Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Thursday, July 26, 2012: Please check out http://www.thewmit.com/ to follow the three-day tourney. Today will not see much offshore action – with most boats not venturing out -- so tomorrow and Saturday are going to hectic – in a real good way. Look for loads of weigh-in.
This year, the public is invited to come into the clubhouse to watch the weigh-in. For more details, go to my blogs on the website.
And don’t forget Polly’s Dock Fluke Tournament this Saturday. http://www.facebook.com/pollys.dock.
There’s not much to do this day, angling-wise. Sure, you can give it a go but it’s going to be snotty, windy and, eventually, weathery. The nasty stuff won’t hit until after dark. I like hitting the North Jetty, BL, on days like this. The winds are at your back and the stir in the ocean often has better fish cruising the inlet. It’s best to simply fish from Barney out toward the end. No need to go all the way out – and mess with the wetness and, often, crowds.
On the up side, today’s coastal cloud cover is going to keep us from seeing hideously high air temps. Also, the brisk winds along the beach will make this feel like any other muggy summer’s day. Downside, the hard SE winds could really much up the surfline waters, with possible upwelling knocking water temps down to 60.
Look for a real fast change, wind-wise. We’ll see honking southerly winds into tonight and west winds throughout the rest of the night. But, then, the west winds will lie down like crazy, almost hitting the brakes by late Friday. Saturday should be sweet. Fluke fishing will be best then.
Fish and Wildlife officers have been checking for Saltwater Registry Program cards. I believe you must have the registration card or a facsimile on your person. I suppose officers could check their computer, based on name alone, but I think you still risk a citation that way. Not sure, though.
Off the wires:
[Washington Post] By Peter Brannen - July 26, 2012 -
The federal government is poised to auction to wind farm developers 2,434 square miles of the continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean, which would allow wind farms to sprout 10 miles off the shores of six states, from Massachusetts to Virginia.
Extensive efforts are underway to avoid the fiasco of the first proposed offshore wind farm in U.S. waters. That 24-square mile project off the coast of Cape Cod unleashed a fierce, decade-long battle that still lingers in the courts. Although Europe has had offshore wind farms for many years, the United States remains without even one.
The plan to auction leases to offshore wind farm developers represents an enormous commitment to a potentially vast new industry.
Much is at stake: Wind turbines in the Atlantic alone could generate more than 1,000 gigawatts of power, an amount equal to the country's current total energy-generating capacity, according to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), part of the Interior Department.
The area to be leased is about the size of Delaware. Included are 125 square miles off the coast of Maryland, 161 square miles off Delaware and 176 square miles off Virginia. Leases will also be auctioned off the coast of New Jersey and Rhode Island, but the lion's share — 1,161 square miles — is off Massachusetts. The auction is planned before the end of this year; an exact date hasn't yet been set.
The legal battles and political wrangling over the relatively tiny Cape Wind project seem never-ending. This time, however, as the federal government tries to jump-start a homegrown, renewable energy source, it is anticipating and trying to address in advance every possible objection.
"There were many lessons learned from Cape Wind. Try not to build too close to billionaires that like to go sailing in Nantucket Sound was one of them," said Jim Lanard, president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, an organization that represents eight major developers.
His comment refers to the fierce resistance to Cape Wind funded in large part by oil heir billionaire William Koch, who owns a home in Cape Cod. Opposition created strange bedfellows, namely Koch and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. Koch, who has bankrolled conservative efforts and candidates to oppose the Democratic Party's environmental protection initiatives, this time helped finance an alliance that, along with objecting to the higher cost of energy generated by wind turbines, cited environmental concerns.
The challenges by opponents of Cape Wind illuminated a number of concerns about wind farms, including spoiled views and potential hazards to birds, marine life and underwater archaeological sites.
BOEM, through a variety of studies, is anticipating those issues as part of its "Smart from the Start" leasing program.
The view of wind farms from land — perhaps the most contentious issue of Cape Wind — has been the easiest to address. The areas to be auctioned all start more than 10 miles offshore, as opposed to the five miles set for Cape Wind.
In addition to incorporating lessons learned with Cape Wind, the agency is grappling with the legacy of a poorly situated land-based wind farm in California that has killed thousands of raptors, souring some environmentalists on wind power.
Before opening offshore plots to wind farms — the total area is more than 1.5 million acres — the government is spending millions to study the distribution and behavior of such federally protected migratory species as red knots, roseate terns and piping plovers, as well as of diving birds, which forage on the continental shelf.
