Northeast Fisheries Historical Highlights: A Timeline
Timeline of historic Northeast Fisheries-related events, organized by decade from the 1870s to the end of the 20th century.
Part of the History of NOAA Fisheries in the Northeast
- The United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries, formed on February 9 is the first federal agency concerned with natural resource
- The nation's first fisheries laboratory is established at Woods Hole by the U.S. Fish Commission, the forerunner of today's NOAA Fisheries Service. The first U.S. Fish Commissioner, Spencer F. Baird, selects Woods Hole for its central location, support facilities, clean water, and good access to offshore fishing sites. A survey of marine life in local waters begins. Others conduct research at Cape Hatteras and on the Great Lakes. Baird personally investigates the alleged decrease of southern New England fisheries, taking testimony from many witnesses.
- The Fish Commission is directed by Congress
"...to determine whether a diminution of the number of food-fishes of the coast and lakes of the U.S. has taken place; and, if so, to what causes the same is due; and whether any and what protective prohibitory or precautionary measures should be adopted in the premises..."
Baird immediately initiates a broad spectrum of ecological research.
- Vinal N. Edwards, the first permanent federal employee of the fisheries service is employed as an all-around technician, a position he holds until his death in 1919. Edwards had no scientific background but was often described as an "intuitive" naturalist with an encyclopedic knowledge of the ocean processes and marine life in and around Woods Hole.
- American Fish Culturists Association appropriates $15,000 for the U.S government to begin fish culture development, adding aquaculture to the Fish Commission's charge.
- The Commission's summer station is set up at Eastport, Maine, and a special herring study is made.
- On October 23, 30,000 chinook salmon eggs are shipped from California to the East Coast; all but 7,000 die in transit. About 200-300 hatch and are raised to fingering size and planted unsuccessfully in the Susquehanna River in March 1873.
- The Fish Commission's summer research station in Portland, Maine, is augmented by the loan of an 80-ton steamer from the U.S. Navy. Outer waters between Mount Desert and Cape Cod are also explored with the U.S. Coast Survey steamer Bache
- Baird publishes the first of the annual US Fish Commission reports on the Commission's operations and research. The series provides a much-needed outlet for scientific reports on the Nation's fisheries and oceanographic studies. The first edition details Baird's findings on "The Condition of the Sea Fisheries of the South Coast of New England in 1871 and 1872."
"Baggage-masters will allow agents of the U.S. Fish Commission to ride in the baggage-cars and to attend to the tanks which they have charge." - A. J. Cassett, Pennsylvania Railroad Company.
- The Commission's research work is centered at Noank, Connecticut, and an attempt is made to introduce shad to European waters.
- A combination of federal and private funds make renovation of a shed into a more permanent, two-story lab at Woods Hole complete with a windmill for pumping seawater to research aquaria.
- The Fish Commission presents a large exhibit of fish culture methods and aspects of American fisheries at the Philadelphia International Exhibition; carp are first imported from Germany
"To conductors and Baggage-masters. You will permit his Fish Commission deputy's cans of living fish to be carried in the baggage cars." - Gen'l Superintendent, Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway Co., Cleveland.
- The first successful U.S. east coast sardine cannery is started at Eastport, Maine, 43 years after the world's first sardine cannery began operating in Nantes, France.
- Fish Commission investigations resume at Salem, Massachusetts, and later at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Federal carp ponds are established in Washington, D.C.
"The War Department furnished Baird station a military guard this year, which proved to be a very valuable acquisition." - Livingston Stone.
- The Halifax Fishery Commission is charged with settling the amount of compensation to be paid by the United States for the privilege of fishing off the eastern Canadian Provinces and Commissioner Baird is summoned to testify. Baird's assistant, G. Brown Goode, reports that "The information at that time available concerning the fisheries was found to be so slight and imperfect that a plan for systematic investigation of the subject was arranged and partially undertaken." The full study of America's fisheries and their history and status would later be published as part of the Tenth U.S. Census.
- The first major monograph on the menhaden, a prolific and widely useful species, is published by G. Brown Goode, Assistant Fish Commissioner. The menhaden is still one of the Nation's most important fisheries, and research into its ecology and utilization continues today.
