All posts by cbnelson2

The Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan

“SUMMARY: NMFS approves and implements through regulations the measures included in Framework Adjustment 26 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan, which the New England Fishery Management Council adopted and submitted to NMFS for approval. The purpose of Framework 26 is to prevent overfishing, improve yield-per-recruit, and improve the overall management of the Atlantic sea scallop fishery. Framework 26 sets fishing specifications for 2015, including catch limits, days-atsea allocations, individual fishing quotas, and sea scallop access area trip allocations. In addition, Framework 26 closes a portion of the Elephant Trunk Access Area and extends the boundaries of the Nantucket Lightship Access Area to protect small scallops, adjusts the State Waters Exemption Program, allows for Vessel Monitoring System declaration changes for vessels to steam home with product on board, implements a proactive accountability measure to protect windowpane flounder and yellowtail flounder, aligns two gear measures designed to protect sea turtles, and implements other measures to improve the management of the scallop fishery. Aligning the gear measures designed to protect sea turtles involves modifying existing regulations implemented under the Endangered Species Act; therefore, this action is implemented under joint authority of the Endangered Species Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.”



Fish Spotting in Alaska


“By the 1950s, aerial photography of was becoming a valuable tool for the Fish and Wildlife Service, especially to spot salmon in Bristol Bay (Mondor).” These aircraft are operating between 600 and 800 feet in altitude, the observer who “counts ten individuals, mentally connects ten such groups to make a block of 100 fish, then divides the entire school into such blocks, tallying the individual hundreds on a hand-counter.”

The practice of using aircraft to locate fish for commercial fisherman in Alaska did not take off until the 1970s. The need for aircraft with spotters on board was due to the herring season being shortened and the availability of catching an abundant of herring were not promising. When using aircraft to find the school the commercial fisherman were more successful in achieving these large catches.


Many industries are starting to see an increase in drones and the fishing industries is no different. Earlier in March 2015 Alaska banned the use of drones for commercial salmon spotting and last year banned drones for hunting. “As the technology continues to evolve, the question of drone use for all commercial fishing will continue to come up (Mondor).”



Protection from Overfishing of the Atlantic herring

The New England Fisheries Management Council and the federal regulators are introducing new or amended regulations that will restrict the future catch limits of the Atlantic herring based on “scientific uncertainty” and the status on the stock population. These changes are up for public comment now and may be approved within the last part of this year. Maine and Massachusetts have had the largest Atlantic herring fisheries in the past and taking the lead in the changes due to this.

“The long-term management of forage fish in an ecosystem context depends on evaluating the tradeoffs between their direct market value and other ecosystem-related values,’ the council’s scoping document says.


These changes will not only affect the herring fisheries but other fisheries to include the lobster industry. The lobster industry uses the herring as bait. The herring fishery has a large indirect impact on other industries. If limits are set even the tourist industry can and will see the effect of less herring to use during whale watching tours. The tour companies use large amounts of herring to feed the whales during tours. On a positive note the tuna fisherman are in favor of the limits on herring. The tuna fishermen have stated that the more herring there are the more tuna there are to be caught.



Personal Use Top Fishing Priority

The Alaska lawmakers will discuss a bill that would make personal use a priority in the managing of state fisheries today Tuesday March 10, 2015. Ever since moving to Alaska I always hear how the salmon should be managed so that the personal use fishermen get their fish first. Personal use would not be put ahead of subsistence fishing. The subsistence fishing would still have priority of all other types of fishing. Whenever the salmon numbers are low the Alaska Department of Fish and Game start to put restrictions on the amount of salmon that can be caught and kept for consumption. They also restrict on when the fish can be harvested and for how long.

The new bill that is being discussed would make personal use opportunity more important that commercial or sport fishing when the population of a stock is in question. This could have a huge impact on the Alaska commercial fisheries where the 2000-2004 average annual value of fish harvest was over $230 million dollars.


Big Red

Hello my name is Big Red! Spawning sockeye salmon, Lake Aleknagik, Alaska, USA      

                  I am a Sockeye salmon, my scientific name is Oncorhynchus nerka. My nick name is red or blueback salmon. I happen to be the third most abundant of the seven Pacific salmon species. My recitatives the pink and chum salmon are ranked number 1 and 2 above me. I am not the largest of the salmon species but I sure can be large. My average weight is about 8 pounds, but at my heaviest I can weigh 15 pounds. I can even grow up to 3 feet. I can live to be 5 years old. I sure do love the cold water of the Pacific Ocean.


