Sep 10 2018

Wait, So How Much of the Ocean Is Actually Fished?

September 10, 2018 — The following is excerpted from an article published today by The Atlantic. More information about this paper is available at Sustainable Fisheries UW

How much of the world’s oceans are affected by fishing? In February, a team of scientists led by David Kroodsma from the Global Fishing Watch published a paper that put the figure at 55 percent—an area four times larger than that covered by land-based agriculture. The paper was widely covered, with several outlets leading with the eye-popping stat that “half the world’s oceans [are] now fished industrially.”

Ricardo Amoroso from the University of Washington had also been trying to track global fishing activity and when he saw the headlines, he felt that the 55 percent figure was wildly off. He and his colleagues re-analyzed the data that the Global Fishing Watch had made freely available. And in their own paper, published two weeks ago, they claim that industrial fishing occurs over just 4 percent of the ocean.

How could two groups have produced such wildly different answers using the same set of data? At its core, this is a simple academic disagreement about scale. But it’s also a more subtle debate that hinges on how we think about the act of fishing, and how to measure humanity’s influence on the planet. “I think this discussion really shows how little we know about the world’s oceans and why making data publicly available is so important for stimulating research,” says Kroodsma.

As ships traverse the oceans, many of them continuously transmit their position, speed, and identity to satellites. This automatic identification system was originally developed to prevent collisions, but by training Google’s machine-learning tools on the data, the Global Fishing Watch (GFW)—a nonprofit founded by Oceana, SkyTruth, and Google—can identify different kinds of fishing vessels, and work out where they’re dropping their lines and nets.

They quantified that activity by dividing the oceans into a huge grid of around 160,000 squares. Each of these squares had sides that span half a degree of latitude, and an area of around 3,100 square kilometers. And in 2016, around 55 percent of them included some kind of fishing activity. “You’re dividing the ocean into 160,000 cells, and you’re seeing fishing activity in half of them,” says Kroodsma. “One reason this resonated with people is that however you slice it, that’s impressive.”

Actually, it’s misleading, says Ricardo Amoroso from the University of Washington. He and his colleagues had spent years trying to measure the impact of trawlers and based on their early results, the GFW’s estimates smelled fishy. The problem is that they divided the ocean into such large squares that if a single boat drops a net in an area the size of Rhode Island, that area would count as “fished” in a given year.

Fortunately, the GFW made all their data freely available, so Amoroso’s team could analyze it at finer resolutions. When they divided the ocean into smaller squares that are 0.1 degrees of latitude wide and take up around 123 square kilometers, they found that fishing activity occurs in just 27 percent of them. And when they used even smaller squares that are 0.01 degrees wide and 1.23 square kilometers in area—the size of a city block—just 4 percent of the ocean is “fished.”

Read the full story at The Atlantic

Aug 24 2018

MARK HELVEY: Protect California’s Drift Gillnet Fishery

August 24, 2018 — WASHINGTON — California’s drift gillnet (DGN) fishery has come under attack in recent months. One of the most prominent media attacks was a July Los Angeles Times editorial “Dead dolphins, whales and sea turtles aren’t acceptable collateral damage for swordfishing,” which irresponsibly called for the shut down of the fishery. Like many similar critiques, it overlooked the ways DGN fishermen have worked to reduce bycatch and the unintended consequences of shutting down the fishery.

It is first important to note that the DGN fishery operates legally subject to all bycatch minimization requirements in federal law. This includes not just the Magnuson-Stevens Act—the primary federal fishing law—but also the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These statutes are precautionary and conservation-minded, and help make U.S. fisheries some of the most environmentally conscious and best managed in the world.

DGN fishermen have collaborated extensively with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service over the years to further reduce bycatch. Since 1990, the fishery has operated an observer program to effectively monitor bycatch. It has deployed devices such as acoustic pingers to ward off marine mammals from fishing gear, has established the Pacific Offshore Cetacean Take Reduction Plan to further reduce marine mammal interactions, and has implemented time/area closures to reduce interactions with endangered sea turtles.

These measures have led to significant progress in reducing bycatch. For example, no ESA-listed marine mammals have been observed caught in the DGN fishery since the 2010-2011 fishing season and no listed sea turtles since the 2012-2013 season.

As mentioned in the Times editorial, there is indeed good news from fisheries deploying new, experimental deep-set buoy gear. But it is just that – experimental, and it is still unclear whether it will become economically viable. And while fishermen hope that it does, the volumes produced won’t make a dent in the over 80 percent of the 20,000 metric tons of swordfish consumed annually in the U.S. that comes from foreign fisheries.

