Tag Archives: NOAA

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

In victory for commercial fishermen, court orders Cook Inlet fishery to reopen

Cook Inlet drift fishermen can fish the federal waters of the inlet this summer after all. That’s after a district court judge shot down a federal rule that would have closed a large part of the inlet to commercial salmon fishing. Fishermen said it would have been a death knell for the fishery, which has 500 drift permit-holders. One of those permit-holders is Erik Huebsch, of Kasilof. He’s vice president of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, which filed the suit. And he said he’s pleased. “Opening the EEZ is vital to the fleet,” Huebsch said. “Without opening the EEZ, the drift fishery is really not viable. That’s where we go to catch fish.” >click to read< 12:19

Boaters clobber rare Right whale and calf, but they avoid legal consequences

There’s nothing like a good shipwreck story. The crash happened near dusk on Feb. 12, 2021. A captain and seven passengers were aboard the 54-footer. They were returning from a day of competing at the Northeast Florida Wahoo Shootout. The boat was doing about 21 knots, 24 mph if you’re a landlubber, as it headed for the Conch House Marina in St. Augustine. Nearing their destination, in the St. Augustine Inlet, the boat smacked into something — hard. The boat stopped dead in the water. So did whatever it had hit. Suddenly the “About Time” didn’t have much time. Both its twin engines shut down and the damaged boat began sinking fast. When a pair of Florida wildlife officers showed up, the owner of the boat, Dayne Williams of New Smyrna Beach, blurted out, “I think we hit a whale. I saw fins and blood.” Biologists immediately identified it as an endangered North American right whale. >click to read< 12:34

Hudson Canyon to Be New Marine Sanctuary

Hudson Canyon is America’s deepest canyon in the Atlantic Ocean. NOAA will seek public comment on the potential boundaries for the sanctuary and other factors related to its future management through Aug. 8. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York called for the sanctuary designation in an April letter to Richard Spinrad, NOAA’s administrator. But commercial fishermen harbor an inherent suspicion of government-imposed management. Dan Farnham Sr., who has caught tilefish in the area for more than 40 years, said on Monday. “I would say 60 to 70 percent of our catch comes from the canyon area.” Mr. Farnham said that he worries that the ultimate goal is to ban commercial fishing in the proposed sanctuary, which “would be financially devastating to us.” >click to read< 14:08

Commercial Fishermen Wary Of Proposed Sanctuary For Hudson Canyon

The Biden Administration has renewed a longstanding proposal,,, Even though most of the Hudson Canyon is about as far from the South Fork as Queens and Brooklyn, commercial and recreational fishermen from East End ports frequent the waters above it, and news of the sanctuary nomination was met with some reflexive concern from commercial fishermen, in particular, who worry that if the designation is made it could lead to them eventually being blocked from fishing in an area critical to their annual harvests. “About 25 percent of what we catch is from there, squid, scup, fluke, a lot of stuff comes out of that area,” said Hank Lackner, one of the owners of Montauk’s largest commercial fishing trawlers, the 94-foot Jason & Danielle. “And for the local fleet, the mid-sized trawlers, that’s the end of their rope — that’s as far as they can go. They don’t have another option.” photos, >click to read< 17:58

New restrictions on ships to protect whales coming

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been reviewing the speed regulations it uses to protect North Atlantic right whales, and according to spokesperson Allison Ferreira, the agency will publish new proposed rules within the coming weeks. A public comment process would follow. More than 50 of the whales were struck by ships between spring 1999 and spring 2018, NOAA records indicate. >click to read< 09:36

President Biden’s plan to save the oceans

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Celebrates World Ocean Day with Actions to Conserve America’s Deepest Atlantic Canyon, Cut Plastic Pollution, and Create America’s First-Ever Ocean Climate Action Plan – >click to read< The following two bullet points are from the Whitehouse Press Release today. Commentary by Nils Stolpe, >click to read< 13:07

Lobster industry and lawmakers await court decision to determine legality of new restrictions

Maine and Massachusetts harvest more than 90% of the American lobsters sold in the U.S. and most lobstermen and New England lawmakers want to keep it that way. Over the past year, a dispute over new federal regulations on Maine’s lobster industry, intended to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale,,, Mike Sargent became the captain of his own boat at 15. The 29-year-old is worried, however, that if regulations adopted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2021 are ruled lawful by the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, that more expensive and stricter regulations could follow. “There’s talks of ropeless fishing and so on, and those are astronomically expensive and quite frankly could bankrupt this industry at the stroke of a pen,” Sargent said. Massachusetts lobsterman Dave Casoni said that it would cost lobstermen between $500,000-$600,000 to make the switch to ropeless traps, and if passed Casoni believes it could bankrupt the industry. Video, >click to read< 09:16

