Tag Archives: Fishery management

How Newfoundland’s wild fisheries have gone from plentiful to pitiful – How did we get here?

The headline in the daily paper at the end of January 2019 had said it all: Cod recovery still far off: DFO. In the case of cod, the same factors that had contributed to a hopeful comeback — thriving capelin and warming waters — had since swung in unfavourable directions. Fewer capelin prey and changing environmental conditions did not bode well for cod. Now, in 2021, the prognosis for the cod population, capelin and the environmental  conditions remains no better. How did we get here? DFO science shows several factors are predominantly to blame for declining cod and capelin populations, including: natural causes, especially lack of capelin prey in the case of cod; high predation, particularly from fish (more so than seals), in the case of capelin; and warming ocean waters, among other environmental factors. >click to read< 08:26

Kathy Rawls named new director of N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries

When Kathy Rawls becomes the new director of the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries on May 1, she will have plenty of experience to draw on. Rawls has been with the Division for more than 25 years, the past seven as the Fisheries Management section chief. She also will be the first woman to head the agency since the Fisheries Commission Board became the Division of Commercial Fisheries in the late 1920s. “There are already a number of women in pivotal roles at the division, and I do feel a responsibility to represent them and other female colleagues, but I also know that gender is not part of the job description,” >click to read< 13:29

Term limits bumping four members from NEFMC

The New England Fishery Management Council will assume a decidedly different composition later this year when four councilors with almost 40 years combined tenure exit because of term limits. On Aug. 10, the terms of Chairman John Quinn of Massachusetts, Matthew McKenzie of Connecticut, Chairman John Quinn of Massachusetts, Matthew McKenzie of Connecticut, Vincent Balzano and Terry Alexander, both of Maine, are set to expire. >click to read< 17:50

Mid-Atlantic Council Flirts With Overfishing

The relationship between the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and overfishing goes back a long way. In 1999, the Council adopted a summer flounder quota that had just an 18 percent probability of preventing overfishing, an action that led to the landmark court decision in Natural Resources Defense Council v. Daley, which established the principal that, to pass legal muster, a fishery management measure must have at least a 50 percent probability of achieving its conservation goals. Immediately after the court handed down that decision, the Council divorced itself from any management measure that might condone overfishing, and spent nearly two decades successfully rebuilding and conserving once-overfished stocks. At one point in the early 2010s, it was the only one of the eight regional fishery management councils that had completely ended overfishing, and didn’t preside over any overfished stocks. >click to read< 14:36

New DFO regulations, 30 major commercial stocks have been identified for rebuilding

Canada is putting into law a requirement that it rebuild depleted commercial fish stocks, starting with 17 stocks that include Atlantic cod off Newfoundland, spring spawning herring in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and three Pacific salmon stocks. They account for more than half the 30 major commercial stocks identified for specific protection in amended Fisheries Act regulations published Jan. 2. >click to read< 11:33

The sardine war hits a lull: Commercial fishing industry lands a victory in Pacific sardine management

The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing of Pacific sardines, voted unanimously in September to maintain the current sardine fishery management process that calls for reassessments after each year’s stock assessments. At the moment, the direct commercial sardine fishery is closed. “Fishery managers have failed to learn from the mistakes of history,” said Geoff Shester, senior scientist at marine conservation group Oceana,,, Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, argues that sardines are not overfished and “the Council’s unanimous decision shows that they understand reality, the big picture.” >click to read< 14:27

NEFMC will vote Sept. 30 on changing requirements for groundfish monitoring, fishermen have mixed responses

Commercial fisherman Randy Cushman walks on top of his boat where he measures fish in front of electronic monitoring cameras, pictured to the right. Cushman is among a handful of New England fishermen who use electronic monitoring instead of a traditional human observer to track what they catch and discard.  The New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) is scheduled to vote on changes to its groundfish management plan at a virtual meeting Sept. 30, culminating four years of research. “If we’re going to have accurate stock assessments, we need 100 percent coverage under this management system,” said Cushman. But, the prospect of increased monitoring concerns Terry Alexander, a fisherman who represents Maine on the NEFMC and operates his 62-foot boat out of Massachusetts. >click to read< 10:57

Just in! Reminder: Black Sea Bass Commercial State Allocation Amendment Webinars – Today @ 2:00 p.m. and Thursday @ 6:00 p.m.

