Tag Archives: Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Something fishy in the quotas?

The clatter reverberated in the refrigerated cold as workers offloaded fish and wheeled full bins into a storage area on Fisherman’s Wharf. The catch was sorted, weighed, labeled, and eventually loaded onto large trucks headed for New York. It was a big haul, but not a big payday for Tom Testaverde Jr., captain of the Midnight Sun. “Our season’s been good. We caught a lot of fish, but the prices have been killing us all year,” Testaverde said. He pointed to imports that drive prices down, and regulations that limit what kinds of fish he can catch. Those federal limits on some species — particularly groundfish such as cod and flounder — are at odds with what commercial fishermen say they are seeing in the ocean. click here to read the story 14:34

Cooperation between fishermen, regulators not just a fluke

Fisheries management is only as good as the science that it’s based upon. The better the science, the more effective the management. For the past three years, Point Judith fisherman Chris Roebuck has partnered with federal regulators to get a better handle on fish stocks, taking scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration out to sea on his 78-foot Western-rig stern trawler the Karen Elizabeth to help figure out where groundfish are and in what numbers. This summer’s trip wrapped up this week when the team of five researchers led by John Manderson, a senior ecosystem field scientist with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and a four-man crew headed by Roebuck returned to port in Galilee with new information on summer flounder, red hake and other species. click here to read the story 21:48

Bigelow won’t be around for the fall survey….who should do it? NEAMAP!

NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, which operates and maintains the vessel, estimates that the ship will be back in service in early November, about two months later than originally estimated. In late July, a propulsion motor failed and the ship returned to port for repair, which was more extensive than initially thought and will require specialized parts. Several Northeast Fisheries Science Center research cruises have been affected. A beaked whale survey will be conducted later this year on the R/V Hugh Sharp, operated by the University of Delaware. The center is working with OMAO on options for using other NOAA ships for some or all of the annual fall bottom-trawl survey and the ecosystem monitoring cruise, which usually occur between September and late November. click here to read the story 14:30

Rhode Island Fishermen Express Concerns About Upcoming Stock Assessments And Fishing Limits

Fishermen who attended a meeting Monday in Point Judith about upcoming groundfish stock assessments are unhappy with the data collection process for those assessments. The Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the research arm of NOAA Fisheries in the region, talked with commercial and recreational fishermen as a part of a series of port outreach meetings to hear fishermen’s concerns and to figure out how the science center could work to address them. Patrick Duckworth, a commercial fisherman who attended the meeting, said regulators are using bad scientific methods to collect data and set fishing limits. click here to read the story 08:43:52

2nd Round of 2017 Groundfish Assessment Port Meetings Scheduled

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center is coming to a port near you! Join us for the second set of port meetings between August 28 and September 7 to discuss the upcoming groundfish operational stock assessments. These meetings will include an informal explanation of the stock assessment process, the cooperative research program, and ways that your concerns can be addressed by the science center.  We’d like to talk to commercial and recreational fishermen. We’re listening to what you have to say. August 28-Narragansett RI, August 30-Montauk, September 6-Portsmouth, September 7- Plymouth. See the full schedule of confirmed meetings. Click here 16:27

Maine fishermen, scientists combine forces with goal to save shrimp fishery

For more than 20 years, Dana Hammond made close to half his annual income shrimping. But his shrimping profits began to dwindle in 2013. That season, regulators were alarmed by the lack of shrimp biomass in the Gulf of Maine, and the amount he was allowed to catch was cut 72 percent. The fishery was closed entirely in 2014. It hasn’t reopened since and Hammond, who fishes out of Portland on his boat the Nicole Leigh, has been trying to make up the deficit from his other main source of income, groundfishing. But Hammond isn’t ready to let shrimping go. click here to read the story 09:22

Groundfish: NEFSC to Hold Port Meetings With Fishermen to Talk About Upcoming Assessments

