Tag Archives: climate change

Putting the Cart Before the Redfish

This was supposed to be a good-news story. In Atlantic Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, redfish have returned from the brink. Nearly 30 years after the fishery was closed, redfish populations have rebounded. Fishers, who have suffered through years of fisheries closures and widespread stock declines, have been eagerly eyeing the reemergence of the resource. But in early 2024, when Canadian fisheries minister Diane Lebouthillier declared that the redfish fishery would reopen later this year, keen observers received the announcement with apprehension. And now, as the reopening draws near—the tentative start date is June 15—conservationists and fishers say that climate change, shifts in the Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem, and unfavorable market conditions mean the fishery is unlikely to be the boon many are anticipating. This change of perspective hinges, in part, on research by scientists with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) that shows redfish have stopped growing. more, >>click to read<< 12:38

Whale not seen in 200 years spotted in New England waters, scientists say

A gray whale that hasn’t been seen in 200 years has been spotted off the coast of Massachusetts, according to officials with the New England Aquarium. Aquarium scientists said the whale was seen on March 1 while they were flying over the ocean 30 miles south of Nantucket. Orla O’Brien is the associate research scientist in the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium. She said seeing the whale was completely unexpected. “I didn’t want to say out loud what it was, because it seemed crazy,” she said. more, >>click to read<< 13:10

Scotian Shelf shrimp fishery braces for another cut

For a third straight year, the shrimp fishery off eastern Nova Scotia is facing a big quota cut with ocean conditions to blame. The recent scientific assessment for northern shrimp on the eastern Scotian Shelf showed environmental factors — including warmer ocean water due to climate change — are contributing to the poor condition of the stock, he says. And the response, he predicts, will be a reduction in the total allowable catch. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) is expected to announce the 2024 shrimp quota in several weeks. more, >>click to read<< 10:59

Help Alaska’s fisheries: Reduce methane emissions

NOAA now confirms that another critical Alaska fishery is in decline due to successive marine heat waves. First there was the loss of 10 billion snow crabs and the close of the once-lucrative Bering Sea crab fisheries; now we know that climate change (warming seas) is the culprit behind the crash of chum salmon on the Yukon-Kuskokwim. Both these fisheries are the life blood to many Alaskan communities and villages. From the Yukon to Kodiak, from the Arctic to Ketchikan, Alaska’s coastal fisheries must now confront the dual threat of heat waves and ocean acidification. more, >>click to read<< By Linda Behnken and Kate Troll 15:48

Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government calls for moratorium on shrimp fishery in the estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence

Shrimp stocks in the estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence are on the brink of complete collapse. The ecosystem is experiencing major changes caused by climate change. Average water temperatures are at recorded highs. Shrimp landings are at historic lows. The Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government is calling for a moratorium to protect what few shrimp are left. “As Mi’gmaq, we are guided by the principle of ango’tmu’q: taking care of something in a careful manner. It would be a violation of ango’tmu’q for us to continue fishing shrimp,” said Scott Martin, Chief of the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government. “We will not fish our quota next year, and we call on the Minister to impose a moratorium.” more, >>click to read<< 08:01

P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association calls for more timely, better monitoring in wake of federal report

Executive director Ian MacPherson said a recent report from the federal environment commissioner underlined the importance of doing more, and better science, especially as the crucial herring and mackerel fisheries remain closed to Island fishers.  “Herring and mackerel are the big ones here on Prince Edward Island, important fisheries to us, and we’d like to get them reopened — and we realize these are science-based decisions, but you need accurate and timely information,” MacPherson said. >>click to read<< 06:38

‘Until the last fish is gone.’ Cape Cod fishers worry trawling is depleting sea herring.

A number of the Cape’s small boat fishermen, whale watch captains, and fishing charter operators blame midwater trawlers for depletion of herring stock. That depletion, they claim, has had a negative economic impact on their businesses. John Pappalardo, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance has worked for decades to do just that. He believes midwater trawlers are a big reason for the herring’s population decline. Mary Beth Tooley, government affairs manager for the O’Hara Corporation, The company’s trawlers take a small portion of the fish that are assessed “because we want that population to rebuild,” she said. >>click to read<< 08:38

As climate change and high costs plague Alaska’s fisheries, fewer young people take up the trade

Lane Bolich first came to work in Alaska for the freedom and excitement that comes with being a fisher. A self-described adrenaline junkie, Bolich moved from his hometown in rural Washington state because he loves being on the ocean even in cold winter weather and it gave him the chance to make more money than back home. After working as a deckhand for two years on a family friend’s boat, Harmony, he took the wheel as captain this year at just 20 years old. Bolich is a rarity in an aging industry with high barriers to entry, equipment and access rights are costly, and increasing unpredictability as human-caused climate change alters marine habitats. As some fish populations dwindle and fewer people pursue the trade, fishers and conservation groups are actively working to bring in and retain the next generation of fishers through grants and training even as the industry continues to shrink in Alaska. 19 photos, >>click to read<< 09:38

