SEAFOODNEWS.COM By Peggy Parker - January 19, 2015
Last Thursday NOAA Fisheries opened a six-and-a-half-month public comment period on revisions that “clarify and streamline” National Standard guidelines, an important roadmap for the eight regional management councils to sustainably manage the nation’s fisheries.
“This has been an ongoing discussion for the past two years,” said Chris Oliver, executive director of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council in Anchorage. “The [National Marine Fisheries Service] agency has been working on revising the guidelines for all the councils through the Council Coordination Committee.”
The CCC represents the chairs, vice-chairs, and executive directors of each of the regional management councils and meets twice a year to discuss issues relevant to all councils, including issues related to the implementation of the MSA. The CCC’s next meeting is Febuary 18-19 in Washington, D.C.
The press release included seven examples of revisions the proposed rule addresses:
● Increasing flexibility in setting timelines for rebuilding programs;
● Providing flexibility for better managing data-limited stocks;
● Clarifying guidance on which stocks require conservation and management;
● Enhancing current efforts by the councils to apply ecosystem approaches to management;
● Providing for more stable fisheries through guidance on multiyear overfishing determinations, phasing in results of new stock assessments and the carryover of the unused portion of annual catch limits to subsequent years;
● Adding a definition for “depleted stocks” to recognize non-fishing-related impacts to fish stocks, and;
● Recommending the councils re-evaluate the objectives of fishery management plans, to ensure they reflect the changing needs of the fishery, including allocation of fishery resource
The last item has been a hotly contested issue in the debate on Capitol Hill to reauthorize the MSA. Last year’s mid-term election shifted that debate to be under the auspices of a new subcommittee in the Senate, chaired by Florida Republican Marco Rubio. Prior to the election, Rubio co-chaired the subcommittee with Alaska Senator Begich, a strong supporter of commercial fisheries
Rubio is considered to have presidential aspirations and a constituency with deep recreational fisheries interests. Re-evaluating allocations every five years was put into the draft language of the reauthorization bill last year by the recreational sector
Chris Oliver was not certain why that bullet was part of the national standards revision. As he noted, the press release states “The proposed revisions do not establish new requirements or require councils to revise their current fishery management plans. Rather, they offer additional clarity and potential flexibility in meeting current Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act mandates.”
The press release quotes Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries, “The proposed revisions clarify and streamline the National Standard guidelines, address concerns raised by partners and stakeholders during the implementation of annual catch limits and accountability measures, and provide flexibility to address fishery management issues.”
If implemented, she said, they “will result in better-managed and more sustainable fisheries.”
The proposed rule offers revisions for National Standard 1, 3 and 7 of the MSA.
The National Standard 1 guidelines provide guidance on preventing overfishing while achieving the optimum yield (the amount of fish which will provide the greatest overall benefit to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production and recreational opportunities)from each U.S. fishery.
The National Standard 3 guidelines provide guidance on managing a stock as a unit throughout its range, and the National Standard 7 guidelines address minimizing costs and avoid duplication in fisheries management.
Public comments on the proposed rule are due June 30, 2015. The proposed rule can be found athttp://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/laws_policies/national_standards/ns1_r...
Eel Prices Finally Falling in Japan but Possible Trade Restrictions Loom
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Nikkei] By Koichiro Yoshino - January 22, 2015 -
TOKYO, Prices for Japanese eels are falling after years of sharp increases, but the industry still faces challenges, including possible trade restrictions to protect the fish.
Thanks to a recovery in catches of juvenile eels -- called elvers or glass eels -- used for farming in the 2014 season, wholesale prices of Japanese eels have come down by 30-40% in the past year.
In addition, an international framework for regulations to protect eel stocks has been established recently.
But, is the eel crunch really over?
Poor catches in Taiwan
Some 99% of eels in the Japanese market are farmed. Elvers caught in rivers in winter and spring are grown in aquaculture ponds for about half a year before being shipped. To prepare for the peak summer season, many Japanese eel farmers procure elvers from Taiwan, because the annual fishing season there starts early. As a result, elver catches in Taiwan have had a particularly big impact on eel supplies to the Japanese market in summer.
In November, the annual elver fishing season started in Taiwan. Catches until late December totaled about 500kg, only a tenth of the year-earlier figure.
But despite poor catches in the current season in Taiwan, many people in the Japanese eel industry appear unfazed. "Even if no elvers are caught at home and abroad over the next two years, there are enough eels in ponds across Asia to meet Japanese demand," said a Tokyo-based eel wholesaler.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature added the Japanese eel to its list of endangered species last year. But for the time being, the supply appears sufficient.
Eel prices in Japan more than doubled due to poor elver catches in and after the 2011 season. As a result, annual consumption there shrank to around 30,000 tons, compared with about 150,000 tons in the first half of the 2000s.
But the catch recovered in 2014, and the total number of elvers in aquaculture ponds in Asia as a whole surged 200-300% from a year earlier, significantly easing supply concerns.
