BY TOM HESTER
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
PHILADELPHIA — The Coast Guard will intensify efforts this winter to stop offshore poaching of Atlantic striped bass along the New Jersey and Delaware coasts.
In an effort to ensure the health of the striped bass population, the Coast Guard is working to raise awareness of federal regulations stating Atlantic striped bass may not be caught, harvested or possessed in the Exclusive Economic Zone. The EEZ begins three nautical miles from shore and extends out to 200 nautical miles.
While striped bass are typically found closer to shore, changing sea temperatures can cause them to migrate farther than three miles offshore. A person caught fishing for, or in possession of striped bass while in the EEZ is subject to civil fines.
"It's important to remember Atlantic Striped Bass have not fully recovered from years of overfishing," said Capt. Kathy Moore, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay in Philadelphia. "Complying with these rules will ensure this resource is available to future generations"
The public is encouraged to report any suspected poaching activity to Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay at 215-271-4974. Calls should include a description of the activity, those involved, the location and the time of the suspected offense. Such information greatly increases the effectiveness of law enforcement operations.
NOAA Fisheries bans almost all New England cod fishing
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Portland Press Herald] By Tom Bell - November 11, 2014 -
Federal regulators will impose a rash of emergency measures Thursday that will effectively make it impossible for commercial fishermen to pursue cod in the Gulf of Maine.
“The cod collapse is largely due to a long history of risky management decisions that failed to rein in chronic overfishing, did not keep accurate track of how many fish were caught or killed, and did not do enough to protect ocean habitat,” he said.
Study predicts more 'dead zones' as globe warms
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Washington Post] By Darryl Fears - November 11, 2014 -
Three years ago, the Chesapeake Bay was hit by an unusually large "dead zone," a stretch of oxygen-depleted water that killed fish in about a third of the bay, from the Baltimore Harbor to its mid-channel region of the Potomac River and beyond.
Another giant dead zone returned this past summer, smaller than the first but big enough to rank as the estuary's eighth largest since state natural resources officials in Virginia and Maryland began recording them in the 1990s.
In a future with climate change, those behemoths might not seem so unusual, according to a new Smithsonian report. As global temperatures rise, they will create conditions such as rain and wind patterns and rising sea levels that will cause dead zones throughout the world to intensify and grow, the report says.
Ninety-four percent of places where dead zones have been recorded are in areas where average temperatures are expected to rise by about 4 degrees by 2100. In addition to the Chesapeake Bay region, that includes the Black and Baltic seas and the Gulf of Mexico, where a dead zone about the size of Connecticut formed in August.
Coastal dead zones will be exacerbated by the warming waters, rising sea levels, and the wind, rain and storm patterns associated with global warming, scientists say.
"Over 40 percent of the world's population lives in coastal areas," said Keryn B. Gedan, co-director of a conservation program at the University of Maryland and a researcher at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. "We depend on these resources. No one wants to see a fish killed or a harmful algal bloom at their local beach."
Gedan was a co-author of the study with Andrew H. Altieri of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. They found that the number of dead zones have doubled each decade since the 1950s and that humans probably have contributed to their growth in intensity and size.
"We just don't know how much of this doubling is due to climate change or nutrient runoff," Gedan said. More studies with more "sophisticated modeling" are needed to determine that, she said.
Dead zones are summer plagues that appear when waters warm. As water temperatures increase, three key events pave the way for a catastrophe that kills any fish, crab, oyster or shrimp that relies on oxygen.
Andrew H. Altieri Smithsonian Piles of mussels washed onto a beach after a dead-zone event in Narragansett Bay, R.I. Besides providing food and habitat for other creatures, mussels can also filter water. When mussels die, the bay loses its ability to clear water of phytoplankton, increasing the risk of future dead zones.
The metabolism of animals in the water increases, turning them into hungry eaters that use more oxygen as they search and feed on algae. Algae that feeds on nutrient pollution that runs off farms when it rains and that pours out of overflowing sewers rapidly bloom and perish. Microbes feed on the dead algae in a frenzy, sucking up oxygen to a point in which life can no longer be sustained.
In a warming world, this process, which currently starts around May, is likely to start sooner unless steps are taken to reduce the overabundance of nitrogen, phosphorous and other pollutants that flow into water, according to the study's authors.
Gedan said that the current Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan is one example of how the government can act to mitigate climate-driven effects that create dead zones. Previous research supports that assertion.
A study of the bay's water quality by researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science found that dead zones have been reduced since pollution limits were first implemented in the 1980s.
Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Close-up of a bloom of Scripsiella phytoplankton in a Rhode River, Md., tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Microscopic Coscinodiscus diatoms are one of many phytoplankton species in the Chesapeake Bay.
They studied water-quality data for the Chesapeake from 1949 to 2009 and found "evidence that cutting back on the nutrient pollutants pouring into the bay can make a difference," the study's lead author, Rebecca R. Murphy, a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins, said when the study was released in 2011.
There is no certainty that the bay's cleanup plan, which calls for the governments in six states and the District to reduce sewer overflows and nutrient runoff from farms, can counteract changing climate and its accompanying effects.
Downpours, wind storms and sea-level rise are a lot to overcome. Downpours cause sewers to overflow, wind storms wipe fertilizers off yards and fields and push them down drains, and sea-level rise threatens to drown wetlands that block pollution's path to rivers that feed bays and oceans.
Unlike crabs and bivalves such as oysters, striped bass, an iconic Maryland and Virginia fish, could swim to the shallows to escape deeper oxygen-depleted water. But as the weather warms and raises the temperature in shallow water, that refuge could disappear.
High temperatures in shallow water cause "thermally induced hypoxia," or oxygen depletion, the report said. "This combination is predicted to reduce habitat for striped bass. In extreme situations, the temperatures of shallow water may exceed thermal tolerance of organisms, leaving them with the dilemma of choosing death by hypoxia at depth or by thermal stress in the shallows."
Andrew H. Altieri Smithsonian A handful of dead soft-shell clams were stranded on a beach following a dead-zone event. The soft-shell clam is a popular food source for humans and a valuable water filter.
Meteorologist explains El Niño, likely to develop this winter
n 1997-1998 abnormally high ocean temperatures off South America caused a collapse of the anchovy fisheries. Anchovies are a vital link in the food chain, and shortages can bring great hardship. Weather extremes associated with the event caused 2,000 deaths and $33 million (€26 million) in property damage. One commentator wrote that the warming event had "more energy than a million Hiroshima bombs".