Tag Archives: Gulf of Maine

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

Maine fishermen, scientists combine forces with goal to save shrimp fishery

For more than 20 years, Dana Hammond made close to half his annual income shrimping. But his shrimping profits began to dwindle in 2013. That season, regulators were alarmed by the lack of shrimp biomass in the Gulf of Maine, and the amount he was allowed to catch was cut 72 percent. The fishery was closed entirely in 2014. It hasn’t reopened since and Hammond, who fishes out of Portland on his boat the Nicole Leigh, has been trying to make up the deficit from his other main source of income, groundfishing. But Hammond isn’t ready to let shrimping go. click here to read the story 09:22

Invasive seaweed threatens Gulf of Maine

A team of University of New Hampshire researchers working on Appledore Island at the Isles of Shoals and at off-shore sites in southern York County and Seacoast New Hampshire recently published a study that reaches some unsettling conclusions. Essentially, the ocean floor in the Seacoast is seeing a marked decline in the often tall, leafy native kelp populations and an inundation of short, shrub-like invasive seaweed. Key among those invasives is the short, red fiber-like seaweed Dasysiphnia japonica, a transplant from Japan that is taking over the ocean floor in this region – covering as much as 90 percent of some areas. We were very surprised by what we saw,” said Jennifer Dijkstra, research assistant professor in the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping at UNH and the lead author of the study. click here to read the story 09:20

NEFMC Postpones Coral Action for Continental Slope/Canyons, adopts GoM Coral Protection Zones

The New England Fishery Management Council today adopted coral pretection zones for the Gulf of Maine as part of its Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment. However, it postponed action for the Continental Slope south of Georges Bank in order to further develop an additional alternative. The councils Plan Development Team (PDT) will work with the Habitat Advisory Panel to further refine this new alternative. The councils Habitat Committee will then review the results and develop a recommendation to the full council to consider. The timing of the action is uncertain.  Click here to read the press release 17:43

Hearing on new shrimp rules draws tiny crowd in Ellsworth

Fishermen barely outnumbered representatives of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission last Thursday at a public hearing in City Hall on proposed rule changes that would reshape shrimp fishing in the Gulf of Maine. Three fishermen — John Williams and Ricky Trundy, both of Stonington, and James West of Sorrento — offered comments on a proposed amendment to the ASMFC fisheries management plan for northern shrimp. Department of Marine Resources External Affairs Director Terry Stockwell and Resource Management Coordinator Trisha Cheney dutifully recorded those comments on behalf of the ASMFC. Although a somewhat larger crowd was on hand for a hearing the previous evening in Augusta, the sparse audience reflected the state of the fishery from Downeast waters.  click here to read the story 12:34

A mystery is born: Where are all the baby lobsters?

Biologists and lobstermen are growing increasingly worried that the state’s most valuable fishery, which in recent years has boasted record volume and value and accounts for more than 80 percent of Maine’s fishing profit, is about to go bust, a doomsday economic scenario some call the curse of the “gilded trap.” At the center of their concern: The number of baby lobsters found in the Gulf of Maine continues to fall. “We call it the great disconnect,” said Joshua Carloni, New Hampshire’s state lobster biologist. “And as you can imagine, it has us concerned.”,,,  The Seabrook tows found a decline in copepods – tiny planktonic crustaceans that are most likely a staple of the lobster larval diet click here to read the story 08:14

Fish in the Northwest Atlantic Are Going Hungry – New Science From Maine’s Department of Marine Resources Helps To Explain Why. click here to read the article

Scientists expect some decline in Gulf of Maine lobster numbers, but ‘no calamity’

Concern about the effects of climate change have reached Maine’s lobster industry, where there are questions whether the state’s record lobster catches can be sustained. There has been wide agreement among fishermen and scientists in recent years that the waters of the Gulf of Maine have been getting steadily warmer as a result of the changing climate. In fact, researchers say the Gulf water have warmed more quickly than most other parts of the ocean. University of Maine researcher Dr. Rick Wahle said warmer water in the Gulf has been one factor in the big jump in lobster landings. He said a reduction in the number of lobster predators and conservation efforts by fishermen are also factors. click here to read the story 14:53

Northeast Fisheries Science Center study says Gulf of Maine will become too warm for many key fish

A new study by federal fisheries scientists predicts the warming of the Gulf of Maine will cause a dramatic contraction of suitably cool habitat for a range of key commercial fish species there. On the other hand, lobsters are more likely to find hospitable areas. The study by seven scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, used a high-resolution global climate model and federal fisheries survey data to model how key fisheries species would likely be affected by predicted warming over the next 80 years. “This is not telling you that in the future this is what the species’ abundance and distribution will be, only how much suitable thermal habitat each has,” says lead author Kristin Kleisner, who recently joined the staff of the Environmental Defense Fund and is based in Boston. “A lot will depend on how these species shift and the interactions they have with other species.” click here to read the story 09:58

Read Marine Species Distribution Shifts Will Continue Under Ocean Warming @NOAA/NEFSC – Funding for this joint project between NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center and The Nature Conservancy study was provided by a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