Collins Blocks Expedited Confirmation of NOAA Nominee

In a continuation of her advocacy on behalf of Maine’s lobster industry that has been unfairly targeted by NOAA’s burdensome right whale rule, U.S. Senator Susan Collins rejected a unanimous consent request to confirm a top NOAA official.  Senator Collins’ decision to block Jainey Kumar Bavishi to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere comes in response to the agency’s refusal to modify its unworkable Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP) that has harmed Maine’s hardworking lobstermen and women. >click to read the press release< 08:49

The U.S. Has Spent More Than $2 Billion on a Plan to Save Salmon – The Fish Are Vanishing Anyway.

The Carson National Fish Hatchery was among the first hatcheries funded by Congress over 80 years ago to be part of the salvation of salmon, facilities created specifically to replace the vast numbers of wild salmon killed by the building of dozens of hydroelectric dams along the Northwest’s mightiest river, the Columbia. Tucked beside a river in the woods about 60 miles northeast of Portland, Carson has 50 tanks and ponds surrounded by chain-link fencing. They sit among wood-frame fish nursery buildings and a half-dozen cottages built for hatchery workers in the 1930s. Today, there are hundreds of hatcheries in the Northwest run by federal, state and tribal governments, employing thousands and welcoming the community with visitor centers and gift shops. The fish they send to the Pacific Ocean have allowed restaurants and grocery seafood counters to offer “wild-caught” Chinook salmon even as the fish became endangered. photos, >click to read< 16:58

NOAA Announces Closure of the Northern Gulf of Maine Scallop Management Area

NOAA Fisheries is closing the Northern Gulf of Maine Scallop Management Area to all federally permitted limited access general category scallop vessels effective 0001, on May 26, 2022. As of May 26, 2022, no scallop vessel fishing under federal scallop regulations may fish for, possess, or land scallops in or from the Northern Gulf of Maine Scallop Management Area. The scallop regulations require that we close this area once we project that 100 percent of the 2022 default total allowable catch for this area will be taken. The closure will be in effect until the end of the fishing year, March 31, 2023. To continue, >click to read< 17:52

Gulf commercial fishermen file lawsuit over new red grouper quotas

The federal government will soon impose new limits on the amount of red grouper that commercial fishers can catch in the Gulf of Mexico and local business owners say that will impact the industry and their customers. “It will definitely cost you more today. And will probably cost you more tomorrow because there’ll be less allocation,” said Frank Chivas. Karen Bell, owner of A.P. Bell Fishing Company in Cortez agrees that the price for grouper is likely to rise. Bell has signed on to a federal lawsuit challenging the reallocation of the red grouper harvest.  > click to read < 09:49

Fishing Boat Captain Pays $22,300 To Settle Federal Fisheries Case With NOAA

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced a settlement agreement with a commercial fishing captain. Darrell York of the commercial fishing vessel, F/V Watch Out, agreed to pay $22,300 restitution for resource-related crimes dating back to 2015. During a stop in January 2021, officers discovered 13 red snapper and one gag grouper in the hidden compartment.  >click to read<  13:20

Need for legal defense fund spotlights failures of federal lobster management

The Legislature’s recent passage of LD 1916, An Act to Create a Legal Defense Fund for the Maine Lobster Industry, shows a clear move by the state to protect its lobstermen from assumed federal government oversight. LD 1916, sponsored by Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, R-Winter Harbor, allocates money from an existing lobster license surcharge to help fund the legal battle against these tough regulations in the courtroom. Lobstermen have argued that the regulations aimed at protecting right whales are unfounded and not science-based. Some have argued that a right whale has not been found in the waters that have been closed off by NOAA since 2010. >click to read< 10:46

US fish landings fell 10% during first pandemic year

America’s commercial fishing industry fell 10% in catch volume and 15% in value during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, federal regulators said Thursday. The 2020 haul of fish was 8.4 billion pounds, while the value of that catch was $4.8 billion, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. The early months of the pandemic posed numerous challenges for the U.S. fishing industry, which has remained economically viable despite the difficult year, NOAA officials said. NOAA made the announcement as it unveiled its “Status of the Stocks” report, which provides details about the health of the nation’s commercial fishing industry. >click to read< 15:22

Maine Lobstermen should see flexibility in enforcement of new NOAA gear rules

The deadline for lobstermen to comply with new regulations meant to protect North Atlantic Right Whales has come and gone. State officials estimate that 50% to 60% of federal lobster fishery permit holders are not yet fully compliant with new rules requiring either new “weak rope”  or plastic weak links be spliced into existing end lines. Supply chain issues are a big reason why. While they declined to move the May 1st deadline… NOAA recently announced they would allow a quote graduated enforcement effort that will focus on compliance assistance rather than civil penalties. Video, >click to read< 09:48

