Tag Archives: NOAA

Lobstermen fear new rules as Biden revokes Trump executive orders on regulation

New executive orders are flying off President Joe Biden’s desk. Many of those orders seek to reinstate regulations lifted by former President Donald Trump or enact new ones. Mainers who make a living on the water are particularly concerned about new regulations, and Maine’s Congressional delegation is concerned, as well. They’ve sent multiple letters to federal agencies, attempting to inform the rulemaking process on fishery management plans. >click to read< 08:16

This Year’s Dungeness Crab Fishery a Shell of its Former Self

CARES Act relief funds for New Bedford fisheries topped $5 million

In May 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced an allocation of $300 million for fisheries assistance. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Massachusetts received the third-highest amount in funding with about $28 million. Alaska and Washington received the most with $50 million each and Maine was fifth with about $20.3 million. New Bedford alone received about $3.8 million, or approximately 13.6% of the state’s allocation. The funds provided much-needed relief for an industry seeing up to a 49% drop in landings revenue,,,  >click to read< 08:12

Maine delegation requests comment period extension for BiOp with profound impact on Maine lobstermen

The BiOp is an assessment of a federal agency’s impact on an endangered species. In this case, the Biological Opinion assesses the effectiveness of regulations that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has imposed on the Maine lobster fishery to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale. Maine lobstermen have already taken significant steps to protect the right whale, despite there being no direct evidence that a single right whale serious injury or mortality has been attributable to the Gulf of Maine or Georges Bank lobster fishery since 2004. >click to read< 09:29

Lobstermen react to proposed NOAA rule

A Jan. 20 public meeting on the latest proposal to reduce the risk of whale entanglements in fishing lines focused on northern and eastern Maine lobster fishing. At this latest meeting, local lobstermen echoed similar concerns they aired when discussions started two years ago: NOAA is relying on incomplete and outdated data, and fishermen are not seeing right whales in Maine waters. NOAA scientists agree that more data would be useful. >click to read< 08:19

6 Ocean Priorities for the Biden Administration from the Environmentalist

Since President-elect Biden was voted into office last November, he and his team have been sharing what they want to accomplish in their first 100 days in office.,, In the midst of any political transition, it is easy for environmental issues to be pushed aside in the name of more “urgent” issues.  Fortunately, the new administration has given us promising signals that environmental action is high on their to-do list. Here are six things that must be prioritized in the coming weeks and months,,, >click to read< 09:48

As Commerce Secretary, Raimondo to play key role in offshore wind.

In the selection of Gina Raimondo as the next U.S. Secretary of Commerce, the offshore wind industry would get a champion in Washington. What influence she could bring to bear for the emerging energy sector remains to be seen, but if confirmed to her new position in the Biden cabinet, Raimondo would oversee federal fisheries regulators who have raised some of the concerns about potential negative impacts of erecting what could be many hundreds of wind turbines in the ocean waters off southern New England. >click to read<09:45

Stocks head for weekly loss as economy’s coronavirus pain deepens – Seafood industry hit hard

A federal report says the coronavirus pandemic has taken away about a third of the commercial fishing industry’s revenue. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says revenues from catch brought to the docks by commercial fishermen fell 29% over the course of the first seven months of the year. The report says revenues declined every month from March to July, including a 45% decrease in July. The NOAA report says the seafood industry at large has been hit hard by restaurant closures, social distancing protocols and the need for safety measures. >click to read< 09:15

New regulations delayed the 2020-21 Dungeness crab season, forcing crab fishermen to rely on staples like black cod

Like many other fishermen, Blue doesn’t just fish for one kind of seafood. He fishes for black cod and Dungeness crab with a small team—himself and two other men. He’s been in the industry since 1974, when he moved to Morro Bay at the age of 18 and got his first job as a deckhand. Three years later, he bought his first boat when, he said, it cost about $100 to be in business. Things have changed a lot since then.,, >click to read< 11:11