- J.R. Shotwell, in a letter to Baird, describes the efforts of a New Jersey gas company to remove harmful products from distilled coal waste before dumping in the Delaware River.
- The U.S. Fish Commission occupies a permanent station in Gloucester, Massachusetts to supplement fish propagation studies ongoing at the Woods Hole Station. This would eventually become the first seafood technology lab in the United States.
- The first clam cannery in the United States is established at Pine Point, Maine. Also, crab is first canned at Norfolk, Virginia.
- The breeding of cod and haddock is accomplished at Gloucester, Massachusetts.
- The Commission publishes six annual or biannual reports totaling 5,650 pages during 1871-78 and they provide a much needed outlet for fisheries and oceanographic research papers and reports.
- Commissioner Baird initiates a landmark study on the composition of fish to determine their food and nutritive values. The research, conducted by W. O. Atwater and Charles Woods, provides important benchmark data, many of which are still useful today.
- The field of fish technology opens with investigations of methods for freezing fish, and in 1882 net preservatives are studied.
- The Fish Commission's summer station is located at Provincetown, Massachusetts.
- Oyster propagation is accomplished cooperatively with the Maryland Fish Commission and under the direction of Major Ferguson. Distribution of the German carp is also initiated — a move later rued.
- The Fish Commission, cooperating with the Superintendent of the Tenth U.S. Census, dispatches specialists to all parts of the Nation to study and record the biological, statistical, and practical aspects of all U.S. fisheries. The results are published in 1887 as a huge, comprehensive seven-volume work on The Fisheries and Fishery Industries of the United States.
- The Fish Commission's first research vessel, the 156.5-foot U.S.S. Fish Hawk, is launched. The coal-burning steamer is built to serve as a floating hatchery in coastal waters for shad, herring, and striped bass production.
- The Fish Commission's summer station is at Newport, Rhode Island, where the Fish Hawk operates for the season. Over 50 Commission investigators are in the field.
- Spencer Baird receives the first-honor prize at the Berlin Exposition from the Emperor of Germany, not only for the excellence of the Commission's fisheries display, but also owing to the international regard of Baird who was widely seen as the preeminent fish culturist for his successful promotion of fish culture and fish acclimatization—exchanging fish and fish ova throughout the world.
- Prof. Addison E. Verrill estimates that in just 10 years, research, mainly by the Commission, has added 1,000 new species to the list of known marine creatures in New England waters—ot including finfishes. About 100 newly discovered finfishes were added during the same period on the Atlantic coast.
- Despite having a very stylish Washington address (1445 Massachusetts Ave.) Baird is characterized in an article "Celebrities at Home" as dressing in the plain and slightly old-fashioned style of a well-to-do country English farmer.
"This is ... a most wonderful fauna, vastly exceeding in richness and extent on anything known to science."-S. F Baird, on results of explorations of the Gulfstream slope 80 miles south of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts.
- The lab receives its first presidential visit, from Chester A. Arthur. Arthur is taken for a collecting cruise off Woods Hole in the Commission steamer Despatch.
- In April vessels report countless dead tilefish floating in an area from Georges Banks to Cape May. A conservative estimate made by Capt. J.W.Collins placed the number of dead fish at upwards of 1,438,720,000 (that's 1.43 billion fish!). Allowing 10 pounds for each fish he estimated this amounted to 288 pounds for every man, woman and child in the U.S. at the time. The mystery was never explained, but a plausible explanation for the deaths seemed to be a sudden chilling of the deeper waters along this stretch of ocean. No catch of tilefish was reported again for 15 years.
- In March, the 234-foot U.S.S. Albatross, the first U.S. research vessel built exclusively for fisheries and oceanographic research, is launched. The iron-hull, twin-screw vessel was designed to conduct its marine investigations in any part of the world's seas.
- Volume 1, for 1881, of the Bulletin of the United States Fish Commission is published. "... for the purpose of utilizing and of promptly publishing the large amount of interesting correspondence of the Fish Commission in reference to matters pertaining to fish culture and to the apparatus, methods, and results of the fisheries. Parts of the text were distributed signature by signature, the remainder in bound annual volumes." Now the quarterly, peer-reviewed journal Fishery Bulletin, this series has been in continuous publication for 115 years.
