The annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum opens Thursday and the NEFSC is there. The forum is a great time and place for meetings and discussions among a variety of people interested in healthy, sustainable fisheries, seafood businesses, and coastal communities.
The NEFSC Northeast Fisheries Observer Program will have a booth at the Trade Fair held during the forum, as will the NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Regional Office. The Observer Program will be talking to people about some upcoming improvements for our online pre-trip notification system. Some of our NEFSC Cooperative Research Branch staff are also expected to drop in.
On Thursday NEFSC oceanographer Jim Manning returns to the forum to speak at a seminar on the eMOLT -- Environmental Monitors on Lobster Traps -- project. Jim helped start this program more than 15 years ago, and it is still going strong. Collected data are showing strong warming trends in recent years, all around the Gulf of Maine. This year’s seminar is intended to bring in more information from a similar program in Nova Scotia and how the US and Canadian Programs might work together.
On Friday afternoon, NOAA Fisheries leaders will host an open forum. Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries; Samuel Rauch, Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs; and Jon Hare, NEFSC Science and Research Director, will be among the hosts. This is typically a free-ranging session that is an annual attraction.
On Saturday, Jon Hare and NEFSC research fishery biologist John Manderson will participate in the seminar on ecosystem-based fishery management interest and activities around the region. They’ll talk about data and science requirements for managing species within a larger system, detecting ecosystem change quickly, and ways of integrating fishermen’s observations into that effort. It will also be the first time many people will have a chance to learn about a new agreement among NOAA Fisheries, Maine’s Department of Marine Resources, and the Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries to work on a science framework to support ecosystem-based management of a region defined by the Eastern Maine Coastal Current.
Also on Saturday, NEFSC research fishery biologist Michael Palmer will be part of a panel discussing a recent project that looked at Atlantic cod and cusk bycatch in Gulf of Maine lobster pots. Cusk are is a species of concern in the federal Endangered Species Act and Atlantic cod populations are at very low levels. Panelists will be talking about estimating bycatch for these species, and how to relate that to habitat, abundance, and changing environmental conditions that could affect all of these factors.