National Fisherman

The New England Fishery Management Council has voted to recommend giving commercial groundfishermen access to parts of five areas that have been closed to them for many years.

The federal Commerce Department must approve the votes, taken at the special Dec. 20 meeting, but John Bullard, regional administrator for the Commerce's National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, announced his support for limited openings. Such openings would give the commercial fleet, facing a declared economic disaster, some hope for relief from the hardships to come in the fishing year beginning May 1.

At the same special meeting last month, the council deferred setting catch limits on the groundfish complex for the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank until its regularly scheduled January 2013 meeting in Portsmouth, N.H. By then, an extraordinary benchmark assessment of inshore cod will be available.

The five closed areas include two near Gloucester: the Western Gulf of Maine closed area, a thin rectangular section of water about 10 miles wide running from near Provincetown to opposite Portland, Maine, and about 12 miles east of Gloucester; and Caches Ledge, a rock outcrop about 30 miles north-northeast of Gloucester. The others are in Georges Bank.

Read the full story at the Gloucester Daily Times>>

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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