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Industry

Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorized by Congress in Final Moments of Lame Duck Session -- 12/12/06

Link to article source.
12/12/2006 -- From PCFFA Sublegals

It came down to the wire, but the 109th Congress reauthorized the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) as one of its final actions. The MSA was originally passed in 1976 to establish the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the United States coast line. The MSA was publicly supported then as a means of preventing large foreign fishing vessels from pillaging our fish stocks and to ensure mineral rights along the Continental Shelf. Over time, the MSA took on an increasing role in managing federal fisheries.

The MSA should be reauthorized every five years, but it happens on average every ten years. The most recent reauthorization was the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 which prohibited overfishing in United States fisheries.

The current reauthorization draft, passed by the Senate on 7 December 2006 and by the House of Representatives on 8 December 2006, further strengthens the language to prevent overfishing. The bill mandates that regional fisheries management councils enact annual catch limits and reiterates the need for management to be based on scientific knowledge and focused on conservation of the entire ecosystem. The bill also includes sizeable punishments for illegal fishing in international...

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Submitted by: Flaxen Conway/Oregon Sea Grant  



Northern Crab Fishery Still Tied to the Docks -- 12/12/06

12/12/2006 -- From PCFFA Sublegals

1 December usually marks the opening of the Northern Crab Fishery, from Fort Bragg to the Canadian coast, while the Central California crab fishery began on 15 November. However, disagreements regarding price and quality left most crab fishing boats tied to the docks as the season opened on Friday. Central California crab fishermen negotiated a $1.85 per pound and started the season on time. Northern crab fishermen came to the table asking for $1.85 as well but processors, lead predominately by Pacific Seafood, Co. out of Oregon, initially offered only $1.40 per pound.

Good news seemed to come moments before the season began as processors announced that if the crab quality met their requirements then they would pay $1.60. But what does that mean? Test boats from the state Departments of Fish & Game already went out and collected crab before the fishery opens. They cook and pick the crab to measure the percent of meat to their total cooked weight. Regulations require that from Fort Bragg to south of the Columbia River crabs must be 25% of meat or heavier, and from north of the Columbia River to Canada the crabs must at least...

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Submitted by: Flaxen Conway/Oregon Sea Grant  



Bush Administration Seeks to Open Nation's Most Productive Fishery Grounds to Oil Development -- 12/12/06

12/12/2006 -- From PCFFA Sublegals

Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, Congress enacted a moratorium on oil development in the majority of the United States continental shelf. Bristol Bay Alaska, one of the most productive marine regions in our national waters, was further protected by President George H.W. Bush with an Executive Withdrawal in 1990, which President Bill Clinton extended. Bristol Bay has been free from negative environmental consequences of oil development for over fifteen years. However, the protection to Bristol Bay may soon become history if President George W. Bush rescinds the ban on oil and gas development in the area.

Bristol Bay extends from the Aleutian Islands in the west to the southwest coast of Alaska in the east. The marine region is home to numerous fish and invertebrates as well as the highly endangered North Pacific right whale, listed under the Endangered Species Act. Many other marine mammals utilize the Bay, such as humpback, fin, gray, and minke whales plus walrus, seals, and otters. Additionally, the area hosts the largest run of sockeye salmon in the world. Copious amounts of shorebirds and waterfowl use the area as a feeding ground or winter home. The lack...

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Submitted by: Flaxen Conway/Oregon Sea Grant  



Federal Agencies Fail to Promote Ocean Protection in Upcoming Aquaculture Bill -- 12/12/06

Link to article source.
12/12/2006 -- From PCFFA Sublegals

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is currently finalizing a draft bill on open-ocean aquaculture. The NOAA bill should outline clear guidelines to ensure that aquaculture is practiced with environmentally safe and sustainable methods; however initial drafts lack this type of language. Instead it seems that NOAA is promoting open-ocean aquaculture for economic gain with little regard for the environmental impacts of current practices.

Not all aquaculture is harmful. In fact shellfish aquaculture can help clean local water systems. Herbivorous fish farming produces minimal effects on the local marine environment. However, most aquaculture is carnivorous, often non-native, fish such as Atlantic salmon, throughout the world. Such aquaculture programs greatly impact the water quality, environmental health, and nearby wild species population health. The Aquaculture bill could enact legislation to mitigate these issues; instead the bill shies away from its duty to protect the ocean environment while promoting the economic gain of a few.

The Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer rights group, recently released their criticisms to the proposed Aquaculture bill. They stated that the bill, a 10-Year Plan, encourages Environmental Impact Statements that are insufficient for marine resource protection, lacks consumer protection...

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Submitted by: Flaxen Conway/Oregon Sea Grant  



Rising Temperatures and Ocean Acidification: The Effects of Climate Change on Our Oceans -- 12/12/06

Link to article source.
12/12/2006 -- From PCFFA Sublegals

Gone is the uncertainty of whether climate change will happen. The past few months have resulted in a large influx of international reports assessing the current and potential effects of climate change on our planet and oceans. The reports utilize past and current data to model predictions for the future.

While each report is structured differently and uses slightly different data, general themes keep emerging in relation to climate change effects on marine ecosystems and oceanic functioning: rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification. But what does that all really mean? How will it affect our corner of the ocean?