- Woods Hole, Massachusetts property is deeded to the U.S. Government for the construction of the Commission's first full-time research laboratory.
- Baird suggests that purer forms of salt be used to solve the problem of red cod a discoloration found in cured cod.
Construction of the laboratory building at Woods Hole begins.
- The first permanent lab is completed, built on land given for the purpose by a local resident (Joseph Story Fay) with a combination of federal and private funds. The building remains useful until 1958. Because of the permanent facility, the Commission's research vessels Fish Hawk and the world-renowned Albatross begin to use Woods Hole as a base.
- In summer, Atlantic shad are transported in a railroad car to the Pacific coast and planted in Washington Territory and Oregon waters. On return, clams, Tapes staminea, are collected and brought back to Woods Hole
- Baird writes excitedly about acquisition of female and male pygmy sperm whales taken from Atlantic waters. These whales had been known to exist only in the Pacific Ocean.
- On August 19, Spencer F. Baird, first Commissioner of Fisheries, dies at Wood Hole, Massachusetts. Confined to a wheelchair in his latter days, he reportedly requested that he be wheeled around the station for final contact with his handiwork. He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Washington.
"... There rises again the thought that kept recurring then, that the sea is very ancient, that it ebbed and flowed before man appeared on the planet, and will ebb and flow after he and his words have disappeared; and a singular, indefinite impression, as if something had passed that was, in some fashion, great and mysterious, and ancient like the sea itself."- Edwin Linton, speaking of the day of Baird's death
- The Marine Biological Laboratory, private research facility, is established at Woods Hole, and staff are given free access to Commission Facilities
- Rainbow trout, a western species, is doing so well in eastern U.S. fish culture stations that shipments of them from the west are discontinued.
- In September, George Brown Goode temporarily succeeds Baird, but he resigns after 6 months to devote full time to his duties as Director of the U.S. National Museum.
- The huge and extensive five-section, seven-volume review of the history and conditions of U.S. fisheries is published by the Commission. Edited by George Brown Goode, it is titled The Fisheries and Fishery of the United States.
- On January 20, Congress establishes the U.S. Fish Commission as an independent agency of the Federal government and terminates its administrative relationship with the Smithsonian Institution. Marshall McDonald is appointed Commissioner at a salary of $5,000 per year
- The Albatross sails to the Pacific Ocean where it is used for fisheries and oceanographic research and for marine mammal (fur seal) law enforcement patrols until 1914
- W. O. Atwater publishes the 200-page report on the nutritive values of various fishes in the Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries for 1888-1889. It provides a basic reference on proximate composition of fish and shellfish and remains valuable today for comparison of composition ranges in relation to species size and distribution
- H.V.P. Wilson publishes his classic fish embryology paper on sea bass, based on his work at the Fish Commission lab.
- Pacific halibut is shipped to the east coast by rail, and as the market develops and demand grows, the fishery gradually extends farther offshore.
- The Albatross is ordered to escort the Dawes Commission along the Pacific coast.
The Albatross carries two presidentially-appointed commissions to study the plight of the fur seal; their reports confirm that seal populations are being seriously harmed by pelagic (high-seas) seal hunting.
September 6, Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts: During a southeasterly storm, United States Fish Commission schooner Grampus, bound to Woods Hole from Hyannis, ran ashore on L'Hommidieu shoal, Vineyard Sound. United States Fish Commissioner Col. McDonald, his wife and daughter, Assistant Commissioner Capt. J. W. Collins and Mrs. Bean and Patten, left the schooner in a dory, and succeeded in making a safe landing at Falmouth. The Grampus was later refloated.
- A contract to complete a fishway at Great Falls, Virginia, on the Potomac River is accepted for $15,000.
The U.S. Fish Commission becomes responsible for northern fur seal research.
- Marshall McDonald steps down as commissioner of the Bureau of Fisheries and Herbert A. Gill becomes acting commissioner.
- The Commission's Division of Propagation and Distribution of Food Fishes is established.
- Salmon research from the Albatross leads Congress to regulate Alaskan salmon fishing with net restrictions, closed seasons, spawning escapement requirements, etc.
- The rainbow trout is now successfully acclimatized in almost every state east of the Rocky Mountains.
The Fish Commission publishes A Manual of Fish Culture, and 60 years later it is still considered the most complete text on the subject.
