Archive for October, 2015

Oct 31 2015

New Report Shows Value of US Fish Landings Strong – Fisheries of the United States 2014

headerOctober 29, 2015


As we close out National Seafood Month this week, NOAA Fisheries released the Fisheries of the U.S. Report for 2014 today.

Each year, we compile key fisheries statistics from the previous year into an annual snapshot documenting fishing’s importance to the nation. Inside the 2014 report, you’ll find landings totals for both domestic commercial and recreational fishing by species. This information allows us to track important indicators such as annual seafood consumption and the productivity of top fishing ports.

Here are a few highlights from the report:

• U.S. commercial fishermen landed 9.5 billion pounds of seafood valued at $5.4 billion in 2014.
• There were strong landings of 3.1 billion pounds for the nation’s largest commercial fishery, walleye pollock, valued at $400 million.
• Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and New Bedford, Massachusetts, continue to dominate the list of top ports driven by landings of pollock for Alaska and sea scallops in Massachusetts.
• U.S. marine and freshwater aquaculture production was valued at $1.4 billion, about one-quarter the value of the nation’s commercial wild catch.
• The five highest value commercial species categories were crabs ($686 million), shrimp ($681 million), lobster ($625 million), salmon ($617 million), and scallops ($428 million).

In our recreational fisheries:

• 10.4 million anglers took 68 million trips in 2014.
• These recreational anglers caught 392 million fish, and released sixty percent of those caught.
• The total harvest was estimated at 155 million fish weighing 186 million pounds.
• The top five U.S. species ranked by pounds landed were striped bass, bluefish, yellowfin tuna, mahi mahi, and summer flounder.

We have also posted Fisheries Economics of the United States for 2013. The report highlights the positive far-reaching economic impact of the seafood and recreational fisheries industries on the U.S. economy. The 2014 version of Fisheries Economics of the United States will be released within the next few months.

Fisheries of the United States 2014 and Fisheries Economics of the United States 2013 are available on our website.
Warm Regards,

Laurel Bryant
Chief, External Affairs
NOAA Fisheries Communications

Oct 29 2015

El Niño: Californians urged to buy flood insurance even if they’re not near water

With the strongest El Niño conditions in nearly 20 years already underway in the Pacific Ocean and chances increasing for heavy storms this winter, federal emergency officials on Friday urged Californians to buy flood insurance — even those who don’t live near creeks or rivers.

“We encourage everyone to take the threat seriously,” said Roy Wright, a deputy associate administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Washington, D.C. “If there ever was a time to buy flood insurance, this is that time.”

Since 1978 in California, 37 percent of all flood insurance claims have come as a result of just two winters, 1982-83 and 1997-98 — the last two times that strong El Niño conditions similar to this year’s have occurred. In both of those winters, pounding rainfall caused flooding, mudslides and other damage across the state.

Many property owners who live in “high hazard” areas on flood maps that FEMA publishes are required to buy flood insurance as a condition of receiving a mortgage loan. But because there are large numbers of renters and people who have paid off their mortgages living near rivers, creeks and shorelines, only 30 to 50 percent of people living in high hazard areas nationwide have flood insurance, Wright said.

Most homeowner’s insurance policies cover damage if a tree falls through a roof or storms cause other harm, such as blowing patio furniture through a window. But they usually do not cover the damage from flood waters.

Insurance experts and FEMA officials, who spoke at a midmorning news conference, said that people who do not live in flood-prone areas can still be at risk for flooding during major, sustained storms. That can happen when storm drains back up and flood neighborhoods, or water runs down hillsides and into homes.

Forecasters say that January, February and March are expected to get the brunt of this winter’s heavy rainfall across California. There is a 30-day waiting period for new flood insurance policies to go into effect, Wright said Friday.

California’s current four-year drought, and the nearly 20 years that have passed since the state experienced punishing winter rains, have made many residents downplay or forget that wet winters historically have caused major destruction and fatalities.

“People always say ‘I never thought this would happen to me,'” said Nancy Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Insurance. “But if it does, are you prepared to recover without insurance? It can be thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Flood insurance policies for people in high-risk areas can cost $1,000 or a more a year. Policies for people outside those high-risk areas, which are called “preferred risk” policies, are cheaper and can range from about $140 to $500 a year, Wright said.

