Tag Archives: NOAA

Proposed Cut for Herring Harvest Could Affect Lobster Catch

Fishermen who seek one of the most important bait fish on the East Coast are likely to see a dramatic reduction next year in the amount they are allowed to harvest, and the change could have major implications for lobster consumers. The commercial fishery for herring is a major industry in the Atlantic states, where the little fish is important as lobster bait and is also eaten by people. The fish has been under the microscope of regulators and conservation groups recently after a scientific assessment said earlier this year that the fish’s population has fallen in the past five years. NOAA wants to cut the annual catch limit from nearly 110 million pounds (50 million kilograms) this year to less than half that in 2019. The agency said in a statement that the deep cut is needed to “prevent overfishing.” >click to read<23:16:

Rockfish make a remarkable recovery off California coast, prompting federal officials to raise catch limits

Locally caught red snapper was once a staple on Southern California menus and a vital part of the state’s fishing industry. But overfishing took its toll, resulting in federal restrictions nearly two decades ago to prevent their extinction. But with stocks rebuilding faster than anticipated, federal officials on Tuesday boosted catch limits by more than 100% for some species of rockfish in a move they said would help revive West Coast bottom trawlers and sportfishing fleets. >click to read<13:15

Jack Spillane: NOAA – A rogue agency gets set to shut down another New Bedford fishery

Scott Lang has been around fisheries issues for a long time. Both when he was mayor and afterwards. In 2013, Lang helped organize the Center for Sustainable Fisheries as a grassroots lobbying group to try to make sure New Bedford fishermen were not totally forgotten by NOAA. He’s worked for the industry for a long time and seen a lot of arguments from both sides back-and-forth over the years. But until last week, he said he had never seen NOAA make a decision to close a fishery with no science behind it. Not even questionable science, as for years NOAA has used for New England groundfishing limits in the opinion of many. >click to read<09:42

Whale entanglements exceeded average in 2017, report says

The number of large whales entangled in U.S. waters was a little worse than usual in 2017, but entanglements of right whales and in the Northeast were down. In a report released Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed 76 large whales were found entangled in fishing gear or marine debris in U.S. waters in 2017. Six of the 76 entangled whales were found dead, 45 were presumed to be alive but still entangled, four had freed themselves and 21 were freed by good samaritans or members of the national Large Whale Entanglement Response Network. >click to read<14:35

Working Group Nears Consensus on Transit Lanes for Fishing Vessels in Northeast Wind Energy Areas

Fishing industry representatives, offshore wind developer lease-holders, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the U.S. Coast Guard, among others, joined RODA to continue an attempt to develop fishery transit lanes through the large group of Wind Energy Areas in federal waters off of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The meeting was facilitated by the Consensus Building Institute. In addition to loss of access within the lease areas, commercial fishermen have concerns about their ability to safely travel across wind energy arrays to access other historical, traditional commercial fishing grounds. >click to read<21:26

GLOUCESTER S-K GRANT MEETING WITH NOAA WAS CANCELED

Dear readers, I was very disappointed yesterday to find out that NOAA cancelled a meeting in Gloucester to do with SKG money. I had fishermen, and even invited my political delegation members, ready to attend and I wanted to ask NOAA these questions, only to find out that they did not have enough replicants to attend. To me something stinks. I would like a response from them with these three questions. Sam Parisi >click to read<10:30

NOAA’s treatment of wind industry called into question after closure of clamming areas

Offshore wind development appeared on Tuesday’s agenda at a New England Fishery Management Council meeting, however, it wasn’t expected to pop up during discussion on closures affecting the clamming industry. Peter Hughes, a liaison for the Atlantic Council, couldn’t digest the fact that an offshore wind leasing area identified in a similar region extends upwards of 1,400 square miles, while the clamming industry, which sought less than 300 square miles off of Nantucket Shoals, couldn’t receive approval. >click to read<09:34

Feds planning 2019 protections for North Atlantic right whales

How the federal government will confirm, modify or adapt protective measures for North Atlantic right whales in 2019 remains to be seen, but officials are sharing the initial findings of 2018’s scientific surveys and studies. After a catastrophic loss of 12 right whales in Canadian waters in 2017, no right whales died here this year, but at a technical briefing Tuesday, officials from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and Transport Canada didn’t say whether protections put in place this year were enough — or too much. ,,, Instead they shared key results of a recent peer review of new science by researchers, industry representatives, government officials — as well as scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. — who gathered in Montreal in an effort to reach evidence-based conclusions.>click to read<08:48

