Friday, September 25, 2015

El Niño and La Niña Pacific Coast Effects

The projected upsurge of severe El Niño and La Niña events will cause an increase in storm events leading to extreme coastal flooding and erosion in populated regions across the Pacific Ocean, according to a multi-agency study published recently in Nature Geoscience.

“This study significantly advances the scientific knowledge of the impacts of El Niño and La Niña,” said Patrick Barnard, USGS coastal geologist and the lead author of the study. “Understanding the effects of severe storms fueled by El Niño or La Niña helps coastal managers prepare communities for the expected erosion and flooding associated with this climate cycle.”

New research data, from 48 beaches across three continents and five countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, suggest the predicted increase will exacerbate coastal erosion irrespective of sea level rise affecting the region.

Researchers from 13 different institutions, including the U.S. Geological Survey, University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales and the University of Waikato (New Zealand) analyzed coastal data from across the Pacific Ocean basin from 1979 to 2012.

The published paper, “Coastal vulnerability across the Pacific dominated by El Niño/Southern Oscillation” is available online.

source: U.S. Geological Survey

2015 National Estuaries Day

National Estuaries Day will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2015.

In celebration of National Estuaries Day, beach clean-ups, hikes, canoe and kayak trips, cruises, workshops, and other special events are organized by Restore America's Estuaries member organizations, NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System, and EPA’s National Estuary Program.

National Estuaries Day began in 1988 to promote the importance of estuaries and the need to protect them. National Estuaries Day is held annually the last Saturday of September.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Atlantic Coast Shark Populations Survey

Scientists captured and tagged more than 2,800 sharks along the East Coast during the 2015 Coastal Shark Survey.

In all, 13 shark species were among the 16 species of fish caught. The three non-shark species were remora, cobia and gold spot eel. The largest shark captured on the 2015 survey was a tiger shark, 12.5 feet in fork length, off North Carolina.

The survey, which began in 1986, is conducted every two to three years.  It covers coastal waters from Florida, where coastal shark species concentrate during the winter and spring, north to Delaware, where many shark species migrate during spring and summer as more northerly waters warm. Following this migratory route, at this time of year, makes it easier to survey the whole population.

This year, the survey area ranged from just south of Ft. Pierce, Florida to North Carolina. As in 2012, poor weather and time prevented sampling further north. 

The surveys are conducted in the 5-40 fathom (30 to 240 feet) depth zone with most sampling between 11-20 fathoms (66 to 120 feet deep) and use commercial Florida-style bottom longline fishing methods to standardize survey results. This method uses a long, or main, line with baited shark hooks spaced at regular intervals along the line.

Most (2,179, or 77 percent) of the sharks captured were tagged and released, 434 (15.3 percent) were brought aboard, and 222 (7.8 percent) were released untagged or lost.

Researchers participating in the 2015 survey included members from the NEFSC's Narragansett and Woods Hole Laboratories, the Southeast Fisheries Science Center, Florida Atlantic University, and the University of New Haven.

source: NOAA Fisheries

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Gulf of Alaska Whale Deaths

NOAA is declaring the recent deaths of 30 large whales in the western Gulf of Alaska an "unusual mortality event," triggering a focused, expert investigation into the cause.

The agency defines an unusual mortality event as a stranding event that is unexpected, involves a significant die-off of a marine mammal population, and demands immediate response.

Since May 2015, 11 fin whales, 14 humpback whales, one gray whale, and four unidentified cetaceans have stranded around the islands of the western Gulf of Alaska and the southern shoreline of the Alaska Peninsula. To date, this brings the large whale strandings for this region to almost three times the historical average.

The declaration of an unusual mortality event will allow NOAA and federal, state, and tribal partners to develop a response plan and conduct a rigorous scientific investigation into the cause of death for the stranded whales.

Members of the public can assist in the investigation by immediately contacting the Alaska Marine Mammal Stranding Network hotline at 877-9-AKR-PRD (877-925-7773) if they see a stranded or dead marine mammal. Only specially trained marine mammal experts are authorized to respond to marine mammals in distress. The public should not touch stranded or floating whales.

source: NOAA Fisheries

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

American Fisheries Society 2015 Annual Meeting

145th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society
Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Portland, OR 97232

The 145th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society will be held Aug. 16-20 in Portland, Oregon.

Scientists, policymakers, and fishermen will discuss what is being done to apply a more comprehensive, ecosystem-based approach to managing ocean resources.

Presentations and talks will highlight the latest advances in fisheries research, conservation, and policy measures.

source: American Fisheries Society

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Maine Shore and Harbor Planning Grants

The Maine Coastal Program, part of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), recently announced awards to nine coastal municipalities. The awards will provide support for harbor management, waterfront infrastructure planning and design, and public access.

Funding for the grants comes from DACF’s federal coastal management award from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and from Maine’s Submerged Lands Program. Each grantee will provide a minimum of 25% in matching funds or services.

Grants were awarded as follows:

1. Bath – Guilford Lot Cooperative Fishing Pier: $10,000 for design and engineering services to develop a vacant lot along the Kennebec River into a cooperative fishing pier.

2. Brunswick – Brunswick Public Mooring Field Opportunities: $15,900 to assess options for creating a town mooring field for non- residents.

3. Cranberry Isles – Islesford Town Dock Repairs: $30,000 for engineering and design to repair and extend the Islesford Town Dock.

4. Cumberland – Payson Pier Replacement Project: $20,906 for engineering and design of a new pier.

5. Frenchboro – Waterfront Management Plan: $20,000 to develop a plan for managing municipal waterfront resources.

6. Ogunquit – Replacement of Existing Pedestrian Bridge: $20,000 for design and engineering of a new pedestrian bridge to provide safer access to Ogunquit Beach.

7. Portland – East End Beach Non-Motorized Boating Facility: $22,500 to design new floats and dockage for non-motorized watercraft activity on East End Beach.

8. Sedgwick – Benjamin River Harbor Design and Engineering: $15,000 for engineering of improvements or a replacement for the existing pier, as well as conceptual design of the entire municipal facility.

9. Wells – Who Owns the Beach? Access and Ownership Research: $8,900 to evaluate the applicability of local historical deeds and possible implications on public access in the community.

More information on the grant program can be found at

Friday, June 20, 2014

South Atlantic Marine Protected Areas Expansion (Coral Amendment 8)

NOAA Fisheries is seeking public comment on Amendment 8 to the Fishery Management Plan for Coral, Coral Reefs, and Live/Hardbottom Habitats of the South Atlantic Region (Coral Amendment 8).

The Notice of Availability for Coral Amendment 8 published in the Federal Register on May 20, 2014 (79 FR 28880).

If approved, the amendment would extend protections for deepwater coral ecosystems by expanding the boundaries of the Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern, and the Stetson-Miami Terrace and Cape Lookout Coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern.

The Coral Amendment 8 comment period ends July 21, 2014.

source: NOAA Fisheries