Tag Archives: Gulf of Maine

Don Cuddy – SMAST codfish counting innovation looks promising

Last December the New England Fishery Management Council voted to increase the amount of cod available to commercial fishermen in the Gulf of Maine by 39% for the 2018 fishing year. This is welcome news. New England fishermen have endured some lean years since 2013 when the cod quota was slashed by 78 percent after new data incorporated into the 2011 assessment indicated that the stock was lower than previously estimated-obviously a great deal lower. Estimating how many codfish might be out there at any given time is the greatest challenge facing fishery managers and the numbers have been subject of much controversy, with fishermen continually decrying the “best available science” as inadequate. >click to read< 19:25

Benchmark study of lobsters begins

In 2015, data collected in a benchmark assessment of New England lobster stocks showed record-high abundance for the combined stocks of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank and record lows for the lobster stock of southern New England. Now, about three years later, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is beginning preparations for the next American lobster benchmark assessment that is expected to be completed around March 2020. “We’re in the very early stages right now,” said Jeff Kipp, senior stock assessment scientist at the Arlington, Virginia-based ASMFC that regulates the Northeast lobster fishery. “The process will be mostly data-driven.” >click to read< 21:10

Our View: Time for Maine to look past lobster boom years

There is an economic principle that’s usually attributed to Herbert Stein, who worked for the Nixon administration and The Wall Street Journal. Stein’s law: If something can’t keep going forever, it won’t. Maine’s lobster industry is near the peak of a historic boom, making it the state’s most lucrative fishery. In the last 30 years, lobster landings have increased from 20 million pounds a year to 130 million. No one expects the catch to keep growing forever. The question is not whether it will decline, but when. >click to read< 13:57

Gulf of Maine had cool year in 2017, but is still warming – >click to read<

Signs of more small shrimp good news – Research shrimper: Trawls better every week

There are days when Joe Jurek must feel the loneliness of the long-distance shrimper, a solitary figure in the Gulf of Maine as the only Massachusetts commercial fisherman allowed to harvest coveted northern shrimp from a fishery just entering its fifth year of closure. Jurek, a Gloucester-based groundfisherman and the captain of the 42-foot FV Mystique Lady,,, Jurek is the Massachusetts representative in a two-state research set-aside program and is doing most of his fishing in the inshore vicinity of Cape Ann, Ipswich Bay and nearby Scantum Basin. >click to read< 19:38 

State disputes study that predicts sharp decline in Gulf of Maine lobster population

The state agency that oversees Maine’s marine fisheries is questioning the reliability of a new study that predicts a sharp decline in Gulf of Maine lobsters over the next 30 years. The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the University of Maine and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration built a computer model that predicts the population will fall 40 to 62 percent by 2030. But Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources, won’t be using the model to help him decide how to manage the state’s most valuable fishery,,, >click here to read< 01:06 

Maine’s lobster population will drop but fishery ‘not doomed’

The lobster population in the Gulf of Maine could decline by nearly two-thirds by 2050, according to a scientific study released this week. As bad as that sounds, scientists and industry representatives say the demise of the most valuable single-species fishery in the country is unlikely. “It doesn’t mean Maine’s lobster fishery is doomed,” said Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer at Gulf of Maine Research Institute and a co-author of the study. >click here to read< 10:17

Gulf of Maine lobster boom over as population starts to decline

The Gulf of Maine lobster population will shrink 40 to 62 percent over the next 30 years because of rising ocean temperatures, according to a new study released Monday. As the water temperature rises – the northwest Atlantic ocean is warming at three times the global average rate – the number of lobster eggs that survive their first year of life will decrease, and the number of small-bodied lobster predators that eat those that remain will increase. Those effects will cause the lobster population to fall through 2050, according to a study by scientists at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, University of Maine and National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration. >click here to read< 19:49 

Maine Lobstermen reject big changes in harvester reporting rules

Ask any lobsterman about the details of where and how he catches his bugs — what kind of bait he uses, how deep he sets his gear, how many traps on a trawl, how long those traps soak between hauls — and you’re likely to get a fisheye, if not a poke in the nose, in response. Still, that’s the kind of information the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission wants to collect from lobstermen and Jonah crab fishermen working in the Gulf of Maine and, no surprise, the idea is unpopular. >click here to read<08:59

