Archive for March, 2011

Mar 28 2011

The End of Overfishing in America

A fisherman unloads a portion of his catch for the day at Pigeon Cove Whole Foods docks in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Eric Schwaab, the administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, announced this week that overfishing will end in U.S. waters. (AP/Lisa Poole)


By Michael Conathan | March 25, 2011

This feature is part of a new series from CAP dealing with fisheries management issues. The series will publish biweekly on Fridays. It is a joint column with Science Progress.

Eric Schwaab, the administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, stood before a crowd of fisheries experts on Monday at the Boston Seafood Show. Schwaab had made many forays to New England—home of some of the squeakiest wheels in our nation’s fishing industry—since taking over the job about a year ago. But this time was different. He came bearing a remarkable message: We are witnessing the end of overfishing in U.S. waters.

One of the biggest changes to fisheries law in the 2007 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act was the imposition of strict annual catch limits, or ACLs, in fisheries experiencing overfishing beginning in 2010, and for all other fisheries in 2011, “at a level such that overfishing does not occur.” Schwaab said the 2010 target of putting ACLs in place for all overfished fisheries was achieved, and “We are on track to meet this year’s deadline of having [ACLs] in place, as required, for all 528 managed stocks and complexes comprising U.S. harvest.”

Schwaab went on to call this accomplishment an “enormous milestone.” Quite frankly, that is an even more enormous understatement.

The end of overfishing should be shouted from rooftops from New England to the Carolinas to the Gulf Coast to Alaska to the Pacific Island territories and back to NMFS’s Silver Spring, Maryland headquarters. This is the biggest national news story our fisheries have seen in years.

Read the rest of the story from America Progress.


Mar 27 2011

The Future for the American Seafood Industry: Remarks by Eric Schwaab for the International Boston Seafood Show


Eric Schwaab, Administrator of NOAA Fisheries (National Marine Fisheries Service) spoke at the International Seafood Show in Boston on March 21:

I am here today for four reasons:
1. To emphasize that the nation’s fisheries are being actively monitored, managed and enforced to ensure their sustained use and abundance;
2. To highlight the importance of this year – 2011 – and the milestone it represents in reaching the national objective of sustainable fisheries and the supply of seafood;
3. To reach out and engage with you as members of the broader seafood supply industry and make our information more accessible and useful to you and your customers; and
4. To further focus and increase attention on the challenges that face us ahead.

How do we do a better job of getting out the word on the progress made in management of domestic fisheries? That, coupled with increasing awareness of the health benefits of seafood is a challenge, but one that we’ve taken on at NOAA Fisheries. We have established a website for consumers and retailers called ‘FishWatch”.

This site profiles the species I’ve just mentioned along with more than 80 others — and more to come. FishWatch provides you and the consumer a thumb-nail profile of the status of these stocks, their ecosystem considerations, including issues of habitat and bycatch impacts associated with their harvest, and how these impacts are managed, monitored and controlled through the fishery management process.

While there are many messages out in the market place, we know that US fisheries – – managed under the MSA and its prescriptive standards to base decisions on the best available science, protect habitat, minimize bycatch, and set sustainable harvest levels – – are inherently sustainable and have a valuable story to tell.


Read the complete text of Mr. Schwaab’s speech.


Mar 25 2011

Fisheries chief sees end to overfishing

March 22, 2011

By Richard Gaines Staff Writer

The administrator of federal fisheries has reportedly declared restoration efforts of overfished stocks — now in their fourth decade under Magnuson-Stevens Act mandates — have succeeded in making sustainable the nation’s last great wild food resource.

In informal remarks during a private meeting with a seafood marketing group on the first day of the International Boston Seafood Show, Eric Schwaab, administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, was applauded not only for his optimistic assessment of the long struggle to end overfishing, but for his commitment to marry government resources with U.S. industry efforts at increasing the domestic share of the global seafood market, according to multiple audience sources.

Handling Samplesphoto © 2010 Deepwater Horizon Response | more info (via: Wylio)

Schwaab spoke to about 70 members of the National Seafood Marketing Coalition on Sunday, during the first day of the three-day seafood show, considered an apex event on the global fisheries calendar.

Expressed in multiple variations, the theme of the show, according to, an industry news site, was supplier and seller efforts to measure and demonstrate seafood sustainability in a global market in which 84 percent of U.S. consumption is imported, half of it farmed.

