Tag Archives: new-england-fishery-management-council

NE Fishery Management Council welcomes aboard Jackie Odell

The new face on the New England Fishery Management Council is no stranger to a group that advises on policy related to the region’s vital fisheries. That face belongs to Jacqueline “Jackie” Odell, who has been a longtime advocate and thought leader for the fishing industry as the two-decade executive director of the Northeast Seafood Coalition at 1 Blackburn Center. Odell was welcomed aboard the Newburyport-based council as it opened its latest meeting in Plymouth on Monday. She was administered the oath of office by NOAA Fisheries Regional Administrator Mike Pentony along with three members who were reappointed: John Pappalardo of Massachusetts, Daniel Salerno of New Hampshire, and Alan Tracy of Maine. Odell was appointed to her first three-year term to an at-large seat with the term running through Aug. 10, 2026. >>click to read<< 07:57

Herring disaster funds should be used to phase out harmful trawling

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is releasing $11 million in disaster relief funds to Atlantic herring harvesters, of which $7 million will go to Maine. These funds should be used to phase out herring trawling by buying back fishing permits in an effort to increase herring stocks and to protect other marine life.  U.S.  Atlantic herring landings in the 2000s averaged 206 million pounds annually but have since decreased to below 22 million pounds in 2020 and 2021. The New England Fishery Management Council led a process to craft a 10-year rebuilding plan. This dramatic downturn in herring is likely because variables with climate change are reducing ocean productivity resulting in seven consecutive years of low numbers of young fish surviving to maturity.  >click to read< 12:58

Haddock quotas for fishermen have been drastically cut. What does that mean for haddock eaters?

There is a haddock problem swimming around Gulf of Maine waters. But don’t blame the problem on fishermen catching too many haddock, say Maine commercial fishing advocates like Ben Martens, executive director of the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association. In fact, they have been fishing in accordance with mandated quotas for decades, he said, regulatory measures that have returned the haddock stocks in the Gulf of Maine to sustainable levels. The problem, rather, is grounded in inaccurate accounting of the boom-and-bust cycles of haddock biomass, that is, how many fish are swimming in the Gulf of Maine at any given time. In April, the New England Fishery Management Council, a regional body that uses industry and scientific data to recommend quotas that restrict how many metric tons of regulated species Maine fishermen can haul in each year, announced a cut in haddock quotas. It represents an 80 percent reduction in allowable catch; the new season began on May 1. >click to read< 08:50

NEFMC asking NOAA to increase catch limit for haddock in Gulf of Maine to protect fishermen

In a statement issued April 20, the New England Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing issues for the region, said the catch limit for the season that began May 1 is 1,936 metric tons, an 84 percent drop from last year. But now the council wants to give fishermen a reprieve, citing a rebound in haddock stock and after hearing concerns at the panel’s meeting last month in Mystic, Conn. “Fishermen have been encountering Gulf of Maine haddock at very high catch rates,” the council said, adding that several fishermen voiced concern “that an early shutdown of the fishery was highly likely and would have wide-ranging impacts.” “Even without targeting haddock, fishermen need haddock quota to account for bycatch while harvesting other species,” the council said. >click to read< 09:43

Mega Cut: Haddock, a staple Atlantic fish, is in decline off New England, regulators say

A recent scientific assessment found that the Gulf of Maine haddock stock declined unexpectedly, and that meant the catch quotas for the fish were unsustainably high, federal fishing managers said.  “We seem to find plenty, but they can’t,” said Terry Alexander, a Maine-based fisher who targets haddock and other species. “It’s a disaster is what it is. A total, complete disaster.” The fishery management council mandated the 84% reduction in catch quotas for the current fishing year, which started May 1. The change applies to fishers who harvest haddock from the Gulf of Maine, a body of water off Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Fishers also harvest from Georges Bank, a fishing ground to the east where quotas were also reduced for this year, including adjoining areas overseen by Canadian officials who issued their own major cuts. >click to read< 08:02

Fishermen: Haddock limits to lead to shutdown

In two tows during a fishing trip in March, Gloucester fisherman Joe Orlando caught what could have been almost his entire allocation for Gulf of Maine haddock under catch limits proposed for fishing year 2023, which begins May 1. Orlando harvested 7,000 pounds in those two tows, about a half day’s worth of fishing, Jackie Odell, executive director of the Northeast Seafood Coalition pointed out to members of the New England Fishery Management Council, NOAA Fisheries and others in an email. His allocation for the upcoming fishing year is expected to be 8,000 pounds. >click to read< 07:57