Reminder: Mid-Atlantic Council to Hold Two Scoping Webinars for Black Sea Bass Commercial State Allocation Amendment, Monday, May 11, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 14, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold two scoping webinars to gather public input on a management action to consider potential modifications to the allocations of the black sea bass commercial quota among the states of Maine through North Carolina. Learn more about this action in the scoping announcement or at the links below. Links, and info. >click to read< 13:35

New England Fishery Management Council meeting in Portsmouth, N.H. January 28-30. 2020

The New England Fishery Management Council will be meeting at the Portsmouth Event Center, 100 Deer Street at 22 Portwalk Place, Portsmouth, N.H.  To read the final agenda, >click here< Register for webinar >click here< to listen live. 12:48

Cod could choke catch of other fish

The New England Fishery Management Council approved the management framework that sets Northeast multispecies groundfish catch limits for 2020-2022 earlier this month. And local groundfishermen are looking at significant increases in several flounder stocks, American plaice and haddock. But the state of the cod fishery in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank remains a point of contention. >click to read< 09:06

Canada: Government conflict of interest a threat to fish biodiversity: scientists

Canada has made disappointingly little progress in preserving the variety of life in its oceans largely because of a contradiction in the federal department that’s supposed to protect it, says a group of senior scientists. “The (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) is charged with conflicting responsibilities,” said Jeff Hutchings, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. “On the one hand, they’re there to protect and conserve. On the other hand, they are charged with the responsibility of exploiting fish stocks.” >click to read< 08:40

Why aren’t they there? Cod still overfished, feds say

The federal government last week released data showing that cod stocks in the area remain overfished. “Overfishing is occurring”, says NOAA, “Abundance is very low, says Mass DMF Director David Pierce, “It just doesn’t make sense right now that the cod hasn’t rebuilt,” Fisherman Ed Barrett added. Angela Sanfilippo, president of the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association, called cod a “bycatch,” citing an abundance of haddock over the past 18 months, and said fishing fleets operate under strict regulation.  >click to read<

Listen to those who know: Fishery managers should be paying attention to voices of experience

Could we stop talking about working with the fishery experts and start actually working with them? The experts, in my opinion, are the folks who have survived by fishing for generations, not the ones with degrees but minimal field experience.,,, I’m not a management expert. But I have worked with most aspects of fisheries for 40 years, so I have a lot more than a clue. I have a better understanding and a lot more experience than many that claim expertise. I’ve attended more meetings, seminars, symposiums, public hearings and classes than I could afford to. I’ve dedicated my life to fishing. Much of this was to give back, trying to help. But it’s time for me to accept reality: by Capt. Van Hubbard >click to read<  08:22

Maine gets another 4.7 million pounds of pogy, or menhaden, but will likely need more bait fish

The state ordered its menhaden fleet to stop fishing on June 30 after officials concluded it had exceeded the state’s annual quota of 2.4 million pounds by 1.5 million pounds, the majority of which was landed in the last four days of June, according to state records. But menhaden, a schooling forage fish also called pogy, were still abundant in Maine waters from Kittery to Penobscot Bay, so Maine sought access to another 4.7 million pounds of quota that is set aside for New England states to share when they catch their limit but the fish remains in large numbers. >click to read< 10:10

From DMR, MENHADEN: Daily Reporting Required for the Episodic Fishery – The menhaden fishery will resume under the episodic event set aside (EESA) program. The quota for the EESA is 1% of the 216,000 mt coastwide TAC, which equates to approximately 4.7 million pounds. DMR has implemented emergency regulation to open the Episodic fishery on Monday, July 15, 2019. >click to read<

SAFMC Recruitment Announcement – Council Executive Director

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, headquartered in North Charleston, S.C., is responsible for the conservation and management of fish stocks within the federal 200-mile limit of the Atlantic off the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and East Florida to Key West. The Council is responsible for Coastal Migratory Pelagics from New York to Florida and for Dolphin/Wahoo, from Maine to Florida. The Executive Director serves as the chief executive officer of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and is responsible for managing all administrative and technical aspects of Council operations. >click to read details<10:40

New England, Mid-Atlantic fishery councils ponder switch to electronic vessel trip reporting

The move, which is under an omnibus framework action, would require commercial fishing vessels to fill out all of their vessel trip reports electronically, eliminating the ability to fill out paper forms. Electronic vessel trip reporting (eVTR) has been an established way to submit reports since 2013, according to Karson Coutre of the Mid-Atlantic council. ,,, While the Mid-Atlantic council is the one considering the move to mandatory eVTR, the New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) will also need to consider the implications of transitioning to mandatory electronic reporting. >click to read<16:39

Black sea bass surge off R.I.

