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In The News- November 2021

RODA announces intent to sue BOEM over Vineyard Wind approval

The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), a broad membership organization of fishing industry associations and fishing companies, filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue the federal government on October 17. RODA alleges that the federal government has violated the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act, as well as other relevant statutes in its approval of the Vineyard Wind offshore wind energy project. Should the statutory and regulatory violations not be remedied within the next 60 days, RODA and its members state they will file suit under the citizens’ suit provisions of these statutes to require the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Army Corps of Engineers, and other agencies to comply with their legal obligations. RODA previously filed a Petition for Review in the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in September. The letter signals the advancement of legal proceedings in federal district court while the appellate court considers whether it will grant review under the Petition.

Maine organizations funded for ocean data work

Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced in October that the Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS) was awarded a total of $3,442,301 to support weather and ocean data collection programs in the Gulf of Maine. Of these funds, $1,066,420 will be directed to five Maine-based ocean research and science institutions charged with monitoring weather and ocean data in the Gulf that are fundamental to public safety and economic activity. The largest grants go to the University of Maine Orono for the operation of seven NERACOOS buoys in the Gulf of Maine and to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute for its Ocean Data Products team to run the NERACOOS data management system. NERACOOS announced that it was working with the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries, Passamaquody Tribe at Pleasant Point (Sipayik), and the Peskotomuhkati Nation to find identify additional buoy monitoring sites in Downeast Maine.

Gulf of Maine lobster regains MSC certificate

The Gulf of Maine lobster fishery regained its Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certificate at the beginning of September, following its suspension in 2020. The MSC certification was suspended after a federal court that found that the lobster fishery was in violation of the Endangered Species Act. The ruling by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in April 202 found the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) failed to include an “incidental take statement” for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. This year NMFS has issued new regulations intended to protect the right whale and has also met Boasberg’s requirements to bring the fishery back into compliance. As a result of the new rules and following a new assessment, the lobster fishery has been found to once again be compliant with MSC standards.

Seafood sales keep rising

Seafood sales spiked at retail stores during the first three quarters of 2021 with no slowdown in sight. When compared to the pre-pandemic 2019 levels, all three areas of fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable seafoods easily trended ahead. National market trackers say that 36% of Americans are eating more seafood in place of meat, and two-thirds are looking for more recipes and new products to help them do so.

Longfin squid identified as one cause of shrimp decline

Long fin squid National Fishermen

Researchers point to longfin squid as a contributing factor in the collapse of Maine’s shrimp fishery. In 2012, the northern shrimp population collapsed. The crash coincided with an extreme marine heat wave that warmed the Gulf of Maine’s waters to the highest temperatures since the 1950s. Researchers discovered that at the same time as the number of shrimp shrank, the population of longfin squid exploded off Maine’s southern coastline. Usually more prevalent in mid-Atlantic waters, the squid entered the Gulf of Maine that year in much higher numbers than any time previously. Longfin squid are voracious predators and the overlap of the two species contributed to a sharp drop in the shrimp population.

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