Tag Archives: Gulf of Maine

Bruce Tarr: Ground Fishing rules don’t match industry realities

The federal government on Wednesday released data showing that cod stocks in the area remain overfished and are not on target to be rebuilt by 2024. “Abundance is very low, not the way it used to be, so that’s obviously of great concern to us,” said Division of Marine Fisheries Director David Pierce,,, Calling the report “concerning,” Sen. Bruce Tarr, “I’m still reading through the details  but I think it points to the fact that we should be doing things differently than we are today.” Tarr said there’s “too much regulatory discard” of cod “and there’s mortality that’s being caused by a set of rules that don’t recognize the practical reality of groundfishing.” >click to read< 19:32

You Can Learn A Lot by Towing Two Nets at Once

Scientists and fishermen boarded the F/V Karen Elizabeth on September 12 with a joint mission: conduct a study of the NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow’s trawl net used for the twice-yearly scientific survey of the Northeast shelf. The Karen Elizabeth can tow two nets at once, making it the perfect platform for examining net performance under different conditions. The study is focused on how the net performs at different spreads, and what differences in catch can be attributed to that spread. Photos, >click to read<  17:15

New study addresses changes in lobster molt timing, Gulf of Maine temperature shifts

Variation in lobster molt timing has been increasing in recent years, and is related to changing ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Maine,,, Creating a time series for lobster molts and outlining the relationship of the initial intra-annual molt season to bottom water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine is important to the lobster industry because shifts in water temperature could result in changes in timing of the molt season, led by then UMaine graduate student Kevin Staples, who was pursuing a dual master’s degree in marine biology and marine policy. >click to read< 09:45

Lobstermen, environmentalists weigh in on right whale rules

Some of the largest and most powerful animal and environmental groups – including the Pew Charitable Trust, the U.S. Humane Society, the Conservation Law Foundation and Oceana – sent representatives to the hearing. They urged National Marine Fisheries Service to take immediate action to protect the whale, including proposals that even the team tasked by the fisheries service to come up with its whale protection plan had dismissed, such as offshore closures and ropeless lobster fishing. >click to read< 20:58

Changing climate boosts Maine lobster industry — for now

Maine’s lobster industry has found itself in something of a climate change sweet spot. The state’s coastal waters are still cold enough for lobster to thrive, but warming ocean temperatures are now encouraging them to settle here, mate and eventually shed their hard shells.,,, “Maine has enjoyed this abundant, expanding resource but everything that comes up must come down, and that is very related to climate change because that is very related to water temperature,” said Genevieve McDonald, a lobsterman and Stonington’s new representative in the Maine Legislature. >click to read< 16:44

Slow lobster season so far in Maine, but price is steady

It’s been a slow lobster season so far in Maine, but the lack of crustaceans isn’t translating into high prices for consumers, and fishermen are still hopeful for a bump in catch this summer.,,, The season so far is similar to the lobster hauls veteran fishermen saw in the 1980s and 1990s, when the boom in catch typically came later, said Steve Train, a lobsterman based in Long Island. It’s frustrating for those who are used to the big, early catches of the modern era, he said. >click to read< 15:11

SUNDAY! Lobstermen to rally in Stonington, Collins, Pingree, and Golden to speak

Maine’s top-grossing commercial fishing port will be the site of a rally this Sunday, July 21, as fishermen from across the state come together to bring attention to an issue that could affect the livelihood of lobstermen: pending National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regulations to reduce the number of vertical trap lines used by lobstermen in the Gulf of Maine. The rally will also be used to educate the public about the impact those regulations could have on Maine’s fishing fleet, said Captain Julie Eaton, a lobsterman who turned an idea into an event. “We have a voice and we need to use it now,” said Eaton. “There is big power when we come together and this is a chance for our politicians to hear our voice.”  >click to read< 18:18