- George M. Bowers becomes commissioner of the Bureau of Fisheries.
- For the first time, total Commission production of fish eggs, fry, and larger fish exceeds one billion.
- President Theodore Roosevelt signs a law for construction of the second Federal fisheries laboratory in the United States at Beaufort, North Carolina. Its first director is Henry Van Peters Wilson, a University of North Carolina professor.
- Charles A. Wilson begins summer work at the Woods Hole Laboratory, that culminates in publication of The Copepods of the Woods Hole Region Massachusetts, a standard reference in copepod biology.
- The Commission employs a fish pathologist on a part-time basis.
The American Fisheries Society places a granite monument to Baird at the Woods Hole Lab, where it remains today in a public park.
- By Act of February 14, the U.S. Fish Commission and the Office of the Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries are placed in the Department of Commerce and Labor which is also created by the new Act. The transfers take place on July 1.
- The formerly independent Fish Commission is named the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. The new Bureau retains the scientific responsibilities of the Fish Commission and incorporates other fishery-related functions: i.e. jurisdiction, supervision, and control over the fur seal of Alaska are assumed from the Department of the Treasury.
One million whitefish, 100,000 brook trout, 53,000 lake trout, and 50,000 landlocked salmon eggs leave New York harbor for Argentina. Losses are later reported as only 10% except for lake trout which began hatching en route.
In 1905, the fishing on New England banks was revolutionized by the introduction of the otter trawl "... which met with a great deal of opposition from many members of the industry." - Herbert W. Graham, writing in 1952.
- Bureau testing begins on a new wooden shipping case that holds 24 trays of eggs. Each tray can hold 192,000 lake trout eggs.
- The Albatross sails on a lengthy research cruise to the Aleutian Islands, Russia and Japan, making extensive biological collections and discovering hundreds of new genera and fishes. Capt. LeRoy Mason Garrett, U.S. Navy, is thrown from the vessel in a violent storm and is lost at sea.
"The 1906 cruise of the United States Fisheries steamer Albatross had for its especial object the investigation of the fish and fisheries of the Japanese seas, where the ship spent most of the time. The journey out was made by way of the Aleutian Islands, at several of which they stopped, Petropaulski, Kamchatka, and the Kuril islands. They returned by way of Honolulu. As the purpose of the expedition was the investigation of fish and marine invertebrates, and the ship was usually occupied in work offshore, their opportunities for collecting birds were rather limited, especially as their time was largely taken up by their duties in connection with the marine work, as the representative of the Bureau of Fisheries."
— from the paper entitled " The Birds Collected and Observed during the Cruise of the United States Fisheries Steamer "Albatross" in the North Pacific Ocean, and in the Bering, Okhotsk, Japan, and Eastern Seas, from April to December 1906"
- Rachel Louise Carson is born on May 27. The famed conservationist, author, marine biologist, and Bureau employee wrote "The Sea Around Us" (1951), "Silent Spring" (1962), and other books that heightened public environmental awareness.
- The Albatross leaves San Francisco for a 2-1/2 year cruise to Midway, Guam, Philippines, Borneo, Dutch East Indies, and Formosa.
A.E. Verrill completes his study of the specimens collected during the survey that began at the Woods Hole lab in 1871. The project has formed the basis of hundreds of scientific papers on invertebrates. The specimen collection includes some 2,000 species taken from 3,000 locations in New England and is eventually given to the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard with duplicates in the Peabody Museum of Yale University.
The Albatross returns to San Francisco after a trip along the California coast in which six yearling elephant seals, thought to be extinct, are captured and sent to the New York Aquarium.
H.B. Bigelow begins sixteen years of research on the oceanic fisheries in the Gulf of Maine. This fundamental work, along with extensive investigations with W.B. Schroeder results in the 1953 treatise Fishes of the Gulf of Maine, a standard reference in the field.
- The Bureau of Fisheries publishes results of a massive bottom sampling program operated out of Woods Hole, describing the distribution of about 250 animal and plant species at several hundred sampling stations.
- The Department of Labor is separated from the Department of Commerce, which retains the Bureau of Fisheries.
A small office opens in Seattle's historic Smith Tower Building as an administrative center for the Bureau's Pacific coast operations.