Whale conservationist tackles fishing industry

A whale conservationist with a radical style says he intends to move forward with a “whale safety” initiative petition for 2020 in Massachusetts to ban vertical buoy ropes used in commercial fishing, among other efforts to protect whales and sea turtles. “We have to have a paradigm shift,” Richard Maximus Strahan, of Peterborough, New Hampshire, said of his advocacy efforts to stop the death and injury of whales and sea turtles from entanglement in rope used in commercial lobstering, crabbing and gillnetting. >click to read<19:29

Crab fishermen and environmentalists square off over whale entanglements

The issue has pitted two local interest groups against each other: Those who depend on the $68 million California Dungeness crab fishery for their livelihood, and those who advocate shutting down areas to crabbing to protect humpback whales and other endangered species. Caught in between are everyday shoppers who love having Dungeness crab on their tables, but probably wouldn’t want marine mammals hurt in the process. “I’m frankly very scared of what the upcoming season could mean for whales,” said Kristen Monsell, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, an Oakland environmental group that sued the state over the issue last year. The case is due to go before a judge in February. >click to read<13:23

Fishermen to NOAA: ‘We spend more time getting away from the fish than we do catching the fish’

The fishing industry pleaded with NOAA on Thursday afternoon for the one thing the agency couldn’t promise: urgency. “Unfortunately with the management process that we have, to abide by the law, which obviously we have to do as a federal agency, we have to abide by the law,” NOAA’s Northeast Regional Administrator Mike Pentony said. “We are subject to constraints. It is very difficult for us to react, to change quickly.” A roundtable discussion,,, The roundtable looked at what vision the fishermen and NOAA have for the groundfish industry and then touched on quota.  A common theme emerged from the fishing industry as it pelted Pentony with grave concerns regarding the future of the groundfish fishery. “This is the very bottom and the most discouraged mount of fishermen that I’ve seen since I’ve been involved in fisheries and that goes back to the mid-70s,” fisherman Ed Barrett said. “I can’t tell you how bad it is. You can ask any fishermen,” fisherman Ron Borjeson said. “We spend more time getting away from the fish than we do catching the fish.”>click to read<19:03

White sharks aren’t the issue. Gray seals are – amend the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act

Last summer’s white shark attacks off Cape Cod beaches, one resulting in the first human fatality in the state in over 80 years, highlight the fact that times change, our marine ecosystem is evolving, and laws need to adjust to these changing realities. However tragic those shark attacks are for the victims and their families, the white sharks are not the issue; they simply dramatize it. The ever-increasing population of gray seals is the issue.,, A realistic start to addressing this issue would be to amend the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act to provide for delisting recovered species, such as the gray seal. Admittedly, while delisting would not resolve the issues of controlling seal population growth or related white shark attacks, it would be a reasonable first step for the following reasons: >click to read<09:31

Researchers work on better model for impact of fishery closures

Fisheries managers are faced with a firestorm every time they decide to close a fishery because of poor returns or low population numbers. A new economic model is trying to help them see into the future to understand the effects of a closure before it happens.,, It takes into account items like fishery participation, the amount of each vessel’s annual revenue that comes from the affected fishery, which vessels participate in other fisheries and the value of the fishery; the aim is to calculate the total impact when managers have to limit or close a fishery. >click to read<11:59

Wilbur Ross opens new front in trade war with $11M in fish farm grants

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross doled out $11 million Wednesday aimed at jumpstarting the U.S. aquaculture industry, or fish farming, and limiting dependence on foreign seafood imports. “With such vast coastlines, there is no reason the United States should be importing billions of pounds of seafood each year,” Ross said. As part of Wednesday’s announcement, the agency’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is launching 22 projects aimed at expanding sustainable U.S. ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes aquaculture>click to read<14:42

Warren again calls for Rafael’s permits to stay in New Bedford

Elizabeth Warren repeated a call she voiced last year by sending another letter to NOAA regarding Carlos Rafael’s federal fishing permits. The Massachusetts senator addressed her two-page letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, acting NOAA Administrator Benjamin Friedman and assistant Administrator for Fisheries Chris Oliver and asked that NOAA keep the 42 permits the agency is targeting in its civil action in New Bedford. Warren sent a letter to NOAA last October, too, echoing the same sentiment. >click to read<21:15

Measures to protect North Atlantic right whales have been effective, official says

Representatives of the fishing industry and Fisheries and Oceans Canada met in Moncton over the weekend to look at the impact protection measures were having on the North Atlantic right whale — and to help decide what should happen next year. The 2018 fishing season has been controversial, with fishermen in the Acadian Peninsula protesting the new federal measures that were put in place to protect the North Atlantic right whale. Some of those measures included closing several fisheries where whales were present in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, speed restrictions for boats and increased surveillance. >click to read<15:34