The Earth's climate is changing. Over the past few centuries the average ocean temperature has risen roughly 3.5 degrees F. While the increase in global temperatures is hard to dispute, the consequences of these rising temperatures are often difficult to specify. Research continues to demonstrate that rising sea surface temperatures significantly effects weather patterns and marine organismal distribution. Global weather patterns determine storm frequency and intensity. Rising temperatures correlate with recent increases in severe storms. But storms are not the only problem related to rising temperatures. The increase in water temperatures also effects where...

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Submitted by: Flaxen Conway/Oregon Sea Grant  



Inseason Management Adjustments to Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery -- 12/12/06

Link to article source.
12/12/2006 -- From PCFFA Sublegals

Following suggestions made by the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the Pacific Coast Treaty Indian Tribes, and the States of Washington, Oregon, and California, NMFS announced a few in-season changes to commercial and recreational management procedures in the Pacific Coast groundfish fisheries.

The changes include: Voluntary action by the industry to rescue petrale sole catches,

Limited entry fixed gear and open access daily-trip-limit fishery for sablefish south of 36 degrees N, and

Prohibition of the recreational fishery to retain cabezon in federal waters off of Oregon.

For more information about the management changes see the link above.

Public comments should be sent to GroundfishInseason11.nwr@noaa.gov by 29 December 2006.



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Submitted by: Flaxen Conway/Oregon Sea Grant  



Public Comment Sought on Recovery Plan for Puget Sound Southern Resident Killer Whales -- 12/12/06

Link to article source.
12/12/2006 -- From PCFFA Sublegals

The Puget Sound's Southern Resident killer whale population was listed under the Endangered Species Act in November, 2005. The National Marine Fisheries Service recently designated approximately 2,560 square miles as the critical habitat for the Southern Residential pod. The area includes Haro Strait, Puget Sound, and Strait of Juan de Fuca. The area excludes 18 local military sites for national security reasons. Additionally, NMFS published the Draft Recovery Plan for the Southern Residential killer whales and is currently seeking public comments.

The Recovery Plan can be read at the link above.

All comments should be sent to orca.plan@noaa.gov by 27 February 2007.



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Submitted by: Flaxen Conway/Oregon Sea Grant  



Project Studying Communication of Science With the Commercial Fishing Industry Seeking Participants -- 12/12/06

12/12/2006 -- From PCFFA Sublegals

Todd Bridgeman is a graduate student at Oregon State University and is conducting a project to assess the communication of science with the commercial fishing industry and he seeks the input of commercial fishermen for his research. The survey involves commercial fishermen completing a short on-line 10-question survey.

The survey only asks for opinion, and no personal information is collected. He is hoping that results from the study will highlight areas that communication between science and fishing can be improved upon.

If you have any questions or want to participate, contact Todd at bridgemt@onid.orst.edu.



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Submitted by: Flaxen Conway/Oregon Sea Grant  



Coast Guard Promotes Safe Crab Season -- 12/12/06

12/12/2006 -- Dec. 11, 2006
USCG Public Affairs, 206-220-7237

Seattle - With severe weather approaching the region, the Coast Guard reminds commercial fishermen to be prepared for and stay aware of these very challenging conditions. Strong winds and heavy surf are forecast over the next several days. Adverse weather conditions not only affect fishing vessels, but can jeopardize the potential for a successful search and rescue mission by the Coast Guard as well.

Commercial Dungeness crabbing has the highest fatality rate of any West Coast fishery and traditionally takes place during the region's worst weather; this year is no exception. The Coast Guard responded to near catastrophe when a crab-fishing vessel was knocked on its side and lost over 200 crab pots due to heavy wind and sea conditions Saturday. This commercial vessel put to sea despite a Coast Guard warning to stay in port. This action by the vessel's operator not only endangered his crew but those who responded to assist. Based on these circumstances the master could face civil penalties for negligent operations of his vessel.

This weather warning for crab fishermen is only a portion of an annual effort to ensure commercial vessel safety known as...

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Submitted by: Cathy Stahr McBride/OR Sea Grant Extension  



Help: Researchers Looking for Vessel to Charter in 2007 -- 12/01/06

12/01/2006 -- We are looking for a commercial fishing vessel to charter for NOAA monthly research trips for juvenile fish from May through October in 2007. The vessel requirements are the following:

1. The boat must be large enough to tow a midwater rope trawl with a mouth opening of 20 m wide x 10 m deep at 3 knots (minimum or 400 hp).

2. Sounding equipment, or a transducer to monitor the net while it is fishing.

3. A crew that can set and haul midwater gear, at least one captain and two deckhands, preferably with some experience.

4. A place to set up a hydro winch with at least 200 yards of cable run by hydraulics on either side of the boat.

5. Sufficient deck space to store a large tote and other sampling equipment, and indoor space for dry storage.

6. Bunks for at least three research biologists.

7. A freezer with enough space to hold at least 500 lbs. of samples.

8. Current Coast Guard safety inspection and life saving equipment.

The trips are 5 days and 4 nights. All sampling will be done at night with transiting between...

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Submitted by: Cathy Stahr McBride/OR Sea Grant Extension  






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