Often missing from the discussion of the drift gillnet fishery is that most foreign fisheries are far less regulated and are much more environmentally harmful than any U.S. fishery. Should the U.S. DGN fishery be shut down, it will only further increase our reliance on this imported seafood. All U.S. fishermen abide by the highest levels of environmental oversight relative to their foreign counterparts, meaning that U.S. caught seafood comes at a fraction of the ecosystem impacts occurring abroad.

Californians need to understand this and help protect U.S. fisheries that are striving to do things the right way. California’s DGN fishermen provide seafood consumers with a local source of sustainably-caught, premium quality swordfish. We should thank them by keeping them on the water.

Mark Helvey had a 30-year career with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) before retiring in 2015.  He served as the last Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries with the NMFS Southwest Region in Long Beach, representing the agency on fishery conservation and management for highly migratory and coastal pelagic species on the west coast.


Read the original post: https://www.savingseafood.org/tag/pacific/

Aug 24 2018

Southern California Coast Emerges as a Toxic Algae Hot Spot

— Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM. Please do not republish without their permission. —

Copyright © 2018 Seafoodnews.com

Seafood News


 

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [University of Southern California] August 23, 2018

A new, comprehensive survey led by USC scientists shows the Southern California coast harbors some of the world’s highest concentrations of an algal toxin dangerous to wildlife and people who eat local seafood.

Episodic outbreaks of algae-produced toxins make headlines every few years when stricken marine animals wash ashore between Santa Barbara and San Diego. The USC research is the most thoroughgoing assessment yet and reveals the growing scale of the problem over the last 15 years. The researchers say their findings can help protect human health and environment by improving methods to monitor and manage harmful algal blooms.

The findings are a “smoking gun” linking domoic acid produced by some types of algae to deaths of marine birds and mammals, according to David Caron, a biologist at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and postdoctoral researcher Jayme Smith, the study’s main authors.

“We are seeing an increase in harmful algal blooms and an increase in severity,” Caron said. “The Southern California coast really is a hot spot and our study also shows that the concentrations of particulate domoic acid measured in the region are some of the highest – if not the highest – ever reported.”

The findings appear in Harmful Algae.

Domoic acid is produced by microscopic Pseudo-nitzschia, needle-like diatoms in the water; half of the species in its genus can produce the neurotoxin. It can stain the ocean, a condition generically called “red tide,” although this particular toxin is brown. The substance accumulates in shellfish and moves up the food chain, where it attacks the nervous system of fish, birds, seals and sea lions. It can cause amnesic shellfish poisoning (ASP) in people. ASP symptoms include rapid onset of headaches, abdominal pain, cramping, nausea or vomiting; severe symptoms include permanent short-term memory loss, seizures, coma or shock in 48 hours. Although human fatalities are rare, the California Department of Public Health monitors coastal waters and shellfish for the toxin.

The research encompasses the years 2003 to 2017 between Santa Barbara and the Mexico border, and includes new samples and tests collected over the past three years to supplement historical data. The study suggests that while natural processes lead to the formation of blooms, they could be exacerbated by nutrients discharged from man-made sources, including runoff and sewage outfalls.

Among the key findings:

Pseudo-nitzschia is the culprit behind domoic acid. It’s been present along the Southern California coast for decades, but its role in wildlife mortality is recent and increasing.
The world’s highest domoic acid measurement in water occurred near San Pedro in March 2011. It was 52.3 micrograms per liter – about five times higher than a level of concern.
Through the years, researchers found a strong correlation between domoic acid in the water and impaired marine wildlife on shore.
Domoic acid is ever-present offshore, either in shellfish or the water. Some years it’s abundant, while other years it’s scarce.
Conditions are worse in the spring, due to seasonal upwelling of nutrients that spur plankton growth. The toxin is less abundant in the summer and winter.
Domoic acid in shellfish can occur at high concentrations off the coast of San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties, but it tends to be more prevalent in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties due to local environmental conditions.
Man-made sources of nutrients contribute to algal blooms, but that doesn’t explain disparities in time and location of some of the domoic acid outbreaks. Other environmental factors are likely in play.
The algae and its toxin diminish on the West Coast when water temperatures exceed 68 degrees Fahrenheit, apparently due to temperature sensitivity of the microorganisms.
Also, a warming Pacific Ocean appears to be helping spread Pseudo-nitzschia species farther north. For example, harmful algal blooms have been widespread along the west coast of North America from Central California to Alaska in the past two years, according to the study. Separately, harmful algae blooms have been reported along the Gulf Coast this summer and the governor of Florida declared a state of emergency for affected counties last week.

The USC study brings together diverse data and observations that shed light on the environmental conditions that promote harmful algal blooms. Of note, an extreme drought across the U.S. Southwest between 2014 and 2016 resulted in very low concentrations of domoic acid off the Southern California coast. The findings imply a link between surface waters flowing to the ocean, or other drought-related conditions, and coastal algal blooms.

