Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NOAA's NMFS holding public scoping meetings about whales and commercial fishing gear

Here is an announcement from NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) about public scoping meetings being held to solicit public comments on ways to reduce the risk of serious injury or mortality of North Atlantic right, humpback and fin whales as a result of vertical lines from commercial trap/pot and gillnet fisheries along the east coast of Florida. There is a meeting coming up in Cape Canaveral, FL on August 22nd from 5-8pm at the Cape Canaveral Public Library, 201 Polk Avenue.

NMFS implemented the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP) to reduce serious injuries and deaths of large whales (North Atlantic right, humpback, and fin) due to incidental entanglement in fishing gear. The ALWTRP is an evolving plan that changes as NMFS learns more about why whales become entangled and how fishing practices might be modified to reduce the risk of entanglement. It has several components including restrictions on where and how gear can be set; research into whale populations and whale behavior, as well as fishing gear interactions and modifications; outreach to inform and collaborate with fishermen and other stakeholders; and a large whale disentanglement program. Since its implementation in 1997, the ALWTRP has been modified on several occasions to further reduce the serious injury and mortality of large whales in commercial gillnet and trap/pot fishing gear. Despite these efforts, there has been continued serious injury and mortality of large whales from entanglement in commercial trap/pot and gilinet fishing gear. Therefore, NMFS determined that additional modifications to the ALWTRP are warranted. Specifically, NMFS is focusing on reducing the risk of serious injury and mortality of large whales that encounter buoy lines associated with commercial trap/pot and gillnet fishing gear. NMFS is interested in eliciting guidance on addressing buoy line entanglements by identifying: (1) where to manage (coast wide or based on whale density or fishing density); (2) when to manage (should the vertical line strategy be year round, seasonal or a combination); and (3) how to manage (what management strategies should be considered traps-per-trawl limits, seasonal or year-round closures, etc. — to drive vertical line reductions). A scoping document will be available on July 1, 2011. To obtain a copy of the scoping document visit the ALWTRP web page (www.nero.nmfs.gov/whaletrp/) or please contact, Barb Zoodsma at 904-321-2806 or Barb.Zoodsmanoaa.gov.

How do I Comment?
1. Provide verbal comments at one of the scoping meetings in your area.
2. Provide written comments via -
a. email: ALWTRPScoping.Comrnents@noaa.gov
b. fax: (978) 281-9394 or
c. mail to:
Mary Colligan, Assistant Regional Administrator for Protected Resources
National Marine Fisheries Service
55 Great Republic Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930
Attn: ALWTRP Scoping

Monday, July 18, 2011

SAFMC Meetings Scheduled

The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council has scheduled the following meetings:

July 20, 2011 – Law Enforcement Advisory Panel Meeting: Renaissance Orlando Hotel Airport, 5445 Forbes Place, Orlando, FL 32812
     The AP will provide recommendations on the Council’s Comprehensive Annual Catch Limit (ACL) Amendment, Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 11 (addressing the current restrictions for harvest of some species in waters greater than 240’ in depth) and other issues.  Draft copies of the documents are available and posted as part of the briefing book materials (see link below).  The Council is scheduled to approve both the Comprehensive ACL Amendment and Snapper Grouper Amendment 11 for submission to the Secretary of Commerce during its August 9, 2011 meeting in Charleston, SC.

July 26, 2011 – Golden Crab Advisory Panel Meeting: Crowne Plaza Ft. Lauderdale Airport, 455 State Road 84, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316
     The Golden Crab AP will review draft Amendment 6 to the Golden Crab Fishery Management Plan regarding alternatives for establishing a catch share program for the commercial fishery and provide recommendations for the Council’s consideration.

August 9, 2011 – SAFMC Meeting: Charleston Marriott Hotel, 170 Lockwood Blvd., Charleston, SC 29403
     The Council is scheduled to review and approve three amendments for review by the Secretary of Commerce:
Amendment 18 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan - establishes ACLs and accountability measures for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel and cobia;
Comprehensive ACL Amendment – establishes ACLs and accountability measures for species not currently undergoing overfishing
Snapper Grouper Amendment 11 (240’ closure)

Note: Copies of the agendas and briefing book materials for the advisory panel meetings are available from the Council’s website at: http://www.safmc.net/Meetings/AdvisoryPanelandCommitteeMeetings/tabid/616/Default.aspx

The agenda for the Council’s August 9, 2011 meeting is currently available at:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NOAA's Annual Report to Congress on the Status of US Fisheries

Picture from NOAA's National Marine Fisheries website
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service recently released the 14th Annual Report to Congress on the Status of US Fisheries. The report shows steady progress toward rebuilding the nation's fisheries. Scientists examined more stocks than ever before in this edition of the report. Each year since 1997, NOAA Fisheries Service reports to Congress the number of stocks that are and are not undergoing overfishing or being overfished. The findings are based on findings and results made throughout the reporting year and years prior. To view the full report visit http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2011/07/docs/report.pdf and to view a 4-page summary of the report visit http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2011/07/docs/handout.pdf. Also visit NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service website for more information.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Aquaculture and Our Shrinking Fish Population

There is an interesting article and blog that came out recently about aquaculture. It's becoming more and more important today with shrinking fish populations and the growing demand for fish around the world. Please check both of these articles out for a great read and some food for thought.

Time Magazine Article - The End of the Line

Ecocentric Blog - Can the US Close It's Seafood Trade Deficit?

Friday, July 1, 2011

SAFMC News: Fishery Managers Make Decisions Affecting Both S. Atlantic and GOM Fisheries

Members of both the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Councils recently met in Key West, FL to approve measures impacting species managed by both councils. They approved regulations for spiny lobster, king and Spanish mackerel and cobia. Below are the approved regulations:

The Councils approved Spiny Lobster Amendment 10 for submission to the Secretary of Commerce, establishing Annual Catch Limits (ACLs) and Accountability Measures (AMs) as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Several changes were made during the joint committee meeting, based on input from the council’s Spiny Lobster Advisory Panels and testimony from the public received during public hearings held in April. Important changes include: increasing the Annual Catch Target to 6.6 million pounds (previously 6 million pounds); and delaying action on proposed closed areas for lobster trap fishing as well as new requirements to mark trap lines. Area closures and gear markings would help protect threatened Acropora corals and other protected resources. The protection measures, which are required by law for the lobster fishery, will be addressed in a later amendment. This will allow more time to work with the commercial industry and representatives from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in order to improve alternatives to better protect the corals.

The two councils moved forward with measures to establish ACLs and AMs for king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and cobia through Amendment 18 to the Coastal Migratory Pelagics Fishery Management Plan. For Atlantic Migratory Group king mackerel, the amendment would establish an ACL of 10.46 million pounds, with a commercial quota of 3.88 million pounds, up slightly from the current 3.71 million pounds. A recreational ACL of 6.58 million pounds was established, allowing current size and bag limits to remain in place. However, for Spanish mackerel the proposed ACL of 5.69 million pounds represents a decrease in the current total allowable catch of 7.04 million pounds. The South Atlantic Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committee will review the numbers for Spanish mackerel in July. The amendment would also set an ACL of 1,571,399 million pounds for cobia and establish an allocation of 92% recreational and 8% commercial. The current bag limit of two fish per person per day would remain the same. Final approval of the amendment for submission to the Secretary of Commerce is scheduled for August.

For more information visit http://www.safmc.net/.