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In the News: July 2011

Bluefin tuna not an endangered species The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced in May that Atlantic bluefin tuna do not warrant species protection under the Endangered Species Act. NOAA is formally designating both the western Atlantic and eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stocks of bluefin tuna as "species of concern" under the Act. This places the species on a watchlist for concerns about its status and threats to the species. NOAA has committed to revisit its decision in two years, when more information will be available about the effects of the Deepwater Horizon BP oil spill, as well as a new stock assessment from the scientific arm of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The Center for Biological Diversity, a non-profit group which had filed the original petition to NOAA to get bluefin tuna listed as an endangered speices, notified the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) that it intends to sue NMFS for failing to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna under the ESA. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, bluefin tuna continue to face extinction due to severe overfishing and habitat degradation, including the BP oil spill in the gulf last spring and summer.

Kennebec River dredging still on track for August Governor Paul LePage signed the emergency legislation, L.D. 1398, to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the Kennebec River and dump the materials offshore near Popham Beach in early June. The law took effect immediately. It will allow dredging of the river in early August, during the height of the tourist season and commercial fishing along the Kennebec. The Corps says the river's navigation channel must be dredged to allow the Navy destroyer USS Spruance to leave Bath Iron Works safely on September 1. The legislation changes state water quality standards for that section of the Kennebec. Prior to the emergency legislation, the water quality classification would not have permitted dredging. Local fishermen and Phippsburg officials say any dredging should have been done last winter, not in August. The dredge permit from the Department of Environmental Protection would allow the Corps to dredge and dump 50,000 cubic yards of spoils in the river at the Kennebec Narrows and 20,000 cubic yards near-shore at Jackknife Ledge. The ledge is prime lobster habitat and is the historic fishing grounds for the Small Point lobstermen. An appeal has been filed with the state Board of Environmental Protection by the town of Phippsburg, its commercial clam harvesters, the Phippsburg Land Trust, the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust and the Friends of Merrymeeting Bay.

Hamilton Marine Expands Commercial Fishing Space In an effort to provide a one-stop shopping experience, Hamilton Marine’s Portland store has redesigned its warehouse and created a fishing superstore catering directly to commercial fishermen. “We’ve torn out an entire wall and turned our warehouse into retail space exclusively for our commercial customers,” said Evan Kohls, commercial fishing manager. “Instead of having a few coils of pot warp and a few buoys on display, we can now offer our entire stock of pot warp and cases of buoys for fishermen to choose from along with the rest of our commercial inventory.” “With the Portland stores expansion, I feel like we’ve provided a location where fishermen can find everything they need in one space and feel free to hang around and talk with other fishermen,” said company founder Wayne Hamilton. Hamilton Marine’s Portland store is located at 100 Fore St. in downtown Portland.

Filet-o-Fish goes sustainable in Europe McDonald’s announced in June that it will use Marine Stewardship Council-certified Alaskan pollack from Alaska, New Zealand hoki and Baltic cod beginning in October for all Filet-o-Fish sandwiches served in its 7,000 European outlets. The company will put the MSC logo on cartons, promoting the best-known scheme for preserving fish stocks. McDonald’s, which sold about 100 million Filet-O-Fish portions in 39 countries in Europe last year, said it would not be increasing the prices on fish products due to the use of sustainable fish species. Another huge U.S. company, Wal-Mart, previously announced in March that all fresh and frozen seafood sold in its stores will be certified by the Marine Stewardship Council or the Global Aquaculture Alliance as sustainable products. The retailer will continue to buy seafood from uncertified suppliers only if they have plans in place to achieve sustainability certification by June 2012.

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