Those nuances and uncertainties need further exploration to explain the regional and year-to-year variations favoring toxic algae – key steps before more reliable health forecasts can occur, the USC scientists say.

“Our findings summarize our present level of understanding with respect to this important animal and human health risk in Southern California waters and identify several avenues of research that might improve understanding, prediction and eventually prevention of these harmful events,” Smith said.

Study authors include Smith as lead and corresponding author, Caron as senior author, as well as Paige Connell, Erica L. Seubert, Avery O. Tatters and Alyssa G. Gellene of USC; Richard H. Evans of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center; Meredith D.A. Howard of the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project; Burton H. Jones of the Red Sea Research Center, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, in Saudi Arabia; Susan Kaveggia of the International Bird Rescue in Los Angeles; Lauren Palmer of the Marine Mammal Care Center in Los Angeles; Astrid Schnetzer of North Carolina State University; and Bridget N. Seegers of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the GESTAR/Universities Space Research Association.

Photo credit: Restless Mind Media/Fotolia


Linda Lindner
Urner Barry 1-732-240-5330 ext 223
Editorial Email: Editor@seafood.com
Reporter’s Email: llindner@urnerbarry.com

Copyright © 2018 Seafoodnews.com

Aug 21 2018

Senate MSA reauthorization a step back for fishing communities

Senate MSA reauthorization a step back for fishing communities
© Getty Images

 

In July, the House passed H.R. 200 the “Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act,” a much needed update of federal fisheries law that allows for both sustainable fisheries management and the long-term preservation of our nation’s fishing communities. Unfortunately, its counterpart bill making its way through the Senate would likely have the opposite effect.

The Senate bill, S.1520, or the “Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2018,” introduces changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA)—the main law governing U.S. fisheries—that would impose increasingly burdensome regulations on American fishermen and undermine H.R. 200’s goal of increasing flexibility in fisheries management.

Of particular concern are provisions contained in Section 104 of the bill, “Rebuilding Overfished Fisheries.“ Rather than giving fisheries managers more flexibility in how they manage and rebuild fish stocks, these new requirements added to S.1520 make rebuilding requirements more stringent and onerous.

For example, one of the most disturbing changes is the requirement that Regional Fishery Management Councils achieve a 75 percent chance of rebuilding a stock if that stock has not rebuilt in as short a timeframe as possible. What that means in practice is that regulators will be forced to set quotas according to a rigid, predetermined timeframe, rather than one based around scientific evidence or biological necessity. This will lead to quotas that are much lower than they need to be to sustainably manage the species, and fishing communities being unnecessarily hurt in the process.

In a similar vein, the bill also removes existing language from MSA that allows fisheries managers to alter rebuilding timeframes if a species is depleted or unable to recover due to “ecological” issues that are not related to fishing activity. This would prevent managers from modifying their plans to adapt to changing environmental conditions and other unforeseen circumstances.

Taken together, these changes would further force the Councils to manage species according to an arbitrary timetable, rather than thorough a plan that best takes into account prevailing biological and economic conditions. This will result in increased hardships for fishing communities, with little additional conservation benefits.

The bill also introduces new language on the issue of quota allocation between different fishery stakeholders in mixed-use fisheries. While this is already done routinely through the Council process, the bill adds “ecological” considerations to the policy of allocation, in addition to current consideration of economic and social factors. This is an obvious attempt to create allocation policy with the sole purpose of undermining commercial fisheries and altering allocations.

In addition, S.1520 does not include the same allocation language from H.R. 200, which would require that, when evaluating the full economic impact of commercial fisheries, managers consider the full seafood chain of custody. While this may sound like a minor change, this language is the only way to do a full and fair economic impact comparison study between commercial and recreational fisheries, and thus the only way to arrive at a fair allocation.

We are eager to support a reauthorization of MSA that maintains the strong fisheries management that has made American fisheries so successful over the past 40 years, while also allowing our fishing communities to remain economically vibrant. Unfortunately, in its current form, S.1520 meets neither of these goals.

Greg DiDomenico is the Executive Director of the Garden State Seafood Association. Diane Pleschner-Steele is Executive Director of the California Wetfish Producers Association.


Read the original post: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-environment/402883-senate-msa-reauthorization-a-step-back-for-fishing

Aug 10 2018

Warming waters and migrating fish stocks could cause political conflict

Climate change is driving fish species to migrate to new areas, and in the process they’re crossing political boundaries – potentially setting up future conflicts as some countries lose access to fish and others gain it, according to a recent study published in the journal Science.

Already, fish and other marine animals have shifted toward the poles at an average rate of 70 kilometers per decade. That rate is projected to continue or even accelerate as the planet warms.

When fish cross into new territory, it might prompt competitive harvesting between countries scrambling to exploit disappearing resources.

