In the News: January 2013

First published in Landings, January, 2013.

Shrimp season pinched

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Northern Shrimp Section approved a total allowable catch (TAC) of 625 metric tons (MT), a 72% reduction from last year’s quota. The TAC is further subdivided into a research set aside of 5.44 mt, a trawl fishery TAC of 539.02 mt, and a trap fishery TAC of 80.54 mt. Each fishery will close when 85% of its TAC is projected to be reached and a four-day advance notice will be issued prior to the closure of each fishery.

The trawl fishery will begin on January 23, with two landing days (Monday and Wednesday) and no trip limit. The trap fishery will begin on February 5, with six landing days (every day but Sunday) and an 800 pound trip limit.

The Section considered several factors in setting the specifications for the 2013 fishery. These include (1) the northern shrimp stock is overfished and overfishing has been occurring for the last three years; (2) all abundance surveys are exhibiting a downward trend (since 2007 biomass has steadily declined and is currently at its lowest level); and (3) poor recruitment (shrimp entering into the fishery) in 2010 and 2011. Northern shrimp recruitment is related to both spawning biomass and ocean temperatures, with higher spawning biomass and colder temperatures producing stronger recruitment. Ocean temperatures in the western Gulf of Maine shrimp habitat have been warming in recent years and have reached or approached unprecedented highs in the past three years. This suggests a less hospitable environment for northern shrimp and indicates the critical need for protecting spawning biomass.

 

New communications person joins DMR

Jeff Nichols recently began work as the Department of Marine Resources new communications specialist. He will work in the office of the commissioner. Among Nichols’ tasks are to improve the user-friendliness of the agency’s Web site and other communication tools and to serve as a business development liaison, working on seafood marketing and connecting seafood businesses with state resources. Nichols has worked in Maine’s rural communities through the Maine Rural Partners program and in the state’s logging industries. He most recently worked for ten years as the Public Affairs coordinator at the Mount Desert Island hospital in Bar Harbor.

 

Music, poetry of the sea coming to the Maine Maritime Museum

Maine, with its long maritime tradition and vital fishing industry, is home to many talented and creative artists who write about the sea on which they work. The Maine Maritime Museum will bring this art to wider public attention with “Voices of the Sea: The Poetry and Song of Maine’s Fishermen and Those Who Work on the Water” this spring. The program will feature readings and musical performances by poets and musicians who are also professional fisherman or mariners. Individuals interested in participating can contact Museum Education Coordinator Jim Nelson at 207-443-1616 ext 325 or by e-mail at Nelson@maritimeme.org.

Ocean acidification gets state attention

Washington State’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification released its report “Ocean acidification – From Knowledge to Action, Washington’s Strategic Response” on November 27. The first of state-level analysis of its kind, the report includes 42 recommendations and specific objectives to combat ocean acidification, including projects such as increasing seaweed farming to remove carbon dioxide from ocean waters, and generalities such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As the report stated in its executive summary, “Today’s ocean acidification is important not only for the amount of change that has occurred thus far but also for how quickly it is happening. The current rate of acidification is nearly ten times faster than any time in the past 50 million years, outpacing the ocean’s capacity to restore oceanic pH and carbonate chemistry.” This change concerned Governor Chris Gregoire because Washington State leads the nation in production of farmed shellfish. The shellfish industry contributes $270 million annually to Washington’s economy and supports 3,200 jobs. An increasingly acidic Pacific ocean has caused massive losses of oyster larvae in the state’s shellfish hatcheries, beginning in 2007.