Archive for May, 2013

May 31 2013

Magnuson Reauthorization must address food, jobs, and revenue, as well as fish says Ray Hilborn

Seafood News

Ray Hilborn is a Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, and one of the world’s reknowned experts on fisheries. He has long advocated a broad view of the benefits of fisheries in the food system, and asked that we consider the ecological impacts of not fishing as well as those of fishing. This is a guest editorial written following the Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries Conference, held earlier this month in Washington, DC.

The recent Managing Our Nations Fisheries conference in Washington D.C. and the upcoming reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management and Conservation Act has focused attention on the nation’s fisheries, how well they are doing, and what can be done to improve the contribution of U.S. fisheries to our national well-being. A logical first step in evaluation of our fisheries is to first ask what are the objectives of American fisheries management?

The text of the act begins with “To provide for the conservation and management of the fisheries, and for other purposes”, but then becomes more specific by stating that rebuilding fish stocks, ensuring conservation , protecting essential habitat are all intentions of the act. Also, the act makes it clear that one objective is to provide for “the development of fisheries which are underutilized or not utilized … to assure that our citizens benefit from the employment, food supply, and revenue which could be generated thereby.”

Read the full story here.

May 10 2013

Successful Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries Conference Brings Together Diverse Voices

Managing Our Nation's Fisheries Advancing Sustainability logoThe Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries 3 conference wrapped up today on a successful note, with conference participants developing 128 recommendations for improving fishery sustainability. The draft recommendations are online at and will be further elaborated in the conference proceedings.

The conference was coordinated by the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils and NOAA Fisheries, and was sponsored by both fishing industry and environmental groups. The conference aimed to identify both legislative and non-legislative measures to advance fishery sustainability in light of the coming reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act, which governs Federal fishery management in the United States. Most participants seemed to agree that the Magnuson-Stevens Act has been successful in managing U.S. fisheries, and that large-scale revisions would not be needed. For example, under the Act, 32 fish stocks that were previously labeled “overfished” have been rebuilt. However, there was also agreement that some changes are needed to keep the Act relevant, flexible, and responsive.

“These recommendations will be considered carefully as we move forward with Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization,” said Dave Whaley, Legislative staff for the House Natural Resources Subcommittee. “We do need to act carefully; we do not want to solve problems in one area of the country while creating new problems in other areas.”

The conference, held at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C., began on May 6 with keynotes by Rep.Doc Hastings (R-WA); NOAA Assistant Administrator Eric Schwaab; chef, author and television host Barton Seaver; and Deadliest Catch skipper Keith Colburn. The conference continued May 8 and 9 with sessions on improving fishery management essentials, advancing ecosystem-based decision making, and providing for fishing community stability. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) addressed the conference attendees on May 8. More than 600 people attended the conference.

Read the full story here.

May 9 2013

House Natural Resources Chairman Hastings Discusses Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorization at Fisheries Conference

Saving Seafood

Today, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA -04) spoke at the third Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries Conference coordinated by the Regional Fishery Management Councils and hosted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council. During his remarks, Chairman Hastings discussed the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, President Obama’s National Ocean Policy, and the need to update the Endangered Species Act.

The following are highlights from his speech:

Balance and Flexibility

“Managing fish – and fishermen – is a challenge.  It requires balancing act in a number of areas: between a sustainable harvest level and the maximum economic value for the fisheries; between recreational and commercial users of the same resource; between different gear types in the same fisheries; and between the interests of different states.  In addition, not only are the fisheries different, but the challenges are different in each region of the country.  Because of these differences, a one-size-fits-all management structure is not the most efficient structure.

The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the framework for sustainable fisheries management that allows for regional solutions to address regional challenges.  The Act works, it is absolutely necessary to maintain this authority that allows regions to find unique solutions to their problems.  Because of this framework the United States has arguably the best managed fisheries in the world.”

Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization

“It is Congress’ responsibility to re-examine and reauthorize the laws that we create and the current authorization for the Magnuson-Stevens Act expires at the end of Fiscal Year 2013. The time for Congress to work on this reauthorization is now.

As Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee – the House Committee with jurisdiction over the Magnuson- Stevens Act – I have already begun the reauthorization process with several hearings in the last Congress and, in March, the first of several hearings we will hold this year. It is my goal is to try and reauthorize this important statute this Congress… We are in the process of scheduling our next hearing on the reauthorization and it will be formally announced soon.  It will be on data collection issues and it will be held on May 21st, but there are other issues that need to be addressed at further future hearings.”

Read full speech here.

May 9 2013

Big environmental push for new fisheries regs slowed at NOAA Managing Fisheries Conference in DC

Seafood News

After three days at the Managing our Nations Fisheries Conference in Washington DC, there is clearly no overriding fisheries reform issue that is going to get resolved quickly through new NOAA or congressional action.

This is a very positive outcome, and reflects a sense of stability about US fisheries management.

First, the conference was extremely well organized, and the full materials are available at the conference website:

The overall tone of the conference reflected the success that the 2006 revision of Magnuson has had in setting in place a sustainable approach to US fisheries. There was a recognition that applying harvest limits to virtually all fisheries, and implementing catch share type allocation systems in many fisheries, has had a hugely positive impact on eliminating overfishing, and on reducing bycatch and impacts on non-target species.

However, seven years after the 2006 bill, there are a number of things that the 8 regional management councils would like to see improved.

The conference did not come to any conclusions – but instead the discussions set the stage for the lobbying and back and forth with NOAA, and in Congress, that will result in updates to the National Standards – the enabling language on which the councils act – and on possible changes to the Magnuson bill when the new authorization is achieved.

Changes in NOAAs interpretation of the Act under their regulatory authority are likely to happen far more quickly, and with good result, that the changes to Magnuson Act itself, which will be a monumental multi-year task.

The following are some of the brief issue summaries and positions discussed at the conference.

Read full story here.

May 9 2013

On “Forage Fish”, Pew’s Peter Baker Misses the Mark

Saving Seafood

“Forage fish” management in the California Current Ecosystem is the most precautionary in the world. Current ecosystem modeling efforts find that purse seine fisheries for coastal pelagic species harvest less than four percent (or two percent, depending on source) of the planktivorous forage pool.

“According to a paper by Kaplin et al 2012 in Fish and Fisheries. Cumulative impacts of fisheries in the California Current. This paper uses the Atlantis model to look at the effects of the major fisheries (by gear type) on other fisheries and species. The purse-seine fishery has the largest effect on other ecosystem components; almost all of the effects were positive! The purse-seine fishery (for coastal pelagic species) resulted in large increases in the Large planktivores, very little change in the small planktivores (they note that the fishery takes <4% of the small planktovore biomass), increases in salmon, deep-vertical migrators, misc pelagic sharks, large zooplankton, microzooplankton, and nearshore fish.” – Dr. Richard Parrish, retired NMFS fishery biologist in Monterey who has more than 50 years’ knowledge of CPS and the California Current.

The paper A Case for Precautionary Management of Forage Fish, presented by Pew’s Peter Baker at the Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries Conference on May 8, is based on several assumptions about “forage fish” and predator species that are unproven. These unproven assumptions, as well as a lack of peer-review of the Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force that the paper extensively cites, should raise significant questions and engender in-depth review before its recommendations become standard practice in fisheries management.

The paper’s recommendations are based around the assumption that “forage fish” is a legitimate and useful categorization of species to be used in fisheries management, and that the various “forage species” can be managed under the same broad guidelines. Specifically, the paper recommends implementing restrictions intended to leave forage species biomass at 75 percent of unfished levels. The paper argues that adopting this conservative management strategy will lead to an increase in the amount of forage available and will benefit predator species.

However, these species have a variety of biological differences, and don’t have much in common outside of their common role in the marine food web. These significant differences–including fecundity, spawning periods, migration, predator-prey relationships, and habitat–are much more relevant variables for fisheries management than a shared trophic role.