The Golden Wheel mobile home park on Oakland Road in San Jose, Calif., flooded when Coyote Creek overflowed its banks during the El Nino-fueled winter of

The Golden Wheel mobile home park on Oakland Road in San Jose, Calif., flooded when Coyote Creek overflowed its banks during the El Nino-fueled winter of 1997-98. (Richard Wisdom/Staff file photo)

“That is often within someone’s reach in terms of the kind of investment they can make to buy down their risk,” he said. “Even if you buy that policy for only one year, this is the year to buy it.”

FEMA has posted its flood risk maps and tips to reduce flood risk at

In recent months, a number of flash floods and episodes of heavy rain have served as reminders of the risk of rising water. Last week, flash flooding trapped nearly 200 cars and trucks in mudslides up to 6 feet deep on Interstate 5 in Los Angeles County and Highway 58, 30 miles east of Bakersfield.

A month ago, 20 people died in flash floods along the Utah-Arizona border. Those killed included 13 children and a sheriff’s deputy.

Unlike most other kinds of insurance, which consumers buy from private insurance companies, flood insurance is funded through the federal government, due to a 1968 law enacted after many private companies declined to offer policies following heavy losses.

Jamie Court, a consumer advocate, said that people should consider buying flood insurance this year, and everyone should at least check their policies, although some residents probably don’t need to worry.

“I don’t think it’s a one-size-fits-all, but this is a wake-up call,” said Court, who is president of Consumer Watchdog in Santa Monica. “People do have to re-evaluate their insurance coverage. This won’t affect me because I live on top of a hill with good drainage. I’m very unlikely to sustain flood damage. But on the other hand, people who aren’t in flood zones could flood if they are at the bottom of a hill or close to a storm drain.”

Experts said Friday that homeowners should check their roofs for areas that could leak, caulk drafty windows and doors, and trim dead trees that are near buildings. They also should take videos of their possessions in every room and store that video out of their home, either in the Internet cloud or another location. And they should update emergency kits with flashlights, battery-powered radios, bottled water and other supplies.

“Now is the time to do it. Once we get into the rains, it becomes much more difficult to act after the fact,” said Ken Katz, national property risk control director at Travelers Insurance. “Do it now. Take it seriously.”

In the Bay Area, some people are already at work.

Jason Alarid, whose family owns Henry’s Hi-Life, a restaurant in downtown San Jose near the Guadalupe River, which flooded in 1995, said he already had crews check his roof, and he’s talking with his insurance agent about his flood policy.

“With this El Niño, we think we need more coverage, just in case,” he said. “You never know what will happen.”

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Oct 29 2015

Crab fishermen volunteer to protect tangled whales

HumpbackWhaleHumpback whales, like this one seen in 2013 from the cliffs at Marina State Beach, are increasingly getting tangled in fishing gear, NOAA reports.(Photo: Jay Dunn/The Salinas Californian, Jay Dunn/The Salinas Californian)


It’s an increasingly common site along the West Coast: a 50-foot-long whale breaking the surface of the water, hundreds of feet of fishing gear wrapped around its torso and fins, cutting into its skin and trailing behind it. If the whale is lucky, a whale entanglement team will find it in time and successfully free it from the heavy equipment. If the whale is unlucky, it may succumb to infection, become too tired to feed, or drown.

A seemingly unlikely ally has emerged in the fight to protect the whales of the West: the fishermen themselves. On Tuesday, Oct. 20, The Nature Conservancy and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration held meetings in three locations along the California coast to train fishermen to be first-responders for whale entanglement. Almost 100 crab fishermen attended the voluntary trainings – nearly a third of California’s crab fleet.

More West Coast whales were caught in fishing gear in 2014 than any other year, according to reports by NOAA. 2015 is on course to break that record, and the Dungeness crab season has yet to begin.

No one knows why reports of entanglements have increased so rapidly.

“I don’t know anyone who has ever seen a whale caught up in gear, even the old-timers,” said Capt. Geoff Bettencourt, a fourth-generation commercial crab fishermen based in Half Moon Bay who attended the training. “But now it’s all over the news. It seems rampant.”