The Northeast Fisheries Science Center has scheduled a series of port outreach meetings to talk with commercial and recreational fishermen about the upcoming operational assessments for 20 groundfish stocks. Below is the list of confirmed meetings to date.  August 15 in Chatham, 4 p.m, Aug. 16 in New Bedford, 4 p.m., Aug. 17 in Portland, Me. 3 p.m.  Aug, 18 in Gloucester,10 a.m., Aug. 28 in Point Judith, 4 p.m. Aug. 30 in Montauk, Details to be announced. click here for locations, and more information The Groundfish Operational Assessments Peer Review is scheduled for September 11-15, 2017 at the science center in Woods Hole, MA.  Additional information is available at NEFSC.  Need to know more?  Contact Stock Assessment Outreach Coordinator Ariele Baker at (508) 495-4741, ariele.baker@noaa.gov.

Trawl Surveys, what are they good for? – Nils E. Stolpe/FishNet USA

(Note that I am only addressing the NOAA/NMFS reliance on bottom trawl survey data in finfish stock assessments. I am not questioning the value of the wealth of biological and physical data that this long – running series of surveys generate.) From the article: According to NOAA/NMFS these surveys have provided and continue to provide “the primary scientific data” for fisheries assessments from North Carolina to Maine (fisheries assessments are the periodic – generally held every 3 to 5 years – scientific/bureaucratic exercises. In NOAA’s words “NOAA Fisheries’ scientific stock assessments are critical to modern fisheries management. Using data gathered from commercial and recreational fishermen and our own on-the-water scientific observations, a stock assessment describes the past and current status of a fish population or stock, answers questions about the size of the stock, and makes predictions about how a fishery will respond to current and future management measures.”) click here to read the article 12:35

How lobstermen gather temperature data from the bottom of the ocean

A few decades ago, Jim Manning wanted to know what was at the bottom of the sea. And after years of studying waterways on the Atlantic coast, he says he’s seen a steady change in ocean temperatures that he calls ‘unprecedented.’ Manning is an oceanographer at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He partners with lobstermen on the Northeast Shelf from Maine to New York, attaching low-cost temperature and depth loggers to some of the millions of lobster traps deployed throughout New England. The project, called eMOLT (Environmental Monitors on Lobster Traps) records and plots . click here to read the story 09:31

Northeast Fisheries Science Center study says Gulf of Maine will become too warm for many key fish

A new study by federal fisheries scientists predicts the warming of the Gulf of Maine will cause a dramatic contraction of suitably cool habitat for a range of key commercial fish species there. On the other hand, lobsters are more likely to find hospitable areas. The study by seven scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, used a high-resolution global climate model and federal fisheries survey data to model how key fisheries species would likely be affected by predicted warming over the next 80 years. “This is not telling you that in the future this is what the species’ abundance and distribution will be, only how much suitable thermal habitat each has,” says lead author Kristin Kleisner, who recently joined the staff of the Environmental Defense Fund and is based in Boston. “A lot will depend on how these species shift and the interactions they have with other species.” click here to read the story 09:58

Read Marine Species Distribution Shifts Will Continue Under Ocean Warming @NOAA/NEFSC – Funding for this joint project between NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center and The Nature Conservancy study was provided by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Measuring flounder a complex undertaking with a big impact

It’s likely few people have written more about summer flounder than Mark Terceiro. Terceiro has published a 44-page journal article about the science, politics and litigation surrounding the species from 1975 to 2000. A 32-page follow-up covered the period from 2001 to 2010, and another article regarding developments in recent years is in the works. But it’s Terceiro’s summer flounder stock assessment update, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in December, that has him in the crosshairs of New Jersey politicians and recreational fishing leaders. Terceiro, a research fishery biologist at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center, said a lot of information goes into a stock assessment. “The catch is, from both commercial and recreational, very important — that it be accurate,” Terceiro added. “We try — the government, the states — (to) go to great lengths to make sure the catch reports are as accurate as they can get.” continue reading the article here 09:20