“It is official”!!! Lobstermen to rally in Stonington Sunday

Last week, Stonington lobsterman Julie Eaton, speaking for most members of her industry said just about the same thing in a posting on Facebook announcing plans for a rally on the Stonington Fish Pier at noon this Sunday., The rally is being called to protest a proposed NOAA Fisheries rule that would force Maine lobstermen to remove half their buoy lines from the Gulf of Maine to reduce the risk that endangered right whales might become entangled in the fishing gear. “It is official,” Eaton posted. “We are holding a Lobstermen’s Rally … on the Stonington Commercial Fish Pier.” >click to read< 15:22

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<

This discovery could be the key to managing New England’s cod population

Although the species is managed as a single population, cod in the Gulf of Maine can be divided into two genetically-distinct groups. And according to a new study, understanding the unique behavior and lifecycles of these two groups may be the key to creating a better management strategy. “The current stock assessments for Gulf of Maine cod assume that the population is one single, homogeneous unit,” Dean says. “All stock assessment models have to make gross oversimplifications. But sometimes those simplifications can create inaccuracies.” click to read<21:39

The best available science? – Backing lobstermen, Rep. Golden seeks to withhold funds for right whale protections

“The federal government is asking Maine lobstermen to make huge sacrifices without clear evidence that those sacrifices will have any positive impact on right whales,” Golden wrote in a statement Wednesday. “I’ve joined lobstermen to voice our concerns and now it’s time for action. Golden said it is important to help the right whale, but he joined the Maine lobster industry and Maine’s fishing managers in a common refrain: the federal government has no conclusive proof that right whales are getting hurt or killed by entanglement in Maine lobster gear. >click to read> 09:46

Multi-organization effort believes Cashes Ledge deserves to be permanently protected

The team’s efforts of four years ago, including holding roundtables and giving talks across the region, were undertaken in hopes Cashes Ledge would be awarded a monument designation. The effort failed, but it did play a part in the creation, three years ago, of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the only national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. Lamb, who now works with the Witman Lab and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on various marine issues, believes Cashes Ledge deserves the same protection, especially since the Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest-warming bodies of salt water in the world.  >click to read<09:37

Lobstermen tell regulators: Give us fewer buoy lines, but let us fish them how we want

Brian Tripp, a Sedgwick lobsterman, urged Maine to adopt a buoy line tagging system to help reduce the number of lines that link a fisherman’s buoys to his traps by 50 percent, which is what federal regulators say it will take to protect the endangered right whale from deadly entanglements. Under current state law, most Maine fishermen have a right to fish up to 800 of these surface-to-seabed lines. To meet the federal risk reduction goal, Maine can issue each fisherman 400 buoy line tags, Tripp said – half the number they are allowed to have now. Fishermen could live with that if they had the freedom to fish those 400 buoy lines how they want, he said. >click to read<11:21

New rules are meant to save whales; lobstermen wonder if they’ll survive

The state Department of Marine Resources has until September to come up with a way that it can cut the number of buoy lines in the Gulf of Maine by 50 percent. Federal regulators say that’s what it will take to reduce the risk of fatal entanglement enough for the species to survive. Scientists estimate only 411 right whales remain. The species has been on the brink of extinction before, most recently in 1992, when its population bottomed out at 295. It rebounded to about 500 in 2010, but low calving rates, ship strikes and fishing line entanglements have sent its numbers tumbling, yet again. But many in Maine’s $485 million industry worry it is the lobsterman who will face extinction,,, >click to read<10:28

How an invasive species or pig hide could solve Maine’s lobster bait crisis

Gulf of Maine lobstermen are casting around far and wide for new kinds of bait now that federal regulators have cut herring quotas by 70 percent. Possible solutions range from the mass importation of a nuisance fish from the Midwest, to manufactured baits, to pig hides. Fisheries managers estimate a 50-million pound “herring gap” in Maine over the next year. To help close it, they are turning to colleagues in Illinois. >click to read<09:33

From Carp to Pig-Hide: Bait Shortage Means Change for Lobsters’ Diet – (a lot more information in this article) >click to read<

Halving the number of vertical lines – Finding consensus on whale protections a tough call in Maine