Maine opposing push to require all lobstermen to report catch data – >click here to read<

NMFS Approves “Majority” of Council’s Habitat Amendment

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has approved –with two exceptions –the New England Fishery Management Council’s Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment 2 (OHA2), paving the way for sweeping change to the existing network of closed and management areas in the Gulf of Maine, Southern New England, and Georges Bank. The changes will provide better protection for both fish and habitat while eliminating closures that no longer serve their intended purpose. click here to read the press release 16:20

It’s Maine Shrimp Season, Without the Shrimp

Sitting between Glen Libby’s desk at Port Clyde Fresh Catch and the armchair where his brother’s old dog, Red, likes to nap are two boxes full of “The Original Maine Shrimp Cookbook.” This slim spiral-bound volume includes contributions from various members of the brothers’ immediate family, whose shrimping history dates back nearly four decades in this coastal town about two hours northeast of Portland. Mr. Libby loves the small, delicate Northern shrimp, known fondly here as Maine shrimp, and so do customers at his processing and distribution plant. Photo’s, click here to read the story 22:12

What’s fair in breaking up the empire of ‘the Codfather’?

Randy Cushman, a fourth generation fisherman in Maine, knows what the crimes of Carlos Rafael cost him.,,, Rafael, whose downfall came after he boasted of his scheme to undercover IRS agents posing as Russian mobsters, is now serving a 46-month sentence in federal prison.,,,  Senator Elizabeth Warren fired off a letter in August warning of “needless, immense damage” if permits leave New Bedford. Governor Charlie Baker asked that the permits at least stay in Massachusetts. click here to read the story 07:16

NEFMC: Scallops, Council Approves Framework 29 – Whiting, Approves 2018-2020 Specifics; to Send Amendment 22 to Public Hearing

The Council took two actions today related to small-mesh multispecies, which include two stocks of silver hake and offshore hake –collectively known as “whiting” –and two stocks of red hake. click here to read the notice 16:37
The Council today approved a sweeping package of measures for Framework Adjustment 29 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan. The framework includes specifications for the 2018 scallop fishing year, which begins April 1, as well as default specifications for 2019. It also includes actions related to Closed Area 1 carryover pounds, the Northern Gulf of Maine Management Area, and flatfish accountability measures, among others. click here to read the notice

Afraid my way of life may be replaced by wind turbines

My name is Dustin Delano. I’m a 27-year-old lobstermen from Friendship. I find myself at a loss of words today. Completely frustrated and lost in which direction to go next. Last night, I attended a selectmen’s meeting in St. George as they were seeking public comment on allowing a cable to come ashore in Port Clyde which will connect commercial wind turbines located south of Monhegan Island to the mainland. The fishing heritage in the gulf of Maine is incredibly magnificent. For generations, my family and other families along the coast have worked together and made a living from the fruit of the sea. Now, in the year 2017, this generational way of life is at risk and could possibly be ruined. click here to read the story 19:52

Shrimp stir up spat at commission meeting

For such tiny critters, northern shrimp can kick up quite a storm among fisheries regulators. Meeting in Portland last week, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section voted to continue the moratorium on shrimp fishing in the Gulf of Maine for another year. First imposed in 2013, the moratorium will remain in force for at least one more year. In an email, Department of Marine Resources spokesman Jeff Nichols said Commissioner Patrick Keliher “was very disappointed” with the proposal and voted against the research set-aside. click here to read the story 11:18

Maine objections couldn’t stop shrimp closure

Say this for Maine — both its state fisheries regulators and its shrimpers: They don’t like to lose. Last Wednesday, Maine got outvoted by Massachusetts and New Hampshire on whether interstate fisheries regulators should continue closing the Gulf of Maine to shrimping for the fifth consecutive year. Massachusetts and New Hampshire voted to keep it closed. Maine, hoping to sustain as much of its shrimp fishery’s infrastructure as possible, argued for a modest season despite the continued dire forecasts for the northern shrimp stocks — which, if possible — seem even worse than what NOAA Fisheries says about Gulf of Maine cod. click here to read the story 09:04

