Page 12. MAINE COASTAL NEWS December 2011
NOAA funds grants to implement new technologies for harmful algal bloom monitoring and forecasting in the Gulf of Maine
NOAA research grants totaling $1,665,056 will lead to the implementation of seasonal and weekly toxic algal bloom fore- casts improving accuracy and providing bet- ter early warnings for harmful algal blooms in the Gulf of Maine. State and local shellfish managers and the shellfish industry use these warnings to prepare for severe sea- sons, protect human health, and minimize economic losses.
“While we have made great strides in bloom prediction and monitoring, it is clear that these problems are continuing to in- crease in magnitude and demand our ongo- ing commitment and attention. This vital sup- port will benefit Maine’s dedicated fishermen by enhancing resources needed to prepare for red tides,” said Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine.
“Maine’s shellfish industry has experi- enced severe economic losses due to red tide over the years,” Snowe continued. “In 2009, the resulting closure of 97 percent of the state’s shellfish beds and 100 percent of the offshore beds in federal waters for several months during the peak harvesting season proves that we in Congress must do all we can to provide the necessary resources to ensure our hardworking harvesters are able to safely access this important fishery. I recently intro- duced the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hy- poxia Research and Control Amendments Act (HABHRCA) of 2011, which will also support preparatory resources by enhancing our nation’s ability to predict, monitor, and ultimately control harmful algal blooms and hypoxia.”
Scientists researching toxic algal blooms in the Gulf of Maine, received the funding for the first year of two multi-year projects through two national peer-reviewed competitions run by NOAA’s National Cen- ters for Coastal Ocean Science: the Preven- tion, Control, and Mitigation of Harmful Al- gal Blooms (PCMHAB) and Monitoring and Event Response of Harmful Algal Blooms (MERHAB) programs. PCMHAB and MERHAB are authorized by HABHRCA. Harmful algal blooms caused by the algal species Alexandrium can lead to serious ill- nesses such as paralytic shellfish poisoning in people who consume poisoned shellfish. The PCM HAB project, a four year effort, will advance seasonal and weekly bloom forecast models and transfer them to NOAA, which will issue the forecasts regularly like weather forecasts. The MERHAB project will deploy state of the art sensors for Alexandrium cells
Commercial Fishing News MISCELLANEOUS COMMERCIAL FISHING NEWS
and toxins in the Gulf of Maine over five years to improve the accuracy of HAB predictions and provide better early warning. Research on both projects will be carried out at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institu- tion with research partners at North Carolina State University, the University of Maine, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. More than 40 percent of the funding directly supports high quality university and private sector jobs for people working to protect New England fisheries from these devastating blooms.
Funding will also open new markets for ocean observing technologies manufac- tured in Massachusetts. “After several years of developing a forecast model for Alexandrium in a research setting, we are looking forward to working with our NOAA partners to transition the model to opera- tional use, thereby providing a tool for re- source managers that will directly benefit society” said Dennis McGillicuddy, Ph.D. senior scientist in applied ocean physics and engineering at Woods Hole and lead inves- tigator of the PCM HAB project. According to Don Anderson, Ph.D. se- nior scientist in biology at Woods Hole and the MERHAB project leader, “The sensors that we will deploy in the Gulf of Maine signal a new era in monitoring and management of HABs. These instruments robotically sample the water, analyze those samples for HAB cells and toxins, and communicate these data to shore giving the shellfish industry and public health and resource managers near real-time information to guide their decisions and actions. This is truly an exciting develop- ment in science and management.” “I am looking forward to the day when I can sit at my desk and sensors all over the Gulf of Maine will tell me where the toxic algae are and weekly and seasonal forecasts will reliably tell me where and how toxic they will be in the future,” said Darcie Couture, direc- tor, Biotoxin Monitoring, Maine Department of Marine Resources. “Then my job monitor- ing shellfish to protect public health will be much easier.”
