Monthly Archives: February 2016

Devastated salmon population likely to result in fishing restrictions

yubachinook_jakatzNorthern California’s commercial anglers are bracing for restrictions on the upcoming salmon-fishing season after federal regulators projected there are half as many  in the ocean compared to this time last year. Last week, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council released its annual population estimates for Chinook off the Pacific Coast. The council estimates about 300,000 adult fall-run salmon from the Sacramento River system are swimming off the coast this year. For the past several years, the forecasts have predicted more than 600,000 salmon. “It’s a 1-2-3 punch,” said Tim Sloane, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. Read the rest here 21:43

Louis Daniel, executive director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, Resigns

The executive director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries abruptly stepped down from his job on Monday. Louis Daniel has led the agency since January 2014, through an occasionally tumultuous period that saw recreational and commercial fishing interests fighting. Last year Daniel was caught in the cross-fire over what steps should be taken to preserve the Southern Flounder. The announcement was made in an email from the Department of Environmental Resources general counsel to all employees. Counsel John Evans said in the email that Col. Jim Kelley will serve as acting director. Read the rest here 19:10

Zappa 1 tuna fishermen handed five-year suspension after guilty pleas

Three men who fished out of the Antigonish area are banned from the catch-and-release bluefin tuna fishery for five years after pleading guilty to a total of 27 charges of illegal fishing. George Boyle, the license holder and owner of the Zappa 1, along with crew members Dale Trenholm and Evan McDormand are prohibited from taking part in the commercial bluefin tuna fishery for two years as well.   Boyle, Trenholm and McDormand used gaffs and rope to remove a bluefin tuna from the water during a catch-and-release trip on October 7, 2014, according to an agreed statement of facts submitted in court on Monday. Read the rest here 18:36

Open-net pen salmon farms ending in Norway?

catface-mtn-1-jpgNorway’s salmon-farming industry is hitting a wall. Because salmon farming began earlier there than in B.C., I wanted to get a glimpse of where we might be headed if our industry continues on its current path. This is the reason I organized the Wild Salmon Delegation to Norway, which spent two weeks there this month. What we found is an industry beset by problems such as disease outbreaks, sea-lice infestations and farmed-salmon escapes. The situation in Norway is dire — one headline we saw read: “Five years left to save wild salmon.” Read the rest here 15:58

Environmental Defense Fund – New Bedford fish fraud case underscores need for greater NOAA monitoring

jwiersmaFrom the article: The Environmental Defense Fund in a statement on Friday said the arrest points to the need for greater monitoring by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees fishing within 200 nautical miles of the U.S. through the National Marine Fisheries Service. “This arrest and these allegations make it clear that NOAA must start an effective fishery monitoring system, not continue the underfunded program it has had in place for years,” said Joshua Wiersma, northeast fisheries manager for the Environmental Defense Fund.  Read the rest here Who is Joshua Wiersma? Read about him here  15:38

Fishermen plead guilty after finning 518 sharks

shark finsWhen Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agents bust you with 496 fish over your daily limit, you can bet the penalty is going to be severe. It was for two men caught in April 2012 with 11 whole sharks and 2,073 shark fins, taken from another 518 fish. Rick Nguyen, 37, of Buras, and Hung Anh Tiet, 29, of Dallas, Texas, pled guilty last week to shark finning and harvesting more than their limit of sharks. Shark finning is an illegal practice of removing the fins, the most profitable part of the shark, and discarding the rest of the body overboard. Read the rest here 13:03

Maine Operation Game Thief – $11,000 Reward Offered for Jeffery’s Ledge trap molestation caper

Maine Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of $11,000 for information that helps authorities bring the person or people responsible for a major lobster trap molesting case near Jeffrey’s Ledge to justice. A Maine Marine Patrol investigation, which began Monday, February 22, revealed that approximately 200 lobster traps had been hauled by someone other than the license holders, the lobsters stolen, and the traps lowered to the bottom, some of which were not retrievable. Read the rest here 11:01

Prince Edward Island fishermen want dedicated cabinet minister

lobsterDM0811_468x521A dedicated minister and department of fisheries should be created to tackle the issues and challenges facing the second most important primary industry in the province, say Island fishermen. The call for separating the provincial Department of Agriculture and Fisheries was delivered during the annual meeting of the  Friday in the P.E.I Convention Centre in Charlottetown. “We definitely need our own minister because things move too fast in this industry and there are too many issues to deal with for a department that has two portfolios,” said president Craig Avery. “We have no problem with the current minister or deputy who are great people, but we need our own.” Read the rest here 10:17