- The Department of Commerce and Labor becomes the Department of Commerce.
- Congress approves the appointment of a full-time fish pathologist to the Bureau staff.
- The Albatross undergoes repairs for a November transfer to the U.S. Navy for the duration of WWI. It is returned to the Bureau in 1919
- Research emphasis at the lab is changed from general interest to work concentrating on the immediate increase of aquatic food supplies—a change precipitated by the onset of World War I. During this time, the Navy occupies the lab.
- The U.S. Navy takes over the Bureau's Beaufort, North Carolina fisheries laboratory in World War I to study the fouling of ship bottoms, and returns it to the Bureau in 1920.
- Funding is approved for the first fishery products laboratory in Washington, D.C. to house rooms for drying, smoking, canning and refrigerating of fish. An experimental kitchen is also built.
- The Bureau reports that, "In no branch of the fisheries is there greater need for exhaustive study than in the methods or preservation of fishery products"
- Vinal Edwards dies on April 5. Vinal was the first permanent employee of the Bureau of Fisheries.
- Fire destroys the dining hall, kitchen, and laundry room of the Woods Hole Laboratory
- With cooperation of the Naval Aviation Service and Chesapeake Bay fishermen, the Bureau inaugurates use of aeroplanes to locate menhaden.
- The Albatross is decommissioned and retired from service on October 29, but the scientific research into as well as the naming and cataloging of the many hundreds of thousands of specimens it has collected will continue for decades.
- For the first time, Bureau of Fisheries scientists begin research to determine fat contents of fish oils at its Washington, D.C. laboratory. Such research would continue during 1926-30 at a Reedville, Virginia laboratory on menhaden oil manufacture. Later Bureau research would target the vitamin content of fish oils and other healthful and nutritional attributes of fish oils.
Herbert F. Prytherch makes his first report on his work with artificial propagation of oysters. He works in facilities provided by the Connecticut Oyster Farms Company of Milford, Connecticut. Increased interest in molluscan culture for stock enhancement and direct sale eventually leads to establishment of a full-scale research facility at Milford, which is still a laboratory of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, concentrating on pollution effects on marine life and molluscan and finfish aquaculture.
N.A. Cobb begins to spend his summers working at Woods Hole fisheries lab. Cobb was a world-known nematode specialist whose contributions included many discoveries regarding these animals, as well as in the taxonomy of nematodes. Cobb's outstanding contributions included using these animals to study biological problems such as heredity, phylogeny, adaptation, and parasitism.
Paul S. Galtsoff begins lifelong work on the American oyster which culminates in the extensive classic "The American Oyster," published by the service in 1952.
The Bureau's steamer Fish Hawk is relinquished. Shortly after, the Bureau obtains the ocean tug Patuxent from the Navy. It is renamed the Albatross II and outfitted for research use.
O.E. Sette becomes director of the Fisheries lab and brings his pioneering work tagging and reporting on the schooling of mackerel.
- The small coal-burning steamer Phalarope under the command of Capt. R. N. Veeder, was used for collecting trips to fish traps, or for dredging or taking plankton samples around Woods Hole.
- On May 21, the Preservation of Fishery Resources Act (Mitchell Act) is passed to provide for the conservation of the fishery resources of the Columbia River.
- A new Act (H.R. 7405) is approved, authorizing construction of more than 25 Bureau fish culture stations, three new laboratories, and two fish distribution railroad cars over the next 5 years.
- Victor Loosanoff is hired by Paul Galtsoff (now lab director) to go to Milford and work with the oyster industry. Loosanoff would eventually become, along with Galtsoff, a world-class expert on oyster culture.
- Rachel Carson is hired by the Bureau's Chesapeake Bay Investigations Division as a biologist.
- Biologist William C. Herrington begins his studies of haddock in the Gulf of Maine, incorporating both fishery dependent and independent information. This work is the foundation for the longtime series of information on haddock response to fishing effort in this highly productive region.
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is established with H.B. Bigelow as its first director.
- More than 4,100 flounder are tagged and released during an investigation into their migratory patterns near the Woods Hole Laboratory.
The Bureau's long-sought experimental station for fish disease research is set up at Leetown, West Virginia.
