants

NOAA ScientistIf someone offered you a chance to invest millions of dollars in a business nobody wants, would you take it? If you’re the U.S. government, the answer is a resounding yes. Since 2007, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—despite major political, social, and environmental headwinds—has poured almost $100 million (PDF) into aquaculture, also known by the more pedestrian moniker of fish farming. Currently, American aquaculture is done only in state waters within a few miles of the coast. (Think farmed salmon.) But the government is trying to go further out to sea, into federal waters, to create an offshore aquaculture industry. After NOAA, under both presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush tried—and failed—to push national aquaculture legislation through Congress, NOAA decided to do an end run around Capitol Hill, creating a controversial aquaculture permitting system in the Gulf of Mexico that promptly drew litigation as well as the ire of fishermen, boaters, and environmentalists. Read the story here 08:33

Poor Ocean Conditions Hit West Coast Fisheries Hard

value-nw-fisheriesUnited States commercial fisheries are doing fine overall, but fishermen on the West Coast are hurting.  An 2015 annual report out Wednesday from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a stark fall-off in the big seafood money-makers in the Pacific Northwest.  Nationally, 2015 was an above average year in terms of catch rate, commercial value and national seafood consumption.  “On dinner plates, the average American added nearly an extra pound of seafood,” said Richard Merrick, Chief Scientists of NOAA Fisheries during a call with reporters. But this rise in consumption didn’t really help the Oregon and Washington fishing industry because the crab and fish weren’t there to catch.  NOAA Fisheries scientists are attributing the low West Coast returns to abnormal conditions in the Pacific that are linked to climate change.  Read the story here 19:11

NOAA Appoints Dr. Jon Hare New Director of Northeast Fisheries Science Center

hareNOAA announced the appointment of Jonathan A. ‘Jon’ Hare, Ph.D. as the new Science and Research Director for NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. As director, Dr. Hare will continue the work of planning, developing, and managing a multidisciplinary program of basic and applied research on the living marine resources of the Northeast Continental Shelf Ecosystem from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras, NC. He will lead NOAA Fisheries’ five northeastern labs and field stations. Dr. Hare will officially assume his new role starting October 31, 2016. Dr. Hare has held various positions with NOAA Fisheries for more than two decades, winning multiple awards for his leadership and administrative capabilities, as well as for his research. Most recently, he served as Supervisory Research Oceanographer and Acting Ecosystems Processes Division Chief for the NEFSC Narragansett Laboratory. In this role he managed division research while also managing personnel and research resources for five different locations in the center. Link 16:40

Scientists Are Closer To Understanding What Makes Ocean’s Toxic Algae Bloom

dungenesscrabLast winter was the first time the Dungeness crab fishery in Oregon closed temporarily because of toxic algae in the ocean.  And even just a week ago, another toxic bloom was happening off the coast. Scientists are just beginning to understand what triggers these conditions. A study this month from Oregon State University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides a rare peak below the waves. The toxin, demoic acid, is sometimes produced by an algae called Pseudo-nitzschia, or PN.  PN does better than most algae when ocean temperatures are high and there isn’t much nutrients in the water.    When these nutrient-poor conditions are followed by upwelling of rich, cold water from the ocean bottom, the PN are in the perfect position to party.  Their numbers explode. Read the story here 08:46

Feds must end push for ocean aquaculture

The world’s oceans are in trouble. Litter, urban runoff, dead zones, leaking oil rigs and other factors put stress on sea life, notably fish, and cause alarming changes in our marine environment. One thing we do know for sure is that we should not be adding stress and pollution to ocean ecosystems. That’s why it is so baffling that we are seeing a renewed major push by the federal government for industrial ocean fish farms. Lobbyists for the companies who build these aquaculture operations would have you believe the industry is a solution for preserving our marine environment by growing fish to ease the need for taking more fish from the wild. In reality, however, these facilities can exacerbate many of the problems already hurting our oceans.  Open water fish farms are comprised of giant floating net pens with thousands of fish all eating, excreting and growing in one space. Cages used to contain fish are flow-through, meaning anything from the pens – excess feed, fish wastes, and any chemicals – can go directly into natural waters. Read the rest here 15:18