New England’s founding fish, may be returning to local waters

Atlantic cod, once a mainstay of the region’s economy, is being fished at historically low levels, but a research scientist whose past findings opened up a tightly regulated scallop fishery says cod may be staging a comeback. Before he heads out to sea, commercial fisherman Raymond Lees stops by Reidar’s Trawl Gear & Marine Supply in New Bedford to buy custom-designed fishing nets. The shape of the net, the width of its mouth and the size of its holes all help him target certain species of fish and, perhaps more importantly, avoid others. “I’ve spent so long running away from codfish that I’ve gotten better at running away from codfish,” Lees said during a recent run to Reidar’s. “I have specialized gear and I’m good at what I do.” “We went from a huge fishing business, as far as the groundfishing fleet’s concerned, of 300 boats down to 20 boats,” Bendiksen said. “It’s pretty much a 90 percent loss of what the fleet was.” >click to read< 08:10

Big Story: Lobstermen fear disaster as new gear regulations take effect

Doug McLennan isn’t worried about the state of the fishery. What worries McLennan and thousands of other Maine lobstermen is the latest round of federal regulations designed to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale, and additional measures being planned for the next decade. The newest regulations took effect Sunday, though their enforcement has been delayed until supply chain issues for some of the required gear are resolved. This is just the latest in gear regulation change required by the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan,,, Many lobstermen have raised concerns about safety and the potential for gear failure and loss of expensive traps under the new rules, and they worry about what is coming next. >click to read< 09:16

R/V Bigelow: Overspread, Under spread, or the Perfect spread.

Today both commercial and recreational fishermen believe that NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science is problematic while N.E. Trawl Panel Members who regulate the R/V Bigelow net, state there is a problem of over and under spreading which causes the net to fish inadequately. The N.E. Trawl Panel wants to put a Restrictor Wire between the trawl doors to stop the overspreading. I believe what they want to do will not work adequately, because if one door hits an obstacle the other door will be affected. Another issue would be dragging wire on the bottom of the ocean between the doors will affect the herding of fish. What will it take to address and fix the overspreading and under spreading and achieve the perfect spread at all times? >click to read< 21:01 Thank you, Captain Salvatore Novello, Gloucester, Massachusetts

Lobster gear change enforcement delayed because of supply change issues

NOAA said Wednesday morning that it will use a “graduated enforcement effort” until the supply issues have been resolved. The regulations require lobstermen to splice NOAA-approved weak rope or weak plastic links into the lines they use to connect buoys to traps on the ocean floor. But the approved gear has been in short supply as manufacturers struggle to produce enough to outfit the weak rope or weak plastic links fishing fleets. The regulations are intended to prevent whales from becoming entangled in fishing gear, which can result in grave injury or death. >click to read< 13:49

Susan Collins – Scarcity of required gear is making it extremely difficult for lobstermen to meet the May 1st deadline>click to read< 14:48

Federal government to increase at-sea monitoring to 100%.

At-sea monitors are workers who collect data on board commercial fishing boats to help inform regulations and management of species. The government approved the new, higher percentage of trip cover on Tuesday, said Michael Pentony, regional administrator with NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office in Gloucester. The rules apply to valuable species that are harvested in the Northeast such as cod, haddock and flounder. Pentony said the new rules will replace the old process of calculating a target for the level of monitoring coverage every year. The coverage target will instead be 100% for four years as long as federal funding can support agency and industry costs, he wrote in a letter to fishery managers. >click to read< 16:24

Dealers scramble to supply lobstermen ahead of gear-change deadline

May 1 is the deadline for commercial lobstermen in Maine to trawl up, use weaker rope or insert weak links, and mark gear with the state color purple. But will they be ready? “Everyone’s hoping for a good year, hoping for a good price,” said Virginia Olsen, a Maine Lobstering Union Local 207 member who fishes out of Stonington. “We’re just going to do what we do. We’re gonna go to work.” But first, enough rope and weak links must come into local fishing gear stores to supply the approximately 4,500 commercial lobstermen in Maine, each of whom can haul up to 800 traps. >click to read< 13:26