One reason might be the dramatic increase in humpback whale populations, suggested Tom Dempsey, senior Fisheries Project Director at The Nature Conservancy. Another could be changes in whale behavior. Whales seem to be staying in California longer and spending more time close to shore, where most crabbing takes place. But this may not be the full picture.

According to Dempsey, there’s not a lot of data to work with. It’s unclear what types of gear are most likely to harm whales, and the areas with the most reports might not represent where the whales are being entangled.

Dempsey hopes the fishermen can help shed some light on the mystery. “Nearly 100 fishermen participated in our training. Collectively, they log thousands of sea days annually.”

Not only will crab fishermen help researchers understand where and how the whales are being injured, they can help whale entanglement teams locate and rescue whales, acting as front-line triage. At the training, fishermen were taught to document and evaluate the condition of entangled whales, and taught to correctly report their locations to rescue teams.

If the pilot program is a success, Dempsey hopes to hold more trainings. Eventually, fishermen may be taught to tag entangled whales with satellite and telemetry transmitters. This would help entanglement networks locate and rescue whales more easily.

Dempsey said the response from fishermen has been overwhelming. “Usually on sensitive issues like this, everyone retreats to their different sides and there isn’t a lot of collaboration. This has been the opposite. The industry has stepped forward and really wants to be a part of the solution.”

Bettencourt wasn’t surprised by the fishing industry’s response. “People think that all a fisherman cares about is catching fish, and that’s the farthest thing from the truth. If we mess up the ocean, our families suffer. We lose our livelihood. We lose everything. We want to see it healthy more than anyone.”

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Oct 26 2015

Ray Hilborn: NGO Approach to Seafood Sustainability has lost its way, putting money over Science

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

Copyright © 2015

Seafood News

SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Ray Hilborn October 26, 2015

Ray Hillborn posted the following comment on the new Cfood  – Science of Fisheries Sustainability website. He is responding to the recent Criticism of the GSSI tool by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) which was one of the developers of the tool, but seems to see a conflict between its role as an NGO and its role in supporting science.

Where is the science in seafood sustainability and certification?

It is about money and values – science has been largely lost.

Seafood sustainability is again in the news as the Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative (GSSI) released its tool for evaluating the sustainability of fisheries. The GSSI tool has drawn immediate criticism from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as they recently published an article titled, “GSSI compliance does not indicate sustainability certification, WWF warns.” This is an interesting development since WWF is on the board of GSSI.

GSSI is intended to provide an agreed standard for the wide range of certification and seafood labeling schemes. As their web site says “GSSI is a global platform and partnership of seafood companies, NGOs, experts, governmental and intergovernmental organizations working towards more sustainable seafood for everyone.” So who is right in this case, does the GSSI benchmarking tool tell you if a fishery is sustainable?

At its core, seafood sustainability is about the ability to produce food from the sea in the long term. Are the fishery and its management system operated in such a way that our grandchildren can still enjoy the same production from the fishery (subject to the constraints of external factors such as climate change) as we do today?

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, whose objective is food security, has been a big supporter of GSSI. For FAO, sustainability is about continued food production. During the 1990s when overfishing in developed countries was at its height, many retailers supported seafood certification because they wanted to have products to sell in the future … again a focus on food sustainability.

However, environmental NGOs such as WWF are interested less in food sustainability, and more in reducing the environmental impacts of fishing, whether that be catch of non-target species like sharks, or impacts of fishing gear on the seafloor. Consequently, WWF has been a strong supporter of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which is the leading certification scheme for sustainable fisheries. The MSC standard covers much more than sustainable food production and sets a high bar for environmental impacts of fishing. Yet environmental NGOs, including some national chapters of WWF, reject MSC certification because they feel the environmental standards in MSC are not high enough.

Due to the support of a broad range of diverse stakeholders, GSSI is a potential challenger to the MSC as the premier standard of what fish species are sustainably fished. If the GSSI standards are widely accepted, competitors to MSC that have a lower standard may be accepted by retailers as defining sustainability. Currently, consumer and retailers face a broad range of conflicting seafood advice. Once the criteria moves beyond just the sustainability of the fishery to include environmental impacts, things become confusing as there are so many different types of impacts with no consensus on which ones are more important than others. This is where fisheries certification moves from the arena of science, to one of values.

