National Fisherman


Some of the rules that limit commercial fishing in the western Aleutian Islands are no longer needed to protect endangered Steller sea lions, federal regulators said in a management document issued Wednesday.
 
In a 281-page biological opinion, the National Marine Fisheries Service said a new arrangement of Aleutian fishing seasons for pollock, Atka mackerel and Pacific cod has resulted in a harvest system that does not pose additional jeopardy to the fish-eating sea lions.
 
The biological opinion’s stamp of approval is expected to bring regulatory changes that “would relieve roughly two-thirds of the economic burden imposed on Aleutian Islands’ fishermen” by the current sea lion protection rules, NMFS said in a statement.
 
“Finding a way to protect endangered sea lions while minimizing costs to the fishing industry is a real challenge,” Jim Balsinger, NFMS Alaska regional administrator, said in the statement. “I applaud the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and stakeholders for recommending a new suite of measures that effectively balances those two objectives.”
 
The fishing industry and its supporters cheered the new biological opinion, a document required under the Endangered Species Act.
 
“We are grateful that NOAA Fisheries has taken a new updated view of their 2010 decision,” Thomas Mack, president of the fishing-dependent Aleut Corp., said in a statement. “This means increased fishing opportunities especially in Adak and other areas of the Aleutians. I also thank the North Pacific Fishery Management Council for their continuous determination to bring fishing back to the Western Aleutians.”
 
Read the full story at the Alaska Dispatch>>

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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