‘Questioning our Changing Oceans’ panel discussion at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum

Forum2016colorThe Maine Fishermen’s Forum will be hosting a fishermen led event focused on fostering a salty discussion around climate change in fisheries. Headlined by Capt. Keith Coburn of the hit show Deadliest Catch and Capt. Buddy Guindon of the new breakout hit Big Fish, Texas, fishermen from around the world have been collected to talk about their experiences on the water and bring to light the issues Maine fishermen need to be thinking about when it comes to a shifting Gulf of Maine ecosystem. The Questioning our Changing Oceans event is sponsored in part by The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, The Environmental Defense Fund, The Island Institute, and The Nature Conservancy. Read the rest here 09:57

Monitor costs shift to fishermen Tuesday, fall out from Carlos Seafood, and EDF opportunists.

manatthewheelCape Ann lawmakers Bruce Tarr and Ann-Margaret Ferrante walked a thin line last week when they sat down and penned a letter to state Attorney General Maura Healey on the issue of at-sea monitoring. While the fishermen’s lawsuit has drawn the most attention, there is another that could prove equally as troubling to NOAA and the fishing industry: maritime environmental group Oceana’s lawsuit challenging NOAA Fisheries’ bycatch rule. The issue of monitoring burst back into the public arena on Friday, when federal agents — including those from NOAA Law Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service — raided the operations of Carlos Seafood,,, The arrests prompted a quick response from environmental groups seeking expanded monitor coverage for the groundfish fishery. Read the rest here 07:22

How a deckhand survived tragedy that claimed his friend

V0012908185--687237Dinh Nguyen knew he was going to drown. The 57-year-old fisherman was in a boat that was sinking off the coast 17 miles northwest of Ventura late Friday afternoon. He said the boat’s captain and his friend, Tra Nguyen, ended up tethered to the vessel and was dragged down with it. After scouring the ocean for 16 hours, Coast Guard officials called off the search for Tra Nguyen at 7:45 a.m. Saturday. A spokeswoman would neither comment on whether the missing boater was presumed dead nor confirm the man’s name. The names and story come from Dinh Nguyen and friends who confirmed his presence on the commercial fishing boat. He spoke early Saturday afternoon at Ventura Harbor, where his rescuers took him. Read the story here 10:40

P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association seeks better prices, more quotas

Better prices and increased quotas were a few of the topics discussed at the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association annual general meeting. The two day meeting held in Charlottetown featured speakers on seafood marketing, ongoing tuna and halibut research, and a report on lobster prices. “Fishermen expect a better price due to the low Canadian dollar this year, that always helps us, but it’s about supply and demand, hopefully looking forward to this spring for more money than we got last year,” said Bobby Jenkins, PEIFA vice president. Jenkins said increasing quotas remains a priority for this year.  Read the rest here 09:52

The affidavit in support of a criminal complaint charging CARLOS RAFAEL and DEBRA MESSIER

AFFIDAVIT OF SPECIAL AGENT RONALD MULLET … I submit this affidavit in support of a criminal complaint charging CARLOS RAFAEL AR-160229553.jpg&MaxW=315&MaxH=315and DEBRA MESSIER with a, making false entries in records with the intention of impeding and influencing the proper administration of matters within the jurisdiction of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, (NOAA), and other federal agencies,,,, Get ready to read some mind blowing info. Read the affidavit here 09:16

Video – Dead body found on fishing boat in New Bedford

The U.S. Coast Guard and police are investigating after a body was found on a New Bedford fishing boat. The boat belongs to the so-called “cod father” Carlos Rafael, who was arrested Friday after a lengthy federal investigation. Emergency crews waited at the New Bedford State Pier Saturday afternoon for the arrival of Dinah Jane. The fishing boat was escorted by two Coast Guard boats as it came back to shore. It had left New Bedford Friday night around 9:30 p.m. for a scalloping trip, but the trip was cut short when the captain tried to wake up another crew member Read the rest here 19:11

West Coast sardine populations, long sinking, look even worse in forecast

pacific sardineSardines off the West Coast have continued on a steep decline, with populations this summer forecast to be down 93 percent from a 2007 peak, according to a draft assessment from the National Marine Fisheries Service. The sardines are a key forage food for sea lions, salmon and many other species, as well as a source of income for commercial fishermen. Last year, the sardine implosion was so severe that the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to call off the season that was scheduled to start in July for West Coast fleets, including those in Washington state. Oceana shrew Geoff Shester throws his dogma into the conversation. Read the rest here 13:33

N.B. lobster plants had so much trouble finding workers they trashed thousands of kilos of shellfish