For consumers and retailers, all the conflicting seafood advice is confusing. Take pollock from Alaska, the largest fishery in the US. This fishery is MSC certified, yet the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch does not rate it as a top choice, but as a “good alternative.” Greenpeace puts pollock on its red list.

Equally interesting is the conflict within the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch itself. Skipjack tuna is one of the largest fisheries in the world and provides most of the world’s canned tuna. Skipjack from the western Pacific are red (Avoid), yellow (Good Alternative) and green (Best Choice) on the Seafood Watch guide, depending on how they are caught. Purse seine fishing has by-catch of many species and is thus red, while pole-and-line fishing has less by-catch and is green. However, purse seining has a much lower carbon footprint than pole-and-line fishing. Seafood Watch is valuing by-catch more than carbon footprint.

There is a major role for science in seafood sustainability. Science can determine if the management of a fishery will lead to long-term sustainability of food production. Science can also evaluate the environmental impacts of a fishery. However, science cannot tell you what environmental impacts are valued – that is a question of individual choice or public policy.

So where does this leave consumers, retailers and the rest of us interested in fish as food?

The answer is confusing and will likely remain so. GSSI was seen as a hope to sort out the conflicts in seafood labelling – given the WWF response it doesn’t seem likely it will do so.

The most interesting development in seafood sustainability is the force driving certification, and — spoiler alert — it isn’t consumers. Not too many people buy their fish based on sustainability ratings. Retailers, like your neighborhood Whole Foods, Costco or Safeway, do not want the media on their backs or an environmental NGO picketing their store for selling unsustainably harvested fish; they would rather be seen as supporting sustainable fishing to avoid negative press. They consider seafood certification that is backed by key NGOs like WWF as their protection. The next logical step for retailers is formal partnership agreements with the relevant NGO to advise them on what fish products to sell and to pay for this service.

This is a dangerous development because the seafood certification turned partnership becomes a secure funding source for the NGO. Tim Wilson, in his 2012 paper, called this relationship between “friendly” NGOs that provide cover from “hostile” NGOs that might picket a retailer “naked extortion.” If, however, initiatives like GSSI were to be widely accepted, those steady sources of funds will dry up.

Moreover, it is in the nature of NGOs to raise money to fund their activities; alarmist appeals to stop fisheries collapses continue to bring in the big bucks. News of fisheries successes might, at best, raise an indifferent, “meh.”

I know of many private conversations where quite reasonable NGO staff admit the need to find new crises to keep donations flowing. It’s no wonder then, that no matter how well fisheries are actually performing, the bar must be raised again and again to maintain the story that fisheries are failing to meet the ever shape-shifting sustainability standards.

In the immortal words of Deep Throat — Follow the money! Science, poor beggar, has largely been lost.

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Oct 23 2015

Pollution Could Buy an Extra Decade of Arctic Sea Ice

Air pollution could help preserve ice but that still doesn’t make it good

Credit: NASA

Arctic sea ice continues to dwindle at an exceptional pace. Summer sea ice has declined at a rate of 13 percent per decade, and the rate has sped up in the last 10 years.

The main driver for Arctic sea ice’s disappearing act is the rising ocean and air temperatures driven by human greenhouse gas emissions. But that isn’t the only factor affecting Arctic sea ice. Air pollution also plays a role and can actually slow down warming.

In the tug of war, aerosols don’t necessarily counter the impacts of climate change on sea ice (or the planet as a whole for that matter). But new research shows that air pollution could buy the planet a decade of ice in the Arctic.

“It shows it’s a complex picture,” Nathan Gillett, a research scientist at Environment Canada, said. “Aerosols have quite a substantial impact on Arctic climate.”

Gillett co-authored the new research in pre-publication with Geophysical Research Letters. The findings show that aerosols have blunted 60 percent of the warming in the Arctic through the 20th century, a notable statistic given that the Arctic has still warmed at twice the rate as the rest of the planet.

This summer saw the fourth-lowest extent on record (and this winter also saw the lowest winter maximum on record). With temperatures projected to keep rising, it’s only a matter of time before the Arctic experiences an ice-free summer.

