In The News: May 2022

DFO shuts down herring, mackerel fisheries

Photo courtesy of Concord Monitor.

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) closed the herring fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic mackerel fishery in Atlantic Canada and Quebec on March 30. The department said urgent action had to be taken to give the stocks a chance to recover and to ensure the long-term sustainability. Herring and mackerel are a traditional source of bait in many Canadian fisheries, including lobster, snow crab and halibut. Department scientists said that herring stocks have been in the critical zone for about two decades, and previous conservation methods have not produced the desired results. Mackerel have been in the critical zone, and relatively unchanged, for the past 10 years. DFO cautioned that a one-year moratorium may not be enough time to rebuild the two stocks.

At-sea monitoring coverage increased

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) plans to increase at-sea monitoring of certain commercial fishing trips to 100% coverage. The new rules apply to commercial species harvested in the Northeast such as cod, haddock and flounder. NMFS 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.

Buoys made from mushrooms?

Ecovative, a New York company that creates alternative materials with mycelium, will be producing buoys made with mycelium, the thread-like fungal root networks that sprout mushrooms, on a small scale this summer. The company will test the buoys at two sites as a potential alternative to the hundreds of plastic foam buoys that dot the Maine coast. The so-called “myco buoys” are made by putting mycelium in a mold and feeding it with hempstock or other types of plant waste. The mycelium then grows into a material that’s biodegradable, strong and buoyant.

Hybrid lobster boat introduced in New Brunswick

Photo courtesy of Aspen Kemp

The Canadian federal government is giving New Brunswick firm Aspin Kemp & Associates $340,000 for the further development of a hybrid lobster fishing boat. The engineering firm showcased its new diesel-electric hybrid model for the first time at a boat show this spring in Moncton, N.B. The vessel is designed for the inshore lobster fishery and is powered by batteries made in P.E.I. Aspin Kemp has been working with another Canadian firm on a retrofit solution so that older boats can get the hybrid system installed. The company has developed hybrid systems for larger vessels in the past but has been working toward a boat for the small commercial boat market for over a decade.

Massachusetts closed area remains off limits to ropeless fishing

The director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries Daniel McKiernan in early April rejected a proposal by a few Massachusetts lobstermen who sought to fish in restricted waters using ropeless gear. Had the proposal been approved, it would have been the first time commercial lobster fishing were allowed without buoy lines in any state waters. The applicants asked for permission to set as many as 200 ropeless traps in areas along the South Shore, where lobster fishing is closed three months a year. McKiernan wrote that the lobstermen’s proposal “will not provide any additional or immediate conservation benefit to right whales” and said there is “very little interest among the broader industry within state waters in adopting new risk mitigation strategies to accommodate year-round fishing opportunities.”

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