Dungeness crab fishing industry adapts to climate shock event

The delayed opening of the 2015-16 crab-fishing season followed the 2014-16 North Pacific marine heat wave and subsequent algal bloom. The bloom produced high levels of the biotoxin domoic acid, which can accumulate in crabs and render them hazardous for human consumption. That event, which is considered a “climate shock” because of its severity and impact, tested the resilience of California’s fishing communities,,, The study is the first to examine impacts from such delays across fisheries, providing insight into the response by the affected fishing communities,>click to read< 08:25

North Atlantic Right Whales – Proposed Pot/Trap Fisheries Regulations – Available for Public Comment

Today, we released our proposed modifications to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan to further reduce the impacts of entanglement in fishing gear on right whales in U.S. waters. The proposed modifications focus on the Northeast Jonah crab and lobster trap/pot fisheries, which deploy about 93 percent of the buoy lines fished in areas where right whales occur. In 2021, the team will be asked to recommend risk reduction measures for other Atlantic trap/pot and gillnet fisheries. We also released the associated Draft Environmental Impact Statement. >click to read< 12:02

Proposed Modifications revealed to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan

Today, we released our proposed modifications to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan to further reduce the impacts of entanglement in fishing gear on right whales in U.S. waters.,,, In 2021, the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team will be asked to recommend risk reduction measures for other Atlantic trap/pot and gillnet fisheries. We opened a public comment period on both of these documents. >click to read<  Statement from Commissioner Keliher on Today’s Proposed Whale Regulation Announcement by NOAA>click to read< 10:58

Researchers find new toxin hot spot

As high levels of domoic acid once again delay the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in Washington state and along Oregon’s North Coast, researchers say they have zeroed in on a like cause of marine toxin issues farther south. They recently identified a new highly toxic hot spot between California’s Cape Mendocino, several hundred miles north of San Francisco, and Oregon’s Cape Blanco, north of Port Orford, according to a study published this month.  >click to read< 16:04

Livelihoods Threatened: Massachusetts lobstermen concerned about proposed regulations to protect whales

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries is proposing multiple amendments to current rules regulating fixed gear fisheries in an effort to protect an the North Atlantic right whale. Two local lobstermen say the proposed regulations threaten their livelihoods. “It’s gonna take roughly 30% of my income away from me,” said Dave Magee,,, Tom Tomkiewicz, a Fairhaven lobsterman, was not sold on the regulation, the regulations could cut 30% of his catch and up to 50% of his income,,,  “All the bait guys, the marine supply guys, the shipyards, down to the restaurants we go to once or twice a week. We’re not going to be able to go because we won’t have the money. It’s going to affect a lot of people not even involved.” >click to read< 13:07

NCLA Seeks Summary Judgment in Case Challenging NOAA’s Unlawful at-Sea Monitor Mandate

The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civil rights group, has filed a motion asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island to award summary judgment in favor of NCLA’s clients in Relentless Inc., et al. v. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, et al. NCLA argues that the U.S. Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Marine Fisheries Service have no power to make fishermen pay for monitors the government puts on their boats. So, NCLA is asking the Court to declare NOAA’s regulation seeking to implement an industry-funded, at-sea-monitor mandate on the nation’s Atlantic herring fishermen unconstitutional and set it aside. >click to read<20:31

Monterey Bay Fishermen hit with new wave of Dungeness crab season delays

You couldn’t blame crab fishermen Tim and Dan Obert for feeling like they’re passing through the perfect storm. First there was the pandemic, which shut down restaurants and, in turn, much of the demand for Dungeness crab. Then a new regulation took effect on Nov. 1 that heavily restricts the Dungeness fishery’s operations when whales and sea turtles are around. Then the state delayed the opening of the Dungeness crab season until after Thanksgiving. “If you take all three of those things, you will destroy this fishery,” said Tim Obert, 35, of Scotts Valley. “There will be no crabbers left.” >click to read< 08:47

