Plumbing the Depths

Warming waters outpace fisheries management

Warming waters outpace fisheries management

When people talk about the poster fish of warming waters, black sea bass surfaces. The shimmery, tasty fish is also on the tips of tongues when people talk about flaws in the management system. 

“Populations are really surging off the Northeast, likely related to climate change,” said Hannah Verkamp, research biologist with the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation in Rhode Island.

Since 2010, landings in the southern Atlantic are down 50 percent. In the mid-Atlantic and New England, landings are up 249 percent and 260 percent respectively.

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Underwater noise could have ecosystem repercussions

Underwater noise could have ecosystem repercussions

Decades ago, fishermen knew if they wanted to catch cod they were better off in a skiff; the bearded fish didn’t like the sound of motors.

Years later, the ocean is noisier and scientists are learning how that affects the marine ecosystem.

Aran Mooney, an associate scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, has worked on the impact of noise in the ocean for close to 20 years. Then the focus was on Navy sonar, now it’s wind turbines. With one wind farm being built offshore, and seemingly more to come, there are concerns about the fisheries.

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Monkfish research could help fish, fleet

Monkfish research could help fish, fleet

Knowing a big-mouthed, extra-terrestrial-looking fish was going to be the focus of her internship, Ana Brown spent time learning about all things monkfish before she landed at the Fishermen’s Alliance this spring.

What struck her most was not that the fish’s oil is used as a cordial in Japan, or that the lure hanging from the fish’s football-shaped forehead may reveal age; she was impressed by how commercial fishermen have pushed for its protection.

“It was the industry that organized and advocated for them and for a management plan,” Brown said. Management of the great-tasting fish has suffered from lack of data. A recent cut in harvest amounts, now postponed, highlighted the need for better information that Brown’s work will help provide.

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After 40 years, a quest for winter flounder

After 40 years, a quest for winter flounder

John Logan, fisheries biologist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, slowly motors a skiff down Child’s River in Falmouth to check the last net of the day. Mike Blanco, wearing camouflage waders, is ready to hop out and check for winter flounder, but hopes aren’t high.

“Last week we got totally skunked,” said Logan.

“Except for the pipefish,” volunteered Blanco with a grin, referring to a small creature that looks like a stick got together with a sea horse.

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Annual meeting focuses on science and economics

Annual meeting focuses on science and economics

Years ago, researchers were looking for butterfish off Cape Hatteras because that is where they were supposed to be at that time of year. Fishermen told them the fish were in the Gulf of Maine.

“None of the academic oceanographers had heard of that,” said Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution senior scientist Glen Gawarkiewicz.

Oceanographers also thought melting ice in Greenland, caused by climate change, would bring cold fresh water from the north to the continental shelf. Fishermen said the opposite was happening. The fishermen were right.

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Hawaiian aquaculture’s lessons for New England

Hawaiian aquaculture’s lessons for New England

As I landed in the Kona airport, I was curious about what made Hawai’i such a special place for aquaculture.  So special that the Builders’ Initiative (an offshoot of the Walton Family Foundation) paid all the expenses for two dozen participants to spend four days in Hawai’i on an educational site visit organized by Meridian Institute and Ocean Strategies. Participants came from around the country, representing commercial fishing, recreational fishing, environmental groups, native Hawaiians, and the aquaculture industry.

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The seal deal: How do we respond to “success”?

The seal deal: How do we respond to “success”?

As anyone who spends time near the water knows, seals have made a dramatic comeback. Check out Google’s aerial images of Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge; see all those little ant-like blobs on the beach? Each one is several hundred pounds of ocean-going carnivore. We’re a long way from the early 1900s, when both Maine and Massachusetts paid bounties for seals, and we nearly exterminated them from the region.

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