Tag Archives: U.S. Department of Commerce

Trump official’s flounder ruling clouds Atlantic coast fish conservation

No one considers summer flounder an iconic Bay species. But fishery managers and conservationists say the ripple effect of a controversial Trump administration decision to let more “fluke” be caught in New Jersey may impact how important species such as striped bass and menhaden are managed in the Chesapeake. In the wake of an unprecedented decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce, some in Maryland are already calling on fishery managers to challenge how coastwide fishing restrictions are implemented in the Bay. The concern stems from a July ruling by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that allowed New Jersey to reject harvest limits accepted by all other East Coast fishery managers, which were aimed at stemming a seven-year decline in the summer flounder population. In recent decades, states had appealed similar harvest cutbacks ordered by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission 22 times. Never before had the commerce secretary overturned a decision by the interstate panel. click here to read the story 08:47

Conservation groups sue to stop snapper season extension

Several conservation groups have filed a lawsuit against the federal extension of red snapper season recently announced by the U.S. Department of Commerce. In the suit, the groups said the decision jeopardizes the ongoing recovery of Gulf red snapper by increasing the federal private angler fishing season thirteen-fold. Chris Dorsett, vice president of conservation policy and programs for the Ocean Conservancy (one of the groups involved in the suit), spoke out against the extension of the federal season.,,, “This lawsuit is without merit,” Byrne said. “A lot of work went into this emergency rule put forward by the Department of Commerce. They went through a lot of study and worked with the individual Gulf states to get the state seasons in line with the federal seasons. The Department of Commerce did their homework here, and I have confidence that this lawsuit from a liberal Washington, D.C. environmental group will not ultimately be successful.” click here to read the story 09:18

Kilmer, Herrera Beutler add funding for fishery disasters to key Appropriations Bill

U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) successfully added $20 million for fishery disasters relief in Washington state to a key House Appropriations Bill on Thursday. The U.S. Department of Commerce in January issued multiple fishery disaster declarations in Washington state, at the urging of Kilmer, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and others. The commercial fishery failures impacted communities along much of the Washington coast. The Commerce disaster declaration cleared the way for additional resources to be provided to the communities affected by the poor seasons, but up to this point no funding had been approved by Congress. click here to read the story 08:13

Feds Reach Deal To Protect Sea Turtles From Shrimpers

movi290915a_82-jpgA D.C. federal judge on Friday stayed a lawsuit filed by a conservation group accusing the U.S. Department of Commerce of not doing enough to protect endangered sea turtles from shrimp fishing operations off the southeastern U.S. coast, after the government agreed to propose a rule to help fix the problem.  Judge Paul L. Friedman signed an order staying the case after the U.S. Fisheries Service and conservation group Oceana Inc. agreed to a turtle excluder device, or TED, rule that requires expanded use of the devices that feature trap doors allowing most turtles caught in trawling nets to escape unharmed. The TED rule also places greater limits on the amount of time the shrimp boats can drag their nets. Under the terms of the agreement, if the stay is lifted and litigation recommences, Oceana will move for summary judgment within 45 days and the Fisheries Service will cross-move for summary judgment no later than 45 days after Oceana has filed its motion, Judge Friedman ruled. Read the rest here 10:14

Author Alan Stein Says US Commerce FOIA Lawsuit Yielded Results

commerceA federal lawsuit moved the U.S. Department of Commerce to hand over thousands of pages of withheld documents needed to write a book, the lawyer of an environmental activist and author said Thursday. Writer, fisherman and environmental activist Alan Stein sued the Commerce Department under the Freedom of Information and Administrative Procedures Acts in July 2015. He claimed the department and two of its agencies — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Office of the Inspector General — had stonewalled his requests for documents he needed for a book he was writing. Last year, Stein told Courthouse News (click here)  the planned book required materials from an investigation of Arne Fuglvog, a former fishing vessel operator and fisheries official who spent time in prison for making false statements in fishing quota reports. Read the rest here 08:12 Read  The NOAA Oversight Project – Fisherman’s FOIA’s Squeeze NOAA, to see the that James Balsiger, the acting head of the National Marine Fisheries Service, was going to be replaced by fisherman/ Senate staffer Arne Fuglvog who favored catch shares or scientist Brian Rothschild who did not. Click here