By the end of March, 14 red-throated loons, 11 surf scoters and six northern gannets had been captured and surgically implanted with satellite transmitters to determine the habitat of these diving birds. The study is part of a $1.4 million project being carried out by the Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Cape Wind really helped focus attention on what we didn't know and what we needed to know for offshore wind in order to estimate risk," said Taber Allison, director of research at the American Wind and Wildlife Institute. (The institute is a partnership of conservation organizations and wind industry companies.) Allison is also an adviser to BOEM's outer continental shelf scientific committee and formerly a vice president at Mass Audubon, which endorsed Cape Wind after three years of survey and tracking of terns and long-tailed ducks in Nantucket Sound.
"The challenge for BOEM is they're dealing with an area that's far larger and for which we have very little data," he said. "We don't have armies of birders offshore."
European experience with wind turbines has revealed little risk of collision with seabirds but possibly some habitat displacement. To be safe, BOEM is trying to stay out of the birds' way. The 1,161-square-mile leasing area near Massachusetts, announced in May, was shrunk from more than 3,000 square miles in the past year in deference to long-tailed ducks, which forage in the area, as well as to commercial fishing interests.
"They appear to be very responsive to the interests of the fishermen," said Eric Hansen, a third-generation scalloper out of New Bedford, Mass. However, he added, "there's always the question about whether they made the area so large to make it look good when they knew they were going cut it down anyways, but it on the surface it's been very good."
Underwater, BOEM has been evaluating more subtle factors. Studies funded by the agency are exploring the effect on sharks and rays of electromagnetic fields generated by undersea cables that will connect the turbines. It is also evaluating the effects of pile-driving and turbine noise on whales, sea turtles and fisheries.
"We're really looking at everything from A to Z," said Mary Boatman, environmental studies chief at BOEM's office of renewable energy programs.
BOEM is also taking pains to protect man-made resources.
The Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe of Martha's Vineyard sued Cape Wind, claiming the facility would destroy submerged cultural tribal resources. The turbines, the suit said, would sit on what was once exposed land used by the tribe many thousands of years ago.
To avoid similar conflicts, BOEM is inventorying possible submerged archaeological sites throughout the once-dry Atlantic continental shelf — an effort that draws from sources as varied as paleo-climate models to records of mastodon and mammoth bones pulled up by commercial scallop dredgers.
It will probably take several years for developers to start building wind farms in the newly leased areas. So despite its trials, Cape Wind may still be the first offshore wind farm built in the country.
It is the only such federally permitted facility and has secured power purchase agreements with Massachusetts' major utilities. One of those contracts expires if developers fail to start construction by 2016.
But the project still faces legal challenges, perhaps most seriously from a federal appeals court. In that case, the Koch-funded alliance had challenged a Federal Aviation Administration ruling that the wind farm would not pose a threat to pilots. The alliance obtained internal documents in which FAA employees said they felt political pressure to make the ruling; they were not specific about who made them feel pressured.
If future projects avoid similar legal hurdles, offshore wind farms still face head winds from competition with cheap and plentiful natural gas. Moreover, federal investment tax credits for wind power are set to expire at the end of the year. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said he would not renew the tax credits if elected.
But with such companies as Google investing billions in creating a cable transmission backbone for the thousands of wind turbines that could spin offshore one day, some experts think wind is a good bet for a warming planet, and more than worth the initial investment.
"We're not a new technology — the offshore wind industry has been operating in Europe since 1991," said Lanard. "The U.S. is two decades behind. To catch up, we have to make big investments, just like nuclear, oil, gas and coal had to make big investments at the start."
[Kyodo] - July 26, 2012 -
HAMAMATSU, Shizuoka Pref., Japanese dealers are buying more grown eels from the far corners of the world, including Madagascar and Australia, due to low catches of young eels prior to this summer's "eel-eating day" on Friday.
Japanese custom holds that eating the nutritious fish in the dog days of summer can help people weather the intense heat, and July 27 was chosen as a special day to publicize it.
Japan relies on imports for 70 to 80 percent of the eels it consumes. Of the 73,800 tons of domestically consumed eels in 2010, 53,100 tons were imported, mainly from China and Taiwan, according to the Fisheries Agency. Japan has also started importing eels from France, Indonesia, Ireland, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, the U.S. and Vietnam.
While eels from the Southern Hemisphere account for a small fraction of Japan's total imports, the prices are reasonable and could prove to be a boon for Japanese consumers.
"I've found that eels are raised in Africa through some research," said an official with a trading house in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, a city known for its eel-farming industry.
In late June the company imported a sample shipment of about 150 kg of farmed eels from Madagascar, which raises the fish for European consumers.
The firm, which deals mainly in machine parts, decided to buy the eels at the request of local food processors who have been badly hurt by soaring prices.
Madagascar eels differ from the kind commonly eaten in Japan but have received good reviews from Japanese dealers who say they taste like domestically grown eels after being grilled.