MSA – Fishing rule gives regional councils more flexibility on catch limits

DC-marchThe rule, already under fire from environmental groups in a rare conflict with the administration, could help mollify the recreational fishing industry and its Republican allies in Congress. They’ve criticized the administration for not relaxing restrictions on catches, given that many fish stocks have rebounded dramatically over the past few years. Officials with the fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the change, years in the making, strikes an appropriate balance between current law, which has helped rescue dozens of once over-fished stocks, and the needs of the economically vital recreational and commercial industry. Some environmental groups oppose the change, saying that giving more “flexibility” to the eight regional councils that set catch limits in federal waters could soften protections that have worked well. “Unfortunately, the new rules weaken the foundations of U.S. sustainable fisheries management,” said Meredith Moore, director of the fish conservation program at Ocean Conservancy. “By allowing risky management decisions that leave stocks at low levels, we leave fish populations and fishing communities vulnerable.” Read the story here.  Read the NOAA press release – NOAA announces revisions to federal fishery management guidelines click here 20:07

Coast Guard, NOAA Discuss Safety Requirements For Vessels Chartered To Support Scientific Research

Commercial vessels, in particular commercial fishing vessels, are often chartered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to engage in scientific research. There is a long-standing agreement between the Coast Guard and NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) dating back to 1980, which requires NOAA to notify the Coast Guard prior to a commercial vessel being contracted. When that notification is made, the Coast Guard coordinates an inspection, if necessary, to ensure the vessel is in compliance with applicable safety requirements. Further, some vessels may be authorized to operate as research vessels; this also involves a Coast Guard inspection and the issuance of “letter of designation” as a research vessel. Read the rest here 10:06

Playing Politics? NOAA: Red snapper data can’t be shared with states

sobeckA letter written late last month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates  that if red snapper are ultimately removed from federal oversight to be managed by the five Gulf states, much of the data currently collected on the species by NOAA — including stock assessments — would not be shared with the states. The letter dated Sept. 22 from Eileen Sobeck to Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Charlie Melancon contradicts what Rep. Garret Graves — the author of H.R. 3094 that would strip red snapper from federal oversight and award it to the Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority — has said about how potential costs associated with stock assessments and data collection for snapper will be covered if his legislation becomes law. But Graves said the letter is just another in a long list of allegations brought by the LDWF in an attempt to derail the bill. “The reality is this: NOAA is going to go out there and do fish surveys, and they don’t have any idea what type of fish is going to come up in that net or on that long line, so for them to suggest that they’re going to pretend that some fish isn’t there and another fish is there is completely bogus,” Graves said. “And if NOAA is going to jump in and play these political games with Charlie (Melancon), have at it. Y’all enjoy your next two and a half months of playing games because y’all are gone. It’s just continued silliness and obviously has no merit.” Read the story here 17:28

Is Environmental Defense Fund Controlling Louisiana’s Department Of Wildlife And Fisheries?

By now our readers are surely familiar with the very strange behavior of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries secretary Charlie Melancon with respect to his opposition to a bill brought by most of Louisiana’s congressional delegation that would put individual Gulf states, rather than the federal government, in control of the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. If you’re not up to speed on Melancon’s antics and escalating feud with a key member of the delegation, Baton Rouge congressman Garret Graves, we offered a primer here. Most of the speculation you may have seen involves the idea that several of the larger commercial fishing concerns along the Gulf coast, who benefit from a crony-capitalist scheme wherein shares of the red snapper market have been allocated based on incumbency – the owners of those concerns have been given the moniker “Sea Lords” since the red snapper catch largely resembles a feudal system of sorts – have essentially bought Melancon and his opposition to the bill Graves is proposing is a product of that purchase. Graves’ idea to put the state in charge of the red snapper fishery would break up the current allocation scheme and put the Sea Lords out of commission in Louisiana, or at least make their incumbency a matter which would be up for grabs. Read the story here 08:10