Know-nothing journalism

Credibility dies in a field of little mistakes. This is why it is painful to read what passes for news today: “Pink salmon get their nickname from their propensity to bite on anything pink.” Or so reported Gregory Scruggs of The Seattle Times after visiting West Seattle’s Lincoln Park on Aug. 22 for a story on Life/Outdoors in the Emerald City. Yes, and red salmon got their nickname for their propensity to bite on anything red and silvers on silver. And don’t forget those dog salmon. Note to the unwary: Leave Fido at home if you decide to pursue the latter. They have a propensity to bite on dogs. This is the reason there are so many three-legged dogs in villages along the Yukon River. All of this would be funny if, of course, it was funny. >>click to read<< 10:18

NOAA outlines sweeping plan to boost the nation’s seafood industry

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a sweeping five-year plan to prioritize and promote the country’s commercial fishing industry. NOAA Fisheries announced its National Seafood Strategy on Wednesday. The agency said in a press release that the plan will “outline the direction” of the country’s seafood sector. It’s the first time NOAA has released an overall strategy aimed at addressing industry needs – the agency says it will complement other federal policies that are already in place. >click to read< 11:29

Cape Breton boatbuilders help DFO to face commercial, climate change challenges

The federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is having four new patrol boats built in rural Cape Breton to address some of the challenges faced by fisheries enforcement officers. The new boats are larger than the existing ones to better deal with the effects of climate change, larger commercial vessels and heavier fishing gear. Once completed, the boats will be used in the Atlantic region. “As we’ve seen in the last couple of years, climate change is a huge thing … and adverse weather conditions are getting more and more frequent and our officers just don’t take a day off because it’s really bad weather-wise,” said Scott Phillips, DFO’s eastern Nova Scotia area chief of conservation and protection. Photos, >click to read< 17:27

Stock assessments show Maritime lobster population strong, fishery sustainable

Adam Cook is a DFO biologist who tracks lobster populations along the Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy, waters that support nearly 3,000 commercial licence holders in 12 lobster fishing areas (LFAs). Cook and his colleagues recently posted stock assessments for 2022. He said all LFAs in the Maritimes are in a healthy zone for stock status. “Which suggests there’s still enough lobster to not raise any sort of conservation concerns. The commercial biomass is doing quite well,” Cook said. It’s the same story in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, although DFO’s stock assessments for five fishings area in that region have not been posted. >click to read< 10:17

Disaster aid has arrived, but Western Alaska’s salmon and crab problems continue

The Alaska congressional delegation announced on Friday that the U.S. Commerce Department released the disaster aid. The money is to go to harvesters, processors and communities affected by designated disasters in salmon and crab fisheries that occurred between 2020 and 2022. For Bering Sea snow crab, signs are that the problems that led to the first-ever harvest closure, which was announced last October, will last for years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service 2022 survey found that despite the emergence of cooler and more normal temperatures, mature male snow crab abundance was the lowest on record and mature female snow crab abundance was the third lowest on record.  >click to read< 10:12

How warming waters around P.E.I. could affect snow crab and lobster

Research scientist Joël Chassé says as the atmosphere warms, the ocean waters around P.E.I. are also heating up. “Changes are happening. It’s not deniable anymore. And if the these changes don’t slow down, we will have to adapt to these changes.” Chassé said there are implications for some fish species, some positive and some negative. Fisheries and Oceans biologist Tobie Surette said that while lobster is a warm water coastal species, snow crab prefer deeper, colder waters. “Lobster has largely benefited from the warming climates, at least so far,” he said. Surette said they don’t know exactly why that is. (Snow Crab) And for now, they are doing well: “We’re at the third-highest biomass in the history of the survey right now.” But Surette knows that could change. He has been in contact with snow crab scientists from Alaska. Photos, >click to read< 18:51

Celebrate Whale Week with NOAA Fisheries: A message from Janet Coit, Assistant Administrator

At NOAA Fisheries, our team of dedicated scientists and managers is responsible for the health and sustainability of more than 30 whale species in U.S and territorial waters. Every year, we spend a week taking a deeper dive to share our whale expertise. This year is particularly notable because it is the 50th anniversary of the Endangered Species Act. Some of the most recognizable whales—North Atlantic right whales, Southern Resident killer whales, and Cook Inlet belugas—are at the top of our Species in the Spotlight initiative. >click to read< 18:33

