National Fisherman


A few months ago, John Lopez was looking for blue crabs for a boil he was planning at the New Canal Lighthouse in New Orleans, but the pickings were scarce.
 
When he finally found some, he cleared out the last the store had and then bought some crawfish to make up the difference.
 
It was an indication of what he’d been hearing. The number of crabs being caught in Lake Pontchartrain seemed to be down this year, said Lopez, executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.
 
It’s unclear whether the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon oil disaster has had any effect on Gulf fisheries. Commercial harvest records in the Barataria and Pontchartrain basins show no clear effects yet, but most scientists and fishermen warn that making any conclusions about ecosystem health based on these records is problematic at best and misleading at worst.
 
Lopez notes the scarcity of blue crabs could be due to the high levels of freshwater in Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne the last three or four months, probably from higher-than-normal river flows from the Pearl River. But he doesn’t rule out possible long-term impacts from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
 
There are many variables, beyond the Deepwater Horizon, that play a part in the health of fisheries: a series of tropical storms, fishery population variations, opening of freshwater diversions to combat the oil leak, high water levels, cooler than normal spring, and both higher-than-normal and lower-than-normal salinities, just to cite a few.
 
“It’s so nebulous,” said Rusty Gaudé, Louisiana Sea Grant marine extension agent for Jefferson, Orleans, St. Charles and St. John parishes. “The only thing you can say definitively is the numbers.”
 
Read the full story at The Advocate>>

Inside the Industry

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.

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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.

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