Scientists tell us that some fish will be winners and others losers as oceans warm. In Rhode Island, count lobster, silver hake and winter flounder among the losers, their numbers plummeting as climate change drives water temperatures higher. On the list of winners so far are squid, summer flounder, butterfish. And black sea bass. The population of the dusky-colored fish with striking blue accents has historically been strongest off the mid-Atlantic Coast, but over the past decade or so its numbers have spiked off New England and it is becoming a more important catch for the region’s fishermen. How they are managed will have important implications not only for those fish but for lobsters and other key species in the ocean ecosystem. >click to read<12:30

SAFMC decides for now to not limit the number of head and charter boats

Some good news. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council at their meeting this month decided, at least for now, to not move forward with limiting the number of charter and head boats in the snapper-grouper fishery. The comments received by the SAFMC were overwhelmingly against limited entry. My thanks to all who submitted comments. One of the important points we made was that the SAFMC really doesn’t know what permitted snapper-grouper charter boats are catching or targeting, whether they are fishing in state or federal waters or even if permit holders are not fishing at all and simply banking the permit. click here to read the story 18:01

Inland Fisheries: Native Fish Keepers – Picking up the tab for conservation

Conservation isn’t cheap. Under a cloudless sky on waters as smooth as glass, a crew of four men clad in bright orange rain gear splattered with fish scales and slime was doing its part last week to pay for the tab of conserving native trout in the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.,, Last spring, the Tribal Council approved the incorporation of the nonprofit, tribally owned Native Fish Keepers Inc. business that has begun selling some of the lake trout and whitefish caught in both netting operations and during the spring and fall Mack Days fishing contests hosted by the tribes. “Our overall objective in putting this all together is conservation,” said CSKT fisheries biologist Barry Hansen. “From the very beginning, we’ve been focused on reducing the number of lake trout to benefit both bull trout and cutthroats. We realized early on this would be an expensive operation.” click here to read the story 17:51

Prelude to war – A news analysis

The mayor of Kenai, Alaska is “extremely disappointed” with the Alaska Board of Fisheries, and the mayor of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough less than pleased but “satisfied” with the Board’s big compromise. The big compromise itself? The Board will avoid both Wasilla and Kenai in favor of a 2020 meeting in Anchorage. So contentious has become the issue of Cook Inlet fishery management that politicians now argue over minutiae while the bigger issues plaguing the Inlet’s fisheries are ignored. click here to read the story 10:46

Fishery management goes back many decades

Beginning in the early 1970s, I became interested in fishery management. The declining number of striped bass or rockfish caught my attention, and I tried to help the situation the best way I knew how. I became a member of Save Our Stripers and then a part of Bob Pond’s effort to get the government to pay attention to his studies on the Nanticoke River that indicated there was something wrong with the eggs carried by female rockfish. Then there was a group of watermen in the Upper Chesapeake Bay that tried to establish a hatchery in Elkton. I went with them to collect males and females and then breed them in tanks before placing the tiny fry in ponds once used to grow catfish. Unfortunately, one pond still held a few catfish that were very happy to see all that food dropped in their laps. click here to read the story 16:43

Dick Grachek: Maximum Sustainable Yield: Just More Management Delusion or a Bureaucratic Con?

Even if getting out from under the management fantasy of the “extinction delusion” could somehow become a reality, an essential overhaul of the basic goals of fishery management is necessary and must begin by asking the obvious—but totally neglected—question, what exactly is all this management supposed to accomplish, anyway? Maximum Sustainable Yield: Stable and Sustainable Stocks, Right? Well…actually, managing the fisheries to MSY is all wrong. MSY accomplishes nothing more than stock population instability. One of the major mechanisms of this MSY approach is engineering the taking of large fish out of a population in some formulaic proportion to the young recruited into that particular stock. This is a naive and simplistic notion of stock dynamics. It completely ignores a myriad of natural or “biological-environmental” factors that govern fish survival and growth and population. Click here to read the story with a side note from Dick Grachek 17:04

CATCH SHARES – NOT A VIABLE OPTION FOR THE NORTHEAST

Theoretical constructs that might hold together logically and appear sound often quickly disintegrate in the atmosphere outside their esoteric bubble. This was certainly the case for catch shares or transferable quota management in the New England groundfishery. Catch shares in New England disintegrated almost upon entry. What are catch shares and where did they come from? Catch shares or the commoditization of the fish poundage to be caught, or the ownership of the “right” to harvest a certain portion of the government managers’ scientifically sanctioned total yearly catch, is a construct of “free market environmentalism” theory. The “enviropreneurs” or “enviro-capitalists” claim that ownership equals good stewardship, equals profitability. This privatization push is actually an idea of economics, claiming production “efficiency”, and not one of fishery conservation—although the sales pitch promotes this scheme as the answer to “overfishing”, and just in the nick of time. Click here to read the article 14:58

What’s so hard about managing fisheries?

