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In the News: April 2020

Acoustic monitors track whales undersea Two passive sound collection programs are underway in the Gulf of Maine to help researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution learn more about North Atlantic right whales. Using this data, boats can be notified of any whales in the area and can slow down in response to avoid collisions and help protect the whales. One program will use fixed microphones mounted on the bottom of the ocean floor and will be periodically checked for audio data collection. The other program will use underwater gliders to record acoustic information and report back to researchers in near real time on the location of whales.

Fishermen are concerned that ocean wind farms will make it difficult to fish as they have in the past. Photo courtesy SCIENCE ALERT

NMFS studying fish to forecast effects of wind turbines A three-year study of cod and other commercial fish species is underway around New England offshore wind energy sites, part of a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) project to better understand how proposed turbine arrays will affect the environment and fisheries. With universities and other partners, NMFS deployed a Slocum electric glider, a type of autonomous underwater vehicle that has proven highly successful in long-term oceanographic studies. The glider’s instrument payload includes a hydrophone to detect the sounds of whales and of fish spawning, and an acoustic telemetry receiver to pick up signals from fish that have been captured and released with acoustic tags to track their movements.

Waiting List bill (LD 28) put on hold to gather more information LD 28 An Act Regarding Access to Lobster Licenses proposed to allow anyone who has completed the lobster apprentice program and been on the waiting list for 10 years to receive a lobster license. The bill was first introduced in 2019 and carried over to 2020 in order to consider consequences of pending federal whale rules on the lobster industry. Governor Mills signed into law an amended version of this bill that creates a Resolve directing the DMR to report back to the Legislature in 2021 on the biological status of the lobster fishery, status of exit/entry ratios by lobster zone, latency of lobster licenses and trap tags, and revisit the findings of the limited entry report prepared by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in 2012.

Stonington dinghies lie ready for the upcoming lobstering season. MLA photo.

New Bedford, Stonington remain in list of 2018 top ports New Bedford, Massachusetts, once again was ranked the most valuable port in the country, according to NOAA’s U.S. Fisheries 2018 report. That makes the 19th year at the top for New Bedford. U.S. fishermen landed 9.4 billion pounds of fish valued at $5.6 billion at ports around the nation. New Bedford and Dutch Harbor, Alaska, continue in the list of top ports based on landings of sea scallops in Massachusetts and pollock in Alaska. Top ports by value in the New England/Mid-Atlantic region include Cape May/Wildwood, New Jersey ($66 million), Point Judith, Rhode Island ($64 million), Stonington, Maine ($60 million), Hampton Roads Area, Virginia ($55 million), and Gloucester ($53 million). Highest value species in 2018 included lobster ($684 million), crabs ($645 million), salmon ($598 million), scallops ($541 million), and shrimp ($496 million). Top ports by landings in the New England/Mid-Atlantic region are Reedville, Virginia (353 million pounds), New Bedford, (114 million pounds), Cape May/Wildwood, New Jersey (102 million pounds), Gloucester (59 million pounds), Point Judith, Rhode Island (48 million pounds), and Portland, Maine (46 million pounds).

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