National Fisherman


For thousands of years, the jagged rocks of a submerged mountain range about 80 miles off the coast of Gloucester have preserved one of the region’s most distinct marine habitats. The frigid waters and glacier-sculpted peaks are home to a billowy kelp forest and an abundant array of life, from multicolored anemones to cod the size of refrigerators.
 
Fishermen long combed the muddy basins on the periphery of Cashes Ledge and brought home massive hauls of cod, pollock, and other groundfish. But 12 years ago, in an effort to bolster declining fish stocks, regulators cordoned off 550 square miles of the area, making it one of the largest fishing closures from Cape Cod to Nova Scotia.
 
Now, with fishermen hurting from strict government limits on the size of their catch, the New England Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing issues in the region, is considering reopening some or all of the area to trawlers.
 
This prospect — even if the most sensitive areas remain protected — has infuriated environmental advocates, who worry about harming the ledge’s unique biodiversity and further damaging already dramatically reduced cod populations.
 
“If they open up what is basically a museum of life in the Gulf of Maine, it would be like taking a snowplow through the natural history,” said Jon Witman , a marine ecologist and professor of biology at Brown University, who has been studying the area for years. “To not protect these areas is unconscionable. This is a sanctuary.”
 
But fishermen argue that the closure is no longer necessary because a quota system now caps the amount of each species that fishermen can catch each year.
 
Read the full story at Boston Globe>>
 
Want to read more about Cashes Ledge? Click here

Inside the Industry

NOAA recently published a proposed rule that would implement a traceability plan to help combat IUU fishing. The program would seek to trace the origins of imported seafood by setting up reporting and filing procedures for products entering the U.S.

The traceability program would collect data on harvest, landing, and chain of custody of fish and fish products that have been identified as particularly vulnerable to IUU fishing and fraud.

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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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