Despite unemployment rates hovering near double-digit territory, some New Brunswick lobster plants were so short-staffed last year that thousands of kilograms of lobster had to be thrown out. New Brunswick Fisheries Minister Rick Doucet said Wednesday he knows of one plant that had to discard about 1,360 kilograms of lobster because they couldn’t find enough staff to process the crustaceans. “I’m seeing companies having to throw away product because they just don’t have the manpower to process at peak times,” said Doucet. Read the rest here 11:08

Formal DFO plan for 2016 shrimp season may take until June

hi-shrimp-852It will be several weeks before the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is able to offer a formal plan for shrimp quotas for the 2016 season. Meanwhile, trawlers that are fishing in the area off southern Labrador will continue to fish until March 31, which is the end of their current season. Earlier this week the Fish Food and Allied Workers (FFAW) called for an immediate cessation of fishing in the area, after they learned that preliminary estimates from DFO scientists showed a decline of about 40 percent of the shrimp biomass in that area. However, that’s not likely to happen. Read the rest here 09:30

New England: Fishermen say new cost will sink industry

AR-160209902.jpg&MaxW=315&MaxH=315Local ground fishermen will be forced by the government to pay for their own compliance monitoring as of March 1, a cost some say will destroy the fishing industry. Fishermen will need to pay for at-sea monitors to observe their compliance with federal regulations starting Tuesday, according to the National Oceanic and Administrative Administration, which regulates the country’s fisheries. Monitors are required to join fishermen on 24 percent of their fishing days, and fishermen will have to pay on 20 percent of their fishing days. Each of those days is expected to cost approximately $700, industry members have estimated. Read the rest here 08:56

Fishing mogul’s arrest ripples across New Bedford waterfront – What about the quota?

AR-160229553.jpg&MaxW=315&MaxH=315Frustration and sadness moved across the waterfront Friday as news spread that Carlos Rafael and his bookkeeper had been arrested by the Justice Department and charged with making false filings to the government as a means of skirting fisheries laws. One waterfront business manager who did not wish to be identified said that Friday was a “sad day” for the fishing industry, one that is going to hurt in a lot of ways. Seafood consultant James Kendall said he is worried about the effect Rafael’s arrest is going to have on the reputation of the city and its important fishing industry. Mayor Jon Mitchell, a former federal prosecutor, said he had read the affidavit from an undercover agent on the case. “Based on my experience if the allegations are true, then he’s going to federal prison for a long time,” he said. Read the rest here 08:23

Court taking another look at higher commercial fishing fees for nonresidents

The state will get another chance to defend its former practice of charging nonresidents two to three times as much as Californians for commercial fishing licenses. A panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled 2-1 in September that the California laws discriminated unconstitutionally against nonresidents by making it harder for them to pursue their occupation. But on Friday, the court said a majority of its judges had granted the state’s request to refer the case to an 11-judge panel for a new hearing. Read the rest here 20:42

“F… me – that would be some bad luck!” — Carlos Rafael : Excerpts from “The Case”

Following are excerpts from the affadavit of IRS Special Agent Ronald Mullett submitted in the of Carlos Rafael. “He [Michael] buys a lot of fish. You can become a laundromat. You’ll never find a better laundromat than this mother….” — Carlos Rafael. = = = “I could have to regret this to you [sic], because I don’t know you. You could be the IRS in here. This could be a cluster-f…. So I’m trusting you. The only thing is, I open myself because both of you is Russians and I don’t think they would have two Russians [posing as agents]. F… me – that would be some bad luck!” — Carlos Rafael,,, “Rafael said a lot! Read the rest here 18:51

Rafael arrested, feds posed as organized crime figures looking to buy him out

The owner of one of the largest commercial fishing businesses in the northeastern United States and his bookkeeper were arrested Friday on charges of conspiracy and submitting falsified records to the federal government to evade federal fishing quotas. The charges arose out of an undercover investigation in which federal agents posed as organized crime figures interested in buying the fishing business. Carlos Rafael, 64, and Debra Messier, 60, both of Dartmouth, were charged in a criminal complaint with submitting falsified records to the federal government and conspiracy. They are scheduled to appear in US District Court in Boston at 3:30 p.m. Read the rest here 14:04

Federal agents raid Carlos Seafood on New Bedford waterfront

AR-160229553.jpg&MaxW=315&MaxH=315Federal agents raided one of the best-known seafood wholesalers on the waterfront Friday morning, searching the business and removing documents. A reporter on site at Carlos Seafood Inc. on South Front Street said federal agents, including from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, were conducting a search inside the building. Agents also searched a pickup truck parked in front of the building, removing a box full of papers, as well as a briefcase, according to a reporter. Read the rest here 12:31