NEFMC Requests Emergency Action for Gulf of Maine Haddock to Prevent Significant Fishery Impacts

The New England Fishery Management Council is asking NOAA Fisheries to take emergency action under the Secretary of Commerce’s authority to address a critical Gulf of Maine haddock situation that is expected to result in significant fishery impacts during the 2023 groundfish fishing year. The crux of the problem is this. Fishermen have been encountering Gulf of Maine haddock at very high catch rates. The proposed 2023 annual catch limit (ACL), however, is extremely low. The Council recently learned of one industry member who, in a single trip, harvested an amount of Gulf of Maine haddock equivalent to what will become his entire allocation for 2023. Several fishermen expressed concern that an early shutdown of the fishery was highly likely and would have wide-ranging impacts. >click to read< 15:43

LEEMAN: Federal Regulators And Climate Alarmists Are Killing America’s Oldest, Most Iconic Industry

American fishermen are the most regulated in the world, and it’s driving experienced captains off the water and young people away from their homes in search of opportunities elsewhere.  At 41, I’m one of the younger fishing boat captains in New England. I’m grateful Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, met with me last week to discuss helping fishermen get a seat at the table with regulators. We who work the water, the same waters our families worked for generations, now find ourselves at the mercy of the “Faucis of fishing” — self-assured bureaucrats who sit behind desks with no sense of the harm they’re causing. >click to read< 07:53

EXCLUSIVE: Federal Regulator Acknowledges Danger to Wildlife Caused by Offshore Wind Farms

Captain Jerry Leeman, who heads the fishing vessel F/V Teresa Marie IV, sent a copy of the Norwegian haddock study to Nies in a January 9 letter. “Thank you for your January 9 letter …  A federal fisheries council acknowledged that some power cables for offshore wind turbines could harm certain fish, according to a letter seen by the DCNF. Multiple recent studies have demonstrated that a variety of commercially popular fish can be negatively impacted by their exposure to magnetic fields emitted by high voltage direct current cables, which can confuse their ability to navigate and, in some cases, leave them exposed to predators. “We were previously aware of this study and agree that it has concerning implications for the possible effects of high voltage direct current cabling on larval behavior and resulting predation rates,” Thomas Nies, executive director of the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), said in a January 18 letter.  >click to read< 20:01

‘This is the war’: New Bedford at center of conflict between fishing, wind industries

New Bedford is the top commercial fishing port in the country, but it’s also emerging as an epicenter of conflict between the fishing industry and the growing wind industry. “This is the war, and we’re going to lose,” said Cassie Canastra, director of operations at Base Seafood, an electronic seafood auctioning company that her father and uncle founded in 1994. Canastra called it “defeating” to watch various wind farm projects expand into vital fishing grounds. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell said he wants the city to be both the top fishing port and the No. 1 hub for wind energy nationwide, though he recognizes tensions between the two industries need to be addressed. Video, >click to read< 07:45

Council Presents 2022 Award for Excellence to Maggie Raymond

The New England Fishery Management Council honored Maggie Raymond, former Executive Director of Associated Fisheries of Maine and a 25-year participant in the Council process, by presenting her with the 2022 Janice M. Plante Award for Excellence. Council Chair Eric Reid called the recognition “long overdue.” “Maggie represents the epitome of someone dedicated to both the commercial fishing industry and sustainable fisheries management,” said Chair Reid. ““Today we’re highlighting Maggie’s contributions to our own Council process,” said Chair Reid, “but her work for fishermen and the fishing industry was not limited to the Council. She was a key member of the New England fishing community for over 27 years and continues to make contributions even in her supposed ‘retirement.’” >click to read< 13:50

NEFMC Council Executive Director Tom Nies Announces Retirement

The New England Fishery Management Council opened its January 24-26, 2023 meeting in Portsmouth, NH with the news that Executive Director Thomas A. Nies, a 25-year veteran of the Council staff, will be retiring this summer. The Council will immediately initiate a nationwide search for his replacement. Tom joined the Council staff in 1997. He first worked on the Atlantic Herring Fishery Management Plan and then spent 13 years as the Council’s lead analyst for groundfish. In that role, he led the Groundfish Plan Development Team (PDT), as he did the Herring PDT beforehand. Tom also helped develop a standardized bycatch reporting methodology for Northeast fisheries. He became Executive Director in 2013. >click to read< 14:29

