Tag Archives: Oceana

The sardine war hits a lull: Commercial fishing industry lands a victory in Pacific sardine management

The Pacific Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing of Pacific sardines, voted unanimously in September to maintain the current sardine fishery management process that calls for reassessments after each year’s stock assessments. At the moment, the direct commercial sardine fishery is closed. “Fishery managers have failed to learn from the mistakes of history,” said Geoff Shester, senior scientist at marine conservation group Oceana,,, Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, argues that sardines are not overfished and “the Council’s unanimous decision shows that they understand reality, the big picture.” >click to read< 14:27

Dungeness crab season might not open for Thanksgiving again

New state regulations may mean that Dungeness crabs won’t be in stores in time for Thanksgiving. The rules, aimed at preventing entanglements    “I want to make sure it’s understood what kind of effort we’re putting into it as fishermen and how effective we’ve been,” said Dick Ogg, a Bodega Bay fisherman and a member of the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group that developed the rules. He said that fishermen have worked hard to make sure their gear is set up better to lower risk. “We’ve really reduced our interaction and entanglement rates.” Ogg said there is a lot of anxiety in the fishing fleet about what will happen with the coming season and whether they should start gearing up for a Nov. 15 opening or whether it will be delayed. >click to read< 10:01

Fishing group asks Baker to fight ‘crippling’ monitor measure

The Northeast Seafood Coalition is trying to enlist Gov. Charlie Baker in its campaign against the monitoring measure that it charges has the “strong potential” to financially cripple the state’s commercial groundfish industry. The Gloucester-based coalition sent Baker a letter last Friday laying out its case that Amendment 23, which will set future monitoring levels for sector-based, Northeast commercial groundfish vessels is highly flawed and should be withdrawn by the New England Fishery Management Council. >click to read< 12:47

Federal judge rules fishery managers failed to prevent overfishing of northern anchovy

A federal judge has ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) must go back to the drawing board and redo the catch limit for northern anchovy — an important food source for whales, sea lions, brown pelicans, and salmon. Judge Lucy M. Koh ordered the agency to issue a new rule within 120 days that accounts for the drastic fluctuations in anchovy populations and prevents overfishing when the stock is low. >click to read< 09:33

Everything you’ve heard about ‘ropeless’ fishing gear is false.

Is so-called “ropeless” fishing gear the magic bullet for the perceived problem of marine mammal interactions in California’s crab fisheries? (what about the New England lobster fishery?) Several profit-driven environmental groups, including Oceana, would like the public and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to believe it is.,,, In truth, there have only been four mortalities attributed to CA commercial Dungeness crab gear since 2013, and none during the last two seasons.,,, Maine’s lobster fishery has never had a documented serious injury or mortality for any Right whale, and no entanglement since 2002, which makes this a non-problem. One of the problems with “ropeless” gear is that it’s a misleading term used by the profit-driven environmental groups to make it seem harmless. >click to read< 15:06

Ropeless gear is not the silver bullet – New technology promises to save the whales by reducing the need for crab fishing lines.

“We are working with fishermen to see what works and what doesn’t and what allows the fisherman to survive economically,” says Geoff Shester, a Monterey-based scientist with nonprofit Ocean. In June, the Ocean Protection Council awarded $500,000 for the testing of pop-up gear in the coming fishing season. The money will pay for five prototypes, including designs by Marina-based Desert Star Systems and Watsonville-based McFarlane Marine Services. The money will also go to fishermen participating in the research. A new crab industry group, California Coast Crab Association, is pushing back. Its president, Ben Platt, described the RAMP regulations as “an existential threat to our livelihoods”,,, >click to read< 08:39

New rules for California Dungeness crab fleet

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday unveiled a batch of complex new rules designed to reduce the risk to endangered whales and sea turtles of becoming entangled in commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear. The draft regulations are set to be finalized before the next commercial season starts in November after a period of public review. Among the provisions are options to restrict fishing in certain depths, require crabbers to set only a share of the traps for which they’re permitted or limit intervention to any of six newly established geographic zones, rather than the larger Northern and Central California management districts that currently exist. >click to read< 09:14

Federal regulations to protect right whales are delayed until at least this summer

Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is responsible for protecting the critically endangered species, had planned to issue the regulations last year. But they were delayed after months of criticism from the region’s powerful lobster industry, which is worried that new requirements could be harsh and expensive. >click to read< 18:03

NOAA Issues Final Rule to Require Turtle Excluder Device Use for all Skimmer Trawl Vessels 40 Feet and Greater in Length