Going forward, aerosols—small particles that make up air pollution and reflect sunlight back into space—could continue to keep the northern reaches of the planet somewhat cool. Using a middle of the road carbon emissions scenario (which is a little optimistic given currently pledges) as well as rising aerosols, Gillett and his team show that the Arctic is likely to see an ice-free summer around 2057.

When his team ran the same scenario but capped air pollution at 2000 levels, ice-free summers in the Arctic started more than a decade earlier in 2045.

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Oct 22 2015

Central Coast Begins to Feel El Niño’s Effects

Hail Storms and Sea Snake Sightings Back Experts’ Warm Winter Predictions

The tropical yellow-bellied sea snake, spotted last week at Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard, is one anomaly suggesting a warm Californian winter.

Courtesy Photo – The tropical yellow-bellied sea snake, spotted last week at Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard, is one anomaly suggesting a warm Californian winter.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) released an updated report Thursday on El Niño predictions for the upcoming year. Forecaster Jon Gottschalk of the Climate Prediction Center at the National Weather Service expects average sea-surface temperatures to climb more than 2 degrees Celsius, which would result in warmer weather and higher humidity through January.

His report also states that temperature hikes would be the most prominent along the Pacific coast. Within California specifically, forecasters expect above-median rainfall for the central and southern coasts. Though these warm temperatures had already been predicted, Gottschalk’s predictions expect a higher probability of these climate anomalies to actually occur.

However, according to NOAA’s deputy director Mike Halpert, there are other factors to consider. “While temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Niño are favored, El Niño is not the only player. Cold-air outbreaks and snowstorms will likely occur at times this winter. However, the frequency, number, and intensity of these events cannot be predicted on a seasonal timescale,” said Halpert in his report statement.

Southern California residents could feel Halpert’s report only a day after its release. On Friday, Santa Barbara County experienced a string of intense thunderstorms that dropped hail the size of dimes in some areas. Multiple flash flood warnings took to the airwaves on Friday and Saturday as well, ranging from Long Beach all the way up to San Luis Obispo, and as far inland as Burbank.

Warmer ocean temperatures have not only brought new weather to Southern and Central California, but also new wildlife. PBS (Public Broadcasting Services) has reported that fishermen off the coast of San Diego are discovering Bluefin tuna, yellowtail, and dorado, which are all characteristically found further south in Mexico. Earlier this summer, San Diego and Orange County also saw phenomenal numbers of red crab corpses on their beaches following the species’ movement with the warmer waters.

The natural food chain has set up a domino effect, as these migrations of prey have also brought along their predators. According to CBS, a fisherman off the coast of Huntington Beach encountered a ten-foot hammerhead shark while fishing for yellowtail. The same beaches have also been home to sightings of great white sharks — one reportedly bumped a surfer in August.

Most recently, two sightings of a venomous sea snake species have been reported. On Thursday evening, Anna Iker reported seeing a yellow-bellied sea snake (Pelamis platura) while at the beach with her kids. Next morning another local resident, Robert Forbes, reported a separate sighting. Heal the Bay, an environmental advocacy nonprofit, confirmed both sightings were at Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard but could not confirm they were of the same animal. The group later stated in a blog post that the last sighting of a yellow-bellied sea snake this far north was in the early 1980s, also during El Niño.

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Oct 22 2015

Ocean Heat Maps Reveal Secrets of Migratory Fish Like Tuna

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

Copyright © 2015

Seafood News


SEAFOODNEWS.COM [United Press International] By Brooks Hays – October 22, 2015

By comparing the movements of tagged fish with ocean heat content maps, researchers at the University of Miami were able to uncover unique patterns in migratory fish behavior.

Their analysis proves that large migratory fishes, like yellowfin and bluefin tunas, blue and white marlin, and sailfish, are drawn to ocean fronts and eddies.

Two analytical breakthroughs made the revelation possible. First, researchers realized satellite mapping of ocean heat content, or OHC, a measurement of heat stored in the ocean’s upper layers commonly used for hurricane forecasting, could also be used to pinpoint the position of fronts and eddies.

Second, researchers were able to improve the algorithm that analyzes satellite tags from migratory fish. Together, these advances allowed researchers to compare OHC mapping and fish movements.