The trading firm plans to import about a ton of Madagascar eels a week starting in late August. The price will likely be about 40 percent lower than that of Japanese eels.
Ebisen, a Hamamatsu-based seafood wholesaler, has been buying naturally grown eels from Tasmania for the past several years as eels from other areas have become more expensive.
"Meaty eels (from Tasmania) taste good whether they're grilled or fried," said the company's director, Naoya Kamo.
While the prices of young Chinese and Taiwanese eels have been on the rise in recent years due to poor catches, Takashi Moriyama, chief of the Japanese eel import cooperative, said it is still questionable whether eels from more distant countries suit the Japanese palate.
"Since only small amounts of them are sold in Japan, (their low prices) have yet to provide a welcome relief (for consumers)," Moriyama said. "But it's a good thing they can be offered to consumers at low prices."
[Boston Globe] By Jenn Abelson - July 26, 2012 -
WASHINGTON, The fish industry would have to publicly track fish from the boat to the plate under a sweeping new seafood fraud bill introduced Wednesday by US representatives Edward Markey and Barney Frank that imposes hefty fines for violators.
The Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act, or SAFE Seafood Act, comes nearly a year after a Globe report revealed widespread seafood substitution in restaurants across Massachusetts. Results of the five-month investigation published last fall found nearly half of the fish tested at 134 restaurants and supermarkets was mislabeled. In many cases, less desirable and cheaper species took the place of fresh local fish.
“When people walk into a restaurant and put down hard-earned money for a favorite fish, they expect to get what they ordered, especially in New England,” Markey said. “If businesses are fraudulently serving a substitute, then it's just wrong and has to be stopped. This bill increases inspections, it increases penalties, and it increases coordination at the federal level and with state and local agencies.”
The bill would require fish packers, supermarkets, and restaurants to provide details about all seafood, including the scientific name, the market name, and the geographic region where the fish was caught. The proposed legislation also calls for greater cooperation between the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration so they share more information about seafood substitution, create a public list of mislabeling offenders, and avoid conducting duplicate inspections at seafood plants.
The two agencies were criticized in a government report in 2009 for failing to do enough to fight fish fraud and coordinate inspection efforts. For example, the FDA inspected 315 domestic seafood facilities that NOAA also examined between 2005 and 2009.
The bill does not allocate more funds for enforcement, but Markey said a better working relationship between the FDA and NOAA would have resulted in a 29 percent increase in domestic inspections annually.
“Ideally, you would have more money for inspections, but understanding the tight budget climate, improving coordination among agencies and eliminating duplications is a good step in the right direction,” said Beth Lowell, a campaign director for Oceana, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., that is focused on ending fish mislabeling.
But Lowell added that inspections alone will not solve the problem, and pointed to a report the group released this week that found 31 percent of seafood is mislabeled in South Florida, despite ongoing efforts by state and local authorities to improve labeling accuracy. DNA testing — similar to the method used by the Globe last year — confirmed that nearly one-third of the 96 fish samples collected by Oceana from 60 retail outlets were misrepresented. Seafood substitution not only costs consumers, it also can pose health risks and undermine people's efforts to eat only food from sustainable sources.
The tracing requirements in the SAFE Seafood Act, according to Lowell, will help bring urgently needed transparency to the fish industry.
“It's clear that mislabeling is not a regional, isolated problem. It's a national problem that needs federal attention to impact the seafood supply chain,” Lowell said.
The proposed law also empowers the FDA to refuse imported seafood based on fraud — previously it could only do so based on safety concerns. An FDA spokesman declined to comment on the bill.
Tom Dempsey, policy director for the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association, said seafood fraud, including mislabeling, undermines local fishermen's efforts to get paid for a premium product.
“You see all sorts of things labeled as Chatham day boat cod, and more often than not, they are not what they are purported to be and that hurts our bottom line,” Dempsey said. “The legislation is a real step in the right direction.”
He said the group also wants state officials to step up enforcement on fish fraud and provide more resources to help the industry launch traceability initiatives.
Massachusetts prohibits the sale of mislabeled seafood and violators face potential fines of $500, but state lawmakers have said there is apparently no agency charged with enforcing the rules. The proposed federal bill would allow states to levy much heftier fines for seafood fraud — up to $10,000 per violation.
“There is a growing consumer base that really cares about where their seafood comes from and it can have a really sweeping impact on the business of fishing in New England,” Dempsey said.
Roger Berkowitz, president and chief executive of the Legal Sea Foods restaurant chain, said he has reviewed a draft of the bill and supports the initiative.
“I think this legislation is comprehensive enough, particularly in the arena of seafood fraud, to be effective,” Berkowitz said.