- A cooperative project between the Bureau, Cornell University, and the State of New York results in an experimental laboratory for fish nutrition research at Cortland, New York
- The Bureau's Beaufort Laboratory is seriously damaged by a hurricane on September 16; later, the Public Works Administration provides funds to hire workers and restore buildings and equipment.
- On March 10, Public Law 732 is enacted to provide for the mitigation of losses to fish and wildlife caused by Federal government construction.
- The Bureau begins large-scale tagging experiments on white shrimp, and Peterson disc tags are used to determine growth rates and alongshore movements. Later, scientists would use biological stains and numbered internal plastic tags to mark the shrimp.
- Rachel Carson is recruited by Elmer Higgins, head of the Bureau's Division of Scientific Inquiry, to write scripts for some Bureau radio broadcasts on marine life. She would serve with the Bureau until 1952.
- The Sockeye Salmon Fisheries Convention between the U.S. and Canada is ratified by the U.S. Senate; ratification documents are exchanged between the countries in 1937.
- The U.S. Congress appropriates funds for a Fishery Market News Service in the Bureau of Fisheries
- The Bureau of Fisheries is transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior.
- The Bureau's monthly publication Fishery Market News begins in January as "a review of conditions and trends of the commercial fisheries."
- The first trial marking of sardines results in a 10% recovery of 964 metal tagged sardines recovered by magnets.
- The 1940 Reorganization Plan No. III, effective June 30, merges the Bureau of Fisheries and the Biological Survey as part of the Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service; in addition, it provides for the establishment of five regional fisheries offices. The Bureau of Fisheries and Biological Survey groups would be separated again in 1956 as the renamed Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife.
- Between 1872 and 1940, the Fish Commission/Bureau plants and distributes 200 billion fish and other aquatic animals in national and international waters.
- The Woods Hole lab is closed, and the buildings occupied by the Navy until the spring of 1944. Limited scientific work continues in space borrowed from the Marine Biological Laboratory.
- Rachel Carson's first book, "Under the Sea Wind," is published just before Pearl Harbor is bombed. She continues her federal service as an aquatic biologist until 1946 when she would become an information specialist and, later, editor-in-chief of the Information Division of the Fish and Wildlife Service.
"Fish for war is the present aim of the Fishery biological investigations of the [Fish and Wildlife] Service." — Department's Annual Report.
- Samuel F. Hildebrand moves to Smithsonian Institution's National Museum to continue his fish systematics and taxonomy work for the agency. This is the beginning of today's NOAA Fisheries National Systematics Laboratory, part of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center until 1995.
- The first permanent station was built at Milford. After working out of a building donated and moved across the harbor by a local oyster company, the staff is presented with a real scientific laboratory.
"In every major war fought by the United States, the fishing fleet has formed a second line of naval defense, fishing boats and fishermen being employed in various capacities for patrol as mine sweepers in supplying protein food to the armed forces and the civilian population." — Charles E. Jackson.
- A second hurricane ravages Woods Hole, destroying the docks, part of the seawall, and much of the roofs, windows, porches, and outer skins of Woods Hole buildings.
- The War Food Administration frees sperm whale oil from restricted civilian use, allowing it to be used for grinding oils, carbon paper, mimeograph inks, typewriter ribbon, etc.
- Selective Service State Directors are given authority to recommend draft exemptions for 18-25-year-old captains of fishing vessels of 20+ gross tons.
- Of the 600 fishing boats requisitioned for emergency use by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Coast Guard, 142 are released to the War Shipping Administration by the military; 13 are returned to their original owners.
- President Harry S. Truman issues a proclamation asserting U.S. jurisdiction...
"... over the natural resources of the continental shelf under the high seas contiguous to the coasts of the United States and its territories and providing for the establishment of conservation zones for the protection of fisheries in certain areas of the high seas contiguous to the United States."
- The September issue of the agency's Fishery Market News publishes a warning to the fishing industry about a new pesticide: "In spite of its apparent usefulness in improving sanitary conditions in such fishing industry plants DDT may have undesirable and even dangerous effects unless its use is properly controlled..." Rachel Carson would later draw on such early Federal research in writing her acclaimed volume Silent Spring.
- Lionel Walford becomes Director of Research and reorganizes the entire fisheries research program.
