Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

A load of news pass-alongs -- read and be informed

Here's a load of angler-interest items to chew on:

SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX] - July 11, 2008 -Lee Crockett, director of Federal Fisheries Policy at the Pew Environment Group, today issued the following statement in response to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) meeting on proposed rules governing annual catch limits.

'The proposed annual catch limit rule contains a series of steps that could finally end overfishing in U.S. waters. Science-based catch limits, as outlined in the rule, are what our fisheries need to start on the road to recovery.

'With this proposal, the Bush administration is taking positive steps to combat overfishing and hold fisheries managers responsible for allowing overfishing. While the rule is not without its shortcomings, it is a good starting point in the battle to rebuild struggling fish populations.

'By contrast, the National Environmental Policy Act proposed rule that NMFS issued just a few weeks ago does little to conserve marine ecosystems and the struggling fish populations that depend on them. Moreover, it further constrains the public from engaging in key fishery management decisions. If President Bush wants to leave a lasting ocean legacy, he needs to direct NMFS to redo its NEPA proposal.'

Australian Broadcasting Corporation] - July 11, 2008 - The tuna industry says climate change is bringing benefits.

The chief executive of the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Association, Brian Jeffriess, says Port Lincoln crews in South Australia are reporting an excellent quality and size catch.

He says it can be partly attributed to the effects of climate change on the waters of the Great Australian Bight.

'There's no doubt climate change will bring benefits to the Great Australian Bight ecology in the sense that there's more upwellings therefore more small pelagics as we call them - sardines, mackerel, red bait, other fish - and that will bring tuna so there may be even winners from climate change,' he said.

'This year some of the oceanographers are saying they've never seen south-easterly winds in a sustained strong way now that creates a lot of upwellings in the water - that brings nutrients to the surface.

'There's a feed chain which feeds on those - the tuna is virtually the last part of that food chain and benefits from improvements in the other parts of the food chain.'

Abandoned nets, traps and and ropes are not Frank Mirarchi's preferred catch. But for the better part of a decade, the commercial fisherman from Scituate has pulled the debris out of the water along with his daily catch of flounder, cod and haddock.

In the past, fisherman like Mirarchi were faced with a choice: Throw the trash back in the water to be caught again, or haul it to shore and dispose of it at their own expense.

Now the trash - which ranges from lobster traps to toilet seats, Mirarchi said - will be collected at the Scituate transfer station and turned into energy that will heat homes as part of the 'Fishing for Energy' program.

The program is organized by Covanta Energy, a Fairfield, N.J., operator of energy-from-waste plants, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

[Copyright 2008 Scripps Howard, Inc.] By Michael Collins - July 11, 2008 - WASHINGTON, Fish farms could be allowed to operate for the first time in federal ocean waters under a Bush administration proposal that critics say is a blatant attempt to bypass Congress and set up a marine program that lawmakers have been reluctant to approve.

A proposed rule, published Wednesday in the Federal Register, opens the door for fish-farm operators to obtain leases, easements or rights-of-way for the use of existing oil and gas platforms in federal waters.

Administration officials say there are currently no proposals to set up fish-farm operations in federal waters, which generally begin three miles beyond the nation's shores.

The proposed rule would simply put in place a process to review and evaluate such a proposal should someone request permission to use offshore platforms for a fish-farming operation, said David Smith, a spokesman for the U.S. Minerals Management Service.

But environmentalists and other watchdog groups suspect something else is behind the administration's plans.

'The Bush administration's proposal provides back-door access to our oceans for industrial-sized fish farms,' said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the advocacy group Food & Water Watch.

What's more, Hauter said, the proposal 'allows energy companies to sell their oil and gas rigs rather than restoring the marine environment.'

The administration's proposal is 'a monstrous idea,' said Santi Roberts, California project manager for Oceana, which works to protect and restore the world's oceans.

'Our oceans are facing extreme stresses, and we need to start reducing pressures where we can, not compounding them by using the waste from one bad idea to push through an even worse idea,' Roberts said.

Ocean fish farming, also known as marine aquaculture, is currently limited to three miles off shore. The administration has been pushing for years to extend fish farming into federal waters, arguing the expansion is needed to replenish depleted fish stocks and satisfy Americans' growing appetite for seafood.