Fishing Industry faces tough times – Sam Parisi

manatthewheelUS Fishermen from all over are feeling the effects of NOAA and conservation groups that are making it very difficult for our fishing fleets on every coast. Every day there is anther obstacle for our fishermen, the most recent on the East Coast. President Obama has designated a large area of Cape Cod, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. I fished those waters back in the late 60,s for whiting and lobster. Fishermen depend on those deep waters for lobsters. Although the President, after up roars from the lobstermen, has given them seven years to vacate, in the end those lobstermen will lose their rich grounds. When does it end?  Every day some one else comes up with a brain storm and there are so many people out there that no idea of the effect, but think it is a good idea to protect whatever, not thinking of the harm to our fishermen. I believe the deck is stacked and our fishermen do not stand a chance to exist. We need help from our political leaders. I have heard over and over “we will help”, with good intentions but the fact remains NOAA holds all the cards. We have no say. We need political leader’s that will stand up to NOAA on our behalf, and follow through. We need help now. Here are the basic problems that need attention. Language written into MSA that would unlock the ironclad grip NOAA has on the “best available science” and accept other independent scientific data. SK Grant money needs to be removed from NOAA. Senator Sullivan of Alaska has such a bill pending and finally our fishermen should not have to pay for monitoring that is NOAA’s responsibility. Thanks for listing. Sam Parisi, Proud to be a fishermen. 19:24

NOAA Launches Observer Safety Program Review

fisheries observerNOAA is now conducting an Observer Safety Program Review as part of our ongoing efforts to assess and evaluate procedures for keeping U.S. fisheries observers and at-sea monitors safe. The health and safety of our observers and at-sea monitors is a top priority for the agency. The review will focus on seven areas related to safety and health, including: safety reporting, communications, practices and policies, training, regulations, equipment, and international observer programs. An outside contractor will conduct the safety review on behalf of the agency. The work is intense, and conditions can be uncomfortable. Observers may spend days, weeks, or months aboard commercial fishing and receiving vessels. Long trips, close quarters, and their role in monitoring compliance can sometimes lead to tensions onboard. Preparing observers for safe deployments requires an active partnership between NOAA Fisheries (including our Office of Law Enforcement and General Counsel), observers, observer providers, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the fishing industry. Read about it here 10:51

How a ‘rogue’ environmental group transformed (HIJACKED) American fisheries

One of the nation’s largest environmental groups — bankrolled with $50 million from the heirs to the Walmart fortune — has spent millions of dollars pushing a wholesale change in how the U.S. manages its fisheries, an AL.com investigation reveals. Critics blame the Environmental Defense Fund effort for hurting fishing communities on every coast, from Kake, Alaska, and Gloucester, Mass., to Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The group has pushed a system that turns the right to catch a pound of fish into a private commodity that can be bought and sold like a share of stock on Wall Street. The government then gives these shares to individual commercial fishermen, granting them the right to catch that fish, or lease or sell the right to catch it to another fisherman. EDF gained unprecedented access to the levers of power in 2008 when President Obama appointed the vice-chair of EDF’s board – Jane Lubchenko — as the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages the nation’s fish stocks. Once in power, Lubchenko, a respected but little known fisheries professor in Washington State, enacted a national catch share policy that mirrored EDF’s longtime goals. Read this story. Read the story here 09:21

NMFS Announces Proposed Rule to Protect Deep-Sea Corals in the Mid-Atlantic

noaa nmfs logoOn September 26, 2016, NOAA Fisheries announced a proposed rule to designate a deep-sea coral protection area in the Mid-Atlantic. The area extends from the continental shelf/slope break off the Mid-Atlantic states (New York to North Carolina) to the border of the Exclusive Economic Zone.  If finalized, this proposed rule would be the first nationally to protect deep-sea corals under the new deep sea coral discretionary provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The public has until November 1 to comment on this proposed rule, either online or by mail. It should be noted that 11 years ago, the New England Fishery Management Council used the essential fish habitat provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to protect deep-sea corals located in two offshore canyon areas (Lydonia and Oceanographer) through an amendment to the Monkfish Fishery Management Plan. “This would protect 15 deep-sea canyons in a total area of about 24 million acres, about the size of Virginia, or about 20 times the size of the Grand Canyon National Park,” said John Bullard, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region. Read the Proposed rule, request for comments here 17:01

