Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Canada Inuit Nunangat Arctic Region

Canada Arctic Region
In 2018, Canada announced the creation of a stand-alone Arctic Region inclusive of the four regions of Inuit Nunangat for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG).

According to DFO, the new region was created to address fishing, shipping, resource development, and other interests in light of the changing arctic climate.

The creation of the Arctic Region will be implemented in phases and has already begun with the hiring of new DFO Regional Director General, Gabriel Nirlungayuk and a new Assistant Commissioner of the Coast Guard.

They will both work with Inuit and all Indigenous peoples, as well as residents of the North to define the borders of the new Region and its activities.

The new Region will enable DFO and the Coast Guard to work more closely with Inuit and all Indigenous Leaders, Indigenous organizations, stakeholders and all residents of the Arctic on innovative approaches to program and service delivery.

There will be 7 Fisheries and Oceans Canada regions once the stand-alone Arctic region has been established. Currently, the agency has 6 administrative regions: Newfoundland and Labrador, Maritimes-Scotia Fundy, Gulf, Quebec, Central, and Arctic and Pacific.

The Canadian Coast Guard will have 4 operational regions once the stand-alone Arctic region is established. CCG currently has 3 operational regions: Western, Central and Arctic, and Atlantic.

There are four Inuit regions in Canada, Nunatsiavut (Labrador); Nunavik (Quebec); Nunavut; and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region of the Northwest Territories. Known collectively as Inuit Nunangat, the region encompasses 35 percent of Canada’s landmass and 50 percent of its coastline.

Related Information

Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Canada Commercial Fishing

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

November is Right Whale Month

North Atlantic right whale | photo credit: NEFSC
In November, 2018, the City of Fernandina Beach Florida, by order of Proclamation, recognized the month of November as "Right Whale Month."

In November of 2019, Fernandina Beach will be the location of the 11th Annual Right Whale Festival.

The Right Whale Festival celebrates the annual return of endangered North Atlantic right whales to the warm coastal water off northeast Florida and Georgia, where they give birth to and nurse their young.

The annual festival raises awareness of the threats to right whales and how to aid in their recovery. The event highlights local efforts to protect these whales from extinction. The festival also features activities and exhibits that emphasize education and environmentally responsible practices.

The 2018 Right Whale Festival was held on Saturday, November 3 along Jacksonville Beach, FL.

Right Whale Facts

In 2017, NOAA confirmed 17 North Atlantic right whale deaths; about 4 percent of a population estimated at about 450 animals.

In August 2017, NOAA Fisheries declared the increase in right whale mortalities an "Unusual Mortality Event," which helps the agency direct additional scientific and financial resources to investigating, understanding, and reducing the mortalities in partnership with the Marine Mammal Stranding Network, Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and outside experts from the scientific research community.

In 2018, there have been two confirmed right whale mortalities.

There are currently only about 100 females of breeding age in the population and more females seem to be dying than males.

Births have also been declining in recent years, and no new calves were spotted in the calving grounds off Florida in 2018.

Every winter, many right whales travel more than 1,000 miles from their feeding grounds off Canada and New England to the warm coastal waters of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida's east coast.

Entanglement in fixed commercial fishing gear is a major threat to right whales. There are restrictions on where and how commercial traps, pot gear and gillnet gear can be set. These restrictions include seasonal closures and gear modifications such as sinking groundlines, weak links, and gear markings.

To reduce the risk of harassment or collisions between right whales and boats, federal law requires vessels and aircraft to stay at least 500 yards away from right whales.

Vessels 65 feet and longer are also required to slow to speeds of 10 knots or less in Seasonal Management Areas along the East Coast, including the calving and nursery area.

To report right whale sightings, especially dead, injured, or entangled whales, please contact NOAA Fisheries at (877) WHALE-HELP (877-942-5343) or the Coast Guard on marine VHF channel 16.

The public can also identify and help marine mammals in trouble by using their smartphone. Learn more about the Whale 911 app by visiting https://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/protected_resources/outreach_and_education/mm_apps/.

Related Information

Whale Smart Phone Apps

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Basking Sharks Aggregations - North America Northeast Coast

Groups of basking sharks, ranging from as few as 30 to nearly 1,400 animals, have been observed aggregating in waters from Long Island to Nova Scotia.

Individual basking shark sightings are fairly common, but large groups are not, according to NOAA Fisheries.

In a recent study reported in the Journal of Fish Biology, researchers analyzed aggregations of basking sharks (Cetorhinus maximus) recorded off the northeastern United States coast to learn more about the phenomenon.

During decades of aerial surveys for right whales, large basking shark aggregation events were recorded and photographed on several occasions.