Federal regulators have given Maine’s lobster industry its marching orders: Find a way to cut the number of surface-to-seabed fishing lines by 50 percent to help prevent the injury or death of even one of the endangered right whales that pass through the Gulf of Maine. The National Marine Fisheries Service is allowing each lobstering state to develop its own plan to protect the whale, whose numbers have fallen to a little more than 400 in recent years. But it will be hard to find one way to make it work in Maine, where the $485 million-a-year fishery is known for its diversity. >click to read<07:29

CLF OVERRULED! New Fishing Rights in Gulf of Maine Upheld by Judge

A federal judge upheld a rule Monday that opens up a portion of the western Gulf of Maine to commercial and recreational fishing for the first time. The Conservation Law Foundation had challenged the rule last year, claiming the National Marine Fisheries Service wrongly prioritized economic considerations over its conservation duty when it reduced the protected area in that portion of the Gulf by about 25%. While the rule offered habitat protection in the eastern Gulf of Maine for the first time, the conservation group said the agency and the New England Regional Council should have closed more of the Gulf to fishing. >click to read<17:28

Jonah Crab Moves Mainstream In Gulf Of Maine After Decades As Lobster Bycatch

Regulators are taking comments on plans to expand a lucrative new crab fishery that’s stirring interest in the Gulf of Maine. Jonah crabs are a native species that, until recently, was mainly caught as bycatch – by accident – in lobster pots.,,, New Hampshire Fish and Game biologist Josh Carloni says in Northern New England and the Gulf of Maine, lobster is still king – but that could change. >click to read<11:42

Record Lobster Production Defies Alarmist Climate Scare

Marine fisheries data show New England lobstermen are benefiting from a new golden age of lobster, thanks in large part to a warming Earth. Yet Democrats in Congress and even lobster lobbyists asserted in House climate hearings earlier in February that global warming is causing a lobster apocalypse. Thankfully, facts and scientific evidence can help us put this latest global warming scare to rest. On February 7, Democrats in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife held hearings with the purpose of raising concern about global warming. >click to read<14:33

Subcommittee Hearing: Healthy Oceans and Healthy Economies: The State of Our Oceans In the 21st Century – Video, >click to watch<

ASMFC block Northern shrimp harvesting for 3 more years

Citing continuing concerns that further fishing could drive the species to extinction, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted Friday to cancel not only the 2019 Maine shrimp season, but the 2020 and 2021 seasons as well. Commissioners from New Hampshire and Massachusetts supported the closure, while Patrick Keliher, commissioner of the Maine Department of Marine Resources, voted no, according to Tina Berger of the commission. DMR spokesman Jeff Nichols said in an email that Keliher would have supported a one-year moratorium. >click to read<17:59

Ocean Shock: Lobster’s great migration sets up boom and bust

A lobster tattoo covers Drew Eaton’s left forearm, its pincers snapping at dock lines connecting it to the American flag on his upper arm. The tattoo is about three-quarters done, but the 27-year-old is too busy with his new boat to finish it.,,, Eaton belongs to a new generation of Maine lobstermen who are riding high, for now, on a sweet spot of climate change. Two generations ago, the entire New England coast had a thriving lobster industry. Today, lobster catches have collapsed in southern New England, and the only state with a significant harvest is north in Maine, where the seafood practically synonymous with the state has exploded. >click  to read<11:54

Drastic cut to herring quota puts Maine lobstermen over the bait barrel

The New England Fishery Management Council voted last month to set the 2019 herring quota at 3.2 million pounds – about 78 million pounds less than what the East Coast herring fleet is permitted to catch this year – to help the population recover from a record-low number of juvenile herring. To put the cut in context, that is about 2,000 tractor-trailer trucks of the industry’s favorite bait that won’t be showing up in New England lobster ports next year. >click to read<06:58