SNP minister says fishing ban ‘will not be imposed’ on communities

Scotland’s Net Zero Secretary has defended her government’s controversial plans to expand protected marine areas – insisting that no sites have been identified and proposals will not be “imposed” on coastal communities. Fishing bosses have reacted angrily to plans by the Scottish Government to consider introducing highly protected marine areas (HMPAs). Under the plans, designated areas would be under rules to “strictly protect and leave undisturbed, all natural processes of the marine ecosystem”, including “the seabed, water column habitats and everything that lives in the protected area”. >click to read< 09:12

Offshore Wind: No measurable influence on climate change

Officially, offshore wind developers anticipate their projects will “have no measurable influence on climate change.” Knowing this, they offer a different rationale. In the “purpose and need” section of the draft environmental impact statement for Revolution Wind, Ørsted justifies the offshore wind project based on its ability to fulfill Rhode Island’s mandate for “renewable” energy. Meeting a political mandate differs rather significantly from combating climate change. Ørsted seems to understand this difference, but the public may not. No environmentally conscious individual wants to hear such depressing facts, including us. Despite numerous articles from pro-wind enthusiasts touting the promise of offshore wind, the carbon savings of these projects fail to justify their construction. >click to read this< 18:34

The Deadliest Catch and Other Crab Fishermen Need to Find a New Alaskan Spot Thanks to Climate Change

Even if you’ve only been a fan of Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch” for a short period of time, it’s still pretty obvious that the list of essential steps needed for the featured captains and boats to rake in a season’s worth of seafood remains consistent. On top of a meticulously maintained boat, needed are traps, bait, backup equipment, a solid crew, and more than a handful of other necessities. Of course, the most important detail is the one thing these brave fishermen are there for in the first place, and that’s the crab itself. However, due to climate change, the fishing industry on the Bering Sea has been flipped on its head. >click to read< 11:31

South Jersey Times Editorial Board – N.J. whale death mystery may not lead to mighty wind

Depending on who’s counting, at least six whales have been discovered ashore since late fall. Let’s not to jump to conclusions, though, about why these whales died, at least not to the degree that we need to shut down everything that’s going on offshore. Pressure groups are already calling for moratoriums on any work related to offshore wind energy development, even though none of structures related to the turbines system exist off the Jersey coast. (The survey work is happening, though.) The developers of offshore wind, and cheerleaders who include our governor, are finding more pushback against these planned installations than they anticipated. It’s not just Clean Ocean Action that has a beef; commercial fishing groups and others concerned about shoreline aesthetics are weighing in, too. >click to read< 10:48

Black Gill: Shrimpers and scientists collaborate to study parasite

Georgia’s shrimpers are already facing plenty of challenges like high gas prices, inflation and international competition. But climate change is exacerbating a new problem: black gill, a parasite that is decreasing shrimp populations and is worsening with rising ocean temperatures. On Dec. 15, the University of Georgia’s Skidaway Institute of Oceanography invited shrimpers, researchers and other local stakeholders aboard the R/V Savannah to collect samples in the Wassaw Sound and discuss the current research and on-the-water observations of black gill. Black gill is a parasite that lodges itself into shrimps’ gills and feeds on that tissue. It’s a ciliate, a single-celled organism. It gets its name from the shrimp’s immune response to the invader, which turns the gills black as the shrimp’s body tries to fight off the intruder. Photos, >click to read< 10:37

Alaska crab fishery collapse seen as warning about Bering Sea transformation

Less than five years ago, prospects appeared bright for Bering Sea crab fishers. Stocks were abundant and healthy, federal biologists said, and prices were near all-time highs. Now two dominant crab harvests have been canceled for lack of fish. For the first time, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in October canceled the 2022-2023 harvest of Bering Sea snow crab, and it also announced the second consecutive year of closure for another important harvest, that of Bristol Bay red king crab. What has happened between then and now? A sustained marine heat wave that prevented ice formation in the Bering Sea for two winters, thus vastly altering ocean conditions and fish health. “We lost billions of snow crab in a matter of months,”,,, >click to read< 18:54

Decline of Bering Sea snow crab fishery demands swift action

Billions of crabs have vanished off the coast of Alaska, and with them, the fishing season for the Bering Sea crab fleet. This is grim news for a fleet that has fished crabs under science-based catch limits for years, providing healthy wild-caught seafood to the world and bringing jobs and income throughout Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. It’s also bad news for the communities of the Bering Sea, like St. Paul Island, where the economy is almost entirely dependent on the snow crab fishery.  >click to read< 20:44

Mi’kmaq First Nation, environmental group work on creating electric lobster boat

An environmental charity and the Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton are partnering to create electric lobster boats on the East Coast, saying it’s the way of the future if Canada is to meet its zero-emission targets. Hubert Nicholas, the director of fisheries at Membertou, said in an interview the new boats will likely be costlier than diesel-powered vessels at first, but he said it’s expected there will be savings in maintenance and fuel costs. Nicholas estimated the cost of lobster boats is about $600,000 to $700,000, adding that an electrical boat would have higher, yet-to-be-determined costs for its engine and other components.>click to read< 13:11

