Posts Tagged ocean

Jan 10 2014

They’re back – the bay’s herring hordes return

Sea lions, porpoises and tens of thousands of birds are jockeying for position with fishermen this week as the annual herring run splashes into San Francisco Bay, a spectacular marine wildlife showcase that conservationists say is one of the largest in North America.

The schools of herring, which surge into the bay in several waves, have attracted as many as 70,000 birds to the region, particularly to Richardson Bay in Marin County, a spawning hot spot for the squiggling hordes.

The fish arrived en masse beginning last week to lay and fertilize eggs, or roe – a delicacy for a wide variety of species, including sushi-loving humans. Fishermen are rushing out every morning to cast their nets before the menagerie of honking, squawking ducks, pelicans and diving birds can devour all the good stuff.

“We’re the last predators to get a crack at those fish. Everyone else has come to the table, and we get the leftovers,” said Nick Sohrakoff, a herring fisherman and chairman of the local herring advisory committee. “There’s a lot of fish in the bay, and they seem this year to be a little bit bigger than they were in the past few years.”

The riotous reception is a good sign that the bay’s once-thriving herring runs, which collapsed four years ago, are returning to glory. The San Francisco run – the last urban fishery in the United States – is the only big-time fishing operation where spectators can actually sit on shore and watch commercial boats haul in the catch.

Read the full article here.

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Dec 24 2013

California fishers say quota system is all wet

editorial_sacramento3
The skipper of a fishing boat that has trawled Monterey Harbor for decades says he’s been docked since spring, unable to earn a living.

Jiri Nozicka says a federal quota system enacted to protect both fish and the commercial fishing industry has problems that he can’t navigate.

“How do I plan anything?” he asked, recently standing on the deck of the San Giovanni. “I can’t. It’s impossible.”

He’s not alone in criticizing the “catch shares” system and calling for changes. Commercial fishers, industry experts and government officials are among those who say that while fish populations are recovering, too few people in California are benefiting from that rebound in part because there aren’t enough qualified monitors to oversee the program.

“Financially, I can only say that multiple trips have been cancelled due to a lack of availability of these monitors, millions of pounds of fish have not been caught, processed and sold to markets and this is a loss of millions of dollars,” said Michael Lucas, president of North Coast Fisheries Inc., in a letter to federal regulators.

After Pacific Coast groundfish populations dropped dramatically in 2000 a federal economic disaster was declared, leading to the strict new quota system. The goal was to boost populations of black cod and dover sole and to revive the flagging industry.

Read the full article here.

Nov 14 2013

State-of-the-art fishery research vessel Reuben Lasker completed for NOAA to commission in 2014

Seafood News
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [seafoodnews.com] November 13, 2013 – NOAA has taken delivery of Reuben Lasker, the agency’s newest high-tech fisheries survey vessel from Marinette Marine Corporation, a Fincantieri company. The 208-ft. ship will primarily support fish, marine mammals and turtle surveys off the U.S. West Coast and in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

“Reuben Lasker represents a significant milestone in the agency’s efforts to provide world-class marine science platforms,” said Rear Adm. Michael S. Devany, director of the NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and the NOAA Corps. “This state-of-the-art ship will play a key role in supporting NOAA’s mission and serving the nation.”

Built at MMC’s shipyard in Marinette, Wisc., and funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Reuben Lasker is the fifth in a series of Oscar Dyson-class ships built for the agency. The ship is equipped with the latest technology for fisheries and oceanographic research, including advanced navigation systems, acoustic sensors, and scientific sampling gear.

“MMC has a long, established history of delivering exceptionally crafted and complex vessels,” said Chuck Goddard, MMC’s president and CEO. “The talented and skilled workers of MMC are proud to deliver this high quality vessel to NOAA in support of its important mission.”

The ship is also engineered to produce much less noise than other survey vessels, allowing scientists to study fish populations and collect oceanographic data with fewer effects on fish and marine mammal behavior. The ship’s comprehensive environmental sampling capabilities will enable researchers to gather a broad suite of marine life data with unprecedented accuracy.

Read the full article here.

Oct 26 2013

Boom Times for Squid Fishery

The Santa Barbara Independent

For the fourth year in a row ​— ​and with the fastest time ever since modern regulations began in 2005 ​— ​California’s squid-fishing fleet (pictured) hit its annual limit early, with the more than 100 permitted boats landing about 118,000 tons of the slimy species known as Doryteuthis opalescens by October 18, nearly six months before the season ends on March 31, 2014. Much of that haul came from boats working the Channel Islands and Gaviota Coast with bright lights at night, when it’s easiest to snag the squid as they spawn near the shoreline. From there, the Southern California boats deliver their loads to processing centers in Ventura, Port Hueneme, and San Pedro, which then freeze the squid and ship most of them to China. Together with the squid fishers up north in the Monterey Bay, the industry rakes in about $70 million annually.