“Conflict leads to overfishing, which reduces food, profit, and jobs that fisheries can provide, and can also fracture international relations in other, non-fishery sectors,” Malin Pinsky, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of biology at Rutgers University, told SeafoodSource.

The study looked at the distribution of nearly 900 commercially important marine fish and invertebrates, examining how their movements intersect with 261 of the world’s Exclusive Economic Zones. By 2100, more than 70 countries will see new fish stocks in their waters if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rates.

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions could reduce the scale and number of these migrations by half or more, Pinsky said.

Conflict over shifting fish stocks is not unheard of. In the 2000s, migrating mackerel in the northeast Atlantic caused such a rift between Iceland and other nations that it played a role in derailing attempts to join the European Union. In the eastern Pacific, a bout of warm ocean temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s shifted salmon spawning patterns, prompting a scuffle between U.S. and Canada.

Pinsky listed the United Sates, Iceland, Britain, Russia, and countries in East Asia as some that will have to start sharing significantly more.

“I worry in particular about East Asia, where maritime relations are already tense over disputed borders,” Pinsky said.

Many countries may end up getting up to 30 percent of their catch from new fisheries that have migrated into their exclusive economic zones by 2100, according to the study. Australia and fisheries around the Bering Sea may get an even higher percentage.

But tropical countries seem likely to suffer significantly, since fish will move out and others won’t move into the replace them.

“Fish in general are moving to higher latitudes, which means new species aren’t moving into countries near the equator,” Pinsky said. “We think that means there will be fewer fish in the tropics, but we don’t know for sure yet.”

Some species might adapt to warmer waters, and some evidence suggests that is likeliest to happen in the tropics, where fish won’t also have to compete with new species, Pinsky said. “However, we don’t yet know if they can adapt fast enough to keep up with rapidly warming waters,” he said.

The Gulf of Maine is already experiencing major migrations. Lobster are moving towards Canada, cod are shifting deeper, and black sea bass are showing up north of Cape Cod.

“The Gulf of Maine is really ground zero for mitigating and adapting to climate-induced change,” Marissa McMahan, a senior fisheries scientist at Manomet, a New England science nonprofit that works on environmental issues, including by partnering with fishermen, told SeafoodSource.

While some fishermen can adapt to migrating fish, others struggle. Large offshore trawlers that had targeted sea bass in areas like North Carolina are steaming as much as 10 hours north just to catch sea bass, McMahan said. But smaller inshore boats that use fish pots to catch sea bass can’t do that, suffering greater effects from the shifting fish.

Fishermen are responding to climate-driven species shifts in different ways. Some are targeting underutilized or undervalued species. Younger fishermen, in particular, seem more willing to look at the potential of aquaculture to diversify their income.

“That way their entire livelihood doesn’t depend on a fishery that could collapse if the species shifts,” she said. But most fisheries are closed or have limited entry, making it difficult to get a license, she added. “So if you’re a lobstermen looking to diversify into another wild harvest fishery, there are very few options.”

Manomet is helping fishermen prepare. The group has worked with soft-shell clam harvesters to develop farming techniques, and is researching the viability of quahog aquaculture. They are working on developing fisheries and markets for invasive green crab, so fishermen can benefit from them economically.

As fish migrate to new waters, better data is needed to really assess stocks. Fishermen and their observations need to be included, McMahan said.

“They are on the front lines, so to speak, and witness the changes we are talking about each and every day. The amount of knowledge they posses about these ecosystems and stocks is unparalleled,” McMahan said.


Original post: https://www.seafoodsource.com/

Aug 5 2018

Bend rather than break

A groundfisherman on the Gulf of Maine — one of commercial fishing’s endangered species. Melissa Wood photo.

 

The range of responses to the passage of the Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization in the House of Representatives on July 11 shows the diversity and breadth of this industry.

The biggest hold-up on coast-to-coast support for H.R. 200 was the inclusion of a recreational grab at snapper-grouper management in the Gulf of Mexico, which gets a leg up in the House version of the bill (a Senate version is TBD). In the end, most major South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico associations offered their support of the bill with an exception for this portion as well as the attempt to eliminate annual catch limits in recreational fisheries (see Mail Buoy on page 6).

The controversial flexibility clause has perhaps been the most talked about component of this reauthorization. The Fishing Communities Coalition — a group of small-boat fishery associations connected also by their relationships with NGO funding and catch share management — came out strongly opposed to the reauthorization largely because of the flexibility component and the hurdles the bill puts in the way of new catch share programs. These changes, they say, will erode the nation’s deep roots in science-based sustainable fishery management.

However, several provisions in the act aim to include more data points in fishery management, including cooperative data, stock assessment plans for all federally managed stocks and transparency in the council management process.