Losing hope for lobster south of Cape Cod

Tom Tomkiewicz remembers when there were so many lobster traps in Buzzards Bay it looked as if he could walk across the water on their buoys. Now, the 42-year-old lobsterman and his dwindling number of colleagues have to set their traps far out to sea, well beyond view of the coast, to catch the few lobsters that remain. “There’s nothing here,” said Tomkiewicz, one of only 35 Massachusetts lobstermen who still have permits to fish in the state and federal waters that stretch from Nantucket Sound to Long Island Sound. “It’s crazy.”,,, The steep decline has left regulators in a quandary click here to read the story 21:20

Gulf of Maine: What happens when a small Maine town and an offshore energy project collide

A project taking shape about 12 miles offshore from the village of Port Clyde is creating a rift in the tight-knit fishing communities on the St. George peninsula. On one side is Maine Aqua Ventus, a pilot project to test floating turbines as sources of renewable energy. On the other side are fishing families concerned that the turbines and cables used to transport the energy ashore could disrupt fishing habitats on which they rely.,,, “Our largest concern is what is going to happen after this,” said Randy Cushman, 55, a lifelong fisherman and resident of Port Clyde. “I’m worried about the next generation of fishermen, that’s what I’m worried about. I could really see them being eliminated by this. I really can.” click here to read the story 08:13

Northern Shrimp: Technical Committee recommends extending moratorium on fishing through 2018

In October, the agency that regulates shrimping in the Gulf of Maine, perhaps optimistically, approved measures that would limit northern shrimp allocations to individual states when and if the fishery ever reopens. The shrimp, or lack thereof, seem to be doing the best job of limiting those allocations. Next week, the Northern Shrimp Section, which regulates Gulf of Maine shrimping under the auspices of the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission, is expected to close northern shrimp fishing in the western Gulf of Maine for a fifth consecutive year.  click here to read the story 14:12

Omnibus Essential Fish Habitat Amendment – Plan to change New England ocean stewardship up for debate

The federal government is close to enacting new rules about New England ocean habitat that could mean dramatic changes for the way it manages the marine environment and fisheries. The National Marine Fisheries Service has been working on the rules for some 13 years and recently made them public. They would change the way the government manages the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank and southern New England waters, which are critical pieces of ocean for rare whales, unique underwater canyons and commercial fishermen.,, The proposal states that its goal is to minimize “adverse effects of fishing on essential fish habitat.” click here to read the story 10:50

Right whale deaths spur regulators to eye fishing gear modifications

This has been a tough year for North Atlantic right whales. Late in October, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, the badly decomposed carcass of a right whale was found ashore on Nashawena Island, south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It was the 16th of the highly endangered species known to have died in U.S. or Canadian waters in 2017. Starting in the early spring and continuing through the late summer months, a dozen dead right whales were found floating in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence.,,, Last year, the NOAA Fisheries Large Whale Take Reduction Team (TRT) began a five-year review click here to read the story 08:23

NOAA Approves State Water Exemptions for Scallop Fisheries in Maine and Massachusetts

The State Waters Scallop Exemption Program allows federal permit holders to fish in the state waters scallop fishery on a more equitable basis where federal and state laws are inconsistent. The Program specifies that a state with a scallop fishery may be eligible for state waters exemptions from specific regulations if it has a scallop conservation program that does not jeopardize the objectives of the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan. click here to read the press release 12:41

NEFMC commitee votes to protect corals in Gulf of Maine

Federal regulars have decided to protect two areas in the Gulf of Maine that are home to slow-growing corals. The protected areas encompass almost 40 square miles and are called Outer Schoodic Ridge and Mt. Desert Rock. The areas would still be open to lobster fishing but not to bottom trawling. A committee of the New England Fishery Management Council voted on the protections on Thursday. click here to read the story 14:43

Fishing Industry, NEFSC Team Up for Gulf of Maine Longline Study

The Cooperative Gulf of Maine (GOM) Bottom Longline Survey is now underway for the fourth consecutive year. Two Massachusetts commercial longline fishing vessels and staff from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s (NEFSC) Cooperative Research Branch will be working in the Gulf of Maine over the next three weeks. They began staging October 5 on the 50-foot F/V Mary Elizabeth from Scituate and 40-foot F/V Tenacious II, which departed from Sesuit Harbor in East Dennis October 10 for the first of several two-to-four day trips. click here to read the story 14:28