“Using an advanced optimization algorithm and OHC maps, we developed a method to greatly improve geolocation accuracy and refine fish movement tracks derived from satellite tags,” lead researcher Jiangang Luo, a scientist at Miami’s Tarpon and Bonefish Research Center, said in a press release.

The data showed that large migratory fish prefer to follow the boundary lines of large water features.

“Using the OHC approach in a new way offers an unprecedented view of how these animals move with currents and eddies in the ocean,” Nick Shay, a professor of ocean sciences at Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, said in a press release. “Our study provides a more detailed picture of the ocean ecosystem as an entity.”

Eddies are circling masses of water that spin off of current fronts. The swirling water pulls nutrients to the surface, making them an ideal place for hungry fish to hang out. Fronts are currents that follow the boundary line between two large water masses, distinguished by a difference in temperatures or salinity.

In the Gulf of Mexico, warm water eddies regularly spin off of fronts formed by masses of Mississippi River water. In the summer and fall, these eddies can energize and intensify a hurricane or tropical storm.

“Our new method shows that hurricanes and highly migratory fish share at least one common oceanographic interest — warm swirling ocean eddies,” said Jerald S. Ault, a professor of marine biology and ecology at Rosenstiel.

The new research was detailed in a paper published this week in the journal PLOS ONE.

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Oct 21 2015

Members rally, protest Atlantic Marine Monument proposal

Communicating the concerns and policies supported by its diverse membership
Committed to the long-term health of domestic fisheries and the economies they support.
Member News – October 2015


Members rally, protest Atlantic Marine Monument proposal
Working with the Fisheries Survival Fund and the Northeast Seafood Coalition and utilizing the Saving Seafood network, over 1,800 fishermen and other coastal residents joined federal, state and Congressional leaders in opposing a surprise threat to create a new Atlantic Marine Monument under the auspices of the 1906 Antiquities Act.


Timely action was critical, with environmental groups hoping for a presidential declaration at the Our Oceans Conference in Chile held in October.


“It’s very scary,” said Jon Williams, owner of New Bedford’s Atlantic Red Crab Company that employs nearly 150 people.
Should the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts Area be named a national monument, Williams said he would be cut off from fishing grounds that account for between 20 and 40 percent of his red crab haul – an annual loss of around $5 million. Full story at the Taunton Daily Gazette


 The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee has demanded records of all meetings, correspondence and memos related to marine monument designations with concerns about the apparent collusion and influence of environmental groups with regard to the Interior Department’s designation process, with almost no local input. A public records request filed by Saving Seafood uncovered the emails, raising concerns about possible closed-door collaboration between environmental groups and the administration, referenced by the Committee in its letter to the Administration.


U.S. Fisheries are the most highly regulated in the world.
Creation of the proposed monument would have closed a sustainable fishery.

Science supports access to the Eel Fishery

The American Eel Sustainability Association has repeatedly attested to the fishery’s sustainable operations, thanks in large part to the sacrifices made by eel fishermen to ensure proactive responsible resource management. In October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rejected a petition from the Council for Endangered Species Act Reliability (CESAR) – the second such request in a decade – to list American Eels as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), confirming that the species is “stable” and not in need of Federal protection. FWS conducted an extensive review of the most recent scientific data from federal agencies and independent sources in reaching their determination.


Voices from the National Coalition

Members of fishing communities bring extraordinary expertise and understanding to fisheries management. In fisheries, so many allegations gain public support and just turn out to be plain wrong. Members of the Coalition are encouraged to set the record straight, and keep fighting for accuracy and awareness in the public arena.


Dr. James Cowan, Louisiana State University:
Bob Jones, Southeastern Fisheries Association:
Diane Pleschner-Steele, California Wetfish Association:
Jerry Schill, North Carolina Fisheries Association:


National Coalition Advisory Boards

Saving Seafood is building its responsiveness and ability to support member concerns with regular, individual outreach to industry members, and with an Advisory Board of regional fishing organizations and an Advisory Board of fishery scientists. (If you would like your regional association to be part of the National Coalition, let us know.)


