Category Archives: Mid-Atlantic

Good News for Blue Crabs: Va. Governor McAuliffe Appointed to Bay Leadership Role

bluecrab_infographicThe Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America and is one of the most biologically productive areas on the East Coast. Part of EDF’s work in the Northeast is focused on the incredible Chesapeake Bay and its once prosperous fisheries, some of which are now in serious trouble.

But we see some encouraging news for the Chesapeake Bay – and for its iconic blue crabs – with the appointment of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe to the Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Executive Council. Read More »

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Electronic Monitoring and Accountability in the Chesapeake Proves Effective

MD Blue Crab Design Team member and active EM pilot project participant, David Kirwin, uses a tablet to submit daily harvest reports from his boat Photo Credit: Ward Slacum

MD Blue Crab Design Team member and active EM pilot project participant, David Kirwin, uses a tablet to submit daily harvest reports from his boat
Photo Credit: Ward Slacum

Discussion about innovation, trends and shortfalls in fisheries monitoring tends to focus on large, off-shore fisheries in New England, Alaska and the Pacific.  Those regions are home to multi-species fisheries, with complex biological interactions, and are targeted by large boats that result in sizeable discards of “non-target” fish.  Monitoring technologies, both human and electronic, are essential to reduce this waste.  Smaller scale fisheries, however, have just as much need for improved electronic monitoring and accountability measures.

Not surprisingly, blue crab is the most valuable fishery in the Chesapeake Bay.  And it’s about as complex as they come.  More than 7,000 watermen deploy small boats from thousands of waterfront access points and are regulated by three different management jurisdictions, all of which use antiquated reporting systems.

As reported on this blog before, commercial crabbers in Maryland have tested mobile technologies, like smart phones and tablets, to report and verify daily harvest.  In 2012 and 2013, volunteers used these various technologies and provided constructive feedback to Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to improve its monitoring and reporting system.  Overall, participants in the two-year pilot are pleased with mobile technology tools and the web-based reporting platform, which along with dockside spot checks, have improved reporting accuracy and timeliness, according to fisheries managers.  As part of the 2013 pilot, fisheries managers offered limited regulatory flexibility for pilot volunteers in order to encourage participation and demonstrate how improved accountability can lead to streamlined regulations. Read More »

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Maximizing Limited Data to Improve Fishery Management

By Ashley Apel

According to a recent study published in Science, nearly 80% of the world’s catch comes from “data-limited” fisheries.  Not surprisingly, research shows that many of these fisheries are facing collapse, jeopardizing the food security of hundreds of millions of people in developing countries who depend on seafood for a majority of their dietary protein.

Historically, fisheries with little data had few science-based management options. But new methods are being continuously developed and used in the field that deliver science-based results, even in the absence of long-term, historical catch data. Since fishery stock assessments can be extremely complex, EDF recently developed a user-friendly, six-step framework as part of an overall guide to Science-Based Management of Data-Limited Fisheries.

The framework outlines a systematic approach that fishery managers can use to conduct quick and relatively inexpensive assessments.  The methods allow stakeholders in data-limited fisheries to estimate risks to marine ecosystems, determine vulnerability of a stock to fishing pressure, calculate the level of overfishing, assess the sustainability of the fishery, and establish sustainable fishing targets and other management reference points.

Download the guide on Science-Based Management of Data-Limited Fisheries or download the entire toolkit for fisheries.  Feel free to send questions or comments to catchsharequestions@edf.org.

Also posted in Cuba, Global Fisheries, Mexico, New England, Pacific, Science/Research| Comments closed

Sound Fisheries Management is No Fluke

 

Summer Flounder

photo credit: Michael McDonough via photopin cc

Recently a US Senate subcommittee held a hearing entitled “Developments and Opportunities in US Fisheries Management,” with testimony by federal, regional and state officials that focused on the need for collaboration in fisheries management and decision-making based on sound science.  More than two and a half hours of testimony and questioning by Senators focused on the role of science and the Magnuson Stevens Act in effective management of our nation’s fisheries, especially summer flounder or “fluke.” 

New York and New Jersey have long been embroiled in an interstate conflict over what New York Senator Chuck Schumer has called “our decades long fight to bring fairness, flexibility, and accountability into the management of summer flounder.”  To that point, a reoccurring theme in the testimony was that effective fisheries management requires high quality data and regular stock assessments.  This notion was also echoed at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing a week earlier.

What is clear in the early hours of debating MSA’s reauthorization is that stakeholders across the board are focused on a common top priority – simply, good science is fundamental to good management.  This reality is at the core of the interstate summer flounder battle, with NY arguing that the use of outdated data has led to an unequal allocation of fish between states. Read More »

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EDF Oceans saddened by loss of Captain Larry Simns and shares its appreciation for his lifetime of Chesapeake leadership

Larry Simns

Larry Simns. Photo credit: Maryland Watermen's Association

We at EDF Oceans were saddened to hear that Larry Simns, founder and leader of the Maryland Watermen’s Association for 40 years, passed away last Thursday at the age of 75. We are certainly not alone, however, as Larry was admired and respected by a wide range of communities. His ability to transcend the line between industry and government entities allowed him to lead his organization to consensus on challenging issues facing the Chesapeake Bay and the fishing industry.

Thomas V. Grasso, our Senior Oceans Advisor, wrote the following when he heard of Larry’s passing:

I have been privileged and honored to have known Captain Larry Simns for 20 years. I first met him when I was living and working on the Chesapeake Bay. For the entire time I knew Larry, he was a true leader on issues that mattered for the Chesapeake Bay and the Watermen who rely on the health of the bay for their livelihoods. Larry was a creative problem solver, always looking for ways to advance both the business interests of watermen and the restoration of the bay. He saw these two things as being intimately linked to each other and I could not agree more.  I learned a great deal from Larry and I know he will be missed on the Chesapeake Bay. We'll miss his common sense and thoughtfulness in the public debate on the Chesapeake. I will miss him as a person and for his keen insights, sense of humor and passion for the watermen’s way of life.

This is a sad moment for the Chesapeake Bay community, but we hope that those who admired him and drew inspiration from his work will carry on his spirit of determination for the hardworking watermen of the Chesapeake Bay.

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‘Fish on Fridays’: Black Sea Bass, Virginia Beach Style

Black Sea Bass

Black Sea Bass

If you’ve been to an upscale Manhattan seafood restaurant, chances are you’ve seen Black Sea Bass on the menu. New York chefs drive the bulk of the demand for this tasty Atlantic fish, but you don’t have to be a fancy New York City chef to put Black Sea Bass on the table.  Sea bass fished off the coast of Virginia, Maryland and Delaware is caught sustainably under a catch share program which ensures that catch limits are not exceeded and fish populations can maintain healthy numbers. It is important to note, however, that not all sea bass caught on the Atlantic coast is sustainably managed, so it is best to ask your chef or seafood vendor where the fish was caught to ensure you are supporting fishermen who are fishing sustainably.

This week’s ‘Fish on Fridays’ post features VA black sea bass, currently managed under an ITQ system. Jack Stallings and his partner at Virginia Beach’s Coastal Grill have shared their technique for frying sea bass whole and serving it with scallion butter. Read More »

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