Court Rules Against Local Fishermen, Upholds Job-Killing Government Mandate

Today, the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire dismissed the lawsuit filed by Plaintiffs David Goethel and Northeast Fishery Sector 13 against the U.S. Department of Commerce. In December 2015, the Department of Commerce ordered that fishermen who fish for cod, flounder and certain other fish in the Northeast United States not only must carry National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) enforcement contractors known as “at-sea monitors” on their vessels during fishing trips, but must pay out-of-pocket for the cost of those monitors.  This “industry funding” requirement would devastate the Northeast fishing industry, at the price of many jobs and livelihoods.  The District Court’s order allows that requirement to remain in place. The Court found that the fishermen’s suit was untimely and that the requirement that monitors be funded by the fishermen was authorized by law. “I am very disappointed by this decision,” said Goethel.  “I’ve made a living fishing in New England for more than 30 years, but I can’t afford to fish if I have to pay for at-sea monitors.  I’m grateful to Cause of Action Institute for joining the fight, and I hope that the rule of law will win in the end.” “The fishermen in my sector can’t sustain this industry funding requirement,” said Northeast Fishery Sector 13 Manager John Haran. “They’ll have to try other fisheries, if they can keep fishing at all.” “While we respect the District Court and its decision, it appears that decision is contrary to the law and facts,” said Alfred J. Lechner, Jr., President and CEO of Cause of Action Institute and a former federal judge.  “In the end, the federal government is overextending its regulatory power and is destroying an industry. We intend to study the decision and consider further action.” link 18:55

Wild fish advocates threaten to sue over Columbia hatcheries

Funding of chinook, coho and steelhead fish hatchery programs throughout the Columbia River Basin is being challenged by wild fish advocates who contend that hatchery fish adversely affect struggling native fish stocks. On Wednesday, the Wild Fish Conservancy based in Duvall, Washington, issued a 60-day notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Department of Commerce for funding. Columbia Basin hatchery programs under the Mitchell Act without complying with provisions of the Endangered Species Act. Read the article here 10:22

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich to meet with N.H. fishermen

The Ohio governor will meet privately with commercial and recreational fishermen and industry members from 3 to 4 p.m. at Yankee Fisherman’s Cooperative after he holds a noon town hall event at the Lane Memorial Library in Hampton. Kasich became aware of the fishermen’s concern about regulations via a Wall Street Journal op-ed written by David Goethel. The op-ed ran Dec. 27 and detailed Goethel’s current federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Read the article here 16:18

Cod and costs: Lawsuit says groundfishing industry will collapse under cost of new federal mandate

TJI_groundfishing-cod_121715-450x166Maine fishermen would be among those hardest hit by a new federal mandate that requires groundfishing boat captains to pay for at-sea monitors, critics say. The at-sea monitors are federally mandated enforcement contractors who can cost upwards of $700 a day, according to litigants in a new lawsuit against the federal government. In Maine, Portland is a major port for ground fishermen, but more remote places such as Cundy’s Harbor out of Harpswell would be affected as well, said New Hampshire fisherman David Goethel, plaintiff in the new case against the U.S. Department of Commerce. Read the article here 17:11

East Coast Fishermen File Lawsuit Over At-Sea Monitoring Mandate

WASHINGTON – Today, Cause of Action is announcing that its clients, David Goethel, owner and operator of F/V Ellen Diane, a 44-foot fishing trawler based in Hampton, N.H., and Northeast Fishery Sector 13, a nonprofit entity representing fishermen from Massachusetts to North Carolina, are suing the U.S. Department of Commerce over a program that would devastate the fishing industry along much of the eastern seaboard. Read the Press Release here 09:52

Another Species, Another Center for Bio Diversity Petition To Prohibit Pacific Bluefin Tuna Fishing

federal-registerThe National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the receipt of, and request public comment on a petition for rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act. The Center for Biological Diversity, a non-governmental organization, has petitioned the U.S. Department of Commerce to promulgate regulations to prohibit fishing for Pacific bluefin tuna and to identify specific reference points used to determine if overfishing is occurring or if the stock is overfished. Read more here 12:27