NOAA originally published a proposed rule in December 2016 that would have required all skimmer trawl, pusher-head trawl, and wing net vessels to use TEDs in their nets. In response to public comment and further deliberation, however, the final rule was revised. >click to read details<, Meanwhile, the enviro groups Plan to Save Sea Turtles From Shrimp Boats Scaled Way Back – “We’re scratching our heads on why this change happened,” said Gib Brogan, fishery campaign manager for Oceana, which sued to get the devices into inshore shrimp nets in NOAA’s Southeast Region. >click to read< 10:20

Sides battle over Monterey Bay’s anchovy population

A fishing industry group says it has new findings supporting its contention that there is a healthy population of anchovies, which is counter to a nonprofit’s lawsuit challenging how the number of anchovies are determined. Meanwhile, Monterey fishermen say there are tons of the little guys in the local fishery. Gino Pennisi and Neil Guglielmo have been fishing out of Monterey for years, in Guglielmo’s case, since 1956. Both say anchovies are plentiful. But the nonprofit group Oceana,,, >click to read< 13:07

UPDATED: The hidden cost of fishery monitoring

Recently my crewman came into the wheelhouse with a complaint. I am a commercial fisherman and we were on our third consecutive day of carrying at-sea monitors, which we are required to do in 2019 on at least 31% of trips. This is like having your own state policeman ride with you to work to make sure you do not exceed the speed limit. They watch you to make sure you do not throw over any fish that are part of your quota. Because the government wants their monies worth, they have them weigh everything you bring on board. By David Goethel  >click to read<  18:41 Dave sent these photo’s which were not included in the article.

100% fishing monitoring is unnecessary, David Goethel

August 13, 2019

I would like to correct some misconceptions and rebut some of the statements made by Ms. Johanna Thomas in her Aug. 2, 2019 opinion, Monitoring will help improve New England’s fisheries. >click to read< Ms. Thomas sites the West coast Groundfish fleet as a success story. That is not the case as told by the fishermen on the West coast. She also fails to mention that 50% of the fleet was bought out in a $60 million-plus dollar buy out prior to the implementation of catch shares. This alone should have rebuilt stocks. >click to read< 21:28

DC Circuit Sinks Challenge to Fishing Bycatch Rule

The D.C. Circuit on Friday upheld the government’s method of counting fish and other sea life that are unintentionally swept up in commercial fishing nets. The NMFS changed its method for counting bycatch in 2015,,, The 2015 change puts trained reporters, typically biologists, on a sample of fishing boats to count bycatch. Their numbers are then extrapolated across entire fleets, giving the government an estimate to work with. Conservation group Oceana challenged the new rule,,, >click to read<19:25

Sardine fishery likely will be closed this season

Sardine fishermen in Monterey Bay are facing a fifth straight year of restrictions on the amount they will be permitted to catch, creating financial hardships for the commercial industry.,,, Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, was not available to comment Wednesday, but she told the Monterey Herald following the 2018 assessment that “fishermen are seeing more sardines, not less, especially in nearshore waters.” She believes the methods in which the Marine Fisheries collect data is flawed. Not only does Pleschner-Steele reject the notion that overfishing played a role in the decline of the sardine stock, she calls the stock’s collapse “fake news.” >click to read<20:16

A California battle over swordfish — and gill nets

Conservationists are pushing a $1 million effort this summer to change the way swordfish are caught off the California coast by phasing out the use of gill nets. They are the mile-long nylon nets used to catch swordfish but that also ensnare other species, causing conservation organizations to seek an end to their use. Commercial fishermen can use gill nets now, with a drift gill net shark and swordfish permit from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. But a new California law will officially ban gill nets as of January 2023.,,, Organizations representing commercial fishermen opposed SB 1017 by state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica), the bill that became the new law phasing out the use of gill nets. >click to read<17:08

Crab fishermen and environmentalists square off over whale entanglements

The issue has pitted two local interest groups against each other: Those who depend on the $68 million California Dungeness crab fishery for their livelihood, and those who advocate shutting down areas to crabbing to protect humpback whales and other endangered species. Caught in between are everyday shoppers who love having Dungeness crab on their tables, but probably wouldn’t want marine mammals hurt in the process. “I’m frankly very scared of what the upcoming season could mean for whales,” said Kristen Monsell, senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, an Oakland environmental group that sued the state over the issue last year. The case is due to go before a judge in February. >click to read<13:23