Regulators meet next week to consider actions to save right whales which could drastically change lobstering

Proposals to close the fishery in the western Gulf of Maine south of Cape Elizabeth during April, cut the number of seabed-to-surface lines that can entangle whales, and become a ropeless fishery by 2020 are among the ideas to be discussed next week in Providence, Rhode Island, by the team of scientists, fishing groups and animal rights activists tasked with saving the right whale from extinction.,,, In their proposal, The Humane Society of the United States, Defenders of Wildlife and Center for Biological Diversity – which together sued the federal government for not doing more to protect whales from lobster gear – outline a fast-moving plan to transition to a ropeless fishery, requiring all new entrants to the federal fishery be rope-free by Jan. 1, and that all participants in any Atlantic trap or pot fishery, including Maine’s, use only ropeless gear by Jan. 1, 2020. >click to read<09:03

Bayou La Batre – Coastal Alabama Citizens Rise Up And Defeat Job-Killing Eco-Tourism Ordinance

Fearing the loss of both their livelihood and their way of life, residents of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, banded together earlier this summer and scuttled a city ordinance crafted to promote eco-tourism. Located along the Gulf Coast, a few miles southwest of Mobile, Bayou La Batre is a fishing village with a vibrant seafood-processing industry. The city of 2,500 souls has survived Hurricane Katrina and other unpleasant visitors from the tropics. But a 200-page zoning proposal developed by the city’s planning commission with assistance from the Southeast Alabama Regional Planning Commission (SARPC) and environmental groups triggered a storm of protest that sent the city’s mayor and his supporters running for cover. >click to read<12:04

Court Ruling on Aquaculture – NOAA remains committed to expanding sustainable U.S. aquaculture

NOAA is considering whether to appeal the Eastern District of Louisiana’s finding that NOAA does not have regulatory authority to regulate aquaculture under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.  Given conflicting court decisions and the desire for regulatory certainty, NOAA supports congressional efforts to clarify the agency’s statutory authority to regulate aquaculture. NOAA remains committed to expanding the social, environmental, and economic benefits of sustainable marine aquaculture in the U.S. It is important to note that this ruling is not a prohibition on marine aquaculture, either nationally or in the Gulf of Mexico, and we will continue to work with stakeholders through existing policies and legislation to increase aquaculture permitting efficiency and predictability. Jennie Lyons Public Affairs Deputy Director (301) 427-8013 [email protected]

Gloucester: New herring rules prompt angst at dock

The protections for the Northeast herring fishery enacted this week by the New England Fishery Management Council are not welcome news for Cape Seafoods and could force the locally based seafood company to change the way it fishes.,,, One option, O’Neill said, is to change the way the company’s boats fish, moving away from the ultra-efficient midwater trawling to bottom trawling in the areas where the technique is allowed. “Even if we decide to make the investment in new gear, it’s not going to be an easy thing,” O’Neill said. “Everything the council does devalues our operation. It devalues the permits and it devalues the plant. How do you plan anything? How long before they try something else?” >click to read<16:34

NOAA findings on right whale endangerment could affect lobster fishery

A new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center finds that the decline of the North Atlantic right whale population over the past eight years is due to multiple factors that include entanglement with fishing gear. The whales’ range expansion has exposed them to vessel traffic and fisheries in Canadian waters, which did not have protections for right whales in place until late last summer, the report says. Lobster populations are also changing distribution in the Gulf of Maine, causing U.S. fisheries to move farther offshore in pursuit of lobsters, thus increasing overlap between fishing activity and right whale foraging areas and migration corridors. >click to read<14:30

NOAA Seeks $3 Million in Civil Fines against Carlos Rafael, Takes Aim at 20 Captains

NOAA hasn’t removed Carlos Rafael from its crosshairs. It’s requesting more than $3 million from the fishing tycoon and also took aim at 20 additional Rafael captains in a civil action filed last week, the governing agency told The Standard-Times on Thursday. NOAA issued superseding charging documents in its civil administrative case involving Rafael on Sept. 10, which added charges and included more respondents than the original document NOAA issued Jan. 10. The new document seeks to revoke 42 of Rafael’s federal fishing permits, prevent Rafael or his agents from applying for NOAA permits in the future, and increase the total monetary penalties sought from $983,528 to $3,356,269.,,, The documents, which are non-criminal, also increased the number of alleged violations of federal fishery laws from 35 to 88 in addition to lassoing 20 of Rafael’s captains into the civil action. The original documents included only two captains. NOAA also is seeking to revoke operator permits of 17 fishing vessel captains for Rafael. >click to read<20:48

