National Fisherman


WATSONVILLE -- A lawsuit filed on behalf of commercial fishing groups Tuesday challenges the lifting of a federal ban on sea otters in Southern California waters.

Sea otter advocates hailed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision to end the quarter-century ban in December, saying it was impeding the recovery of a species nearly hunted to extinction in the 18th and 19th centuries.

But the Pacific Legal Foundation, which filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, argues in opening the waters to sea otters the federal agency abandoned its statutory responsibility to protect abalone and other shellfish and the industries that depend on them.

"This case is about balance in environmental policies, and adherence to the rule of law," said Jonathan Wood, a lawyer with Pacific Legal Foundation, in a news release.

The foundation is providing free legal representation to the plaintiffs, including the California Sea Urchin Commission, California Abalone Association, California Lobster and Trap Fishermen's Association, and Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara.

Read the full story at Santa Cruz Sentinel>>

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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