Read the full story here.

May 7 2013

‘Mystery fish’ turns out to be 125-pound opah, a rare catch aboard Southern California half-day boat

GrindTV Image

Anglers and crew aboard a Southern California half-day boat were astonished last week to see what the captain had reeled from the depths: a stunningly gorgeous moon-shaped denizen with a speckled body and bright-red fins.

It was an opah, a species more commonly found in tropical and sub-tropical waters much farther offshore. Opah catches are rare off California, and extremely rare in coastal waters. To have landed one of these pelagic beauties from a half-day boat, within view of the shore, might be unprecedented.

Opah2Capt. Jeff Patrick of the Western Pride hooked the 125-pound opah on a sardine at a depth of about 250 feet, while on a rockfish excursion out of Davey’s Locker Sportfishing in Newport Beach.

The “mystery fish” was so feisty that he thought he had hooked a shark. The fight lasted 45 minutes and at one point the captain contemplated cutting the line because the rockfish had stopped biting and he wanted to relocate to a more productive area.

Read the full story here.

May 7 2013

MIKE CONROY: Squid Fishermen Fight Not ‘David vs. Goliath,’ More Like ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’

Saving Seafood

Hearing claims of three squid brail (smaller boat) fishermen, one might think that the larger seine vessel squid fishermen are illegally catching all of the allowable quota.

But that’s just not the case. In fact, not only is there an abundance of squid in California’s waters – more than enough to go around – most of the brail-boat fishing fleet have no problem with the current management structure.

That’s because the squid resource is booming and most fishermen have been catching plenty of squid!

Read the full story here.

May 6 2013

Managing our Nation’s Fisheries Conference looks to be a free for all in Washington DC next week

Seafood News



SEAFOOD.COM NEWS by John Sackton – May 2, 2013

The third Managing our Nations Fisheries Conference opens next week in Washington DC, and it promises to be a free for all with members of all the US regional management councils, NOAA, Commercial and recreational fishing associations, Pew, the Walton Family Foundation, Greenpeace and other NGOs, as well as dozens of Washington fisheries lobbyists and congressional staffers.

The conference is looking at changes in Magnuson, including requirements for more flexibility; it is looking at ecosystem management, and habitat and forage fish protection.

The conference is convened by the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils and hosted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council.

According to the sponsors, this conference follows up on the highly successful Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries conferences held in 2003 and 2005. Managing Our Nation’s Fisheries 3 will focus on how concepts, policies, and practice of fishery sustainability can be advanced to a higher level.

The discussion will address Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization issues, as well as adjustments to current management that do not require legislation to implement. The conference will provide a forum for information exchange and an opportunity to hear a wide range of perspectives on the sustainability of fish stocks and ecosystem functions, and the fishing communities that depend on them.

Pew, a co-sponsor of the conference, is trying to get the drop on the agenda with the release of a position paper next monday making the argument that fisheries are still at risk, despite huge successes in eliminating overfishing in the U.S.

Their position is that Many of our ocean ecosystems are severely compromised by decades of overfishing, habitat- damaging practices and indiscriminate fishing gear that captures and kills vast amounts of non-target ocean wildlife. In short, they are not recognizing the huge gains that have been made by US fisheries managers.

Rather than focus on how to maximize stability and economic benefit for rebuilt fisheries, Pew and the NGOs are likely to advance an agenda calling for action in three areas:

-More protection for essential fish habitat and to minimize by catch. This will likely take the form of increased efforts for gear restrictions on bottom trawling, as well as expansion of areas of marine reserves.

-Plans to maintain resilient ocean ecosystems. Managing on an ecosystem basis is key to the future of successful fishery management, yet this approach can be abused if it does not modify existing species specific goals.

The open question for ecosystem management is whether it means preserving the essential stability of an ecosystem while allowing for individual species variability, or whether it means extending the idea that all species should be at their maximum potential beyond commercial and recreational species to all animals and plants in the ecosystem.

