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In the News | January 2024

NEFMC Sets Groundfish Catch Limits

The New England Fishery Management Council set groundfish catch limits for the 2024 Northeast fishing year at its December meeting in Newport, R.I. The 2024 total allowable catch for U.S. boats will include 151 metric tons of Eastern Georges Bank cod, an 11.9% increase from the 2023 fishing year. There will be 3,100 metric tons available for Eastern Georges Bank haddock, a 104% increase from last year; and 71 metric tons for Georges Bank yellowtail flounder, a decrease of 33% . The U.S. commercial groundfish sub-annual catch limit for Georges Bank haddock was set for 6,570.9 metric tons, a 41 percent% from the previous year.

For Georges Bank yellowtail flounder, the sub-ACL will go down 33% to 56.1 tons. The Framework 66 adjustment revisits the Gulf of Maine haddock quota, setting the 2024 catch limit to 1,435.1 metric tons. That is down 9% from 1,559 tons allocated during 2023; that number that was a boost from the original Gulf of Maine limit of 1,208 tons.

NOAA photo.

New Bill Could Aid Fishermen’s Safety

A federal program that protects the health and wellbeing of commercial fishermen should be expanded to include substance use disorder and worker fatigue, a group of lawmakers from New England and Alaska said. The lawmakers want to expand the Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety Research and Training Program. The program is designed to help the nation’s fishermen remain safe despite the hazardous conditions they face at sea. Republican Senator Susan Collins, who is one of the lawmakers pushing for the change, said expanding the program would help fishermen access more safety training and mental health resources. The lawmakers’ proposed changes would increase the program’s annual funding from $6 million to $12 million and remove a cost-share requirement.

On-board Fishery Monitors Case Before Supreme Court in January

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in January in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo. The case challenges a federal rule that requires the fishermen to pay for the cost of fisheries observers on their vessels who monitor compliance with fishery management rules. It is anticipated that the Supreme Court justices will consider a broader question: whether to overrule or limit a 1984 decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council. In that decision, the court held that when a federal statute is ambiguous, courts should defer to an agency’s interpretation of that law if it is reasonable. The Chevron case now is a cornerstone of administrative law. The decision shifted power from Congress and the courts to agencies, and it is unpopular among businesses.

No Adverse Impacts to Marine Mammals from Offshore Wind Project, Says NOAA

NOAA issued a biological opinion in late December that found a New Jersey offshore wind project which has already received preliminary approval from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is likely to “adversely affect” whales and other marine mammals, but that its construction, operation and eventual dismantling will not seriously harm or kill them. The Atlantic Shores project is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any species of endangered whales, sea turtles, or fish. The ruling is nearly identical to one the agency issued in April for the now-canceled Ocean Wind I and II projects, which would have been built in the same general area.

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