Crew of damaged Arctic fishing vessel F/V Saputi arrive in Iqaluit

roy-yetman-of-saputi-crewCrew members from the F/V Saputi shared a moment in prayer as they arrived in Iqaluit after a harrowing ordeal at sea that ended when their vessel limped ashore in Nuuk, Greenland, Tuesday. The F/V Saputi was fishing for turbot in the Davis Strait when it ran into ice Sunday night and began taking on water. “We’re still shaking,” said Duane Taylor, who was on board the Saputi, in the Iqaluit Airport Friday. Other crew members, including Todd Rumbole and Darren Hawkes, were at a loss for words. Read the rest, five photo’s here 11:05

Ecuadorian fishermen transporting cocaine for Mexican cartel operations

Ecuadorian fishermen are playing an important role in Mexican cartel operations by transporting cocaine via boat to Central America so the drug can then be transported to Mexico, and finally the U.S. At least 300 Ecuadorian fishermen have been arrested in Colombia, the United States and Guatemala over the past three years for their roles in  for Mexican cartels, Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio reported Tuesday. Gangsters have been intimidating and luring impoverished fishermen and their families into accepting risky business propositions in exchange for hefty sums of cash. Read the rest here 10:43

A UMaine grad student’s picture of a colorful tiny larval lobster wins National Science Foundation award

This photo made in summer 2015 and provided by Jesica Waller shows a three-week-old baby lobster at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay, Maine. Her photograph won a National Science Foundation visual media award and also appears in the March/April 2016 edition of Popular Science. Waller, who’s in her second year of a master’s program in marine biology at the University of Maine, is studying the effect of climate change scenarios on larval lobsters. Read the rest here 10:07

Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance fights NOAA over aqua farms

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)  decision to approve industrial offshore fish farming last month in federally protected waters in the Gulf of Mexico is a strong concern in a “delicate and restricted estuarine system,” according to a leading non-profit fisherman’s organization. Eric Brazer, deputy director at the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance, told the Louisiana Record that there are strong concerns with constructing an aquaculture facility of unprecedented size. The suit alleges that in a bid to push offshore fish farming forward without a new law permitting it, and get around Congress, NOAA created a permitting scheme through the Gulf Council by exceeding its authority to regulate fishing under the MSA. Read the rest here 09:44

Another bump in “Ocean City Inlet” road – Commercial fishing operators say inlet’s all but closed to them as shoaling worsens

t1200-IMG_2261The January nor’easter, which wreaked havoc along the coast, also caused an increase in sediment into the already choking Ocean City Inlet, especially in the areas near buoys 10, 11 and 12. Two weeks ago the Capt. Frank ran aground and was stuck for six and a half hours, according to fisherman Joe Letts, and the Betty C, one of Letts’ clamming vessels, also ran aground but was able to free herself after an hour and a half. “I’m spending too much on the bottoms of my boats,” Letts said. “I don’t see why they can’t dig the S.O.B. to 20 feet and leave it alone. I’m over it. I’m in New Jersey now and am making money. Everybody’s leaving. Some of the biggest names in fishing are there and they’re tucking tail and running.” Read the rest here 09:15

FFAW, offshore shrimp fleet at odds, as LIFO raises its ugly head

2016-02-25-07-43-07-TEL-XXX-26022016-ShrimpDebate-SUBWith word of a severe drop in shrimp stock in the prime fishing grounds off southern Labrador, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union (FFAW-Unifor) is asking for an immediate halt on shrimping in the area. But the FFAW represents inshore fleet and island processors, rather than the factory-freezer operations of the offshore fleet. And the Canadian Association of Prawn Producers, speaking for the larger-vessel operations, said Thursday the FFAW’s cries are an inappropriate reaction, while their reasoning is misleading. Read the rest here 08:40

Responses to fishing crises differ, Bob Borck, FV Belle J II

dungenesscrabFor some coastal residents, commercial fishing is in our blood. It’s how we support our families — producing healthful local food. Fishing is part of our economy and heritage. Today, California’s fishing communities face two crises. The first is the unprecedented closure of the crab fishery. We may or may not be able to fish for crab this season, depending on when our crab pass state tests. In the meantime, fishing families are suffering. The second crisis is the state of our salmon fisheries. The drought and the Bureau of Reclamation’s mismanagement of the Sacramento River, the backbone of California’s , have been disastrous for spawning salmon. Read the op-ed here 07:59