Comparing this information with that collected in a number of satellite and oceanographic databases and by the NEFSC’s ecosystem monitoring (EcoMon) cruises in the same region, researchers obtained more insight into this behavior.

The researchers found the aggregations occurred in summer and fall when sea surface temperatures ranged between 55 and 75 degrees F (13 to 24 degrees C). In the largest event, data were available to indicate there was a high concentration of zooplankton prey present.

Ten large aggregations of basking sharks were identified between June 1980 and November 2013, ranging from 36 to at least 1,398 animals within an 11.5-mile (18.5-kilometer) radius of the central point in the aggregation.

Data on breaching, circular swimming movements, and/or apparent feeding behavior were recorded in seven of the ten largest aggregations.

The largest aggregation ever recorded on the aerial survey was at least 1,398 animals photographed on November 5, 2013 in southern New England waters.

Given the apparent presence of juveniles and an abundance of zooplankton on the continental shelf at the time of the event, the study authors say it is likely foraging played a role in the formation of that aggregation.

The study also suggests that the animals may be aggregating to draft off each other for more efficient feeding given the immense drag from having their mouths open.

Basking Shark Facts

Basking sharks are highly migratory, slow-moving fish. They are often sighted close to the surface with their large mouths open to filter zooplankton from seawater.

Reaching 32 feet or more in length and weighing more than five tons, the basking shark is the world's second largest fish. The whale shark, a close relative, is larger.

Basking sharks, whale sharks, and megamouth sharks are the only shark species that feed on plankton.

For more information, visit:


source: NOAA Fish News

Saturday, March 3, 2018

NOAA Mariners Jobs

In February, 2018, NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations announced job openings for people qualified as wage mariners as able-bodied seamen, fishermen, and general vessel assistants.

NOAA's Ships provide a wide range of mission support for the agency, from collecting data used to understanding weather to charting to monitoring fishery stocks, corals, and marine mammals.

The ships are operated by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO). The vessels are run by a combination of NOAA commissioned officers and specially skilled civilians.

The officers are part of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps. Civilians include licensed masters, mates and engineers, and unlicensed members of the engine, steward, and deck departments.

For more information, visit the following links:



source: NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center

Saturday, November 25, 2017

NOAA Ribbed Mussel Urban Water Quality Study

ribbed mussels

Ribbed mussels can remove nitrogen and other excess nutrients from an urban estuary and could help improve water quality in other urban and coastal locations, according to a study in New York City’s Bronx River.

The findings, published in Environmental Science and Technology, are part of long-term efforts to improve water quality in the Bronx River Estuary.

Researchers at NOAA Fisheries Milford Laboratory in Milford, Connecticut began the two-year pilot project in June 2011.

They used a 20 x 20-foot raft with mussel growing lines hanging below as their field location in an industrial area near Hunt’s Point in the South Bronx, not far from a sewage treatment plant.

The waters were closed to shellfish harvesting because of bacterial contamination. Scientists monitored the condition of the ribbed mussels (Geukensia demissa) and the water quality over time to see how each responded.

“Ribbed mussels live in estuarine habitats and can filter bacteria, microalgae, nutrients and contaminants from the water,” said Julie Rose, a research ecologist at the Milford Laboratory, part of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, and co-author of the study. “They are native to the East Coast so there are no concerns about invasive species disturbing the ecosystem, and they are efficient at filtering a variety of particles from the water. Ribbed mussels are not sold commercially, so whatever they eat will not be eaten by humans.”

Farming and harvesting shellfish to remove nitrogen and other excess nutrients from rivers, estuaries and coastal waters is known as nutrient bioextraction, or bioharvesting.

Mussels and other shellfish are filter feeders, and as the organisms grow, they take up or assimilate nutrients in algae and other microorganisms filtered from the surrounding waters.

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients occur naturally in the environment and are needed by plants and animals to grow, but too much of any of them is harmful.

Excess amounts from human activities often end up in rivers, streams and coastal environments, causing algal blooms, loss of sea grass and low oxygen levels in the water, which can kill large numbers of fish and other organisms.

Researchers found that the Bronx River mussels were generally healthy, and their tissues had high amounts of a local nitrogen isotope, indicating that they removed nitrogen from local waters.

They also had lower amounts of trace metals and organic contaminants than blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) collected from the seafloor nearby.

An estimated 138 pounds of nitrogen was removed from the river when the animals were harvested.

The researchers estimate that a fully populated 20 x 20 foot mussel raft similar to the one used in this study would clean an average of three million gallons of water and remove about 350 pounds of particulate matter, like dust and soot, daily.

The Bronx study is the first to examine the use of ribbed mussels for nutrient bioextraction in a highly urbanized estuarine environment.

source: Northeast Fisheries Science Center