The leading exporter to U.S. markets is China, to which the United States had a $1.6 billion trade deficit in seafood alone in 2010, according to government statistics.

Schwaab’s characterization of the success of stock restoration efforts in the United States intersects the pending Senate confirmation hearing as ambassador to China of Gary Locke.

Locke, the Secretary of Commerce, has become the center of a festering dispute between coastal state congressional leaders and the White House over administration fisheries policy, and whether the conversion to catch share management and a commodities market system has caused grave harm to the industry and fishing communities, as U.S. Sens. John Kerry, Scott Brown and Congressmen John Tierney and Barney Frank, all of Massachusetts, and other lawmakers have argued.

Read the rest of the story from the Gloucester Times.


Mar 23 2011

Upcoming Event: Ocean Acidification

The Aquarium of the Pacific is hosting a talk on Ocean Acidification on May 25, 2011.  Below is the background and how to attend:

Implications for West Coast Ecosystems


Dr. Richard Feely

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the most important “greenhouse” gases in the atmosphere affecting the radiative heat balance of the Earth. As a direct result of the industrial and agricultural activities of humans over the past two centuries, atmospheric CO2 concentrations have increased by about 100 parts per million.

The atmospheric concentration of CO2 is now higher than experienced on Earth for at least the last 800,000 years and is expected to continue to rise. This will lead to significant temperature increases in the atmosphere and ocean by the end of this century. The global ocean is the largest natural long-term reservoir for this excess heat and CO2. It absorbs approximately 85 percent of the heat and 30 percent of the anthropogenic (human-sourced) carbon released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial era.

Recent studies have demonstrated that both the temperature increases and the increased concentrations of CO2 in the ocean are causing significant changes in marine ecosystems. Many marine organisms are already affected by these anthropogenic stresses, which have led to coral bleaching and ocean acidification. Dr. Feely will discuss the present and future implications of increased temperature and CO2 levels as they relate to the health of our West Coast ocean ecosystems. He will also conduct a live demonstration of ocean acidification.

Dr. Feely is a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. He also holds an affiliate full professor faculty position at the University of Washington’s School of Oceanography. His major research areas are carbon cycling in the ocean and ocean acidification processes. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of St. Thomas, in St Paul, Minnesota in 1969. He then went on to Texas A&M University where he received both a master’s of science degree in 1971 and a Ph.D. in 1974. Both of his post-graduate degrees were in chemical oceanography.

He is the co-chair of the U.S. CLIVAR (Climate Variability and Prediction)/CO2 Repeat Hydrography Program. He is also a member of the steering committee for the U.S. Ocean Carbon and Biochemistry Program. He is a member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Feely has authored more than 200 refereed research publications. He was awarded the Department of Commerce Gold Award in 2006 for his pioneering research on ocean acidification. In 2007 he was elected to be a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.




7:00 PM–8:30 PM


$8 for public; $4 general Aquarium members; Free for Pacific Circle members, teachers, and students with Valid ID and advanced reservations.


You can purchase tickets online for this event. You will need to select the option from the menu, correct time, and date on the following pages.


(562) 590-3100, ext. 0


View videos of past lectures



Mar 23 2011

California City Charts Course in Tsunami’s Wake

By Tamara Audi

CRESCENT CITY, Calif.—Somewhere under the murky waters of this city’s demolished harbor lay the remains of Marty Lopez’s fishing business.

“That boat kept me alive for 27 years,” said Mr. Lopez, gazing out at the harbor where his boat, the Nellie, sank in the March 11 tsunami. The Nellie, like many boats here, wasn’t insured.

Japan’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that killed thousands and yielded an unfolding nuclear disaster. No one was hurt when the tsunami arrived in Crescent City, but the wave destroyed its harbor, threatening the economic future of the 157-year-old fishing village just south of Oregon.


Average Value of Commercial Seafood Landings 2000-2009 (Source: CA Dept. of Fish & Game)

“We’re fighting to survive,” said Richard Young, the harbor master, in an interview last week. He surveyed the damage to the small but vital fishing industry: Forty-seven boats—many of them part of the commercial fishing fleet of about 100 boats—were damaged, and 16 more were sunk.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Young told an official in another city where he had recently accepted a position as harbor master that he wouldn’t be taking the job. “Things are so bad here I just can’t leave,” he told the city official on the phone.