Fishing plan can rebuild long lost cod stock by 2033

Most of the cod now sold in the U.S. comes from overseas because many American fishermen avoid the fish-and-chips staple altogether. But the regulatory New England Fishery Management Council has approved a new strategy that it said has a 70% chance of rebuilding the stock by 2033. The proposal, which is awaiting final approval from NOAA, would use 10 years of low catch limits to try to rebuild the cod population in the Gulf of Maine. But some fishermen are unconvinced cod are ever coming back. Fishermen have grown used to choking quotas on cod catch and have moved on to other species, said Terry Alexander, a longtime fisherman from Harpswell, Maine, who targets haddock and monkfish these days. “I would like to have my codfish back, for sure. We could make some money on them. But that’s never going to happen,” >click to read< 16:02

Follow the Science? US Ignored Own Scientists’ Warning in Backing Atlantic Wind Farm

US government scientists warned federal regulators the South Fork offshore wind farm near the Rhode Island coast threatened the Southern New England Cod, a species so venerated in the region a wooden carving of it hangs in the Massachusetts state house. The warnings were delivered in unpublished correspondence weeks before Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management authorized the 12-turbine South Fork plan in November 2021. And they serve to underscore the potential ecological consequences and environmental tradeoff of a coming offshore wind boom along the US East Coast. President Joe Biden wants the US to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by the end of the decade. >click to read< 10:15

Regulators see hard years ahead for the scallop fishery, New Bedford’s cash cow

Scientists report that young scallops off the eastern seaboard have been struggling to grow to maturity for nearly a decade now, constraining one of the nation’s most lucrative fisheries to its lowest biomass in more than 20 years. In a presentation before the New England Fishery Management Council on Wednesday, the council’s scallop analyst Jonathon Peros projected that the latest regulations adopted by the council will cap next year’s scallop harvest at 25 million pounds, a steep drop from a record harvest of 61 million pounds recorded just four years earlier. >click to read< 09:45

The next generation: Tyler Miranda fights for New Bedford fishermen

Tyler Miranda went on his first fishing trip on his father’s lobster boat when he was six years old. Little did that child know that over 30 years later he would launch to prominence among New Bedford scallopers when he led the charge against a proposed limited access permit leasing program earlier this year. “I don’t want to be a Wal-Mart fisherman,” he said before representatives of the New England Fishery Management Council in May. “I think the fisherman’s voice should be heard.” Video, photos, >click to read< 07:43

New Research Supports Opening of Currently Closed Scallop Areas

Data presented to the New England Fishery Management Council last month provide the latest evidence that long-closed areas of the Northwest Atlantic can be sustainably opened to the scallop fishery. The Fisheries Survival Fund, which represents the vast majority of full-time Atlantic Sea scallop fishermen, has long believed that these areas can be safely opened, and supports efforts to do so in light of this new evidence. The Northern Edge of Georges Bank (more formally known as Closed Area II Habitat Area of Particular Concern), has been closed to all commercial fishing activity since 1994. >click to read< 10:00

Ocean Industrialization: Fishing regulators fear wind turbines could threaten spawning area for Atlantic cod

It is the largest offshore HAPC designation in the region. Yet a main concern is cod spawning grounds in a smaller region within the designation, just east of Block Island. That area, known as Cox Ledge, overlaps with some 250 square miles currently leased to developers Ørsted and Eversource for their joint wind energy project: South Fork Wind. It is one of only two offshore wind projects that have completed the federal permitting process. “We are really going about the wind farm development very quickly,” said Kevin Stokesbury, a fisheries science professor at UMass Dartmouth, who studies cod in the Gulf of Maine. “It’s going to be quite a dramatic change to the ecosystem out there.” “We’ve all made sacrifices so cod can recover,” said Capt. Tim Rider, who fishes for groundfish and scallops. “Now they’re going to put a wind farm there,” he said of the cod spawning grounds. “How about they put it somewhere that might not be as intrusive.” >click to read< 11:05

