General category, HMS Charter/Headboat, Harpoon, and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all bluefin tuna (BFT) retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov
Step-by-step instructions for using the on-line reporting forms may be found at the following internet address:
If you are having difficulty using the on-line reporting system, you may contact customer service by calling 888-872-8862, Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm EST.
This notice is a courtesy to HMS fishery participants to help keep you informed about the fishery. For further information, contact Thomas Warren or Brad McHale at 978-281-9260, Craig Cockrell at 301-427-8503, or Jennifer Cudney at 727-824-5399. This information will also be posted on the HMS website at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa
This concept should be explored in MANY highway areas ...
(Above: An example of wildlife culvert ...)
NEW UNDERGROUND TUNNEL TO HELP WILDLIFE CROSS ROAD UNVEILED IN BEDMINSTER
UNIQUE PASSAGEWAY WILL PROTECT SMALL MAMMALS FROM COLLISIONS WITH VEHICLES
(15/P53) TRENTON - Crossing a busy road in Bedminster is about to get much easier for turtles and other small mammals, now that a new underground wildlife passageway is open in the township, the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife announced today.
For years, numerous turtles, frogs, snakes and other small mammals have been killed along a section of Bedminster's River Road in Somerset County, a main corridor that runs parallel to the nearby Raritan River and links Central New Jersey's busy Route 202 and Interstate 78. Consequently, the DEP has taken steps to protect the wildlife in this area by installing a first-of-its-kind tunnel system to help these animals cross River Road safely.
Photo: NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife
"One of our missions is to ensure the sustainability of New Jersey's many wildlife species," said David Chanda, director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. "This innovative tunnel project will help facilitate movement of wildlife successfully across the road, truly a win-win for both wildlife and people."
Bedminster's wildlife tunnel and the fencing surrounding it came about from a statewide project known as Connecting Habitat Across New Jersey (CHANJ), which helps conservationists and planners identify important movement corridors for wildlife and how to help animals move about more freely.
The DEP approved permits for the project in 2012 as part of a larger plan to enhance recreation opportunities on township land in Bedminster. The DEP, township and project partner New Jersey Audubon Society worked together to develop and complete the $90,000 project, which was paid for by the township.
Below: This culvert in California is for toads ... yep, toads.
Stretching 2,000 feet on each side of River Road, angled, wooden fencing steers wildlife into one of five tunnels, designed specifically for animal crossings. The concrete tunnel entrances, which measure roughly 2 feet high by 2 feet wide, span underground across the width of the two-lane road. A mulch substance lines the bottom of each tunnel to mimic a natural surface, and a grated top allows light and moisture to seep into the tunnel's interior - important features for the turtles and frogs that will move through them.
"The wildlife tunnels in place now, along with fencing that will guide animals to the tunnels, offer a long-term solution to minimizing the number of animals being killed along this section of road," said Brian Zarate, senior zoologist with the Division of Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program. "While this program is designed around the state-threatened wood turtle, a wide variety of animals will be able to use the same structures to safely move back and forth."
Animals move around for many reasons, particularly feeding, breeding or migrating. As a result, they need to be able to move safely through the landscape to find food, mates and protection. Without that ability, certain animal populations can become disconnected, isolated, and over time, dwindle, be listed as endangered or threatened, or ultimately disappear.
Bedminster Mayor Steve Parker is pleased the crossing is open for wildlife use.
"We are pleased to have completed this project in support of the Department of Environmental Protection," Parker said. "We are happy the project was completed effectively with local resources, at a reduced cost to the taxpayer, and we certainly hope it is successful in protecting wildlife species along River Road."
The River Road project is the first in the state to incorporate all of the modern design features of emerging "road science," according to the Endangered and Nongame Species Program. Using GIS mapping and on-the-ground surveys of wildlife mortality, staff have identified several other priority road-crossing areas that would benefit from tunnels and fencing.
Several scientific studies have shown that well-designed and well-placed wildlife passageways are extremely effective at reducing the number of animals killed on roadways. Montclair State University faculty and students have begun a study at the River Road site to determine the tunnels' effectiveness in reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions and maintaining or restoring movement corridors for wildlife.
"Reconnecting our fragmented landscapes will allow us to realize the potential of our conserved lands to restore and secure our wildlife heritage for generations to come," said David Jenkins, chief of Fish and Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program. "A changing climate that will require wildlife to move and adapt to shifting habitats adds urgency to putting solutions like this one at River Road 'on the ground.'"
Soaring Cavier Prices have Sturgeon Poaching on the Rise in Oregon and Washington
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [NPR] by Cassandra Profita - June 3, 2015
There's no good reason for a live, 8-foot sturgeon to be tied by the tail and tethered to the shore of the Columbia River, in the Pacific Northwest.
But this is how poachers steal the giant fish: They keep the sturgeon alive and hidden underwater while they look for black-market buyers.
Wildlife officers say the high value of caviar is driving poachers to these inventive tactics. They've also found sturgeon carcasses floating in the river — their bellies slit open after poachers harvested their eggs.
Catching the culprits is hard, officers say: It often requires night patrols and undercover stings.
"Sturgeon poaching is not something that's done in the middle of the day when it's sunny," says Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Jeff Wickersham. "It's very hard to detect."
Detecting poachers has become a bigger part of wildlife police work in Washington and Oregon. Global sturgeon populations are collapsing — most notably in Russia, where caviar is known as black gold. That's fueling a market for illegal caviar and driving poachers to the Columbia River.
"The hottest commodity from an oversize fish is not the flesh, though that has a market value for sure. It's the caviar," says Mike Cenci, deputy chief of enforcement for the WDFW. "We know as long as that resource is around, it's going to attract poachers and traffickers."