Flexibility is part of a long-needed recognition that not all fisheries bounce back based on an arbitrary deadline of 10 years. It also goes hand in hand with expanding our vocabulary to include the term “depleted,” rather than using the blanket term “overfished.” Neither of these standards was scientific.

Moreover, the new rebuilding guidelines would encourage the councils to take into account the economic as well as ecological components of rebuilding that affect fishing communities of all sizes, as mandated by the act’s National Standards.

“The use of economic harm to extend rebuilding time frames could extend rebuilding beyond an acceptable point,” said the coalition in a press release.

But how do we define what is acceptable? A total shutdown may bring a stock back within a few years. But if it does so at the cost of local infrastructure and results in a wave of consolidation, is it the best choice?

I can agree with the skeptics that we have managed federal fisheries with a 10-year rebuilding time line to great success. This standard has been perfectly acceptable for many fisheries in recovery. However, it has also been severely detrimental to the groundfish fisheries on the East and West coasts. This amendment is necessary for those fisheries on the fringe.

If we can’t make exceptions for those fleets and their communities, then we can hardly brag about our great successes in management. This is the pendulum swinging. If this reauthorization doesn’t work as expected, then we can adjust it as necessary. That is the beauty of our democratic process — it allows us to grow, change and revise our laws to reflect changes in technology, culture and knowledge.

One reauthorization cannot be all things to all stakeholders. The nature of a federal bill involves give and take. For the sake of fishing communities that have been straining to stay afloat under the 10-year rebuilding guideline, let’s give this a shot. Give them a break and keep fighting for sustainability across the board. We won’t get there without better data, of course. But we also won’t get there by sticking to our guns when we know they’re prone to misfire.


Original post: https://www.nationalfisherman.com/viewpoints/national-international/bend-rather-than-break/

Aug 5 2018

Trump tariffs sting farmers, businesses from sea to shining sea

The administration’s aid package has been popular with voters, particularly in rural areas, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

 

As President Donald Trump prepares to continue ratcheting up tariffs, the duties he has already imposed on $34 billion worth of goods from China and around $50 billion worth of steel and aluminum exports from around the world are causing pain across the United States.

That’s already prompted Trump to promise $12 billion in assistance to help farmers who have been hit with retaliatory duties on their exports to China, the European Union and other key markets. The aid package has been popular with voters, particularly in rural areas, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. But the same poll also showed that most voters in farm states prefer free trade and better access to markets over subsidies.

So far, the administration has no plans to extend that aid to other adversely affected sectors, which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated this week could cost another $27 billion.

Here’s a roundup of some of the complaints about Trump’s tariffs heard on Capitol Hill in recent weeks:

KANSAS — $361 million of exports threatened by retaliatory tariffs

China’s retaliatory tariffs on nearly all agricultural imports from the United States have hurt Kansas farmers like Stacey and David Forshee, who raise cattle and grow soybeans, corn and wheat on their farm in the north-central part of the state, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said last week during a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

“All told, it has been estimated that $361 million of Kansas exports are being threatened by various tariffs” imposed by China, the EU, Canada and Mexico in response to Trump’s actions, he said.

NEW HAMPSHIRE — Lost sales of mead, lobster

Moonlight Meadery, a small business based in Londonderry, N.H., “had a deal effectively killed by the retaliatory tariffs on American wine,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said. “This is a deal that would have doubled their output. For a small business that meant a lot. But what’s happened, they’ve had to lay off employees and they’ve also been hit by the increased cost of aluminum because of the tariffs on steel and aluminum.”

Another New Hampshire business, Little Bay Lobster Company, that previously sold 50,000 pounds of lobster to China each week “can no longer find a buyer,” Shaheen added. After the Trump administration slapped a 25 percent duty on $34 billion worth of Chinese exports, China retaliated with a 25 percent tariff that priced New Hampshire lobsters out of the market, Shaheen said.

Another business in her state, Intelligent Manufacturing Solutions Corp., expects to lose a $5 million circuit-board contract to a Chinese competitor because of Trump’s tariffs, Shaheen added.

TENNESSEE — Canceled home appliance plant expansion

Electrolux, a home appliance manufacturer, canceled a $250 million plant expansion in Springfield, Tenn., because of Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said.

Bush Brothers and Company, best known for its canned baked beans, has experienced an 8 percent decline in its revenue because of higher steel prices. Another Tennessee company that manufactures gas grills is taking a loss on every sale they make to Canada and EU because of Trump’s tariffs, Alexander added.

MAINE — Bleacher manufacturer caught in a price squeeze

Hussey Seating Co., a bleacher manufacturer based in North Berwick, Maine, has seen prices for steel increase 45 percent over the past year as a result of Trump’s tariffs. “And the problem is that this small manufacturer has locked in contracts, well before beginning a project that did not anticipate a 45 percent increase in the cost of steel,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said.

