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In the News | August 2023

First published in Landings, August 2023

NOAA says Offshore wind construction will effect its fisheries research

NOAA Research Vessel Robert-Michael. NOAA photo.

Monitoring plans by federal agencies and offshore wind power developers will not be enough to make up for the disruption that building dozens to hundreds of wind turbines will bring to annual fisheries surveys on the Northeast U.S. continental shelf, according to a recent report by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists. With three wind turbine projects now approved by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) – and more in various planning stages from southern New England to the Carolinas – BOEM and NOAA recognize that constructing wind turbine arrays would force changes on how NOAA conducts its annual at-sea surveys to monitor U.S. fish stocks and other marine resources.

Salmon farm posed for construction in Millinocket

Millinocket. etravelmaine photo.

Katahdin Salmon has proposed to build an inland facility in Millinocket to hatch, raise and process salmon in freshwater tanks on the former mill site owned by the economic development nonprofit Our Katahdin. The two parties have signed a lease for the use of up to 40 acres on the 1,400-acre site. Katahdin Salmon’s co-founders are Marianne Naess and her husband, Erik Heim. They are the former leaders of Nordic Aquafarms, which has plans to build a land-based salmon farm in Belfast. Katahdin Salmon’s operation will be smaller and produce less salmon than the other proposed land-based operations, and it will rely 100% on renewable power. Salmon production is forecast to begin in 2026.

Coalition successful in removing fishing gear from Provincial waters

Fishing gear trap collection. FGCAC photo.

With a common goal of supporting a sustainable commercial fishery, more than 40 member groups representing multiple facets of the fishing industry have come together under the umbrella of the Fishing Gear Coalition of Atlantic Canada (FGCAC). The coalition has collected and recycled more than 2,700 tons of fishing material in the past year. Industry associations, local, provincial and federal government, universities, First Nations communities and different unions that support the fishing and aquaculture industry are among the coalition members. “It’s really been an eye-opener to see so many passionate people come together,” says Sonia Smith, project manager for the coalition. “One of the things that we strive to do and stand for, our mission, is working together to develop sustainable solutions for end-of-life, abandoned, lost and discarded fishing and aquaculture gear,” Smith says.

NOAA plans broadening ropeless gear program

Ropeless gear. Blue Planet Strategies photo.

Last winter as part of a pilot project, some Massachusetts lobstermen were allowed to fish in areas that are seasonally closed to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales. But they had to use so-called “on-demand” or “ropeless” fishing gear and work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to share their feedback. Now NOAA wants to expand the program to include lobster and other fixed-gear fishermen throughout New England. Federal officials have proposed issuing permits to more than 200 people, with priority given to those who fish in the closed areas during the winter.

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