“They’re the most valuable fishery in the state of California,” said Diane Pleschner-Steele, the Buellton-based director of the California Wetfish Producers Association, which represents commercial fishermen who catch squid, mackerel, sardine, and anchovy. “This was an unusual year. They were spawning way early and everywhere at the same time,” she explained, noting that her association’s research revealed more young squid in August than they usually see in the peak winter season. “It’s a phenomenon we haven’t seen before.”

Another twist this year was that the fishermen and processing centers were enlisted to help track the catch, filing reports daily so that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife would know how much fish was being harvested and wouldn’t shut the season early, as had been done in years past. “We were able to help the department and also maximize the value of the fishery,” said Pleschner-Steele, whose association spearheaded the unique relationship and one day hopes for electronic tracking. “It’s an uncommon partnership.”

Read the full article here.

Oct 25 2013

Sustainable Seafood – A U.S. Success Story

NOAA   FishWatch

The United States is a recognized global leader in responsibly managed fisheries and sustainable seafood. And you can help too!

This video introduces consumers to FishWatch.gov, which provides easy-to-understand, science-based facts to help users make smart, sustainable seafood choices.

Through this video, you’ll learn more about “sustainability” and what NOAA is doing to ensure that our seafood is caught and farmed responsibly with consideration for the health of a species, the environment, and the livelihoods of the people that depend on them.

Have you ever thought about where that piece of salmon on your plate came from? It could have been caught in a wild fishery or harvested from an aquaculture operation. Maybe it’s from the United States, or maybe it was imported from another country, like Canada or Chile?

Read the full story here.

Oct 24 2013

Eastern Steller sea lions removed from Endangered Species Act list

Seafood News

SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Cordova Times] By Margarate Bauman – October 24, 2013 – Steller sea lions within the eastern distinct population segment, east of Prince William Sound, will be removed from the Endangered Species Act list, Jim Balsiger, administrator for NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska region said Oct. 23.

This is the first species NOAA has delisted, citing recovery, since the eastern North Pacific gray whale was taken off the list of threatened and endangered species in 1994.

The delisting will take effect 30 days after publication of the final rule in the Federal Register.

Balsiger said the agency is delighted to see the recover of this population segment of Steller sea lions, and that they would work with the states and other partners to monitor the population to ensure its continued health.

NOAA officials said delisting is warranted because the species has met the recovery criteria outlined in its 2008 recovery plan and no longer meets the definition of a threatened or endangered species under the act.

Best available scientific information indicates the eastern Steller sea lion population has increased from an estimated 18.040 animals in 1979 to an estimated 70,174 animals in 2010, the most recent year for which data are available.

Eastern Steller sea lions will continue to be protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. With delisting, federal agencies proposing actions that may affect the eastern Steller sea lions are no longer required to consult with NOAA Fisheries under Section 7 of the ESA. NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor the effects of proposed projects on the eastern population to ensure existing measures under the Marine Mammals Protection Act provide necessary protection to maintain recovery status, Balsiger said.

NOAA has developed a post-delisting monitoring plan for this population. As a precautionary measure, the plan will be in effect for a decade, twice the required five year time period under the ESA.

Read the full story here.

Oct 22 2013

Squid season closes as fishery reaches harvest limit early

After a banner year, squid season ended at noon Friday.

That’s when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife expected fishermen to reach the seasonal harvest limit of 118,000 tons. The department tracks catches and closes the season when the limit is reached.

This year marked the earliest closure since the harvest limit was imposed in 2005. The fishery has reached the limit for the past several years, but not until November or December. A new season starts each April.

While squid fishing tends to have its busiest months during the fall and winter in Southern California, that changed this year.

“The squid showed up early in the summer months in Southern California,” said Briana Brady, a senior environmental scientist with Fish and Wildlife.

The fishing industry also worked hand-in-hand with the state this year to accurately track the daily catch, said Diane Pleschner-Steele, executive director of the nonprofit California Wetfish Producers Association based in Buellton.

Processors are required by law to report numbers twice a month. But this year, they sent in totals daily to help keep a more accurate count, she said.

Preliminary figures showed market squid landings had hit nearly 109,000 tons on Tuesday.

Read the full article here.

Squid - Juan Carlo, Ventura County Star

Sep 26 2013

Federal Agencies including Park Service Drop Private Certification Requirements for “Sustainable Seafood”; Will use NOAA FishWatch

Saving Seafood
WASHINGTON (Saving Seafood) September 25, 2013 — Both the National Park Service (NPS) and the General Services Administration (GSA) have changed their “sustainable seafood” guidelines to focus on data from NOAA FishWatch instead of third-party ratings and certifications from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program.

The GSA, a federal agency that supplies food to other government agencies, has updated their “Heath and Sustainability Guidelines” to be in accordance with NOAA’s federal sustainability data. Previously, the guidelines instructed vendors to “only offer fish/seafood identified as ‘Best Choices’ or ‘Good Alternatives’ on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list or certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.”