Spiny dogfish eat small Atlantic codfish! DNA may provide some answers

Conventional observations show that spiny dogfish in the western North Atlantic rarely eat Atlantic cod. However, some believe the rebuilding dogfish populations are limiting depleted cod numbers by competition or predation. To find out what is going on, NOAA Fisheries scientists looked to genetic testing to confirm cod presence in dogfish stomachs. >click to read< 13:10

NOAA Fisheries Approves Electronic Reporting Requirements for Mid-Atlantic and New England Commercial Vessels

NOAA Fisheries has approved a recommendation from the Mid-Atlantic and New England Fishery Management Councils to require federally permitted commercial fishing vessels to submit vessel trip reports electronically as eVTRs within 48 hours of the end of a trip. This requirement will take effect November 10, 2021. This action affects all commercial vessels holding federal permits for any species managed by the Mid-Atlantic or New England Fishery Management Councils, >click to read< 14:59

Zone B waits to present recommendation

Even though a deadline to present a state plan designed to minimize potential harm to right whales is fast approaching, members of the Zone B Lobster Management Council asked Department of Marine Resources officials to check numbers for the area 6-12 miles offshore before agreeing to a plan specific to that fishing zone. “The timeline is short,” said DMR Commissioner Pat Keliher,,, While most members of the Zone B council seemed in favor of the subcommittee’s recommendations, there was some hesitation.   “I support thisit would work for me,” said Howland. “I’d hate to railroad it if there are some concerns. This is better than it could be, but it doesn’t sound like it’s ideal for some guys.”,, “There’s a side of me that feels like this is getting stuffed down my throat,” said council member James Hanscom after asking if the decision could be tabled.  >click to read< 08:09

CARES Act Funding Available for Maryland Fishing Industry

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announces applications will be available Nov. 4 for economic relief funds for the commercial seafood industry through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), for those who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The application will be available to eligible members of the seafood industry on the Maryland OneStop website. The deadline to apply is Feb. 28, 2021. >click to read< 16:20

The CARES Act: Lengthy Process, Little to Show for Connecticut Fisheries

Nearly seven months after the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law, eligible fisheries and related businesses can apply for $1.8 million in economic aid through the CARES Assistance to Fishery Participants (CAAFP) program. Connecticut is part of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), which also includes Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. From the $300 million, 31 entities received funding. Connecticut’s allocation was $1.8 million, the 9th lowest on the list. Rhode Island received $3.3 million,,, >click to read< 09:58

It’s Important! N.J. cleared to provide $11M in relief for sinking fishing industry

Months after the pandemic rocked New Jersey’s fishing industry, millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief is set to finally flow to the anglers that need it. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has approved New Jersey’s plan to spend $11.3 million in federal fisheries relief, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th Dist., announced Tuesday. The approval allows state authorities to begin distributing the money, which was allocated to the state as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act that became law in March. >click to read< 09:25

Collins and several colleagues call on NOAA to resume ‘usual operational tempo’

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) should get back to its regular schedule of conducting fisheries research surveys, which have been cancelled since May due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and several colleagues. Additionally, NOAA should identify and resolve any challenges created by the pandemic that prevented this year’s surveys to ensure surveys are safely conducted in 2021, the lawmakers wrote in a Sept. 30 letter sent to Dr. Neil Jacobs, acting administrator at NOAA. Among the members who joined Sen. Collins in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Doug Jones (D-AL). >click to read< 09:00

Do you think your seafood is cheaper? It is. The Coronavirus pandemic caused a drop in demand

The ongoing pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of life on the South Shore, including the commercial fishing and lobster industries. “It’s hurt them big time,” said retired Cohasset fisherman Matt Marr. “There are so many things that factor in. Most of the restaurants are closed, hotels are empty, casinos are empty, cruise ships don’t exist anymore. Those places bought a lot of lobster. So, their markets have definitely diminished.” Reduced business at restaurants has caused a significant drop in demand, said Tommy Alioto. The pandemic didn’t affect lobstermen’s ability to do their job, but the low demand caused an excess of inventory and a drop in price. >click to read< 15:30

