FishNews – May 2, 2018

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NOAA Fish News

May 2, 2018



Blue shark

Fisheries Stock Assessment Tool Goes Global
Researchers from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, along with an international collaborator, have developed a stock assessment tool that can be reproduced and customized for use by anyone in the world. Inspired by the need to conduct stock assessments with limited information, the new tool simplifies model code, automates analyses, and visualizes outputs in readily understandable ways.

West Coast


Killer whale dorsals

Inbreeding in Southern Resident Killer Whales
A new genetic analysis of Southern Resident killer whales found that since 1990 just two males have fathered more than half of the calves that scientists have been able to sample. These results point to inbreeding in the small population, and it may be a contributing factor to the low rate of calf survival.


Pacific Islands


Injured green sea turtle

Boaters Encouraged to Go Slow for Turtles
After a Hawaiian green turtle was found with (non-fatal) propeller injuries, NOAA Fisheries and the Hawaii Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation are reminding boaters to help prevent collisions with sea turtles by taking a few easy safety precautions.

Hawaii reef

Estimating Catch on Hawaii’s Nearshore Reefs
In Hawaii, there is no fishing registry, license, or permit program for non-commercial fisheries. Recently, researchers from the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center teamed up with coral reef fish specialists from the University of Hawaii and Conservation International to try to compile all the data they could find to estimate nearshore reef fish catch.




Red Grouper illustration

Snapper-Grouper Measures – Open for Comment
By May 11, please submit your comments on two proposed amendments to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan. Amendments 26 and 27 would implement the Snapper Grouper Vision Blueprint for recreational and commercial fishing, respectively. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold three webinars on the measures May 8–10.


Sea turtle swimming

Sea Turtle Release Gear – Open for Comment
By May 18, please submit your comments on proposed changes to Amendment 42 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan to provide three additional options for approved sea turtle release gear. The new gear would require less space on vessels.

Gulf of Mexico coral habitat

Gulf Coral Habitat Areas – Open for Comment
By June 5, please submit your comments on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s draft amendment to create several new coral Habitat Areas of Particular Concern in the Gulf. Submit comments online or at a series of public hearings and webinars scheduled
May 7–June 6.


Gulf Council logo

April 2018 Gulf Council Updates
The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met in Gulfport, Mississippi, last month to discuss red snapper management, a draft coral amendment, shrimp stock assessments, and more. Read a summary of the Council’s actions. This week, the Council named a new Executive Director, Dr. Carrie Simmons, and announced a call for applicants for its Scientific and Statistical Committees.


Greater Atlantic


Two Right Whales

Watch Out for Whales Off Coast of Massachusetts
Last week, NOAA Fisheries established a voluntary vessel speed restriction zone to protect a group of three right whales sighted 19 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard. This zone is in effect through May 9. Additional right whale sightings yesterday and today prompted the establishment of two new speed zones east and northeast of Boston, which will be in effect through
May 16 and 17.

Stock assessment website image

2018 Stock Assessments Available Online
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s benchmark assessment website is now online. Visit the site for general information on the review plans, process, and assessment histories for Atlantic herring, sea scallops, and summer flounder.

Haddock illustration

Groundfish and Northeast Multispecies Measures
NOAA Fisheries set catch limits for 20 groundfish stocks for the 2018–2020 fishing years, including three stocks managed jointly with Canada. Compared to 2017, Framework 57 increases quotas for 11 stocks and decreases quotas for nine stocks. We expect the quota increases to provide additional revenue and flexibility to the commercial groundfish industry.


Atlantic cod

Recreational Measures for Haddock and Cod
NOAA Fisheries announced that the 2018 recreational management measures will remain the same as 2017 for Gulf of Maine cod and haddock. For Georges Bank cod, however, 2018 measures will increase the minimum size of cod to 23 inches. For-hire boats will now have a 10 fish per person per day limit, matching the existing limit for private anglers.

Teacher at Sea Jenkins

Teachers at Sea aboard NOAA Ship Henry Bigelow
High school teachers Thomas Jenkins and Susan Dee are taking their classrooms to sea this spring as NOAA Teachers at Sea, working with scientists and crew on NOAA Ship Henry B. Bigelow.


May 3
Free Atlantic Shark Identification Workshop in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

May 3–4
Georges Bank Ecosystem Strategy Peer Review in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

May 7–15
Nine free Protected Species Safe Handling, Identification, and Release workshops along the east coast of Florida.

May 7–June 6
Eight public hearings and one webinar on draft Coral Amendment 9, hosted by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council.

May 8–10
Three webinars, each with multiple listening stations, on two proposed snapper grouper amendments, hosted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

May 10 and 29
Two informational webinars on federal for-hire permit holders, hosted by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

June 4–11
North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Kodiak, Alaska.

June 5–7
Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in Philadelphia.

June 7–13
Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Spokane, Washington.



May 4
Applications due for proposals for recreational fishing education, outreach, and conservation projects in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

May 14
Pre-proposals due for 2018 Fisheries Innovation Fund.

May 25
Applications due for seats on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s Scientific and Statistical Committees.


Federal Register Actions

Visit for a list of only those actions open for public comment. Scroll search for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For a list of all daily actions, check the Federal Register online.

Corrections or technical questions should be sent to the FishNews Editor at