Northeast Fisheries Science Center director steers a new course

It was last Halloween when Jon Hare took over as Science and Research Director for NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole. He was aware he was jumping into a cauldron but it hasn’t spooked him yet. “I knew it was going to be a challenge and that’s why I was interested in it,” the career NOAA scientist said. Hare does understatement well. The director’s job description includes managing “the living marine resources of the Northeast Continental Shelf Ecosystem from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras,” according to the NOAA website. If that in itself were not sufficient, these resources include commercial fisheries, and in New England that is synonymous with controversy. Federal fishery management in general, and the efficacy of NOAA’s survey work on fish stocks in particular, have been heavily criticized by fishermen in the Northeast, almost without cessation for the past 15 years and the NEFSC has been at the sharp end of much of this disaffection. Read the story here 20:22

In Chesapeake Bay’s changing ecosystem, blue crab is king (and moving north)

In the face of an evolving ecosystem, experts agree many of the differences in Chesapeake Bay marine life can – at least in part – be attributed to a worldwide warming trend. Over the last three decades, water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay have increased about 1.5 degrees Celsius, or about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, said Rom Lipcius, professor of marine science at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The change means populations of many native sea creatures in the Chesapeake have moved or expanded north in search of cooler water temperatures, and other non-native creatures have moved in. As the warming trend continues, experts say some marine species will thrive as others struggle to survive in the face of temperature, environment and predator and prey changes. “It’s not all bad news, and it’s not all good news,” said Jon Hare, science and research director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. “There are both winners and losers in this situation.” There have been a number of species, including blue crab, scup and black sea bass, that have shifted or extended northward along the Atlantic coast, said Hare. Read the story here 08:35

Fishermen and Scientists to collaberate on Trawl Surveys utilizing industry vessels in the Gulf of Maine

By next year, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center hopes to begin outfitting commercial boats with surveying equipment and paying fishermen to pull in catches that will supplement the regular trawl surveys conducted by government scientists, according to Russell Brown, who heads the center’s population dynamics branch. The gathered data will be fed into the complex process used to set catch quotas. It’s a collaboration that Brown hopes will give regulators a more detailed picture of the fish population and build trust among fishermen, who in turn see it as an opportunity to show the scientists what’s really going on. “It’s really perplexing that you’ve got a set of federal scientists who are sampling the ocean methodically and coming up with a very different picture than the fishermen about what’s going on out in the Gulf of Maine,” Jonathan Labaree of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute said. Read the story here 08:27

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

Why such obduracy at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center?

08:26

Northeast Trawl Advisory Panel Members Witness Bigelow Survey Operations

roebuck_hopper_smThree members of the Northeast Trawl Advisory Panel (NTAP), a new member of the New England Fishery Management Council and several of their colleagues made a day trip on the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow October 11 to observe bottom trawl operations on the vessel, which is in the midst of the autumn bottom trawl survey. “The idea was to allow NTAP members to see how we operate under real survey conditions” said Rob Johnston, chief of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s (NEFSC) Ecosystems Surveys Branch. The group boarded the Bigelow early Tuesday morning, the first day of Leg 3 of the fall survey, at the Newport Naval Station in Rhode Island and headed offshore just south of Rhode Island Sound.,,  “The trip on the Bigelow was very informative and answered many of the questions I had about the trawl mensuration system,” said Chris Roebuck, a fisherman from Pt. Judith, RI and a NTAP member. “The trip confirmed my belief that the survey is not at fault for the mismatches between what we see on the water and what comes out as an end result in management. Rather the interpretation of what that survey information means and how it is incorporated into management is to blame. The trip also made me realize that there are many more obstacles to overcome in our transition to industry vessels supplementing the Bigelow survey.” Read the story here 20:31