                  When I am a juvenile in fresh water I will have dark, oval parr marks on my sides and usually does not extend below the lateral line. My sides are bright and shiny silver with a blue like colored back while swimming around in the ocean and starting my migration home. As I start my journey in fresh water to return to my spawning grounds I start to turn red, by the time I spawn I am a bright red with a green head.   The pretty color of my red meat comes from the orange krill I eat during my time at sea.Breeding-age males develop a humped back and hooked jaws filled with tiny, visible teeth. Juveniles, while in fresh water, have dark, oval parr marks on their sides. These parr marks are short-less than the diameter of the eye-and rarely extend below the lateral line.

I was born in the beautiful Klutina Lake in south-central Alaska. Klutina_River_nr_GlenallenI have an omnivore diet. I can spend two years eating aquatic insects and plankton in the lake. During my second or third summer I start my journey away from my fresh water habitat to the ocean where I eat “amphipods”, “copepods”, squid, and some smaller fish. Between 3 years of age and 5 years of age I will leave my salt water habitat to return home and to spawn. I will make a redd (nest) when I am ready to lay my eggs. It does not matter to me which male fertilizes my eggs. There will be many fighting to do so, once one is successful in fertilizing my eggs I will cover them with some grave. I will repeat this process three to five times. After I have spawned my life will have completed its cycle and I will die. My carcass will provide nutrients to the river and food for new born fish.

This is a hard life. I have many enemies during my life cycle.salmon02a

One of my biggest enemies are humans. They eat me as small as an egg and as big as an adult male or female. Humans catch us in nests, baskets, and hooks as we are returning to our spawning ground. They will cut us open to eat our roe and fillet our meat. They are also the cause of our natural habitat lose, due to the building of things like dams. Another enemy of ours is the bears and the eagles. The bears and eagles love to wait for us at the sallow and narrow parts of the rivers as we are swimming home to spawn. While at sea I do have to deal with large marine mammals. The normal issues of having a larger predator than me.


My favorite comic strip is “Tundra”. There has been several books published with nothing but these amazingly funny comics in them.

Tundra-Comics-Fishing-Cartoon ©







My heroes are the small human fishermen/women. If I am going to be caught before my time is up I would like it to be by one of these little cuties.






Expanding Critical Habitat for Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

The western North Atlantic Right Whale population is about 450 individual whales and is one of the most endangered whales to inhabit our coastal waters. There has been a small increase in the population size but the whales are still critically endangered. To help the population continue to increase on February 13, 2015 the NOAA fisheries proposed to expand the designated critical habitat for endangered North Atlantic Right Whales in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, to include the areas were they calves and nurse the calves.

This proposal would expand the critical habitat to roughly 29,945 square nautical miles, and to include northeast feeding areas in the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank region and calving grounds from southern North Carolina to northern Florida. If this critical habitat is approved it would require any federal agency that is conducting, funding, or permitting activities that may affect the areas to consult with NOAA Fisheries. The NOAA Fisheries will then make a determination on affect the actions of the agency would have on the habitat.

The areas proposed to be included in the northern critical habitats have physical and biological features that provide foraging areas for the whales’ prey. Tiny planktonic crustaceans are abundant to the areas and needed for the whales to thrive. The areas being proposed in the southern habitat includes physical features that support calving and nursing with optimal physical oceanographic features.

Figure 1: Comparison of Current Right Whale Critical Habitat to Areas Proposed for Critical Habitat Designation
Comparison of Current Right Whale Critical Habitat to Areas Proposed for Critical Habitat Designation
Figure 2: Specific Area on which are found the Essential Features of North Atlantic Right Whale Foraging Habitat
Specific Area on which are found the Essential Features of North Atlantic Right Whale Foraging Habitat

Figure 3: Proposed Southeastern Calving Critical Habitat for North Atlantic Right Whales

Proposed Southeastern Calving Critical Habitat for North Atlantic Right Whale