The harbor’s wooden docks are in pieces; chunks of broken concrete are pushed to the edges of the harbor. Masts and bows poke out of the water as divers work to map the underwater wreckage. Smashed boats are crushed against each other and the harbor wall.

Read the rest of the story at The Wall Street Journal.

Mar 21 2011

Judge hears catch quota arguments

March 19, 2011
Written by KIRK MOORE

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — Some mid-Atlantic fishermen challenging a controversial system of catch quotas say that two-thirds of the fishing industry must vote in its favor before it can be imposed.

Their contention was raised during arguments in a federal court hearing in Boston. The New England case has been at the center of a legal and political battle over the catch quota system involving cod, haddock and flounder.

Fishing boat photo © 2009 Mike Baird | more info (via: Wylio)

When a federal judge, Rya Zobel, heard the arguments Tuesday, attention focused on one allegation raised by mid-Atlantic fishermen. They argue federal law says the catch quotas cannot be imposed without an industrywide referendum that wins support among two-thirds of the affected fishing boat owners, captains and crews.

“The arguments quickly zeroed in on the issue of catch shares being an ITQ (individual transferable quotas system) and needing a referendum,” said James Lovgren of the Fishermen’s Dock Cooperative in Point Pleasant Beach.

Read the rest of the story here.


Mar 12 2011

Tsunami Passes Alaska, No Reports of Damage

By Ted LandChannel 2 News1:46 p.m. AKST, March 11, 2011

JUNEAU, Alaska

The massive earthquake that struck Japan late Thursday triggered a tsunami which swept along the Alaska coastline from the Aleutian chain to Southeast Alaska Friday morning, causing no reports of damage to date.

A stretch of coastline between Attu and Amchitka Pass was under a tsunami warning Friday morning, while the rest of the state faced a less-severe tsunami advisory that continued into the afternoon.

A tide gauge at Shemya, Alaska, monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed water rising 5 feet early Friday. Meters near Adak and Dutch Harbor showed smaller rises.

The State Emergency Coordination Center activated late Thursday and plans to remain active until all Alaska communties are in the clear. There have been no reports of damage.

“Many of the communities now threatened by these tsunamis have recently received new all-hazard

Read the rest of the story here.


Mar 12 2011

B.C. spared major tsunami damage

By: News Staff

Date: Friday Mar. 11, 2011 4:05 PM PT

Harbours in California and Hawaii felt the impact from waves spawned by a devastating earthquake off Japan Friday, with damage reported and one person missing.

Record-high waves of up to 2.5 metres were seen in Crescent City, California and one man is missing after being swept out to sea while taking photos of the tsunami there.

The coast guard is searching for the man.

Four men were also swept off a beach in Oregon by the surge. Two managed to get back to safety on their own, and emergency crews saved the other two men.

There was severe damage to the docks and local residents said dozens of boats were “crushed.”

Read the rest of the story here.


Mar 12 2011

Tsunami brings storm-like waves to Wash. coast

The Associated Press
Friday, March 11, 2011; 12:15 PM

MOCLIPS, Wash. — Active waves similar to any stormy day on the coast were the only sign that a tsunami had arrived in Washington.

The National Weather Service predicted the waves caused by an earthquake in Japan to reach 3 feet or more on the Washington coast Friday, but higher waves could come later.

About 60 people had evacuated to Grays Harbor Fire District No. 8 in Moclips. Volunteer firefighter Cathy Bisiack said a group of mostly elderly residents were enjoying a pancake breakfast and watching the news on TV when the waves started to hit.

Read the rest of the story here.


Mar 12 2011

Oregon Coast tsunami: Serious damage reports from Brookings, Crescent City ports

By The Oregonian
Friday, March 11, 2011, 2:30 PM

Reports of serious damage are coming from the Port of Brookings-Harbor in the wake of Friday’s earthquake-tsunami in Japan.

Chris Cantwell, the port’s operations supervisor said 70 percent of the port’s commercial basin was destroyed.

“A third of our sports basin destroyed. We have boats on top of another. Probably half-a-dozen sunk,” he told The Oregonian.

Cantwell said the first wall of water came in about 8:05 a.m. Friday. Three waves in all came in before 10 a.m. The third one inflicted the most damage.

“We had one fatality … dead body found in a boat. Not entirely sure the guy died during the tsunami. Possibly before,” he said.

Read the rest of the story here.