Fishermen weathering effects of climate change

The lobster off western Cape Breton didn’t get the memo about thriving in colder water. “They should have told the lobsters that this year,” said John Phillip Rankin, a fisherman from Mabou Coal Mines. “By the first of July, it was warm and they started snapping but we were after putting our traps on the wharf. They start jumping when it gets warmer. They do all right in cold water. It was a decent season but it was cold-water trapping, you could tell. Last year, it was warm right through, a better season. The landings were quite a bit higher.” >click to read<14:35

NOAA findings on right whale endangerment could affect lobster fishery

A new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center finds that the decline of the North Atlantic right whale population over the past eight years is due to multiple factors that include entanglement with fishing gear. The whales’ range expansion has exposed them to vessel traffic and fisheries in Canadian waters, which did not have protections for right whales in place until late last summer, the report says. Lobster populations are also changing distribution in the Gulf of Maine, causing U.S. fisheries to move farther offshore in pursuit of lobsters, thus increasing overlap between fishing activity and right whale foraging areas and migration corridors. >click to read<14:30

Discovery of immature lobsters in deep Down East waters may be good news for industry

The discovery of baby lobsters in the deep waters off eastern Maine could be good news for the future of the U.S.’s most valuable fishery. Since 1989, scientists led by University of Maine professor Richard Wahle have looked for baby lobsters at 100 shallow-water test sites from Rhode Island to New Brunswick to monitor the health of this fishery. The number of babies found in the samples started to decline about a decade ago, leading scientists to worry that a population bust may be looming. “We couldn’t find the settlers,” Wahle said Monday. “Increasingly, we found they weren’t showing up where we had always found them.” >click to read<07:42

Decades of chemical pollution suspected in Maine’s seal die-off

As the number of dead and stranded seals washing up on southern Maine beaches rises by the day, researchers are linking the sudden die-off to decades of chemical pollution that made the seal population vulnerable to toxins and disease.,,, In the past week, volunteers responded to 100 dead seals on Maine beaches south of Portland and in Casco Bay, said Lynda Doughty, the group’s executive director. The phone has been ringing off the hook, and on Friday afternoon volunteers were clearing a backlog of animal reports. Rescuers reported 179 dead seals in Maine since the beginning of July and another 51 dead in New Hampshire, according to the agency>click to read<13:44

New England shrimp population still looks bad amid shutdown

A new analysis of New England’s shrimp population doesn’t bode well for the future of the long-shuttered fishery for the crustaceans. The Maine-based shrimp fishery has been shut down since 2013 because of concerns such as warming ocean temperatures and poor survival of young. Scientists working with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission are assessing the shrimp stock, and so far it looks like little has changed. Results of the stock assessment “look fairly similar to what we’ve seen in previous years,” said Megan Ware, a fishery management plan coordinator with the Atlantic States. >click to read<08:54

New England: Centuries-old cod fishery had worst year in history in 2017

One of the most historic fisheries in the country hit an all-time low last year as cod fishermen continued to struggle with choking quotas and low abundance of the fish. Maine’s cod fishery has existed since at least the early 17th century, and it was once one of the strongest in the country. The fishery peaked at more than 21 million pounds of cod, a fish often used with the fish and chips dish, in 1991.,,, One reason for the collapse is that federal quotas for cod are so low many fishermen are just avoiding them altogether, said Terry Alexander, a veteran fisherman out of Portland and Boston. Cod fishermen typically also seek other species, such as haddock and flounder, and they must stop fishing altogether once they reach quota for cod, per the rules. >click to read<11:15

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

The cost of herring – Fishermen feeling bait price squeeze

“We made no money this spring,” said Bass Harbor fisherman Justin Sprague. The cost of operations for lobstering continues to increase while the boat price of lobster has hardly budged. The cost of herring, the preferred bait for most Maine lobsterman, has gone up especially sharply. “We don’t have any margin at this point,” Sprague said. “It’s frustrating, to say the least.” Bruce Colbeth manages the C.H. Rich lobster wharf in Bass Harbor. “By the time these guys pay for fuel, bait and stern men, there ain’t too much left for them,” he said. “I remember six years ago you could sell (herring) bait for $26 a bushel. Now it’s doubled.” >click to read<11:41