Live Cam May Show True Status of Atlantic Cod Fishery

Atlantic cod, New England’s most iconic fish, has been reported at historic lows for years, but fishermen hope a new video monitoring technique will prove there are more of the fish than federal surveyors believe. Ronnie Borjeson, who has been fishing for more than 40 years, says the federal surveys don’t match up with what fishermen are seeing. “I don’t care if you’re a gillnetter, a hook and line guy, a trawl guy,” he said, “there’s codfish everywhere up there. Everywhere. You can’t get away from them.” Borjeson helped test a video rig designed by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth that allows them to record fish underwater and count them on the video later. With this rig, scientists can sample a larger area in the same amount of time and hopefully improve federal estimates of how many cod are left. click here to read the story 16:26

Counting Fish – A film by Don Cuddy click here to watch 

Maine coastal villagers say cables from offshore wind project will wreck their way of life

Opponents of an offshore wind project slated for development off Monhegan Island will take their fight to a new level Tuesday, when they plan to file a petition designed to prevent cables delivering electricity from the project to the mainland from passing through St. George. The group Preserve Our Remarkable Town, or PORT, says it has collected more than 300 signatures from residents of St. George, which includes the villages of Tenants Harbor and Port Clyde, who fear the the project will harm the local fishing industry and undermine the quality of life and property values in their communities. click here to read the story 19:39

Maine lobster catch on track to hit lowest value this decade

Maine’s 2017 lobster harvest is on pace to hit its lowest value this decade, due to an unfavorable combination of a dwindling catch and falling prices, according to lobster industry officials. The statewide haul for this year could plummet below 100 million pounds for the first time since 2010 — a decrease of more than 30 million pounds from 2016, said David Cousens, president of Maine Lobstermen’s Association. “This year we’re having is one of the worst we’ve had” in recent memory, Cousens said.  click here to read the story 08:19

Storm brews over Maine’s monument offshore, too

Zinke has recommended that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument – a 4,913-square-mile area of underwater canyons, thousand-year-old coral forests, and volcanic mountains on and beyond the southern edge of Georges Bank at the mouth of the Gulf of Maine – be opened to commercial fishing, a move proponents say would defeat its purpose.,, The heads of eight of the nation’s fisheries management councils – the industry-led bodies that implement fisheries regulations in federal waters – were already on record against the commercial fishing restrictions.,, Peter Shelley of the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental attorney who is watching the case closely, strongly disagrees. click here to read the story 08:35

Gloucester Fishermen to council: Trust in data needed

One by one, the Gloucester fishermen settled in front of the microphone for those with something to say to the New England Fishery Management Council and, one by one, they delivered their thoughts. Some of the remarks, such as those from Tom Orrell of Yankee Fleet and Paul Vitale, captain of the Angela & Rose, were short and to the point. Orell wanted to know why the for-hire boats faced so many restrictions in the Gulf of Maine and Vitale simply wants more fish quota. Now. Joe Orlando of the Santo Pio talked science and cod, while longtime fishermen Al Cottone and Rick Beal (powerful comment) adopted more philosophical tones, speaking to the council on the need for a two-lane channel of trust and truth. click here to read the story 20:59

Northern Shrimp plan changes advance

Meeting in Portland at the end of August, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section selected several final measures for inclusion in the latest revision to the Fishery Management Plan for northern shrimp. Known as “Amendment 3,” the latest version of the plan will bring about a number of significant changes to the way the fishery is managed — if indeed the northern shrimp fishery is ever resuscitated. Because fisheries scientists believed that the northern shrimp population had collapsed, commercial shrimp fishing on the Gulf of Maine has been banned since 2014 with only an extremely limited harvest for scientific data collection purposes permitted. click here to read the story 08:52

2017 Sweep Efficiency Study Targets Summer Flounder – Cooperative research program effort reveals a few surprises

Testing the efficiency of different sweep types on fishing nets was the focus of twin trawling operations August 18-28 aboard the F/V Karen Elizabeth from Point Judith, RI.  Chris Roebuck and his four-person crew aboard the 78-foot western-rigged stern trawler Karen Elizabeth conducted this year’s study with five staff members from the NEFSC’s Northeast Cooperative Research Program and the Fisheries Ecology and Oceans and Climate branches. The team targeted summer flounder in Southern New England from Montauk, Long Island to Nantucket and red hake in the western Gulf of Maine off Cape Ann, making a total of 103 good tows and collecting over 73,000 fish from species targeted by the study.   click here to read the story 11:41