The Regional Advisory Board

On September 17th, the Regional Advisory Board held its introductory meeting. Fishery association representatives from New England, the Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, North Pacific, Pacific, and Hawaiian fisheries raised top issues from their memberships.
  • Reauthorization of MSA
  • Inadequate science
  • Access to fish
  • Lack of public process in management of Highly Migratory Species
  • ENGO forage fish efforts
  • Eco-labeling
  • Seafood Fraud
  • High cost of participation in the Council process
  • Threats from National Parks and National Marine Sanctuary designation
The Science Advisory Board will hold its second meeting next month. If you have scientists you respect and would like to have advising Coalition issues, let us know  and we will reach out to grow this great resource for the Coalition.


Congratulations Garden State Seafood Association and MAFMC

At the same time that ENGOs are criticizing the New England Council process and attempting to subvert it through monument designations, the Garden State Seafood Association and the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council are being praised for their successful achievements with use of the same process.


At their Sip of the Sea event on September 16th, the New York Aquarium recognized National Coalition members, Garden State Seafood Association Executive Director Greg DiDomenico and Council Chairman Richard Robbins, as Conservation Leaders.



On October 29th, the Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute will recognize Ernie Panacek, President of the Garden State Seafood Association (GSSA), along with Richard Robins, Chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and Jay Odell, Director of the Mid-Atlantic Marine Program at the Nature Conservancy, as Regional Champions of the Ocean.


Announcing The National Coalition!

On Tuesday, January 19th, the day before the start of the annual National Mayors’ Conference in Washington, Saving Seafood will formally announce the National Coalition of Fishing Communities. Join us!


Saving Seafood will
  • Announce the Coalition at the National Press Club that morning,
  • Arrange appearances for our members with national and local media, and
  • Work with your government relations teams to visit Capitol Hill in the afternoon so that you can spread the word about the issues that matter most to you.
We have already made contact with mayors and elected officials in coastal communities across the nation, but need to work with you in the coming weeks to reach out in your individual communities to solidify those initial contacts. We need elected community leaders across the nation to endorse the Coalition at the launch, bringing the value of the domestic fishery to the attention of the national government.
We look forward to featuring you as a partner.



Contact Sarah for more information.


Oct 21 2015

Plenty of anchovies in Monterey Bay, but maybe not elsewhere



Protectionist groups are basing their “crisis” mantra on a paper that chose to ignore the abundance of anchovy observed at nearshore survey sites in southern California in recent years.  In reality, fishermen report abundant anchovies in southern California as well as Monterey Bay.   Here is a comment from one fisherman:


“There has been major tonnage [of anchovy] in the Los Angeles / Long Beach harbor for quite some time — a year plus. Almost all of it has been very small pinhead. There has been pretty good volume of ‘chovy in front of Newport Beach for a couple of months. Little bit bigger than pinhead but not real big. In June, Catalina was loaded with small pinhead anchovy. Front and back of the island. Volume was many thousand ton. At the same time, we would see the anchovy in the channel daytime as well, a lot of it! “  
As the reporter quoted at the end of this story:  the allowable harvest limit for anchovy is very conservative.




Monterey Fish Company worker Geronimo Hernandez feeds anchovies from a chute into iced bins while unloading the El Dorado fishing boat at the Moss Landing Harbor on October 16, 2015. The boat is owned by Frank Aliotti Senior. (David Royal - Monterey Herald)

Monterey >> Things are shifting for fishermen in Monterey Bay.

Market squid are disappearing, and in their place, fishing boats are reeling in piles of anchovies.

But while they appear abundant, conservation groups warn that the forage fish may be at their lowest levels since the 1950s.

“It’s an anomalous year,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the California Wetfish Producers Association. “Typically these are not the kind of oceanographic conditions that anchovy like. But they are here and they’re really close to shore, which is why we’re having a spectacular year for whale watching.”

Anchovies aren’t just bringing whales into the bay — they’re also attracting fishing fleets.

“There are thousands of tons,” said Sal Tringali, president of Monterey Fish Company, whose fishermen in Moss Landing are landing about 120 tons of anchovies each night and expect to do so for about another month. “There are all the anchovies you want out here.”

Tringali said the majority of his harvest never fills human bellies, as roughly 70 percent of the catch travels to Australia to feed tuna.

Records from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife show that, across the state, fishermen landed 13,508 metric tons of anchovies this year.

That number was fine in previous years, but now it’s dangerous, said Geoff Shester of conservation group Oceana.

