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

NOAA to Review 10 Fish Species for ESA Listing

NOAA Fisheries recently found that a petition to list 10 species of skates and rays and 15 species of bony fishes under the Endangered Species Act presented sufficient evidence to warrant status reviews for 10 species.

On July 15, 2013, NOAA received a petition from the WildEarth Guardians to list 81 marine species as threatened or endangered under the ESA and to designate critical habitat under the ESA. Included in the petition were 25 fish species (10 skates and rays and 15 bony fishes).

Status reviews will include the following species

skates and rays:

Bathyraja griseocauda  (graytail skate)
Raja undulata  (undulate ray)
Rhinobatos cemiculus (blackchin guitarfish)
R. horkelii  (Brazilian guitarfish)
R. rhinobatos (common guitarfish/violinfish)

bony fishes:

Latimeria chalumnae (coelacanth/gombessa)
Mycteroperca fusca (comb grouper/island grouper)
Mycteroperca jordani (Gulf grouper)
Pterapogon kauderni (Banggai cardinalfish)
Scarus trispinosus (greenback parrotfish)

NOAA will conduct a status review of the 10 species of skates and rays and bony fishes to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. Stakeholders can submit scientific and commercial evidence pertaining to the 10 fish species by April 25.

source: NOAA FishNews, Federal Register

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

USA Objects to Iceland Commercial Whaling

In February, the Department of the Interior announced that the agency has certified to President Obama under the Pelly Amendment to the Fishermen’s Protective Act of 1967 that Iceland’s international trade in whale meat and products diminishes the effectiveness of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Iceland resumed commercial whaling in 2006 and since then has exported whale meat and products despite a ban on international commercial trade. As provided under the Pelly Amendment, within 60 days following certification by the Secretary the President will determine what actions are appropriate in response to the certification.

Hvalur, the sole Icelandic company engaged in harvesting fin whales, resumed fin whale hunting in 2013, following a two-year hiatus due to market decline in Japan following the 2011 earthquake. The 2013 whaling season ran from mid-June until the end of September with a total of 134 fin whales killed.

Iceland sets its own catch quotas for commercial whaling and has significantly increased those quotas over the last several years. For example, in 2006, the annual quota was set at just nine fin whales, while the 2013 annual quota authorized the hunting of up to 184 fin whales.

Iceland has recently announced a new five-year quota for fin whales, to begin with the 2014 whaling season, which will allow a total of up to 770 fin whales to be hunted in the next five years. Fin whales are hunted solely for export to the Japanese market.

From 2008 to 2012, trade reports show that more than 1.6 million kilograms of fin whale meat and products were exported from Iceland to Japan. Fin whales are listed in Appendix I of CITES, which prohibits trade for primarily commercial purposes.

Iceland does not follow the procedure laid out by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to assess sustainable catch levels. The IWC was established to manage whaling activities for the conservation of whale populations and is viewed as the global body with expertise for the management of whale stocks.

source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Saturday, February 8, 2014

New NOAA Habitat Focus Areas

NOAA has chosen areas of Guam and Hawaii as the next Habitat Focus Areas under NOAA’s Habitat Blueprint program.
     

Manell-Geus, Guam

Located at the southern tip of Guam, the Manell-Geus watershed contains extensive seagrass beds and coral reefs that support the local village’s strong fishing tradition.

The seagrass beds and patch reefs in Cocos Lagoon also provide important forage and resting habitat for sea turtles.

West Hawaii

The west side of the Big Island is known for white sandy beaches and coral reefs that make it a popular tourist destination. The region is home to several threatened and endangered species as well as species of concern that are important to Hawaii’s economy, culture, and environment.

The South Kohala district is one of the fastest growing areas on the Big Island and development is on the rise. Land uses range from military, residential, and commercial sites to resort areas and very popular beaches. There are a variety of historical sites including archeological sites, traditional fishing areas, gathering sites, and Hawaiian fish ponds.

For more information, visit: http://www.habitat.noaa.gov/habitatblueprint/pacificislands.html

source: habitat.noaa.gov