N.C. Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Bass Fishing

stripersA North Carolina fisherman pleaded guilty Monday to the illegal harvest and sale of Atlantic striped bass in federal waters in 2010. The Justice Department said the charges against Dewey Willis Jr. of Newport, N.C., stemmed from an multi-defendant investigation involving 13 other commercial fishermen. As described in a written notice of Willis’s pleas, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received a tip regarding the fishermen’s alleged illegal activities involving striped bass, and directed the U.S. Coast Guard to board the fishing vessel Lady Samaira in February 2010. Willis and the other fishermen onboard were charged with violating the Lacey Act, a federal law that prohibits individuals from transporting, selling or buying fish and wildlife harvested illegally. Now that he was entered a guilty plea, Willis faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Read the rest here 17:15

This 43-foot dead whale was trucked through downtown Portland

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is investigating how an endangered right whale found floating off the Maine coast Friday became entangled in fishing gear that probably caused its death. Jennifer Goebel, a spokeswoman for NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Region in Gloucester, Massachusetts, confirmed Sunday evening that fishing gear ropes were the most likely cause of the North Atlantic right whale’s demise. Goebel said NOAA will try to identify the gear’s owner, but she was uncertain whether punitive action would be taken. If the owner can be identified, NOAA could use the incident to raise public awareness and develop strategies for preventing future occurrences. Read the story here 12:33

Environmental group dislikes new rule for listing, delisting or reclassification under the Endangered Species Act

angry enviroThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries finalized a rule Monday that changes the process by which species are petitioned for listing, delisting or reclassification under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under the rule, first proposed in May 2015, petitioners will be required to notify each state wildlife agency where a species is located at least 30 days before submitting a petition to the federal government. The delay will gives states an opportunity to provide agencies with pertinent information on the species. The new rule also restricts the number of species that can be petitioned for at one time. Under the rule, only one species is allowed per petition. The Center for Biological Diversity was quick to slam the rule, calling it an “impediment” to using the Endangered Species Act. “These new restrictions on citizen petitions are nothing more than a gift to industries and right-wing states that are hostile to endangered species,” Brett Hartl, the group’s director of endangered species policy, said in a statement. Read the story here 10:34

Ushering industrial aquaculture into the Pacific Islands Region EEZ is anything but sustainable

NOAA ScientistRight now, anyone can throw a cage into the open ocean within the Economic Enterprise Zone and begin an aquaculture operation, said Joshua DeMello, of the Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. The beginning of that aquaculture management program for the Pacific Islands Region is in the works, under the eye of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service and in conjunction with Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council. The entities are preparing a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) analyzing the possible environmental impacts of the proposed management program and alternatives. “The purpose of it is to develop a management program to support sustainable, economically sound aquaculture in the Pacific Island Region,” DeMello said. The PEIS process looks at options for permit duration, whether cages should be metal or net pens, and allowable species. But ushering industrial aquaculture into the EEZ is anything but sustainable, poses a threat to the environment and could impact commercial fishing, according to a biologist. Read the story here 20:13

Fisherman appeals case shifting monitor costs

David GoethelNew Hampshire fisherman David Goethel is looking to the federal appeals court to overturn a federal judge’s ruling that allows NOAA Fisheries to impose the cost of at-sea monitoring on Northeast groundfish permit holders. Goethel, represented by lawyers from the Cause of Action watchdog group, has filed an appeal with the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, hoping to reverse U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Laplante’s July 29 ruling in Goethel’s lawsuit that granted summary judgment to the federal government. “NOAA lacks the authority to require industry funding for at-sea monitors. Its decision to do so violates federal statutes and the Constitution,” said Alfred Lechner Jr., president and chief executive officer of Cause of Action as well as a former federal judge. “Our clients had a legal right to their day in court at the time they filed suit. The decision holding otherwise is an error. An appeal from the decision of the district court has been filed.” Read the story here 08:13