“This level of catch is sustainable when the stock is healthy,” Shester said. “But new information shows that the stock is at such a low level right now, it’s literally in a state of collapse.”

Survey cruises conducted by the Southwest Fisheries Science Center detected little to no anchovy eggs from 2010 to 2013. The lack of eggs, coupled with a recent study still in review that suggests anchovy biomass has decreased by over 99 percent from 2005 to 2009, has Shester and his fellow conservationists concerned.

“Every ton we can keep in the water is extremely valuable for the future of anchovies and the amazing multimillion-dollar whale-watching and wildlife-viewing destination that is Monterey Bay,” Shester said.

Shester, along with representatives from four other conservation groups, recently sent a letter to the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, which oversees fisheries from Washington to California, urging the council to reconsider its anchovy management strategy and conduct a new stock assessment. They argue that because the last anchovy assessment was taken in 1995, current management policy doesn’t apply to modern numbers.

Sit on the docks where anchovies are sorted and you’ll likely see lots of the silvery fish piling up. But it’s a mirage, warns William Sydeman, ecologist of the Farallon Institute, who coauthored the paper that estimated anchovies at low levels.

“People think that if they’re in Monterey Bay, they must be everywhere,” Sydeman said. “They’re not. They’re only in Monterey Bay.”

Sydeman said anchovies tend to aggregate near shore when their numbers are low, giving the appearance of abundance. When numbers are actually strong, he said, the fish expand offshore, disappearing from sight.

“People think, ‘Oh look at all these whales, there must be a ton of fish,’ and that’s probably true,” said Sydeman. “There is a local abundance of anchovies. But it’s local. That doesn’t mean global abundance.”

The National Marine Fisheries Service enforces a cap on anchovies. Josh Lindsay, policy analyst for the service, believes that number is conservative.

“To take a precautionary approach,” Lindsay said, “we took the overfishing limit and told the fishing fleet that they could only catch 25,000 metric tons. That’s a pretty large buffer built into our management.”

The Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet next month to review the latest findings on anchovy numbers.

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Oct 14 2015

New research maps areas most vulnerable to ocean acidification


New NOAA-led research maps the distribution of aragonite saturation state in both surface and subsurface waters of the global ocean and provides further evidence that ocean acidification is happening on a global scale. The study identifies the Arctic and Antarctic oceans, and the upwelling ocean waters off the west coasts of North America, South America and Africa as regions that are especially vulnerable to ocean acidification.

“These findings will help us better understand and develop strategies to adapt to the severity of ocean acidification in different marine ecosystems around the world,” said Richard A. Feely, a NOAA oceanographer and co-author of the study, which has been accepted for publication and can be read online in the American Geophysical Union journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles.

Ocean acidification is caused by humankind’s release of carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere. Excess carbon dioxide enters the ocean, reacts with water, decreases ocean pH and lowers carbonate ion concentrations, making waters more corrosive to marine species that need carbonate ions and dissolved calcium to build and maintain healthy shells and skeletons. The saturation state of seawater for a mineral such as aragonite is a measure of the potential for the mineral to form or to dissolve.

In the new study, scientists determined the saturation state of aragonite in order to map regions that are vulnerable to ocean acidification. Waters with higher aragonite saturation state tend to be better able to support shellfish, coral and other species that use this mineral to build and maintain their shells and other hard parts.

This study shows that aragonite saturation state in waters shallower than 328 feet or 100 meters depth decreased by an average of 0.4 percent per year from the decade spanning 1989-1998 to the decade spanning 1998-2010. “A decline in the saturation state of carbonate minerals, especially aragonite, is a good indicator of a rise in ocean acidification,” said Li-Qing Jiang, an oceanographer with NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites at the University of Maryland and lead author.

The most vulnerable areas of the global ocean are being hit with a double whammy of sorts. In these areas, deep ocean waters that are naturally rich in carbon dioxide are upwelling and mixing with surface waters that are absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is coming primarily from human-caused fossil fuel emissions.

“When oyster larvae are born they must draw on the energy in their yolk to build their aragonite shells to protect themselves from predators and grow into healthy adults,” said Feely. In waters depleted of carbonate ions, young oysters must expend more energy to build their shell and may not survive. This has significant consequences for the seafood industry.”

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