Written by Jen Finn
New England fishermen desperate for revenue are learning to love the ornery dogfish, and they're hoping the government can help them persuade seafood eaters to do the same.
Industry groups have asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to buy more dogfish fillets to increase industry earnings and build market demand for the abundant but low-value fish.
Last week, 19 New England lawmakers, including the U.S. senators from Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, followed the fishermen's request with a letter saying such purchases could "bring much needed relief to an ailing industry."
The desire to promote dogfish is a change for fishermen who have long despised the small shark, a relentless predator they say clogs nets, devours bait and drives out more valuable species, such as cod, for which New England fishermen's landing limits this year have been cut 78 percent by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
And with those and catch limits for other groundfish species cutting New England commercial fishing opportunities to the bone, fishermen say there's potential in the plentiful dogfish.
"When life gives you lemons, you drink lemonade, right?" said Rhode Island fisherman Chris Brown.
This year, fishermen in the coastal New England states have about 24 million pounds of dogfish quota. By comparison, their Gulf of Maine cod quota is about 3.24 million pounds, after being cut 78 percent from last year.
The new push for marketing dogfish limits comes seven months after John Bullard, NOAA's Gloucester-based Northeast regional administrator, also raised a series of proposals to open certain waters for taking dogfish without having to use their limited groundfish fishing days.
Read the full story at the Gloucester Daily Times>>
The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:
The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.Read more...
Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.
Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.Read more...