Maine’s lobster industry, which is the state’s biggest exporter, has also taken a big blow as a result of retaliatory tariffs imposed by China, Collins added. To make matters worse, Canada now has a free trade agreement with the European Union that gives it duty-free access to the EU market, while Maine lobstermen still face tariffs of 8 to 30 percent, Collins said.

ALASKA — Salmon, cod and shellfish jobs put at risk

China’s 25 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. seafood has “clearly rattled my state,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said. The increased duty affects about 40 percent of the state’s salmon exports and 54 percent of its cod exports that went to China last year, she said.

“So this is, this is very, very significant to us. We’re still trying to figure out exactly what this means, not only to our fishermen but to the processors, the logistics industry, all aspects of the seafood supply chain,” Murkowski said.

In addition, Trump’s threat to impose a 10 percent duty on another $200 billion of Chinese exports could boomerang back on Alaska.

“Many of our fish and shellfish that are harvested in the state are then processed in China before re-importing back to the United States for domestic distribution. So in many ways, [Trump’s additional proposed tariffs would impose] a 10 percent tax on our own seafood, which is just a tough one to reconcile,” Murkowski said.

ARKANSAS — Hardwood lumber mills losing China sales

Hardwood lumbers mill in the Southern United States are also under pressure because of Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on China. The nation is the largest overseas market for U.S. hardwood lumber, but sales “essentially have ceased” since Trump’s duties went into effect, Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) said.

“Prices are in freefall, markets have collapsed, mills will be closing unless the situation is resolved fairly soon,” Boozman said, noting that the hardwood mills are the primary source of employment in many rural communities across the South.

WEST VIRGINIA — Auto supply chain vulnerabilities

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said she was worried about harm of new steel and aluminum tariffs on a Toyota production facility in Buffalo, W. Va., that employs 1,600 workers. But the effect could be even worse if Trump follows through on plans to impose automotive tariffs because parts made in the state cross the border with Canada at least two times.

“The raw aluminum comes from Canada. It goes to a Toyota plant in Tennessee that makes the engine block. The engine block then comes to West Virginia, where we make, very well, the six-cylinder engines and additions to the transmissions. Then half of those engines go from West Virginia back to Canada, where they are dropped into Lexus RX and then brought into this country for sale,” Capito said.

DELAWARE — Prospect of lost chicken sales to South Africa

After years of pressure, the Obama administration persuaded South Africa to remove barriers to U.S. poultry exports. Now all that progress is at the risk of being lost because Trump hit South Africa with tariffs on its steel exports, said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).

“I had a very difficult meeting with their trade minister,” Coons said. “They’re going to be justified in imposing countervailing duties that may well close the door to this newly opened market for our poultry.”

WASHINGTON STATE — Apples, cherries and pears caught in the crossfire

Not long after Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese-made steel and aluminum, Beijing began insisting on inspecting all shipments of U.S.-produced apples, making it impossible for Washington suppliers to continue to trade, Cass Gebbers, president and CEO of Gebbers Farms in Brewster, Wash., told Congress in July.

While that situation improved after a while, China has boosted tariffs on U.S. apples, pears and cherries to 50 percent, from 10 percent previously, in response to duties imposed by Trump. That jeopardizes about $130 million in cherry sales, $50 million in apple sales and $1.5 million in pear sales to the Asian market, Gebbers said.

TEXAS — Hitting cattle and dairy farmers at a bad time

“With Texas relying so heavily on trade overseas, we are concerned with the blowback from the administration’s decision to place tariffs on our trading partners,” Russell Boening, a dairy and cattle producers from Poth, Texas, said in testimony to Congress.

“Agriculture is bearing the brunt of retaliation at a time when farmers are already facing low commodity prices, high input costs and unpredictable weather. Net farm income has also dropped 52 percent in the last five years, making it extremely difficult for farmers and ranchers to continue operating,” Boening added.

MINNESOTA — Three biggest agricultural export markets threatened by tariffs

Kevin Paap, president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau told Congress about how much farmers in his state rely on its three biggest markets: Canada, Mexico and China. In 2016, agricultural and food exports accounted for nearly one-third of Minnesota’s total merchandise exports,” he said. “Specifically, more than 24 percent of all Minnesota agricultural exports go to Canada and nearly 24 percent of all Minnesota agricultural exports go to Mexico.”

He stressed that the better course of action would be to expand, rather than contract, trade. “The current tariffs, continuing back-and-forth retaliatory actions and trade uncertainties are hitting American agriculture from all sides and are causing us to lose our markets,” he added. “Once you lose a market, it is really tough to get it back.”

MONTANA — Indebted young farmers worried about the future

Farmers just starting out are already feeling discouraged when they see gluts and falling prices. That is going to make it harder to motivate the next generation, several producers have noted.