At one time, they were close collaborators. Great White Shark researchers spar over studies off Cape Cod

ar-160919425In 2012, OCEARCH operated under state Division of Marine Fisheries shark scientist Gregory Skomal’s federal permit to catch and tag great white sharks off Chatham. The next year, with Skomal again on board, the state allowed the big Alaskan crab boat the organization uses into state waters, less than 3 miles offshore. This June, citing concerns that any additional research on great white sharks within state waters could jeopardize a five-year population study led by Skomal, Division of Marine Fisheries Director David Pierce denied OCEARCH’s application for a research permit to catch great whites off Monomoy. “I’m concerned your proposed work would compromise our research by jeopardizing our study’s validity,” Pierce wrote to OCEARCH president Christopher Fischer in his June 30 letter denying the permit for state waters. In January, OCEARCH received a federal research permit from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s highly migratory species program to capture and tag a total of 75 sharks of varying species, including eight great whites, anywhere from the Gulf of Mexico all the way up the Atlantic coast. Read the story here 14:16

Fishing Illegally – Menakhem Ben-Yami

mb-y3601cropAccording to the EU, NOAA and other “regulators,” ‘Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, distorts competition, puts honest fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and weakens coastal communities, particularly in developing countries,’ etc., etc. The sundry of published documents, articles, and even learned papers, published not only in the fisheries-related, but also in the general press in recent years, are all bombarding us with IUU. If words could sink vessels, there’d be many more wrecks decorating the bottom of the sea. Read the rest here 16:21

Red snapper dispute continued at Wednesday meeting

red snapperThe war of words continued Wednesday during an all-day meeting in Baton Rouge designed to educate members of the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission on red snapper management. A surrogate of Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, presented a letter declaring states would not be responsible for research funding under HR 3094, a bill authored by Graves and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, that would transfer management authority to Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. That directly contradicted charges made by Charlie Melancon, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, that the bill became an unfunded mandate when Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, tacked an amendment to it. “Amending things to death is how you kill a bill,” Melancon told the crowd of industry leaders and interested anglers Wednesday. “What was done to (HR 3094) was an attempt to kill the bill.” But Paul Sawyer, Graves’ chief of staff, presented a letter, signed by Bishop, stating that his amendment merely banned the transfer of funds to the states for fisheries research because that research would continue to be conducted by NOAA Fisheries. Read the story here 12:31

NOAA: Successful conservation efforts pay off for humpback whales

na_img_hump_introEndangered humpback whales in nine of 14 newly identified distinct population segments have recovered enough that they don’t warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act, NOAA Fisheries said today. International conservation efforts to protect and conserve whales over the past 40 years proved successful for most populations. Four of the distinct population segments are still protected as endangered, and one is now listed as threatened. “Today’s news is a true ecological success story,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Whales, including the humpback, serve an important role in our marine environment. Separately managing humpback whale populations that are largely independent of each other allows us to tailor conservation approaches for each population.” Read the rest here Read the press release here with links 09:15

NOAA and Sea Grant fund $800,000 in research to understand effects of ocean changes on iconic Northeast marine life

620300c1768EDNmainDevelopOAresistantOysters_BeckyZeiberNHSeaGrantNOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) and the Northeast Sea Grant Programs joined together to prioritize and fund new research on how ocean acidification is affecting marine life including lobsters, clams, oysters, mussels and sand lance that are so important to the Northeast region. Funding includes $800,000 in federal funds from the two programs with an additional $400,000 non-federal match. NOAA and Sea Grant drew on the work of the Northeast Coastal Acidification Network to set these priorities. The Network is made up of concerned fishermen, scientists, resource managers, and representatives from federal and state agencies who work together to identify critical vulnerabilities in the northeast, including regionally important and economically significant marine resources that are vital to the many livelihoods and the culture of New England. Read the rest here 00:23