Quinault to make new line of food products from salmon thanks to $1.5 million federal grant

QUEETS — A $1.5 million federal grant will lead to development of a new line of salmon food products at the Quinault fish processing facility in Queets. The new products will range from salmon pepperoni and hot dogs to salmon bacon and hamburgers. Read more here 15:50

Mass. fishermen land $14.5 million in disaster relief

sct logoThe funds announced by NOAA Wednesday are short of ideal, according to Jim Kendall of New Bedford Seafood Consulting. “It’s only $14.5 million?” Kendall said. “Jesus.” “The question is how it’s going to be utilized and who’s going to be the ones receiving it and how it’s going to be distributed”¦. There’s an awful lot of unknowns.” Kendall said with the discussion of relief allocation, the “average crewman or the regular deckhand” are left behind. In addition, he pointed to the businesses that support groundfishing that also suffer from the disaster. Read more here  06:49

To be Served Today: Commercial fisheries groups plan to sue over turtle regs

scales_of_justice_2The N.C. Fisheries Association teamed with the Carteret County Fisherman’s Association for the action and will be represented by local attorneys at Wheatly, Wheatly, Weeks, Lupton and Massie, a Beaufort firm. Those served notice of the intent to file legal action are several high profile individuals, including John Skvarla, secretary to the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources; Dr. Louis Daniel, executive director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries; Gordon Meyers, head of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission; Sally Jewel of the U.S. Department of the Interior; Daniel Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; NOAA head Dr. Kathryn Sullivan; and Penny Pritzker, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Read more here carolinacoastonline  13:56

At What Cost, Justice – A Pyrrhic Victory? By Sean McKeon

scales_of_justice_2On November 25, 2013 Federal District Court Judge Terrence W. Boyle1  ruled that Willie R. Etheridge III and Mark Cordeiro, two men from North Carolina, were not guilty of finning sharks as presumed under a federal fishing law prohibiting shark fin-to-carcasses ratios in excess of 5%. (Shark Finning Prohibition Act) The case is interesting not only because of what it produced by way of the district court’s decision, but also, and perhaps more importantly, because of the long history that ultimately spawned the government’s prosecution of these particular North Carolinians and the political environment in which it occurred.

The highly politicized agencies of the federal government are most to blame here, in this case National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and its parents National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Department of Commerce. For an industry accustomed to bad news and never ending harassment by the very agency established to promote and protect it, the temptation might be to view this court victory in a vacuum and attach far too much optimism to its outcome. While there is certainly cause for celebration, it is important to understand the historic underpinnings of this case and the devastating impact federal agencies often have on the private sector when left unchallenged and undisciplined by those charged with their oversight, i.e. members of Congress and, in this case, the Administrative Law Court System (ALC).

Read the article here  19:54

Proposed rules call for more reporting by seafood dealers to help fisheries

nmfs_logoBeaufort County seafood dealers may have to do more paperwork in 2014 due to proposed changes in federal reporting requirements. The biggest change would require dealers to report their purchases from fishermen every week instead of every two weeks. While not excited by more red tape, Beaufort County dealers have been largely receptive to the proposed changes, which could help the fish that provide their livelihood. Read [email protected]  11:49

Splitting the S-K NOAA Crumbs: NOAA zeroing in on tariff grants – Editorial: Fishing aid dollars shouldn’t be limited to new appropriations

gdt iconNOAA zeroing in on tariff grants – The process for determining the successful applicants for Saltonstall-Kennedy grant funds is entering the final stages of technical review and administrators hope to begin the flow of money to successful candidates sometime in January, NOAA officials said Tuesday. The money is drawn from federal tariffs paid on seafood imported into the U.S., and nearly 90 percent of all seafood sold in the U.S. is now imported. Read [email protected]

Editorial: Fishing aid dollars shouldn’t be limited to new appropriations – It’s been 15 months now since Rebecca Blank, then the acting secretary heading the U.S. Department of Commerce, formally declared the Northeast groundfishery an “economic disaster.” Still, with independent fishermen selling off their boats, and in some cases their homes, to find a means of support for themselves and their families, the federal government largely responsible for these death-through-regulation mandates and policies has still not provided a dime of meaningful aid for those on the front lines of the crisis. Read [email protected]  08:26