Oceana’s Challenge to Bycatch Rule Looks Likely to Sink

The D.C. Circuit appeared primed Monday to uphold how the government counts bycatch — a term for various sea life unintentionally swept up in commercial fishing. Led by the nonprofit Oceana, the challengers take issue specifically with procedures by which the National Marine Fisheries Service monitors for bycatch with less intensity than Congress allowed it. The agency came up with a new procedure to cover the Greater Atlantic region three years ago after a plan from 2008 was found to have improperly given the agency “complete discretion” to depart from procedure. >click to read<09:05

Company accused of diluting Chesapeake blue crab meat with imported crab

Few things say local like the Chesapeake blue crab. It has scuttled its way into Maryland’s tourism slogan and is part of the region’s signature dish, proudly touted on menus and in markets as a taste of the Bay in an era when “eat local” has become the mantra of foodies. But a few years ago, a tipster reached out to authorities with an unsavory allegation: A major Virginia seafood supplier was selling packages of premium Chesapeake blue crab meat cut with cheaper foreign crab. It wasn’t even the same species. In an unusual probe, federal agents fanned out to markets across Virginia, Delaware and North Carolina, scooping up crab meat from Casey’s Seafood and sending it out for the type of DNA analysis more common in rape and murder cases. >click to read<11:23

Booker, Carper, Nelson Introduce Bicameral Bill to Establish Grant Program for Right Whale Conservation

U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Bill Nelson (D-FL), along with Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have introduced a bill to protect the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale. Booker is a member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, Carper is the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Nelson is the top Democrat on the Senate’s Commerce Committee, which oversees ocean policy. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), along with Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Bill Keating (D-MA), has introduced a companion measure in the House of Representatives. >click to read<18:46

New fishery rules could protect deep sea corals in California

The Pacific Fishery Management Council will decide Monday what happens to the underwater areas as part of an update to essential fish habitat for West Coast groundfish. “The Pacific Fishery Management Council will be making a decision on changing the areas that are opened or closed to West Coast groundfish bottom trawling,” said Kerry Griffin, a staff officer to the council, which regulates fisheries in federal waters from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, from three miles to 200 miles off shore. The proposal, scheduled for a vote Monday, >click to read<20:31

California Wetfish Producers Association: Sardine Fishery Collapse Latest Fake News

This Sunday, April 8, the Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting in Portland to debate the fate of the West Coast sardine fishery, after the 2018 sardine stock assessment estimated the biomass has declined by 97 percent since 2006. According to the California Wetfish Producers Association, the only problem with that finding is it belies reality. “Fishermen are seeing more sardines, not less, especially in nearshore waters. And they’ve been seeing this population spike for several years now,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association (CWPA). “This stock assessment was an update that was not allowed to include any new methods and was based primarily on a single acoustic survey,,, >click to read<21:15

Proposed Magnuson Stevens changes are reasonable – Support HR-200

“Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill” Macbeth,Act III, Scene II I am wondering how much commercial fishermen know about acting? At a guess I’d say probably as much, or as little, as most actors know about commercial fishing, even award winning ones. This thought arose following the recent appearance in these pages of an opinion piece>click to read Rep Keating, defend the Magnuson Act< on fishery management by a member of the acting profession in an attempt to wield political influence. The thespian in question is also an Ocean board member, a well funded environmental group antithetical to America’s oldest industry. By Don Cuddy, >click to read< 19:35

As the Pacific sardine population keeps dropping, the feds come under scrutiny

On April 8, the Pacific Fishery Management Council – a body of appointed officials that regulates fisheries off the West Coast – will be presented with the draft assessment of the sardine population from roughly southern California to Canada. The news it brings is neither good for fishermen nor the local marine ecosystem: The estimated number of sardines in July 2018 – which dictates policy for the 2018-19 fishing year – is 52,065 metric tons, an approximately 97-percent drop from 2006, the most recent peak. What is in dispute: the accuracy of the population assessment, and how we got here.>click to read<15:30

Scientists Worry, The Ocean’s ‘Twilight Zone’ Faces Fishing Threat

The mesopelagic area of the ocean plays a crucial role in marine ecosystems, but it has remained largely untouched and unexplored But now some nations are eyeing the deep sea as potentially rich new fishing grounds. Virtually no sunlight reaches the deep waters of the mesopelagic zone of the ocean, which ranges from about 650 to 3,000ft (200–900m) in depth. And until now, few fishing nets have either. But that soon may change. Fishing nations are exploring the possibilities of trawling the ocean’s “twilight zone,” a vast mid-water world left largely untouched by fishing, where light-generating fish and pelagic shrimp swarm in immense masses. Norway has led the push, driven largely by a coastal aquaculture industry in need of plentiful feed for farm-raised fish. >click to read< 20:40

D.B. Pleschner: Is court the right place to determine ‘best available science’?