But Congress has been hesitant to broaden fish-farming boundaries. A bill that would have allowed federal permits for fish farming from three to 200 miles off the coast died in 2005. Likewise, similar bills have stalled before Congress this year.

The proposed rule allows the administration to take a different approach. By handling the issue through a federal agency's rulemaking process instead of going to Congress, the administration would be able to permit fish farming in federal waters without waiting until lawmakers pass the legislation.

Smith denied that the Bush administration is trying to bypass Congress.

A comprehensive energy bill passed by Congress in 2005 gives the Minerals Management Service the authority to regulate alternate projects, such as fish farms, on offshore platforms, Smith said.

'We're trying our best to follow what Congress told us to do,' he said.

Aquaculture is just one of the alternate uses for the platforms that would be considered under the proposed rule, Smith said.

Any fish-farm proposal would have to undergo a review to determine its impact on the environment, he said, and other federal agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, would likely be involved in the regulatory process.

The Minerals Management Service will accept public comment on the proposed rule for 60 days and hopes to finalize the new rule by the end of the year, Smith said.

Opponents argue that offshore aquaculture is bad for the environment because it often involves the discharge of tons of waste and the use of pesticides, antibiotics and other possibly harmful chemicals.

In addition, they say, fish farming can produce non-native species that can escape and spread disease to wild-fish populations.

But proponents counter that, under the right conditions, ocean fish farming can be done without harming the environment or endangering native fish species.

'With any type of food production or just about anything you do, whether it's on land or ocean, there are environmental effects that have to be managed,' said Richard Langan, director of the Atlantic Marine Aquaculture Center at the University of New Hampshire. 'It's not as black and white as some people would paint.'

Deutsche Presse-Agentur] - July 11, 2008 - Reykjavik, A boat filled with tourists heading for a whale- watching tour has disrupted the operations of a whaling ship off the coast of Iceland in the second incident of its kind this summer, it was reported Thursday.

The RUV radio broadcaster in Reykjavik said that the whale watching boat Edling 2 approached the whaling ship Njordur KO7 so closely offshore from the port city of Hafnarfjordur that the ship's crew was forced to abandon their hunt for minke whales.

Operators of whale watching tours are determined to end whaling off of Iceland . Earlier this year, Iceland Fisheries Minister Einar F. Gudfinnsson approved the killing of 40 minke whales.

Meanwhile the captain of the Njordur KO7, Karl Tjhor Baldvinsson, said he respected the zones off the Icelandic coast which are reserved for whale watchers. But on the other hand, he expected whale watchers to respect his legal activities.

Whale watching tour operators have complained that only a few minke whales have been spotted so far this summer.

At the end of May, Iceland's Marine Research Institute reported that the whale population, since the 2001 estimate putting the number at 43,600, has since then been reduced by possibly as much as one- fourth.

Copyright 2008 Business Monitor International Ltd.] -
July 11, 2008 - The UAE's Bin Salem Group and its German partner United Food Technologies have announced their ambitious plans to build a massive sturgeon fish farm in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The project is being billed, not only as an avenue for economic diversification away from the hydrocarbons sector, but also as a means of protecting the future of the endangered sturgeon species.

Under the terms of the as yet unnamed joint venture, the companies will be investing $80USmn to build a facility with 64 basins that will house thousands of sturgeon, with a forecast output of 40 tonnes of caviar and 710 tonnes of sturgeon meat annually.

The facility will be located in an industrial park and will take an estimated 14 months to build. A shipment of an initial stock of 146,000 Siberian fingerlings, or young fish, will be brought over from Germany, with a further 86,000 to be brought at a later stage.

Eventually, breeding is planned to replenish stock, which should lead to self-sufficiency. Once operations begin, it will take two years for fish stock to reach maturity and produce the high-end Ossetra caviar.

The UAE is a major market for luxury goods, including caviar. There is considerable demand for caviar in the UAE, not just from the local population, which has been growing rapidly in terms of both size and wealth, but also from the many hotels that cater to the increasing number of tourists in the region and the from the cruise ships that dock there. The joint venture project is so confident that demand will continue to grow, there is already talk of building a second production facility.

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