Massachusetts DMF’s Ropeless Fishing Gear Feasibility Report Released

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries has completed the first phase of a two-year project, funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to comprehensively characterize the issues and challenges associated with the integration of on-demand fishing gear technology into New England lobster fisheries. On-demand fishing gear, also known as ‘ropeless gear,’ is a type of fishing gear used in ‘fixed gear’ fisheries, or fisheries that use equipment that is left, or ‘fixed’, in place over time to capture fish. On-demand fishing gear replaces traditional vertical buoy lines, which can result in entanglements with marine mammals including North Atlantic right whales, with new gear retrieval and marking methods.  >click to read, and access the report< Assessing the Feasibility of On-Demand Gear in New England Lobster Fisheries, 16:40

Are the whales leaving with the food? Gulf of Maine research raises questions about new lobstering rules

As the Gulf of Maine’s waters warm, recent studies show the main food source of the endangered North Atlantic right whale is moving north, out of Maine waters. And the whales appear to be following them. Such findings haven’t escaped the notice of the Maine lobster industry, which has been referencing them in its legal arguments as to why impending new federal restrictions on lobstering gear won’t help save the whales. Oceanographer Jeffrey Runge, of the University of Maine and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, said the lipid-rich copepods have been abundant in the Gulf of Maine since Henry Bigelow did his first oceanographic surveys in the early 20th century, but that abundance has dropped by about 70 percent in the past 20 years. >click to read< 11:57

The Clean Water Act, passed into law 50 years ago, has fallen well short of its goals

Nearly half of the rivers and streams across the U.S. are considered too polluted to meet quality standards for swimming, recreation, aquatic life, fish consumption or as drinking water sources. The Environmental Integrity Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit formed by former Environmental Protection Agency attorneys, published a report that found alarming results of water quality tests in all 50 states. More than 700,000 miles of waterways, about 51 percent of assessed river and stream miles, are impaired by pollution. That’s in addition to another 55 percent of lake acres and 26 percent of estuary miles. >click to read< 16:49

Regulators say newer new Right whale rules are coming for Maine’s lobster fleet/fixed gear fisheries

Federal regulators said they will soon start a process to create new whale-protection rules for Maine’s lobster fleet that will go beyond the controversial regulations going into effect on May 1. Michael Pentony, the regional administrator for NOAA, spoke to an online meeting of the Maine Fishermen’s Forum today. He said that the initial rules were designed to reduce the risk to whales by 60%, but recent evidence shows that the agency must act more quickly than planned to reduce that risk even more. “But as we got new information late last fall… for the right whale population, we now know that we need a 90% risk reduction,” >click to read< 11:50

Golden asks for more lobstermen on panel

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden (ME-02) called on the National Marine Fisheries Services March 16 to expand representation of lobstermen on its Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team by including members of Maine Lobstering Union Local 207. The Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team is charged with making recommendations to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for addressing rising North Atlantic right whale mortalities. Only four of the members of the 60-person team are Maine lobstermen. >click to read< 17:46

Rule change calls for monitoring of all groundfish trips – Not everyone is on board.

The most significant proposed change is a monitoring coverage target of 100% aboard eligible trips, which is higher than present monitoring levels. The change is meant to remove uncertainty surrounding catch. This and other changes, known as Amendment 23, to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan were developed by the New England Fishery Management Council. According to a NOAA Fisheries fact sheet, the changes, if approved by NOAA Fisheries, would give groundfish vessels the choice of a human observer or using one of two types of electronic monitoring to meet the increased monitoring requirements, provided the sector has a corresponding approved monitoring plan and a contract with an approved service provider. >click to read< 12:37

“I guess they’re too weak.” Weak lobstering gear recalled as new whale regs approach

The weak link made by Plante’s Buoy Sticks was pulled off shelves by the company this week, taking away one of the handful of gear options at lobstermen’s disposal to meet new federal rules that go into effect May 1. One retailer said their shop was told the links were believed to be breaking too easily. Plante’s links are one of three models approved by NOAA,,, Virginia Olsen, Maine Lobstering Union, said she sent a notice to her members about the issue and hoped the recall would prompt NOAA to review allowing fishermen the easier option of putting knots in their ropes to make them weaker. “It truly would be a great assistance to us if those knots were acceptable,” she said. >click to read< 14:21

To Whom This May Concern: Over-Spreading of R/V Bigelow Net

I believe that the Over-Spreading of NOAA’s nets used on their surveys began in the 1970s when NOAA changed from an old side-trawler which towed from the side of the vessel & the main towing wires were together. Then came the NOAA’S modern stern-trawlers & the main towing wires put 18 feet apart from each other wire. (R/V Delaware 2) R/V Bigelow main wires are 38 feet apart which causes over-spreading!! Northeast Trawl Advisory Panel has another problem with R/V Bigelow’s net. It under-spreads in shoal waters,,, >click to read< 19:32 By Sam Novello