The Agency’s seafood sustainability standards are modified in the guideline’s footnotes. Footnote 44 and footnote 44* indicate a clear change from their previous policy:

44. Examples of “Best Choices” do not imply government endorsement of these standards. Only endorsements made directly by governing agencies (e.g., USDA, FDA) should be considered government endorsements.

44.* The NOAA FishWatch Program defines sustainable seafood as “catching or farming seafood responsibly, with consideration for the long-term health of the environment and the livelihoods of the people that depend upon the environment.” Verifying the health and sustainability of U.S. and international fisheries is not always simple. Domestic fisheries are managed by State and Federal agencies under legally established fisheries management plans. International fisheries are managed under sovereign laws and international treaties. Guidance on how to make sustainable seafood choices is found on the NOAA FishWatch site at: www.fishwatch.gov/buying_seafood/choosing_sustainable.htm.

Read the full article here.

Sep 17 2013

Ocean acidification, the lesser-known twin of climate change, threatens to scramble marine life on a scale almost too big to fathom.

Seattle Times Sea Change

NORMANBY ISLAND, Papua New Guinea — Katharina Fabricius plunged from a dive boat into the Pacific Ocean of tomorrow.

She kicked through blue water until she spotted a ceramic tile attached to the bottom of a reef.

A year earlier, the ecologist from the Australian Institute of Marine Science had placed this small square near a fissure in the sea floor where gas bubbles up from the earth. She hoped the next generation of baby corals would settle on it and take root.

Fabricius yanked a knife from her ankle holster, unscrewed the plate and pulled it close. Even underwater the problem was clear. Tiles from healthy reefs nearby were covered with budding coral colonies in starbursts of red, yellow, pink and blue. This plate was coated with a filthy film of algae and fringed with hairy sprigs of seaweed.

Instead of a brilliant new coral reef, what sprouted here resembled a slimy lake bottom.

Isolating the cause was easy. Only one thing separated this spot from the lush tropical reefs a few hundred yards away.

Carbon dioxide.

In this volcanic region, pure CO2 escapes naturally through cracks in the ocean floor. The gas bubbles alter the water’s chemistry the same way rising CO2 from cars and power plants is quickly changing the marine world.

In fact, the water chemistry here is exactly what scientists predict most of the seas will be like in 60 to 80 years.

That makes this isolated splash of coral reef a chilling vision of our future oceans.

Watch the introduction video.

Read the complete article, watch the videos and look at the images here.

Ocean acidification Images 1

 

 

Sep 17 2013

Movement of marine life follows speed and direction of climate change

Science Daily

Scientists expect climate change and warmer oceans to push the fish that people rely on for food and income into new territory. Predictions of where and when species will relocate, however, are based on broad expectations about how animals will move and have often not played out in nature. New research based at Princeton University shows that the trick to more precise forecasts is to follow local temperature changes.

The researchers report in the journal Science the first evidence that sea creatures consistently keep pace with “climate velocity,” or the speed and direction in which changes such as ocean temperature move. They compiled 43 years of data related to the movement of 128 million animals from 360 species living around North America, including commercial staples such as lobster, shrimp and cod. They found that 70 percent of shifts in animals’ depth and 74 percent of changes in latitude correlated with regional-scale fluctuations in ocean temperature.

“If we follow the temperature, which is easier to predict, that provides a method to predict where the species will be, too,” said first author Malin Pinsky, a former Princeton postdoctoral researcher in ecology and evolutionary biology who is now an assistant professor of ecology and evolution at Rutgers University.

“Climate changes at different rates and in different directions in different places,” he said. “Animals are basically being exposed to different changes in temperature.”

The researchers compiled survey data collected from 1968 to 2011 by American and Canadian fishery-research centers and government panels. The surveys recorded surface and bottom temperatures, as well as the complete mass of animals in nine areas central to North American fisheries: the Aleutian Islands; the eastern Bering Sea; the Gulf of Alaska; the West Coast from Washington to California; the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Mexico; the Northeast coast from North Carolina to Maine; the coast of Nova Scotia; the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence; and the Atlantic Ocean east of Newfoundland.

Details of the surveys revealed that sea creatures adhere to a “complex mosaic of local climate velocities,” the researchers reported. On average, changes in temperature for North America moved north a mere 4.5 miles per decade, but in parts of Newfoundland that pace was a speedier 38 miles north per decade. In areas off the U.S. West Coast, temperatures shifted south at 30 miles per decade, while in the Gulf of Mexico velocities varied from 19 miles south to 11 miles north per decade.

Animal movements were just as motley. As a whole, species shifted an average of 5 miles north per decade, but 45 percent of animal specific populations swam south. Cod off Newfoundland moved 37 miles north per decade, while lobster in the northeastern United States went the same direction at 43 miles per decade. On the other hand, pink shrimp, a staple of Gulf Coast fisheries, migrated south 41 miles per decade, the researchers found.

Read the full article here.