NOAA calls off active search for killer whale J50

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has called off the active search for a sick killer whale that garnered international attention. The southern resident killer whale known as J50 hasn’t been seen for several days and earlier in the week was presumed dead by a scientist, but NOAA and Fisheries and Oceans Canada hadn’t given up hope, until now. “It seems like the window of time she would likely be alive has passed,” said NOAA spokesman Michael Milstein on Saturday. Dan Bate, a spokesman for the department of fisheries, said the DFO and Straitwatch, a marine conservation organization, continued looking for J50 on Saturday, but to no avail. >click to read<10:33

Coast guard joins search for missing orca J50

Coast Guard personnel are assisting members of NOAA’s Fisheries Service in the search for the missing Southern Resident killer whale, J50. An intense search effort was launched Thursday in which a Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Station Port Angeles, several NOAA researchers in separate boats and multiple whale watching vessels and organizations searched for the 31/2-year-old whale. Various news sources report the whale as dead. >click to read<17:07

Fewer Pollock, cod found in southern Bering Sea survey

Formal results of this year’s NOAA trawl survey of the southern Bering Sea won’t be announced until mid-September, but preliminary data shows a decided warming trend and the presence of fewer Alaska Pollock and Pacific cod than anticipated. “It appears that conditions are such now that we are moving into a warming phase and there is not clear evidence that we will move back into a cold phase,” said Lyle Britt, a research fisheries biologist with NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle who participated in this year’s survey. >click to read<15:41

Former New Bedford Fishing Captain Pleads to Hindering Coast Guard Inspection at Sea

A former New Bedford fishing boat captain pleaded guilty Thursday to interfering with a U.S. Coast Guard inspection and faces sentencing Nov. 28, federal prosecutors said. Thomas D. Simpson, 57, of South Portland, Maine, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of destruction or removal of property subject to seizure and inspection, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. On May 31, 2014, the Bulldog was engaged in commercial fishing off the coast of Massachusetts when the USCG boarded the vessel to perform a routine inspection, the news release said.  At the time of the boarding, the Bulldog’s net was deployed in the water and the crew was actively fishing. >Click to read<18:49

NOAA/NMFS – Reducing the Sub-Annual Catch Limits for Atlantic Herring Management Areas 1A, 1B, 2, and 3

These reductions go into effect today (August 22, 2018), and are based on the most recent stock assessment, which shows that the herring stock is in decline due to historic lows in recruitment over the past five years. To prevent overfishing in 2018, the new Management Area sub-ACLs are as follows: >click to read<16:33

Crabbers to get federal disaster relief

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has proposed a spending plan for federal Dungeness Crab disaster relief funding after taking input from fishermen, processors and charter boat operators. The state’s 2015 to 2016 commercial Dungeness and rock crab seasons were declared as fisheries disasters after being drastically curtailed due to algae blooms and the domoic acid toxin they produced. Approval of $28.8 million in federal relief funding was gained last June, with most of it covering Dungeness losses. Based on guidelines from the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and feedback from industry stakeholders, CDFW proposes that 89 percent of the relief funding be spent on “direct payments” to commercial fishermen, buyer/processors and sport charter boat operations. >click to read<19:31

Alaska Natives believed whale hunt was legal, Enviro group critisizes NOAA

Indigenous hunters in Alaska initially believed they were legally hunting a beluga whale when they unlawfully killed a protected grey whale with harpoons and guns after the massive animal strayed into a river last year, a federal investigative report said. ,, “The hunters also believed that if they were the first ones to shoot or harpoon the whale, the kill would be theirs,” it states. “This comes with a large amount of community pride.”,, The hunt underscores the tension between animal rights activists who want to safeguard at-risk species and indigenous residents who depend on subsistence fishing and hunting as part of their ancient culture and traditions. The Washington, D.C.-based Animal Welfare Institute criticized NOAA for not pushing for charges over a violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. >click to read<17:02

Dosed salmon, clipped fins, a ‘dinner bell’: How far is too far in helping starving orca?

The emergency effort to save a critically ill orca whale is an experiment without precedent. An international team of scientists is piloting techniques to treat a wild, free-swimming orca, one of the largest predators on Earth. The effort includes serving up live fish pumped with medicine and playing a unique tone that one researcher likened to a “dinner bell.” A federal permit approved Aug. 8 provides the clearest look yet at the details of an operation that raises questions even for those involved about the proper limits of human intervention. >click to read<17:39