New rules aim to boost herring supply prized as lobster bait

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission adopted many of the same measures that Maine implemented last year to try to “stretch out” the limited quota of inshore Atlantic herring into late summer, when lobster boat captains in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are clamoring for what many fishermen say is the best, and formerly cheapest, kind of lobster bait. The commission voted to allow regulators to set weekly herring quotas, to limit fishing to certain days of the week, and to give the three states that regulate the inshore herring fishery in the southern Gulf of Maine the ability to limit or ban the use of so-called “carrier vessels” that transfer herring landed by a licensed boat so it can keep fishing instead of heading back to port to unload its haul. click here to read the story 08:35

Series of coral protection hearings planned for New England

Federal fishery managers will hold a host of public hearings in New England and New York about a plan to protect corals in key East Coast fishing areas. The New England Fishery Management Council is hosting seven public hearings about alternatives it is considering about the protection of corals in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank. The hearings will take place from May 22 to 25 in Montauk, Narragansett, New Bedford, Gloucester, Portsmouth, and Ellsworth. There will also be a web-based hearing on May 26. The fishery council says it wants to collect feedback from fishermen and other stakeholders about the coral protection Link 21:28

Maine fishermen could feel impact of proposed undersea cable

A Canadian company is proposing a 350-mile, sub-sea power transmission cable that could interfere with commercial fishing along the coast of Maine. If the project is approved, the Atlantic Link cable would be buried about 25 miles offshore of Harpswell, running between New Brunswick, Canada, and Plymouth, Massachusetts. It would affect about 400 lobstermen from Cape Elizabeth to Phippsburg, according to spokesman Gerald Weseen of the Nova Scotia-based energy services company Emera. Weseen and other project representatives, and staff from the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, conducted a meeting about the project April 21 that drew only two area lobstermen. click here to read the story 13:12

Meanwhile in the Straight of New Brunswick, Scallop fishermen worried about short- and long-term impact of electric cable installation. “Are we going to have a fishery there in the future, or are we going to have wait seven years to get it back up again?” Barlow asked. click here to read the story 14:20

No shrimp today: Maine’s waters are warming and it’s costing fishermen money

David Goethel wishes he could retire. At 63, he’s been fishing off the Gulf of Maine for over 34 years. Shrimp used to be plentiful there. Back in 2000, Goethel remembers seeing 100 commercial boats out in the harbor. Now, he’s just one of a handful of local fisherman struggling to make a living. “There was life on the docks, there were people working,” lifelong fisherman Arnold Gamage, 64, agrees. “Now, it looks like a ghost town.” Maine’s fishing industry has been declining for years due to factors like overfishing and increased regulation, but there’s another culprit eating away at profits: Maine’s ocean waters are warming — and it’s killing northern shrimp. Why is the Gulf of Maine warming? Scientists aren’t certain, but Appelman and other experts suspect climate change is playing a role.,, Shrimping used to account for around 30% of Goethel’s income. While he recognizes that the ban is necessary, he still misses that extra cash. Lifelong fisherman Gary Libby is also feeling the squeeze. He’s been trying to sell his shrimp boat but no one is buying. He’s lost between 30% to 40% of his annual income since the ban was instituted. click here to read the story 08:52

Could the Gulf of Maine’s Ground Fishery Rebound?

“The English had discovered living resources that would attract, shape, and sustain the communities of the coast of Maine for the next four centuries,” wrote journalist and historian Colin Woodard of the bounty that once existed in the Gulf of Maine in the 17th century in his book “The Lobster Coast.” “Early explorers were flabbergasted by the largesse of the Gulf of Maine, a semienclosed sea stretching  from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia. They saw great pods of whales, acres of thrashing tuna, vast schools of salmon, herring and mackerel, clouds of puffins and terns, shoals of mussels and oysters, vast mudlfats infested with fat clams, cod and haddock biting at the hook, and enormous lobsters foraging in the rockweed. The waters off England and France seemed barren by comparison.” As Woodard noted, the geology and climate of the Gulf of the Maine with its 7,500-mile coastline made the area perfectly suited for a thriving fishery — a “fertile oasis in a world ocean that is, ecologically speaking, largely desert.” click here to read the story 09:27

Lobster fishing in Gulf of Maine coral canyons gets initial approval

The New England Fisheries Management Council voted 14-1 to ban most fishing in the canyons and plateaus where slow-growing, cold-water coral gardens flourish in the dark waters of the Gulf of Maine. But pleas from Maine lobster fishermen who say a trap ban in fertile fishing grounds off Mount Desert Rock and Outer Schoodic Ridge would cost them millions helped sway an initially resistant council to grant a lobstering exemption. Fishermen also said closing these areas would have led to more traps, and fishing lines, being dropped in nearby waters traveled by endangered right whales, which can suffer injuries or die if they become entangled in lobster fishing lines. Opponents, including environmentalists and some who fish for other species that would not get an exemption in the coral zones,,,  click here to read the story. 14:50

From the Council – NEFMC Selects Deep-Sea Coral Amendment Preferred Alternatives, Click here to read 15:43

Wake Up, Fishermen! Proposed closure of coral grounds in Gulf of Maine has lobster industry on edge

