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 http://www.maine.gov/dacf/mcp/grants/shore-and-harbor-planning-grants.html.

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

Monday, April 21, 2014

2014 Pacific Salmon Predictions

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) recently released a set of ocean salmon seasons which are based up predictions for the 2014 Pacific salmon season.

Some of the best salmon runs could occur in Washington and Oregon, where higher-than-usual returns to the Columbia River are expected.

“Everyone is excited about the strong, near-record, abundance of Columbia River stocks and improved numbers of coho salmon,” said Council Chair Dorothy Lowman.  “it is rewarding to see hard work translate into a balance of achieving conservation goals while providing good seasons for both recreational and commercial ocean salmon fisheries this summer.”

In California and Oregon, anglers could see a a return of more than 600,000 Sacramento fall Chinook salmon. Protective measures will be in place for Klamath River fall Chinook, Sacramento River winter Chinook, and California Coastal Chinook.
   
PFMC will forward its ocean salmon harvest recommendations to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval by May 1, 2014.

The coastal states will decide on compatible freshwater fishery regulations at their respective Commission hearings.

For more information, visit: http://www.pcouncil.org

source: Pacific Fishery Management Council

Monday, March 17, 2014

2014 Pacific Salmon Predictions

The Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) recently released predictions for the 2014 salmon season off the West Coast of the United States.

North of Cape Falcon

The 2014 Columbia River tule Chinook forecasts are improved from 2013 at 110,000, and combined fall Chinook returns are expected to be over a million fish. The hatchery coho forecasts for the Columbia River are greatly improved from 2013. In addition, the forecast for Oregon coastal natural (OCN) coho is 230,000.

North of Cape Falcon, Columbia River hatchery coho returns were 316,000, well below the forecast of 525,000. Columbia River Chinook returns, however, were among the highest on record, and upriver fall Chinook returned at levels nearly double the
expected levels.

California and Southern Oregon

Central Valley fall Chinook are forecast at over 630,000, providing salmon fishing opportunity while allowing estimated spawning escapements over 300,000. The minimum conservation goal is 122,000 – 180,000 spawning adult salmon.

The conservation goal, or escapement goal, is the optimal number of adult fish returning to spawn in order to maximize the production of the stock.

Also in California, the ocean abundance forecast for Klamath River Fall Chinook is nearly 300,000, providing reasonable sport and commercial harvest while meeting the minimum natural spawning goal of 40,700, and the 2014 management objective of an
ocean harvest rate of no more than 16 percent.

source: Pacific Fishery Management Council

Friday, March 7, 2014

New Great Lakes Habitat Focus Areas

NOAA recently selected Muskegon Lake in Michigan and the St. Louis River estuary in Wisconsin and Minnesota as Habitat Focus Areas under the angency's Habitat Blueprint program.

source: NOAA FishNews