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

A Clean Sweep On The Ocean Floor

Most of the reporting in the media about commercial fishing and declining stocks in the Northeast dwells on how dire the situation has become with the fault generally attributed to fishermen and “overfishing.” The view on the waterfront is very different however. Fishermen have long maintained that there is a huge disconnect between what they see on the water and the conclusions derived from the NOAA surveys and stock assessments. Their claims have been dismissed as self-serving. Now it seems the fishermen have a strong case. On a recent bottom trawl survey, a typical industry net caught four times as many flatfish as the rig used on the government trawl surveys. Written by Don Cuddy, program director at the Center for Sustainable Fisheries Read the story here 17:17

Northeast Fisheries Science Center is looking for one to three commercial trawl vessels

bigelow trawl doorsNortheast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) is seeking 1 – 3 commercial trawl fishing vessel partners to participate in a project related to NEFSC bottom trawl survey operations The goal of the project is to help assess the potential for collaborative industry-based trawl sampling to contribute to stock assessments of commercially important fish populations in waters of the Northwest and mid-Atlantic ocean. The project will investigate the use of industry vessels to supplement NEFSC survey sampling, and/or provide survey coverage if the FSV Bigelow is unavailable or competing uses restrict its availability for the standardized NEFSC bottom trawl survey. One to three vessels will be selected to help assess the capability of industry vessels to provide the standardized tow dynamics required to supplement the existing federal bottom trawl survey conducted on the FSV Bigelow. Read the notice, check the specs here 09:21

Transition to industry based surveys approved by NOAA. At last!

The announcement from NOAA on Tuesday that they will begin to transition the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s bottom trawl surveys from their research ship, the Henry B. Bigelow, to fishing industry vessels is a cause for celebration on the waterfront and represents a real opportunity to get the fishing industry in New England out of disaster mode. It is a bold decision but it is undoubtedly the correct one and, from an industry perspective, one that is long overdue. Science Center director Dr. Bill Karp deserves enormous credit for setting this process in motion. It is a clear signal that NOAA wants to build trust and transparency, qualities that have not always been in evidence in its long and difficult relationship with the commercial fishing industry in New England. Read the rest here 13:15

‘Sea change:’ NOAA to shift fish surveys to Commercial Fishing Vessels

NOAA FSV Henry B. Bigelow. NOAA PhotoIn what one advocate called “a potential sea change” for the commercial fishing industry, NOAA Fisheries announced intentions Tuesday to shift all or part of long-controversial stock surveys from its Bigelow research vessel to commercial boats, saying a transition over the next five years could bring “greater shared confidence” in survey results. “We have to learn to work better with the (commercial fishing) industry — we have to open up better lines of communication,” Dr. Bill Karp, director of NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, said of the transition. Don Cuddy, program director for the Center for Sustainable Fisheries in New Bedford, said fishermen also have felt the Bigelow is unable to accurately count “flatfish,” such as yellowtail flounder, because of the type of gear it tows. “This is going to affect everything across the board — the fishermen have been saying for years that the catch limits and stock assessments do not reflect what they’re seeing on the water,” said Cuddy, who used the “sea change” phrase. Read the story here 15:57

NOAA/NMFS Considers Moving Trawl Surveys to Fishing Vessels

no bigelowNOAA Fisheries is initiating a planning process to support its intention to transition part or all of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s spring and fall bottom trawl surveys from the NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow to fishing industry vessels provided that survey data collection quality and time series integrity can be maintained. “The bottom trawl survey is perhaps the most valuable ecological data set that we maintain at the Center,” said Bill Karp, the center’s director. “Those data are critical for many of the fishery stock assessments in the region and are mined by a wide variety of researchers for other purposes. By sharing the responsibility for gathering these data with the fishing industry, I think there will also come greater shared confidence in the results obtained using them.” Read the rest here 17:12