Over the past 10 years, the issue of how to protect endangered whales from getting tangled in fishing gear has been a driving factor in how lobstermen configure their gear and how much money they have to spend to comply with regulations. Now federal officials have cited the need to protect deep-sea corals in a proposal to close some areas to fishing — a proposal that, according to lobstermen, could pose a serious threat to how they ply their trade. “The [potential] financial impact is huge,” Jim Dow, a Bass Harbor lobsterman and board member with Maine Lobstermen’s Association, said Wednesday. “You’re talking a lot of the coast that is going to be affected by it.” The discovery in 2014 of deep-sea corals in the gulf, near Mount Desert Rock and along the Outer Schoodic Ridges, has prompted the New England Fisheries Management Council to consider making those area off-limits to fishing vessels in order to protect the coral from damage. According to Maine Department of Marine Resources, fishermen from at least 15 harbors in Hancock and Washington counties could be affected by the proposed closure. click here to read the story  Wake Up, Fishermen! 11:15:30

A milestone in the war over the true state of cod

For years, fishermen from Gloucester to New Bedford have accused the federal government of relying on faulty science to assess the health of the region’s cod population, a fundamental flaw that has greatly exaggerated its demise, they say, and led officials to wrongly ban nearly all fishing of the iconic species.The fishermen’s concerns resonated with Governor Charlie Baker, so last year he commissioned his own survey of the waters off New England, where cod were once so abundant that fishermen would say they could walk across the Atlantic on their backs. Now, in a milestone in the war over the true state of cod in the Gulf of Maine, Massachusetts scientists have reached the same dismal conclusion that their federal counterparts did: The region’s cod are at a historic low — about 80 percent less than the population from just a decade ago. continue reading the story here 08:07

Plan to reopen Maine shrimp fishery in the works

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is seeking comment on its plan to reopen the northern shrimp fishery, which has been closed for three years. The Arlington, Va.-based regulatory agency’s plan includes options such as changing the way the quota system is managed. The agency noted that earlier proposals had considered establishing a limited entry program. The current proposal eliminates that option and focuses instead on “total allowable catch allocation programs, gear requirements, and other measures to improve management of the northern shrimp fishery and resource.” continue reading the story click here 21:14

Federal regulators put an end to turbulent season in northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishery

Federal authorities are closing the scallop fishery in the northern Gulf of Maine at 12:01 a.m. Thursday after a contentious three-week season that pitted the interests of part-time, small-boat fishermen from Maine against large, full-time scallop operators. Fisheries regulators announced the closure Wednesday after small-boat fishermen – many of them Maine lobstermen operating 40- to 45-foot boats – met their annual quota of 70,000 pounds. The developments do not apply to the scallop fishery in state waters, which extend to 3 miles from shore. This year’s federal harvest has been contentious because the large, full-time boats are believed to have caught more than 1 million pounds of scallops in the northern Gulf of Maine scallop fishing area, but owing to a quirk in federal rules the fishery could not be closed until the small vessels caught 70,000 pounds. This month’s storms and unseasonable weather had kept the small boats in port, delaying their ability to meet their annual quota and close the area to the larger vessels, who were permitted to continue harvesting large quantities of scallops under federal rules. continue reading the story here 07:57

Small-boat scallop fishermen worry about being overwhelmed by larger boats in the Gulf of Maine

Since the start of the scallop season this month, Jim Wotton has dragged heavy dredges along the seabed off Gloucester, hauling in as much as 200 pounds a day of the valuable clams, the area’s federal limit for small-boat fishermen. Now, to his dismay, dozens of larger, industrial-sized boats have been steaming into the same gray waters, scooping up as many scallops as they can. Unlike their smaller counterparts, the large vessels have no quota on the amount they can catch; they’re only limited by the number of days they can fish.,, NOAA officials acknowledge the fishermen’s concerns, but have declined to take emergency action to close the fishery.,, Representatives of the larger boats say they have every right to fish in the area, and insist their catch won’t threaten the fishery.,, “The situation this year can’t continue and support a strong fishery year in and year out in the Gulf of Maine,” said Pete Christopher, a supervisory fishery policy analyst at NOAA Fisheries. “The council needs to change the way the fishery operates.” read the story here 18:52

Drop in herring a mystery in Maine as bait price booms

Scientists and fishermen are trying to figure out why Maine’s Atlantic herring catch — the largest in the nation — has fallen from 103.5 million pounds in 2014 to 77.2 million last year. The per-pound price of the fish at the dock has gone up 56 percent since 2014, and that price is eventually borne by people who buy lobsters. “The whole dynamic of the fishery has changed,” said Jeff Kaelin, who works in government relations for Lund’s Fisheries, which lands herring in Maine. Kaelin, and others who work in and study the fishery, thinks climate and the way the government manages herring may have played a role in the decline of catch. Atlantic herring are managed via a quota system, and regulators have slashed the quota by more than 40 percent since the early 2000s. Last year, herring were also difficult to catch far offshore, where they are typically caught in large amounts, but they were abundant closer to the New England coast. This led to a bait shortage, because fishermen are only allowed to catch a certain percentage of their quotas in inshore waters. Read the story here 10:15