To protect breeding fish, which are few and far between, fishing rules restrict people from taking sturgeon over 5 feet long.
It takes female sturgeon about 20 years to start producing eggs — by which point, they're about 6 feet long. The eggs are crucial to the species' future, but they're also a delicacy, prized as some of the world's finest caviar.
Top-shelf sturgeon caviar can sell for up to $200 an ounce in stores and restaurants. The biggest female sturgeon can carry up to 100 pounds of eggs. That means the eggs from one sturgeon ultimately could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Sturgeon have been around 200 million years — since before dinosaurs roamed the Earth. They can live 100 years and grow to more than 20 feet long, but they're slow-growing.
According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist Tucker Jones, only 1 percent of sturgeon survive the 15 to 25 years it takes for them to start reproducing.
"Once they reach maturity, those fish are really important, because you have a fish that's capable of sustaining a population for a long time," he says. "The older they get, the more eggs they can produce."
WDFW officer Dan Bolton says poachers make up a small percentage of the people fishing for sturgeon. But they have the potential to do a lot of damage.
"Sturgeon, to me, are like an old-growth tree," he says. "They're not just a fish that, well, you take one and you can grow another one. I mean, these sturgeon are slow, slow-growing and need to be valued."
In the mid-1990s, officers busted a poaching ring based in Vancouver, Wash., for harvesting 1.65 tons of caviar from around 2,000 Columbia River sturgeon. The estimated value of the caviar was $2 million. Another ring with ties to the Columbia was busted in 2003.
Officials suspected the collapse of the sturgeon population in the Caspian Sea — the traditional cradle of global caviar production -- had made the Columbia a bigger target for poachers. So, in 2006 and 2007, wildlife enforcement agencies organized an undercover sting to catch poachers and traffickers on the Columbia.
Undercover officers bought illegal fish from 33 suspects altogether. Seventeen out of 19 of their attempts were successful.
"In my mind, that's high odds that trafficking is out of control on the Columbia River," Cenci says. "What we learned is that sturgeon poaching was alive and well. The market was already established."
At the Russian restaurant Kachka in Portland, customers pay $84 for just a half-ounce of the best sturgeon caviar on the menu. It comes from farms to protect wild stocks. Owner Bonnie Morales uses a scale in the middle of the restaurant to serve it, so customers can watch to make sure they're getting what they're paying for as she measures out a small spoonful of these tiny black eggs.
Morales says there's something inherently indulgent about sturgeon caviar — regardless of the price.
"It's rich. It's buttery," she says. "It's a really delicious and complex flavor."
She says she can see why people would be poaching the white sturgeon found in the Columbia River.
"White sturgeon is becoming more and more of a premium item, and so there's a lot of respect for it now" in the culinary world, she says.
For the last several years, managers have canceled sturgeon fishing seasons on the Columbia because sturgeon numbers are so low. But it's unclear how much sturgeon poaching is to blame: Sturgeon have been hampered by dams, and now they're on the menu for the Columbia's growing number of wild sea lions.
Washington state wildlife official Cenci says that means the stakes are high for enforcement officials trying to stop sturgeon poaching.
"For a species to make it 200 million years, only to be poached to alarmingly low levels, would be a crying shame," he says. "We're going to do our level best to try to protect that resource."
NOAA Recommends Removing Humpback Whales from Endangered Species List
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Boston Glove] by Astead W. Herndon - June 5, 2015
A federal agency has recommended that the rebounding population of humpback whales in the North Atlantic — often visible off Massachusetts’ shores — and in other regions should be removed from the endangered species list.
At a meeting in Plymouth this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration presented its reasoning for upgrading 10 of the 14 populations from endangered species to “fully recovered,” which means less special protections from fisheries and other oceanic activities.
“We’re confident the recovery will be sustained,” Angela Somma, NOAA’s chief endangered species expert, said by phone Thursday. “We view this as a success story.”
But the recommendation raised concerns among some environmental groups, which believe an endangered designation is necessary for the long-term stability of the humpback whale.
Sharon Young, the marine issues field director for the Humane Society of the United States, acknowledged that several populations of humpback whales have made significant gains in recent years. But she fears that the eased restrictions could be too much, too soon.
“If these animals are taken off, we lose a substantial amount of international footing,” she said. “People aren’t killing them on their shores because they’re an iconic species that is protected in the United States.”
Young is concerned on two fronts. First, she believes that removing humpback whales from the endangered list could increase the maximum number allowed to be removed or killed before a penalty — called the potential biological removal — which is something Somma acknowledged as “possible.”
Young also believes other domestic laws lack the bite of the federal Endangered Species Act, which takes a long-term view that was better suited to analyzing the impact on whales from commercial fishing and other corporate effects.
Even if the whales are removed from the endangered species list, they will continue to be protected against intentional, human-caused harm in US-patrolled waters under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Regina Asmutis-Silvia, of Whale and Dolphin Conservation-North America, referred to an upcoming study from her organization that detailed the challenges that humpback whales still face. The study, which uses data from 2008-2013, says 15 percent of all autopsied humpback whales had been killed by boating strikes and 15 percent of all humpback whales show wounds from small boats.
“This is proof that this population is still facing a lot of threats and it’s very premature to be removing these protections,” Asmutis-Silvia said.
NOAA will formally decide whether to lift the restrictions following the end of a 90-day comment period.
NOAA officials say they’ve gone to painstaking lengths to ensure that any declassification from endangered species to
“fully recovered” species will not impact the humpback whale’s survival.
Somma contended that these objections were all logical responses to the NOAA’s proposal, but stressed that the humpback whale would still retain significant legal protections, including federal limits on whaling activities.
“We think everyone will come to recognize the resurgence under the wealth of protections that [humpback whales] have enjoyed,” she said.