Statement from Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA Administrator
NOAA defrays New England fishery observer costs and commits to more stakeholder involvement in reforms
“I heard the concerns expressed by local fishermen and Members of Congress, and I am immediately announcing two actions to help improve management of New England groundfish and ease the economic burden of the fishery’s observer program.
“We want to assure fishermen that
NOAA will continue to fund the cost of at-sea monitoring for New England groundfish through April 30, 2013, the end of the 2012 fishing year. While the budget for fiscal year 2012 is still uncertain, we are committed to securing this funding.
“What I heard in Boston confirms what we’re seeing in the economic information gathered to date, and I intend to act on that new information. It’s clear that fishermen are not yet able to assume at-sea monitoring costs.
“In addition, hearing participants also asked for more robust follow up and stake- holder involvement in the reforms coming out of the independent management review re- leased in April. In response, NOAA will con- tract with an independent group to initiate a participatory evaluation process of the man- agement reforms underway. As a result of the management review, NOAA has been work- ing to improve science collaboration with state and private research institutions, en- hance data management systems to assist the fishing industry with more timely and accurate information, and strengthen out- reach and communications.
“While much work remains to sustain the groundfish fishery and the economic health of the fishing industry, ending over- fishing and rebuilding stocks is already yield- ing increases in catch limits for many ground- fish stocks.
“Simplifying regulations, giving fisher- men more control over their operations, and working together on management improve- ments will complement rebuilding and im- prove business prospects across the region. We want to be a partner in the success of fishermen, to sustain fishing jobs, to create a profitable and healthy future for fishing com- munities and to maintain healthy marine fish- eries.”
In addition, NOAA will post the job recruitment announcements this week for the director of the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Regional Office in Gloucester, Mass., and the director of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass. To help find the best possible candidates, we will work to ensure that fishing industry and community leaders identify potential applicants for these key regional leadership positions. NOAA will include an outside panelist on interview panels and has asked the New England Fish- ery Management Council, the states and other stakeholders to help recruit candidates. Finally, NOAA managers are eagerly anticipating the results of the Sector Man- agement Lessons Learned Workshop the New England Council is holding in Portland, Maine on October 25-26. Feedback from that workshop will help NOAA develop a series of
regulatory and non-regulatory reforms to further improve management of the ground- fish fishery. NOAA will bring these improve- ments to the Council for review and action at its November meeting.
NOAA increases Northeast skate quota for fishermen by 17 million pounds New science shows increase in skate population
NOAA has taken emergency action to increase the amount of skate that fishermen can land this year from 31 million to 48 million pounds, based on new scientific information showing an increase in the overall skate population. The 56-percent quota increase will be effective on November 28 and remain in effect through the end of the current fish- ing season which ends on April 30, 2012. “We recognize that these are difficult economic times for many fishermen and are working hard to increase fishing opportunity wherever possible,” said Eric Schwaab, as- sistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “The quota increase will boost revenues for many fishermen and re- lated fishing businesses, while maintaining our responsibility to important conservation objectives.”
At its June meeting, the New England Fishery Management Council reviewed up- dated 2008-2010 trawl survey data from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, which shows significant improvements in the over- all skate population. They also looked at NOAA-funded research on the survival of discarded skates, conducted by the New England Aquarium and University of New England, which found that fewer skates die after they are thrown overboard than previ- ously assumed. Based this, the council asked NOAA to implement emergency measures to increase the skate quota.
The bulk of the skate catch occurs inci- dentally in the groundfish, monkfish and scallop fisheries. Skate wings are typically kept and sold as food. Skates are also har- vested for bait for the American lobster fish- ery.
The quota for the skate wing fishery, which receives 66.5 percent of the annual allocation, will increase from 20 million pounds to 32 million pounds for the current fishing year ending in April 2012. The skate bait fishery, which is allocated the remaining 33.5 percent, will see a 6 million pound in- crease in their original allocation. Increasing the quota and maintaining skate possession limits at current levels should extend fishing opportunities throughout the entire fishing year, and allow fishermen to retain more skates when both price and demand for skate wings are better
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