A U.S. District Court judge recently ruled that the federal government’s catch limit for California’s central stock of anchovy — currently 25,000 metric tons — is far too high. But instead of weighing all the facts, the judge ignored them, shunned the established precedent of deference to federal agencies’ scientific determinations and instead endorsed the flawed arguments of the advocacy group Oceana. So what happened? >click to read< 21:55

Feds vote to protect more corals in Atlantic Ocean

Federal fishing regulators on Tuesday approved a compromise they said would expand the amount of coral habitat preserved in the Atlantic Ocean while also protecting fishing interests. The New England Fishery Management Council voted on coral protections in an area south of Georges Bank, which is one of the most important commercial fishing areas in the Northeast. The decision came about seven months after the council approved protections in another key New England fishing area, the Gulf of Maine, in June. >click here to read< 17:50 

THE FORAGE FISH FARCE

December 14, 2012 — The Providence Journal’s “PolitiFact” unit investigated claims made by Pew Environment Group in advertisements they ran in several newspapers asking east coast governors to support their demand for a 50% cut in the menhaden harvest. Pew justified this demand saying “… in recent years, menhaden numbers along our coast have plummeted by 90 percent.”  The newspaper found the claim to be “Mostly False”. The Providence Journal Lenfest is a Marketing/PR/Lobbying arm of Pew Charitable Trusts, Pew Environmental Group. They (Pew, Lenfest, Oceana, EDF, etc.) are presently working on eliminating the East Coast Menhaden fishery (aka Bunker, Pogies) after going after West Coast sardines recently. click here to read the story 11:38

Federal bill that could eliminate shark fin sales puts pressure on N.C. shark fishermen

The sale of shark fins may soon become illegal for coastal fisherman across the country. Legislation has been introduced to the House and Senate which would make it illegal to possess, buy, sell, or transport shark fins or any product containing shark fins. Local fishermen make a portion of their income based off of the sale of shark fins and shark meat. Some perceive this aspect of their business to be at risk because of the potential regulation. North Carolina congressmen David Rouzer, Tedd Budd, David Price and Congresswoman Alma Adams all cosponsor the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2017. The bills, S.793 and H.R.1456 are opposed by Congressman Walter Jones, North Carolina’s Third District representative. click here to read the story 07:53

Fishing Bycatch Regulations Pass Judge’s Sniff Test

Federal regulators ducked a conservation-minded challenge Thursday concerning rules meant to minimize fishing bycatch. The National Marine Fisheries Service adopted the rules in question two years ago, with approval from the D.C. Circuit. Though the rules requires fishing vessels to occasionally have a biologist document the amount of fish caught and discarded, the group Oceana complained in a federal complaint that the infrequency of such observation undermines its efficacy as a serious check on fishing abuses. U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle sided with the agency Thursday at summary judgment, saying the issue comes down to how the Fisheries Service allocates its funding for NMFS, short for standardized bycatch reporting methodology. click here to read the story 09:02

Lawsuit seeks to protect whales, turtles from California gillnets

Oceana filed a lawsuit seeking to force U.S. fisheries managers to implement plans for restricting the number of whales and turtles permitted to be inadvertently snared in drift gillnets used for catching swordfish off California’s coast. The proposed rule, endorsed in 2015 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, would place numerical limits on “bycatch” of whales and other marine creatures, and suspend swordfish gillnet operations if any of the caps are exceeded.  The regulation was expected to gain final approval from the National Marine Fisheries Service. But it was withdrawn last month after the Commerce Department agency determined the cost to the commercial fishing industry outweighed conservation benefits, agency spokesman Michael Milstein said on Thursday. click here to read the story 17:11 Geoff Shester, a senior scientist at Oceana, who was “furious” when he found out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had decided to against adopting the rule. (lmao!) click here to read 17:13

Cause of Action Digs In: Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Designation: Some Stakeholders Are More Equal Than Others

This week we review the procedural history of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument (“Atlantic Monument” or “Monument”) designation, which was made by President Obama on September 15, 2016 (“Proclamation”), and show that certain, privileged, non-governmental entities were granted access to detailed information on the forthcoming monument and allowed input into the designation, while other stakeholders—notably those with specific legal authority, such as Regional Fishery Councils—were denied input and access.,,,  The following history, derived from the partial responses to CoA Institute’s FOIA requests and other publicly available documents, is illustrative: In March 2015, the Conservation Law Foundation (“CLF”) and Natural Resources Defense Council (“NRDC”),,, click here to read the story. Hang onto your Sou’wester. 17:53