Fishermen reeling as further whale protection measures fast tracked

Maine lobstermen worry that their fate is sealed. Dozens gathered Tuesday evening in the Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School cafeteria for a livestream of a NOAA Fisheries scoping session on modifications to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. Hundreds more participated online. Spurred by a recent court ruling, federal regulators are fast tracking plans to achieve a 90 percent reduction in entanglement risk. “These are measures that are going to really hurt and there were measures that were put forth that look really bad that didn’t come close to 90 percent, so I want people to realize that this is real, that this is coming and it’s not going to be pretty,” said Kristan Porter, president of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association and an Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team member. >click to read< 10:15

Fishing regulators shoot down scallop leasing plan

In a ballroom overlooking Gloucester Harbor, the council regulating New England’s fisheries rejected a controversial proposal on Tuesday to develop a leasing program in the region’s lucrative scallop fishery after failing to agree on the presented motions. The New England Fishery Management Council deliberated on three motions for more than two hours, with all three failing. The latest leasing push comes 12 years after a proposal to allow it was defeated in a close 9-to-7 council vote, with one member abstaining. New Bedford fishermen and permit owners were at the hotel hours before the council took up the leasing issue. The opposition has been largely centralized in the city, driven by the crew and some vessel owners who fear leasing is the first step toward further consolidation. Photos, >click to read< 07:40

NEFMC to decide next moves on scallop license allocation leasing in Gloucester Tuesday

Scallop allocation leasing, the practice of boat owners selling days and tonnage from a fishing license to other vessel owners to harvest in restricted zones, has been at the center of debate in the Port of New Bedford since the NEFMC held two scoping meetings at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on May 11 and May 25 respectively. NEFMC invited stakeholders to attend nine meetings in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia, and two webinars. According to the Council, the vast majority, 78%, of the 286 commenters (several repeated, inflating the total number to 305) spoke against the proposed allocation leasing project during the scoping process.  >click to read< 14:45

Regulators to vote on controversial scallop leasing plan Tuesday – After months of heated debate between scallop fleet owners, captains and crew, fisheries regulators are set to decide on a proposal to allow leasing in New England’s lucrative scallop fishery. More than 75% of the nearly 300 people who commented during the public process said they opposed leasing — most of them captains and crew out of New Bedford, >click to read<

Senators Demand Federal Scrutiny of Private Equity’s Incursion Into Fishing

Three U.S. senators, including two members of a Senate subcommittee that oversees the fishing industry, are calling for greater federal scrutiny of private equity’s incursion into East Coast commercial fishing. The ProPublica/New Bedford Light investigation found that a federal regulatory system known as “catch shares,” which was adopted in 2010 to reduce overfishing, has fostered private equity’s consolidation of the industry at the expense of independent fishermen. The single largest permit holder in the New England groundfish industry is Blue Harvest Fisheries, which has rights to catch 12% of groundfish, approaching the antitrust cap of 15.5%. The current antitrust cap “fails to prevent excessive consolidation in the fishery,” said Geoff Smith, one of 18 members of the New England Fishery Management Council, which advises NOAA. >click to read< 10:23

America’s scallop harvest projected to decline again in 2022

The decline in scallops is happening as prices for the shellfish, one of the most lucrative seafoods in America, has increased amid inflation and fluctuations in catch. Seafood counters that sold scallops for $20 per pound to customers two years ago often sell them for $25 per pound or more now. U.S. scallop fishers harvested more than 60 million pounds of scallops in 2019, but the catch has declined since, and fishers were projected to harvest about 40 million pounds of scallops in the 2021 fishing year. That number is projected to fall to 34 million pounds in the 2022 fishing year, which started this spring, according to the New England Fishery Management Council. >click to read< 13:48

Port of New Bedford Applauds Appointment of Eric Hansen to New England Fishery Management Council

The Port of New Bedford applauds today’s appointment of Eric Hansen, a New Bedford scalloper and president of the Fisheries Survival Fund, to a seat on the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC). Hansen’s appointment will help ensure the concerns of New Bedford’s vital fishing community are represented at the Council level. New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, chairman of the New Bedford Port Authority, recommended Hansen for the seat in a February letter to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. >click to read< 07:25

How many fish are in the sea? New rules intend to help with the count.