Shortage of imported shrimp – Gulf shrimp, crab scarcity nets high prices

One reason for rising shrimp prices on the coast is a shortage of imported shrimp. A new strain of a common bacterium has been wiping out populations since 2009 in southeast Asia, where most of the world’s shrimp is raised on farms. It started in China then spread to Vietnam and now Thailand, the world’s largest shrimp exporter. Quantities of shrimp from Thailand have dropped 37 percent from last year, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Called Early Mortality Syndrome, the disease can take out an entire pond in a few days, but is not harmful to humans. [email protected]  05:07

Fishing industry: New SBA loan program available, but may not help

According to Scituate fishermen , while well intended, the loans  probably won’t help the majority of those struggling in the fishing industry. Mirarchi said he doesn’t want to “dismiss the SBA program as worthless.” “It’s certainly welcome and in some cases it might help,” he said. “But unfortunately not for most.”  [email protected]  08:47:09

The politicians will brag that this is a success, while they claim to be pushing to help, but really, Mirarchi is being kind when saying well intended. This SBA loan program help’s very few, if any. Most of these guy’s are all in already. We need effective politicians that can deliver. Where are they?

SBA loans may be on line for fishermen

gdt iconIn a step that could lead to the first federal financial assistance to Massachusetts’ fishing-related businesses, Gov. Deval Patrick has officially certified the widespread economic hardship imposed on Massachusetts fishing communities by the fishery disaster proclaimed a year ago by the U.S. Department of Commerce. [email protected]  07:13

U.S. Department of Commerce : EDA Investments: Supporting Entrepreneurship and Job Creation (well alrighty then! LMAO!)

• In Alaska, the Bristol Bay Jobs Accelerator Project, representing a consortium of 31 Alaskan tribes, is, with EDA help, working to increase the capacity of the region’s commercial fishing and seafood processor industry cluster by providing technical assistance to local businesses and developing a regional fisheries business cooperative. President Obama noted that “because the new businesses created by entrepreneurs are responsible for most of the new jobs in our country, helping them succeed is essential to helping our economy grow.” [email protected]

King salmon disaster relief gets caught in political net – handy-dandy bona-fide official fishery disaster declaration

Remember how last summer, Alaska’s king fisheries collapsed due to low runs? And then in September, the state got its handy-dandy bona-fide official fishery disaster declaration from the U.S. Department of Commerce, which is a lot like saying, “Help is maybe kind-of sort-of on the way.” The designation makes those regions impacted by fishery disasters eligible for federal funds. But it takes an act of Congress to allocate the money. And, as of now, waiting for help to arrive to Alaska’s commercial fishing communities is looking more and more like a bit from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Read More

5-point plan for fishing disaster relief – Mayor Carolyn Kirk

I’d like to get the conversation started about how the fisheries economic disaster relief should be invested. Over the past few months, since the disaster was declared by the U.S. Department of Commerce, many ideas have been circulated. We’ve boiled down our ideas into a 5-point plan that I’d like to share today. Really?!!!  http://www.gloucestertimes.com/opinion/x520560693/5-point-plan-for-fishing-disaster-relief

Senator Kerry Urges Release of Latest Swartwood Report, mentions the Agency created “declared fishery disaster”.

WASHINGTON — Senator John Kerry, in a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank, urged the immediate release of the most recent report of Special Master Charles B. Swartwood, a  report commissioned as a result of an investigation made at Sen. Kerry’s behest. “The perceived delay in releasing the report has resulted in further eroding of public trust in the agency.  Again, I urge you to release Special  Master Swartwood’s report.”

Senator. Percieved delay? There is nothing percieved about this. It is a fact that public trust in this agency is bankrupt.

http://www.gloucestertimes.com/topstories/x1839364673/Kerry-pushes-for-release-of-fish-law-abuse-cases

http://www.savingseafood.org/fishing-industry-alerts/senator-kerry-urges-release-of-latest-swartwood-r-2.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SavingSeafoodRss+%28Saving+Seafood%29