“For young and beginning farmers like me the stakes are even higher,” said Michelle Erickson-Jones, president of the Montana Grain Growers Association. “We are often highly leveraged, just establishing our operations, as well trying to ensure we have access to enough capital to successfully grow our operations. Increased trade tensions and market uncertainty makes our path forward and our hopes to pass the farm on to our sons less clear.”

NEW JERSEY — Bitten by South Korean steel quota restrictions

South Korea was one of the few countries that escaped Trump’s new 25 percent duty on steel, but only because it agreed to restrict its exports to the United States at 70 percent of the average levels for 2015 to 2017. That has created a huge headache for Micro, a precision medical-device manufacturer based in Somerset, N.J.

“Let me be blunt: For Micro, this quota is catastrophic,” the company’s president, Brian Semcer, said in testimony. “Under a best-case scenario, the quota would limit Micro’s steel imports to 70 percent of our recent yearly average. That would mean a 30 percent loss of market share and would effectively bar us from helping our customers develop and introduce any new products or expanding our operations in the foreseeable future.”

MARYLAND — Forking out big bucks, and time, for tariff exclusion requests

Companies that rely on imported steel can receive an exclusion from the new steel and aluminum tariffs, if they can prove to the Commerce Department that no domestic steel company can manufacture the product they need. That’s turned out to be a costly and frustrating experience for many manufacturers, including Independent Can Company, a family-owned business based in Belcamp, Md.

Company President Rick Huether told Congress his company has spent over $50,000 internally for employees to prepare 40 exclusion request. “This represents over 500 hours which could have been time spent building the business versus defending the business,” he said.

FLORIDA — Frustrated by government bureaucrats

Other companies complain of their treatment by Commerce Department officials assigned to decide whether their exclusion request will be approved. That was the experience of Sanitube, a family-owned manufacturer based in Lakeland, Fla., that makes stainless steel tubes, valves and fittings for use in the food and beverage processing industry.

After its first exemption request was denied, Sanitube spent three weeks unsuccessfully trying to contact department officials by both phone and emails to find out why, company president Todd Adams told Congress.

Finally, the company asked for help from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), which led to a phone call from Matthew Borman, the deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for export administration. Although Borman did explain the mistake the company made in its paperwork, Sanitube still had to start the exclusion process again.

Adams also complained about difficult interactions with one Commerce Department staffer, whom he accused of a “lack of professionalism” because of the way he handled Sanitube’s exclusion request.


Original post: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/01/trumps-tariffs-sting-farmers-businesses-from-sea-to-shining-sea-717555

Jul 12 2018

House Passes MSA Reauthorization with Support of NCFC Members

 

WASHINGTON — July 12, 2018 — The following was released by Saving Seafood’s National Coalition for Fishing Communities:

Yesterday the House passed H.R. 200, the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, which modifies and reauthorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Members of Saving Seafood’s National Coalition for Fishing Communities from around the country have been invested in improving MSA for years, and weighed in with their comments and concerns at various points in this process.

Many of these concerns were addressed during the committee process and in the discussion of amendments. Several Members of Congress cited support from NCFC members for the bill during the debate on the House floor.

From Rep. Bradley Byrne of Alabama:


Let me tell you, there are over 170 groups that have signed on to being supportive of this bill. I do not have time to read all the names to you, but let me just read a few: the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation…the National Coalition for Fishing Communities…and the Guy Harvey Foundation. This is a very broadly, deeply supported bill among people who are actually fishing. Now, it may not be supported by people who don’t fish and who don’t know anything about fishing, but for those of us who do fish…we like it.

From Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana:

…Mr. Chairman, this bill is bipartisan. It’s why we have bipartisan support for this legislation. We have co-sponsors. It’s why the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the National Coalition for Fishing Communities…American Scallop Association, Garden State Seafood Association, West Coast Seafood Processors Association, North Carolina Fisheries Association, Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Association, Gulf Coast Seafood Alliance, Southeastern Fisheries Association and many, many others that have a genuine stake in the sustainability of our fisheries [support this legislation].

In the debate over a proposed amendment from Reps. Jared Huffman of California and Alcee Hastings of Florida that would be detrimental to commercial fishing, Rep. Don Young of Alaska, author of the bill, quoted from a letter signed by several of our members and submitted the day before the vote. The amendment was ultimately defeated.

According to a letter authorized by the National Coalition for Fishing Communities…I want to submit for the record, if I could, the letter to the leadership of the House and to myself where they say… “We believe it will undermine the MSA, impede reforms that are desperately needed, and attack jobs in coastal communities around the country, including California and Florida,” the home states of Mr. Huffman and Mr. Hastings. I suggest this amendment is uncalled for and frankly will gut the bill and the MSA, period.