Operation Crossroads — the nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll — begins, and Woods Hole Laboratory oyster expert Paul S. Galtsoff is an invited scientist on the project.
- Rebuilding after the hurricane results in a usable Woods Hole lab, and a small number of investigations resume.
- A fisheries technology lab is established in Boston.
- Intensified interest in health of fish stocks off New England results in transfer of fisheries investigation offices from Cambridge, MA to Woods Hole.
- The Albatross III, formerly a steam trawler in the New England groundfishery, is commissioned in ceremonies at the Boston Fish Pier.
- W.S. Royce becomes director of the Woods Hole station.
- The Boston Technological Laboratory initiates a major study of freezing fish at sea.
- The International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries, a treaty organization, is set up on July 3 to study and report on fisheries activities and fish stocks in more than two million square miles of ocean outside the territorial waters of the nations rimming the northwest Atlantic. Research activities for areas of U.S interest are largely headquartered at the Woods Hole Laboratory.
- Herbert W. Graham becomes director of the Woods Hole station.
- Hurricane Carol strikes Woods Hole, destroying much of the lab and its environs, the saltwater pipes and pumps, and resulting in closure of the public aquarium for several years.
- J. Coulton and R. Marak begin plankton surveys of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank to determine the drift of eggs and larvae in the area.
- Extensive population studies of sea scallops begun by J.A. Posegay.
- The first factory trawler, the British vessel Fairtry, appears in international waters on the Grand Banks, ushering in the high-tech, high-volume fishing vessels that play a major role in declarations of 200-mile EEZs by countries of the Northwest Atlantic.
- The 83rd Congress passes Public Law 466, popularly known as the Saltonstall-Kennedy Act, which sets aside funds for fishery-product and market research, fisheries development, and other research.
- The Cooperative Game Fish Tagging North Program begins at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; it later will be transferred to NOAA Fisheries Southeast Fisheries Science Center
- The first coastwide samples from the Atlantic menhaden reduction fishery are acquired; sampling is continuous during the next 40 years.
- Congress appropriates money for rebuilding the Woods Hole lab after hurricane damage.
- The Boothbay Harbor Lab is administratively separated from Woods Hole.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establishes two bureaus — the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries — with the Boothbay, Woods Hole, Milford, Boston, and Annapolis Labs going to the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries.
- Following full reorganization of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service early in the year, Donald L. McKernan is designated Director of the new Bureau of Commercial Fisheries. The Bureau now has a headquarters and five regional organizations including 80 field installations, plus the Pacific Ocean Fishery Investigations office in Hawaii.
- The Bureau's new Fisheries Loan Program begins operation late in the year, initially with assistance from the Small Business Administration.
- The Bureau's exploratory longline fishing in the North Atlantic reveals several species of tunas in an area north of their previously known winter ranges and within 15 hours sailing time of Massachusetts Nantucket Lightship.
- Successful redfish tagging at Eastport, Maine, provides the first direct evidence that the growth rate of this species is extremely slow, less than one-sixth inch in 9 months.
- Bureau research shows that the yield of sea scallops in the North Atlantic can be materially increased by regulating the sizes of the rings used in the scallop dredges.
- Bureau research conclusively shows that improved processing and packaging techniques can extend the storage life of frozen fishery products by many months. Bureau technologists publish a comprehensive five-part manual on handling, processing, freezing, storing, and distributing fresh-frozen and precooked and frozen fishery products, the only authoritative reference on all phases of the frozen fishery product industry.
- With fishing industry help, the Bureau organizes a safety program to reduce the number of accidents on fishing vessels.
- Construction at the Woods Hole station begins with demolition of old buildings.
- A July article in the Bureau's Commercial Fisheries Review by Charles Butler, entitled Nutritional Value of Fish in Reference to Atherosclerosis and Current Dietary Research, notes the early interest in heart disease and the eating of fatty foods, and discusses the implications of current knowledge of atherosclerosis as applied to the marketing of fish. A Saltonstall-Kennedy study is initiated on the relationship of fish oils to circulatory diseases.
- The first United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea convenes in Geneva during February-May, with 86 nations participating. The U.S. delegation uses background documents on U.S. and world fisheries during the deliberations. For the first time, broad agreement is reached on a system of rules to guide nations toward preserving marine species. A fishery attache post is established in Tokyo in conjunction with the State Department Foreign Service Program.