There is a real issue to be faced as to whether human modifications to an ecosystem are acceptable to marine environmental groups or not.

-Finally, the NGOs are focusing on forage fish – species such as Menhaden, herring and sardines on the West Coast; whose stocks have largely been sustainably managed, but that now are being targeted for increased protections.

I will be at the conference, and mostly looking for the underlying assumptions to the arguments being made. The adoption of hard TACs and harvest control limits in the last reauthorization of Magnuson has proved to be a key factor in the success of US fisheries Management. Now the issues seem to turn more on a need for increased flexibility and a recognition that we have moved beyond overfishing, and now should concentrate on maximizing the benefits and maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Those who advocate for increased restrictions – whether in habitat, elimination of fishing gear, or enhanced protection of forage fish, have to make the case as to why, when our fisheries have successfully recovered, we are still being asked to address these issues in a crisis mode.



John Sackton, Editor And Publisher News 1-781-861-1441

Email comments to

Copyright 2013

Source: News

May 3 2013

NOAA issues status of stocks report; overfishing continues to decline in US

Seafood News



SEAFOOD.COM NEWS  by John Sackton May 2, 2013

NOAA released its 2012 status of the stocks report to Congress this morning, showing continued progress in eliminating overfishing and rebuilding stocks in the U.S.

Overfishing declined 30% between 2011 and 2012.  In 2011, 14% of the stocks where NOAA has data were being overfished.  In 2012, that percentage dropped to 10%.

Once overfishing is ended, a stock will typically recover to its MSY biomass.  Stocks are classified as overfished when they are below the level needed to sustain harvests at the Maximum sustainable yield level.  The number of stocks classified as overfished dropped from 21% to 19%, a decline of 10%.

Acting Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries Sam Rauch said “It was another record-setting year for  our marine fisheries. Today, we are reporting that six more stocks were declared rebuilt in 2012, bringing the total number of stocks rebuilt since 2000 to 32. This year’s rebuilt stocks include Southern Tanner crab, Acadian redfish, windowpane, yellowtail flounder, coho salmon, and pink shrimp. ”

“In addition, overfishing is at an all-time low with 10 additional stocks removed from the overfishing list since last year.  The details behind these record-setting trends are included in NOAA Fisheries’ new 2012 Report on the Status of U.S. Fisheries which is available online.

He also noted “It is critical that we recognize the sacrifices that have been made and will be made to achieve these gains.”  So far, Congress has been very reluctant to acknowledge that the gains in fisheries sustainability have a price that has been borne almost exclusively by the seafood industry.



May 3 2013

The supergule inspired by world’s stickiest – which can hold up to 230 times its own bodyweight


The world’s stickiest fish, with an adhesive force up to 230 times its bodyweight, is set to inspire a new household superglue, according to researchers in North Carolina. 

The small Northern Clingfish is found in the Pacific, off the north west coast of the the US. 

It uses modified fins as a suction disk to hold onto the underside of rocks amid crashing waves.

It fastens itself to rough edges by using pads of tiny hairs called microvilli which are similar to those on a gecko’s feet.

Researcher Dylan Wainwright and his colleagues from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina said the method is quick, reversible and readily works underwater.

They said the fish’s technology could be used for adhesive devices in medicine, industry and the home.

The dusky coloured Northern Clingfish, also known as Gobiesox maeandricus, is a species of saltwater fish and measures about six-inches long.

Shaped like tadpoles with a wide, flattened head they have no scales and are covered with a thick coating of slime that makes them very slippery.

They are characterised by their large suction disc formed by the union of the pelvic fins and adjacent folds of flesh.

The research team carried out experiments on 22 samples of Northern Clingfish, caught off the rocks of San Juan Island, Washington, and measured the fishes’ adhesive force on eight surfaces.

Seven of the surfaces had varying sizes of grit on them, and the eighth was made from glass, to see how the fish performed on an extremely smooth layer.

Read the full story here.