Original post: savingseafood.org

Jul 10 2018

NOAA launches drones to sail the West Coast, survey anchovies, sardines and other fish

(Photo: Courtesy of John Gussman)

A bright orange and yellow drone boat will set sail in August, skimming down the West Coast as it collects data on fish and possibly changes the way experts study the ocean.

It’s one of five on a summer-long expedition to test the drones’ accuracy in assessing West Coast fish stocks. Those surveys help set limits on just how much fish can be caught each year.

“You want to use the best available science to come up with the best estimate of what the stock is, so that you can give a fair shake to the fishermen,” said Toby Garfield, director of environmental research division at Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

Typically, the surveys are done by ship. But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration teamed up with Oceans Canada and Saildrone Inc. to test out the drones.

This is one alternative to collecting the data – one that may be able to go places ships can’t or to better estimate how many fish are out there, Garfield said.

Satellite imagery changed the way researchers looked at the ocean, he said, and “tools like Saildrone will give us another way to actually sample” it.

Two drones were launched last week from Neah Bay, Washington, and a second pair will be launched shortly. All four of those will follow the route of the NOAA ship Reuben Lasker.

Operators control the unmanned watercraft remotely from Saildrone’s headquarters in Alameda, California. Plans call for the drones to collect acoustic data on hake and pelagic fish, like sardines and anchovy, for up to 100 days.

 

Five Saildrones will be launched on the West Coast this summer. (Photo: Courtesy of John Gussman)

 

“Our ship is out there now. It’s out doing an 80-day survey from Vancouver Island down to the Mexican border,” Garfield said. “The two pairs are going to replicate that tract.”

Researchers will then compare the ship’s information to what’s collected by the drones to see if the new technology could be used to replicate some of the ship’s surveys.

They already know there will be differences, including that the drones will move slowly, about 1 or 2 knots.

There’s also a chance the drones could come closer to shore than the ships, which could help expand the surveys. Whether that’s possible depends on a lot of variables from the abundance of kelp to the number of recreational boats on the water.

That’s where the fifth drone comes in.

“That’s the one we’re going to try to use to explore whether we can come farther into shore,” Garfield said.

They’ll also want to use that drone to test whether it could sail in front of the ship to pinpoint the best spots to sample and, if instead of chasing the fish, they could use the drone in one area to track them as they swim by.

The fifth drone is scheduled to launch off Alameda on Aug. 13 and will be sailing for about six months. But it may not reach Ventura County.

“Originally, we were going to have the Saildrone operate all the way down to San Diego,” Garfield said Tuesday.

But the company had concerns about the traffic in the Santa Barbara Channel, as well as light winds in the summertime.

They’re going to make a decision closer to the date of the launch, he said. “It’s really going to depend on conditions.”

To follow the drones’ progress, go to NOAA’s blog at https://www.nwfsc.noaa.gov/news/blogs.


Original post and video: https://www.vcstar.com/

Jun 29 2018

Stuck on imports: U.S. seafood trade deficit increased in 2017

The U.S. imported more than 6 billion pounds of seafood valued at more than $21.5 billion in 2017. NOAA photo.

Samuel Hill  June 26, 2018

The United States imported more foreign seafood than ever in 2017, according to NOAA.

The U.S. imported more than 6 billion pounds of seafood valued at more than $21.5 billion in 2017. U.S. exports paled in comparison — more than 3.6 billion pounds of seafood were exported, valued at $5.4 billion.

According to NOAA, the United States imports more than 90 percent of the seafood the public consumes, despite its own active industry. The amount of seafood exported for processing and reimported is unknown, but considered “significant” by NOAA.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has identified reducing this deficit as a priority for the government. One prominent strategy would be increasing the amount of aquaculture-based farming Jennie Lyons, a NOAA spokeswoman, told the Associated Press.

The United States trades in seafood with countries all over the world, and the countries it buys the most from include Canada, China and Chile. Major buyers of U.S. seafood include China, Japan and South Korea.

While markets in China have been growing, those markets are at risk as an all-out trade war seems plausible between China and the United States. On June 15, U.S. and Chinese officials announced a bundle of tariffs, each targeting the other nation’s exports.

President Donald Trump announced a 35 percent tariff on all Chinese goods containing “industrially significant technologies,” an estimated $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. China responded with retaliatory 25 percent tariff on various U.S. exports, including many seafood products. Roughly 170 seafood products have been targeted, including salmon, lobster, shrimp, cod, tuna, pollock, oysters, scallops, Dungeness and snow crab, blackcod and geoduck.

Seafood and fishing industry leaders from all U.S. coasts spoke out against the latest tariffs soon afterward, saying the policy will cost American jobs.


Original post: https://www.nationalfisherman.com/