Canada’s efforts to rebuild depleted fish stocks are flopping, says ENGO Oceana

Major spending increases and policy changes by the federal government to protect and rebuild wild fish stocks in Canada have resulted in little improvement, according to the 2022 Fishery Audit released this week by environmental group Oceana Canada. In its sixth annual audit, Oceana says fewer than one third of wild marine fish stocks in Canada are considered healthy and most critically depleted stocks lack plans to rebuild them. The audit assessed 194 fish stocks in Canada. The audit says 72 per cent of DFO’s management documents do not formally consider climate change and that needs to change. >click to read< 12:33

Did climate change really kill billions of snow crabs in Alaska?

In October 2022, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the lucrative snow crab fishery in the Bering Sea would close for the first time, following a population decline of 80% between 2018 and 2022. While fisheries managers and biologists say climate change is to blame for the species’ retreat, some fishers and crab experts suggest that trawling bycatch and other fishing activity may have played a role in the snow crab’s decline. The fishery’s closure has amplified a chorus of concerns about Alaska’s trawling industry and the knowledge gaps around its potential impact on fisheries. The disappearance of billions snow crabs from the Bering Sea has captivated the world’s attention since Alaska shut down the fishery for the first time in October 2022. But where exactly did these snow crabs go? And what caused them to vanish so quickly? >click to read< 08:02

Sustaining America’s Fisheries for the Future Act – Partisan Politics Threaten to Sink Reform of Federal Fisheries Law

A divided Congress and the unexpected death of an Alaska congressman appear to have derailed federal legislation meant to improve oversight and management of U.S. fisheries, especially in the face of climate change. The House Natural Resources Committee passed a Democratic-sponsored bill last week to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act for the first time since 2006. While it’s possible the bill will receive a vote on the House floor before the end of the year, its chances of being taken up in the Senate, much less receiving the 60 votes necessary to break a filibuster, is unlikely — at least in this Congress. >click to read< 11:42

Marine biologist perplexed by snow crab disappearance

 It’s a mystery perplexing marine biologists that could lead to a loss of one of Alaska’s most prized seafood exports — the Bering Sea snow crab. Many theories have been hypothesized as to what is causing the declining crab populations throughout Alaska, ranging all the way from migration of the crustaceans to predators taking them out. However, Erin Fedewa, a research fishery biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says the disappearance of this Alaskan staple could be a warning about how quickly a fishery can be wiped out in a new, shifting world. Video, >click to read< 12:39

Alaska’s snow crabs have disappeared. Where they went is a mystery.

Gabriel Prout and his brothers Sterling and Ashlan were blindsided. Harvests of Alaskan king crab, the bigger, craggier species that was the star of the television show “Deadliest Catch”, have been on a slow decline for over a decade. But in 2018 and 2019, scientists had seemingly great news about Alaska’s snow crabs: Record numbers of juvenile crabs were zooming around the ocean bottom, suggesting a massive haul for subsequent fishing seasons. Prout, 32, and his brothers bought out their father’s partner, becoming part owners of the 116-foot F/V Silver Spray. They took out loans and bought $4 million in rights to harvest a huge number of crabs. It was a year that many young commercial fishers in the Bering Sea bought into the fishery, going from deckhands to owners. Everyone was convinced the 2021 snow crab season was going to be huge. And then they weren’t there. >click to read< 08:27

Fishing for Solutions: The race to protect coastal Louisiana’s cultures and way of life

The seafood and fishing industry provides tens of thousands of jobs to Louisiana, many of them via small family businesses in coastal communities. And while dealing with the impacts of climate change, local fishers and shrimpers also are contending with imported products driving down prices, fuel costs, fisheries allocations, regulatory constraints and an aging workforce. Local fishers in recent years have been grappling with skyrocketing insurance rates as well, making it harder to recover once the storm has passed. Photos, >click to read< 09:09

How the blue economy will shape the future of Canada’s oceans and coastal communities

The words “blue economy” will soon shape the future of Canada’s oceans, from the fiords and straits of British Columbia to the rugged coastlines of the Atlantic to the vast seascapes of the Arctic. But what is a blue economy? And what makes it different from business as usual? The term blue economy was first championed by small island developing countries, including Fiji, Bahamas and Palau, to bring more local benefits from ocean industries. Developing a blue economy means establishing ocean spaces and industries that are socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically profitable. Canada has been a key player in these efforts, including by supporting the first global conference on a blue economy, held in Nairobi in 2018 with over 18,000 participants. Now Canada is bringing the blue economy to its own waters. >click to read< 10:12