Still, as poor catches in Taiwan show, the issue of maintaining adequate eel stocks has yet to be resolved. The president of a Taipei-based company that exports eels to Japan said, "If the current situation continues, trade in eels may be restricted under the Washington Convention."
The treaty, officially named the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, restricts international trade in endangered wild animals. If the next conference among the signatory countries, in 2016, sets restrictions on the export and import of eels in the wake of the IUCN's decision, trade in the fish would become difficult.
In September 2014, Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea agreed to limit the volume of elvers for aquaculture in the 2015 season and beyond to 80% of the 2014 figure. The international agreement to protect eel stocks is widely seen as a good move, but some observers say the 80% ceiling based on the 2014 volume is too high.
The ceiling is just under 80 tons for the 2015 season and beyond, which is based on the figure for the 2014 season, but there is no scientific basis for this figure, and critics question the rationale of basing the ceiling on an annual catch that was the highest in five years. Since the figure exceeds the average catch in recent years, it does not limit fishing. The effectiveness of the ceiling "is open to question," said Masayuki Komatsu, a senior researcher at Japan's Asian Growth Research Institute.
Fewer Taiwanese farmers
On Dec. 17, Taiwanese authorities and an eel industry organization held a joint press conference in Taipei to promote local consumption of the fish, with one participant saying, "Eels, which are popular in Japan, are good for your health and can be used for sushi and tempura."
There was an air of urgency at the conference. The number of eel farmers in Taiwan has dropped by more than half in recent years due to poor elver catches and a shrinking Japanese market.
Chen Jyun-ru, the deputy director-general of Taiwan's Fisheries Agency, said the agency wants to expand the Taiwanese eel market as much as possible to prepare for a possible halt in exports due to restrictions under the Washington Convention.
After Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea agreed on an eel stock management framework in September, Masanori Miyahara, an adviser to Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said: "We don't think this framework alone can protect [eel stocks]. We will continue to improve the operation" of the framework.
Even if the Japanese eel is covered by the Washington Convention, international trade in the fish can continue if there is scientific data to prove that stocks will not be depleted. Being prepared for this theoretical argument will be crucial to protecting eel stocks and keeping the eel market alive.
Great fisherman doing what they love to do. No paid pros or reps, no studio quality field shots, just regular folks that we truly appreciate for choosing to use our lures.
For the future, we can only ask our customers to do what you can to keep more fish alive by practicing catch and release. Let's change the way tournaments are held by using pictures to claim a winning fish. It can be done successfully with a little effort.
The www.GoTight.net tournament it an excellent working example of this practice, it sure would be terrific if other organizations followed their lead.
CPR. Catch, Photograph and Release.
- The Senate on Wednesday voted that “climate change is real and is not a hoax” in an amendment by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to the Keystone XL pipeline bill. The “hoax”amendment passed 98-1, with only Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker voting “no.”
“Today the Senate voted to approve my resolution stating that climate change is real and not a hoax,” said Sen. Whitehouse. “This resolution marks a historic shift for many of my Republican colleagues. While a number of Republicans have long acknowledged that climate change is real, including Senator Graham who spoke once again today, many others either denied the science or refused to discuss it. I was glad to see almost every Republican, including Senator Inhofe, acknowledge the reality of climate change today, and I hope this means we can move on to discussing not just whether climate change is real, but what we should do about it.”
The Senate’s leading climate denier, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), made it clear that though he believes climate change is not a hoax, he doesn’t believe humans are the primary driver. He said for the record that, “climate has always changed” and that it’s “arrogant” to think humankind can change climate.
In a second vote yesterday, Republicans rejected an amendment from Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) that stated, “climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change.” The amendment was blocked in a 50-49 vote, short of the 60 that was needed for approval.
“Global warming is real, but the fact that are our highest governing body has just voted to deny humans are causing it is unreal,” said Environment America’s Anna Aurilio. “It’s dumbfounding that senate leaders are ignoring the truth on catastrophic climate change to push the agenda of big polluters. Americans are concerned about climate change and they want to do something about it. It’s staggering that so many senators are so out of touch with the environmental values we share across our country.”
Five Republican Senators broke party lines and voted for Sen. Schatz’s amendment, including Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), Mark Kirk (Illinois), Susan Collins (Maine) and Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire).
“Today, the U.S. Senate voted on an amendment recognizing a simple scientific fact: human activity significantly contributes to climate change. The vote exposed 50 Senators who side with polluters over the health and welfare of the American people,” said campaign director of Forecast the Facts, Brant Olson.
“Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that the earth is warming and human activity is the cause. There are no national or major scientific institutions anywhere in the world that dispute the causes of climate change. Nearly 200 institutions worldwide, including the U.S. Navy and the Pentagon, have issued public statements emphasizing the threats of man-made climate change. History will not look kindly upon those who voted to ignore the facts at a moment when we could be taking action, and neither will voters in 2016. Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul just made their presidential bids a lot harder, and voters are not going to want a climate change denier in the Oval Office,” said Olson.
This vote comes on the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday where he said, “No challenge—no challenge—poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. 2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record. Now, one year doesn’t make a trend, but this does—14 of the 15 warmest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.”