Regulators and fishermen hope new rules set to take effect this summer will provide a more accurate understanding of the population of some of New England’s most iconic fish, including Atlantic cod, which has seen a spectacular collapse in recent decades. The rules, adopted this spring by federal regulators, will require boats in groundfish sectors to have a human observer or a camera aboard on every groundfish trip to keep tabs on what they catch and discard. >click to read< 09:37

‘It’s the big guys that want it’: New Bedford scallopers leery of leasing proposal

“A typical full-time [Limited Access] scallop vessel harvests its annual scallop allocation in approximately 70 days, leaving vessels inactive and tied to the dock more than 80 percent of the year,” the organization wrote in a July 2020 letter to the NEFMC. “The only growth option is to buy another permit, which means buying another vessel. “Although one vessel could easily harvest the allocation of two LA permits, the fleet has no flexibility to do so,” it continues. “In the absence of a leasing program, smaller, independent owner/operators are not able to grow their operations in reasonable increments.” But to Manuel Vieira, owner and captain of The Guidance, arguments revolving around flexibility were merely pretty words. “They say there will be flexibility because that’s what they think the [council] wants to hear,” Vieira said in Portuguese. “But it won’t pan out well for the little guy.”Video, >click to read< 15:39

America’s biggest scallopers want changes to regulations preventing consolidation

“The bottom line is this proposal is about global control, from the switch to the fish to the dish,” said Alan Cass, a former New Bedford scalloper who began his career as a deckhand and retired as a boat owner. “The resource will be at the mercy of a consolidated effort by these corporations to control ocean-to-table and economically injure the small entities in this industry.” For nearly 30 years, scallopers like Cass and his son, who followed him into the industry, have gone to sea under a set of regulations that limit both the amount of scallops that can be harvested each year and the share of that harvest that belongs to the industry’s biggest players. Roy Enoksen, the president of Eastern Fisheries and a co-owner of the nation’s largest scallop fleet, said leasing would allow him to stack scallop allocations onto more efficient vessels and save on maintenance costs. >click to read< 13:10

Straus speaks out against proposed changes to scallop permit leases

Plans to allow scallopers to lease out their fishing permits to others have been criticized by South Coast legislators, including Mattapoisett State. Rep. Bill Straus. In a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker dated May 6, the representatives wrote that they are “urging caution regarding the practice of fishing permit leasing”, the practice where scallop boats lease out their fishing days to other vessels rather then go out to sea themselves. The letter was also signed by Reps. Antonio Cabral, Chris Hendricks, Paul Schmid, and Chris Markey. Current regulations limit one permit per vessel. The state plan, from the New England Fishery Management Council, could allow fishermen to extend those leases and time at sea. > click to read < 13:15

‘I don’t want to be a Wal-Mart fisherman’: Scallopers sound off about permit leasing/consolidation

The New England Fisheries Management Council held a scoping meeting Wednesday at the New Bedford Whaling Museum on its proposed Scallop Fishery Management Plan adjustment. Should it go through, the plan would allow scallopers to lease out portions of their days at sea license to other boats, causing concern among small fisherfolk and portside business-owners alike. “I was born a fisherman’s daughter and became a fisherman’s wife,” said Evelyn Sklar at the meeting. “And now I’m a fisherman’s mother and a fisherman’s grandmother. “I hope I can die in peace, because this doesn’t belong in the fishing family industry.” “When consolidation happened [in the groundfish fleet], the community dried up around it,” “As consolidation happened with draggers, they were forced out of business,” said Justin Mello, captain of the Temptress. “I can see the same thing happening. >click to read< 08:12

New Bedford Scallopers tell fishery managers they don’t want leasing

More than 110 attendees, a mix of fishermen, shoreside business owners, marine scientists, attorneys and vessel owners, filled a meeting room at the Whaling Museum on Wednesday for the first of two public meetings in New Bedford on the leasing proposal. Those who spoke in opposition drew loud applause, while those who spoke in support drew little or none. “There was a time in this industry when a father owned a boat and he taught his son, and his son was able to rise up … buy and operate his own boat, and you know, those days are gone,” said Tyler Miranda, a New Bedford captain of two scallopers. “I think that if [leasing] does move forward and is developed, it will take even further away from the family and community dynamic that fishing is and always was — and will make it more corporate.” >click to read< 13:50