Nils Stolpe/FishNet USA May 3, 2017  – “We live in a world in which data convey authority. But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris. From Robert McNamara to Lehman Brothers to Stronger Together, cautionary tales abound. We ought to know this by now, but we don’t. Instead, we respond to the inherent uncertainties of data by adding more data without revisiting our assumptions, creating an impression of certainty that can be lulling, misleading and often dangerous. Ask Clinton” Stephens, B., Climate of Complete Certainty, NY Times, 4/28/17. The above quote was from an op-ed piece by Bret Stephens, the New York Times’ recently acquired columnist. While he was targeting climate scientists, their “disciples” and the overblown pseudo-science hidden beneath an oversufficiency of less than convincing statistics that is used to strengthen their arguments, it appears that fisheries scientists are increasingly adopting the same techniques (the emphasis is mine) to support their often erroneous – sometimes sadly so – conclusions. Click here to read the article. 10:48

Are Days at Sea the Answer?

Recently, the argument that, after the UK has left the EU, effort control (days at sea limits) could replace quotas as the main management tool in the mixed demersal fisheries, has been finding some currency. It is not difficult to see the appeal. At a stroke, the discard problem would be solved, as vessels could land everything that they catch. The messy business of quota management, with its fixed quota allocations, swaps, leasing, top-slicing etc. could be dispensed with overnight. Instead, vessels would be given an annual allocation of days at sea. Full stop. In some versions of the theory, quota shares are converted into effort shares, which admittedly makes things more complex than a flat-rate number of days for every vessel in the fleet. But before we take the leap of ditching the messy quota system let’s have a look at the other side of the coin. There are a few reasons why effort might not be the road that we want to go down. Here are some of the counter-arguments: Read the article here 12:55

How sustainable seafood can harm coastal communities

Kai Ryssdal: Tell me the story of how this book came to be. Lee van der Voo: Sure. Actually, I had just written a story about seafood and was in a bar with a bunch of writers loudly complaining about how I was never going to do it again. Somebody heard me and bet me, on the spot, one beer that they could get me to do it. And they started telling me about a new policy push to make seafood more sustainable in America and how it was starting to have some really significant downstream consequences for coastal communities and people who fish. Ryssdal: Long story short, you lost the beer. Van der Voo: Yeah, I lost that bet. It was worth it. Ryssdal: Do me favor and define a term for me, because it’s kind of at the root of this whole book, this idea of “catch share.   Audio report, read the rest here 09:08

HOOKED UP! PART II: Gulf Council chief talks about IFQ’s

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council manages the fishery resources in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s one of eight regional fishery management councils in the United States.  The Gulf Council essentially manages the fishery from the nine-mile mark out to the 200-mile limit.  “Before the IFQ, we tried a variety of ways to address the race for fish that was taking place,” says Dr. Roy Crabtree, regional administrator for the Gulf Council. “We had a limited commercial quota for red snapper. The fishermen were catching it up as quick as they could. They were flooding the market with fish  Fishery was closed most of the year, so we didn’t have year-round production. And we had safety-at-sea issues. Because fishermen were fishing in unsafe sea conditions. And we were having overruns of quota. Crabtree says the IFQ program was designed largely to address these problems. The article continues here 18:00

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

Again we are treated to the absurdity that is “fishery management” in North Carolina

NCDMF_trnsprntSam Walker, writing for the outerbanksvoice.com, has what we think is an excellent article on the latest boondoggle from the NC Marine Fisheries Commissison. As with the Southern Flounder, they imposed restriction on cobia without any valid data and against the recommendation of the experts on their staff. Pure special interest politics and kabuki dancing with Federal bureaucrats. Click here to go to the original source to read the story. Commentary – Note that the article reports that the last “stock assessment” (that’s like a census) on cobia was made in 2012. Apparently, the justification for reducing the catch now is that “too many” had been caught recently. The Feds cut the take in Federal waters (three plus miles off shore) and pushed the states to do likewise. Our MFC capitulated but Virginia’s did not. Kudos to Rep. Walter B. Jones, Jr. for blowing the whistle on the Fed fish counters, demanding that a more scientific method of stock assessment must be found. Click here to read the letter Amen to that Walter! Note in the Outer Banks Voice’s article that the approach the NCMFC used was what is called euphemistically as “catch shares.” Think about this. Under the guise that certain species of fish are “overfished” they impose regulations on different kinds of fishermen according to what group you belong to…commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen and even in some instances imposing different regulations (amount that group can catch) on charter boats, while if you fish in the surf different rules apply.  Read the rest here 10:34

Sunday Read: Two Fishing Industry articles written by the late Jim O’Malley show how far we have not come.

Jim O’Malley, (whom has since passed away) member of the New England Fisheries Management Council and Executive Director of the East Coast Fisheries Federation, has been involved in fisheries issues at the national and international level from the pre-Magnuson era. In this presentation ( click here, Finding a Balance Between Economy and Ecosystem) he reflects on what is becoming a growing concern among industry members, responsible scientists and managers; the misuse of information to demonize the commercial fishing industry. – It was written in 1999. What has changed? Nothing! Read From Science to Illusion: Mathematics in Fishery Management written in 1998 (click here) 12:13