Electronic monitoring long-awaited boon for Cape Cod fishermen

Cape fishermen first started advocating for the use of electronic monitoring in 2006, said Melissa Sanderson, chief operating officer of the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance. “I would say it’s a long time coming,” said Sanderson of the 14 years it took to finally have approval. But six years ago, Maine fishermen revived interest with their own pilot program and Cape fishermen joined the following year using equipment and technical support provided by The Nature Conservancy and grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. >click to read< 09:09

District Court judge denies injunction that would shut down lobster and gillnet fishing in Massachusetts

In a hearing Thursday in United States District Court, Judge Indira Talwani denied an injunction that would have shut down lobster and gillnet fishing in Massachusetts to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales until a trial seeking that closure takes place. Richard “Max” Strahan, who identifies himself in court documents as a lobster fishermen, whale watcher and “protector of endangered wildlife species,” sued the state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs last April under the federal Endangered Species Act. >click to read< 11:41

Gloucester: Lobstermen push against whale rules – ‘We’ve borne the brunt’ – >click to read<

Max Strahan driven by “duty” to have stricter measures adopted

To many federal and state fisheries managers, and to most people in the lobster industry, the name Max Strahan conjures images of a fanatic determined to put an end to lobster fishing in the name of saving endangered right whales from extinction. (he is), “I’m a scientist and a very ethical and moral person,” (he’s not) Strahan said, claiming that, of 330 million U.S. citizens, he was the only one to file individual suits under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).,, Strahan said he grew up on a farm “somewhere around the area” of New Hampshire and, as a young man, was interested in outdoor activities such as hiking and rock climbing. That led to his interest in wildlife preservation and eventually his efforts to save the endangered spotted owl in the forests of California and Oregon. Strahan filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the birds under the ESA and ultimately the petition was accepted, the owls listed and much of the Pacific timber industry put out of business. >click to read< 09:39

“Wind is the culprit,” – NOAA study shows wind influence in GOA Pollock abundance

As Bob Dylan famously said “you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.” The study conclusively shows for the first time that year-to-year variation in the geographic distribution of juvenile Pollock in the Gulf is driven by wind direction, which may keep juvenile Pollock in favorable habitat, or push them into currents and on to less favorable conditions. “Wind is the culprit,” according to AFSC biologist Matt Wilson. “The consequence is that when a large proportion of the juvenile population is transported to the southwest many of those fish are likely lost from the Gulf of Alaska.” >click to read< 11:17

“Prince of Whales” threatens suit to end Maine lobster licensing

Max Strahan is threatening to go to court. Again. Known by many in the conservation community, on Thursday, Oct. 1, Strahan filed a 60-day notice of his intention to file another lawsuit under the federal and Maine Endangered Species Acts. The suit is against the secretary of commerce, the heads of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service and Department of Marine Resources Commissioner Patrick Keliher. In his notice, Strahan claims that the act of “licensing” fisheries requiring the use of vertical buoy lines on lobster traps” is, in itself, a violation of the ESA,,, >click to read< 17:46

Crab industry, Oregon continue plans to avoid whale entanglement

New regulations for commercial Dungeness crab fishermen in Oregon aim to get boats on the water earlier in the season and reduce the amount of gear to avoid tangling with endangered whales. “Our fleet is made up of 400 individual businesspeople who each bring a different perspective to the issue,” said Hugh Link, the executive director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. “For over three years, they have been given the opportunity to weigh in on how best to mitigate the whale entanglement risk,” he continued. “But it is an ongoing process. These upcoming meetings are the next important step and we hope they take the opportunity to have their voices heard.”