Summer flounder’s new status from “viable” to “concern”reduces allowable catch

Fluke Summer FlounderThe stock status of most coastal fish did not change in the 2016 N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries Stock Status Report, but one species was reclassified from the 2015 report. Summer flounder moved from “viable” to “concern” based on a 2015 National Marine Fisheries Service Northeast Fisheries Science Center benchmark stock assessment for U.S. waters north of Cape Hatteras. The assessment indicated the stock of summer flounder was not overfished but overfishing was occurring, according to a NCDMF news release. As a result of the stock assessment, federal fisheries authorities lowered the allowable biological catch by 29 percent, which lowered the state-by-state commercial quotas proportionately. North Carolina receives the highest commercial quota share at 27.4 percent. Read the rest here – Read NCDMR Stock Assessment here 14:51

NOAA rejected New Bedford for its Northeast Fisheries Science Center. Why? It makes too much sense!

maxresdefaultIt is no surprise that NOAA has rejected New Bedford as the new site for its Northeast Fisheries Science Center. It makes too much sense. New Bedford Harbor is where it happens for the federal agency, with the heart of the East Coast fishery right here. There is deep-water berthing for its research vessels right here. UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology, a premiere oceanographic institution, is right here. There are acres of available land both on and nearby the waterfront right here in New Bedford. There are hundreds of fishing vessels that can participate in joint research efforts right here. There is major highway, rail, and regional airport access right here. No, it makes too much sense to move to New Bedford. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials would rather live and work on Cape Cod, even though their facility is over-crowded, real estate prices are at a premium, and the lack of a sizable berth forces them to dock their research vessel in Newport, Rhode Island. Leave it to a federal agency to choose a more expensive and inefficient means of operation. Leave it to a federal agency to be politically influenced to not choose the best situated, most affordable, and sensible location with the best infrastructure for their new expanded facility. Davis Sullivan, Rochester  Link 18:15

Crashed $450K scallop survey HabCam is recovered

AR-160529499.jpg&MaxW=650Scientists and crew members aboard a NOAA-chartered research vessel have recovered a $450,000 scallop survey camera that was lost a week ago when it apparently snagged on an underwater shipwreck southeast of Delaware Bay, a NOAA spokesperson said. “We are pleased, relieved, and preparing to move forward with our (scallop) survey for this year,” Susan Gardner, acting deputy director of NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center, said in a press release. The camera appears to have only “minimal damage” on its exterior and is being tested by scientists, NOAA said. Read the rest here 16:04

Bill Karp, Director of Northeast Fisheries Science Center is retiring

bill karpThe head of NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole has announced his retirement in September from federal service after just under four years as head of the center. Bill Karp came to Cape Cod after serving many years in the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, and has 30 years of fisheries research experience. The science centers conduct most of the fisheries research regulators then use to set policies and quotas, and is often in the middle of sharp disagreements between researchers and the commercial fishing industry. Karp is a regular presence at the marathon New England Fisheries Management Council’s meetings. Karp wrote in a retirement announcement that he was honored to have been selected for the position on the Cape and enjoyed working with dedicated and accomplished staff. Read the rest here 19:29

Fishing industry fighting cost of at-sea monitors

AR-160129405.jpg&MaxW=650Fishermen are opposing new catch-monitoring costs that could take effect March 1, as a judge’s ruling this week gave the industry a setback in efforts to block the transition from government funding. John Haran of Dartmouth, manager of a local fishery sector, said in December that transferring the regulatory costs to the fishing industry could put more than 40 local groundfishing boats out of business. Local fishing industry tycoon Carlos Rafael said the costs — potentially about $700 per monitored trip — could mean repeated expenses of $14,000 across 20 groundfishing boats in his fleet. Read the article here 07:50

Mayor Jon Mitchell: New Bedford would be great home for Northeast Fisheries Science Center

If NOAA Fisheries should decide to move the Northeast Fisheries Science Center out of Woods Hole, Mayor Jon Mitchell said New Bedford would be just right for a new home. Mitchell calls the city “the best place in the Northeast by far.” For about a year, the Commerce Department, which contains NOAA, has been assessing the adequacy and the condition of the various buildings that constitute the laboratory. NOAA spokeswoman Teri Frady said repairs, renovations or replacement are all possible options and any definitive direction is still a long way off. Read the article here 08:00