- Research shows that red salmon of the North American type appears to predominate in the North Pacific as far west as longitude 175º east.
- The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries moves its laboratory in Annapolis to a site in Oxford, Maryland to be in a better site to investigate MSX disease, which has wiped out commercial oyster concentrations in Chesapeake Bay.
- Woods Hole Biological Laboratory scientists develop a method to determine the age of scallops using marks on the shell and ligament as annual rings.
- A prototype automatic deicing and weighing machine is developed and tested by Bureau technologists to increase efficiency of unloading fish at the dock.
- Bureau scientists show that introducing fish oils into the diet markedly reduces high serum-cholesterol levels; test animals also show more rapid growth rates than control animals. The researchers also develop an accurate method for measuring the nutritive value of fish meals through controlled-diet feeding studies.
- A new Biological Laboratory is set up in Washington, D.C., to study the mechanisms by which the elements of the marine environment affect commercially important fishes and invertebrates.
- Bureau insecticide reports show DDT is toxic to adult white shrimp at concentrations of 15 ppb; endrin and lindane are toxic to postlarval shrimp at 0.5 and 2.0 ppb, respectively; and endrin is also highly toxic to fish, killing the sailfin molly at 2.5 ppb.
- A new test method to determine quality is developed at the College Maryland Technology Laboratory and is put to use in the Bureau's inspection and certification service.
- Bureau technologists at the Gloucester Laboratory demonstrate the practicality of using refrigerated sea water to store whiting prior to processing.
- A newly recruited team of biologists, histologists, and parasitologists begin a long-term study of diseases, including MSX, of molluscs at the Oxford Laboratory.
- The nation's first saltwater sport fish lab is established by the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Dr. Lionel Walford is its first director.
- The Boston Technology Lab is moved to Gloucester.
- Spring dedication ceremonies open the Bureau's new Technological Laboratory in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
- Researchers at Woods Hole find that oysters suspended from rafts on clutch strings reach commercial size in less than half the time needed by bottom-grown stock in the same areas, and mortalities are less than one-fourth of those grown under usual industry practices.
- Bureau chemists demonstrate the use of thin layer chromatography for isolating and characterizing chemical classes of lipid compounds in fish oils, a new basic test procedure for chemical laboratories.
- Between February and April, more than 220,000 inches of newspaper food column space are devoted to fish topics, of which one-third is based on the Bureau's consumer education releases to food editors.
- The research vessel Delaware tests the effectiveness of trawls with various parts made of polypropylene, finding these new nets to be more efficient than the standard manila trawls.
- In response to increasing numbers of foreign vessels fishing along U.S. coasts, the Bureau increases its surveillance efforts to ascertain possible effects on U.S. fisheries.
- On August 30, Congress authorizes construction at Milford, Connecticut, of a shellfish laboratory for research and training.
- Victor Loosanoff, the first station director, moves from the Milford laboratory to the Tiburon Lab where he stays until his retirement. The next laboratory director, Dr. James Hanks, stays with the service in that capacity until 1984.
- Congress approves a marine geology program for the U.S. Geological Survey, and a five-year geological survey of the continental shelf and slope between the U.S./Canada border in the north and the tip of Florida on the south. Although the focus of the study is marine geology and topography, scientists at Woods Hole process the benthic samples taken in this project for biological specimens. This is the first and last large-scale baseline benthic survey conducted in the U.S. Atlantic.
- Former Bureau biologist/writer/editor Rachel Carson publishes her landmark environmental book Silent Spring, drawing in part on Bureau and other federal and university studies on pesticides like DDT.
- The new Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts is dedicated on June 23. The 3-story building has 24,000 square feet of floor space devoted to wet laboratories, as well as other laboratories, offices, a scientific library, and a conference room. A second building houses maintenance facilities and an aquarium.
- Several insurance underwriters offer a 5% reduction in protection and indemnity insurance premiums for all New England fishing vessels that install new trawl wire level-winders on the main winches of the vessels as a result of the Bureau s fishing vessel safety program.
- A new 187-foot research vessel, the Albatross IV, is delivered to the Woods Hole Laboratory in November; a contract is also awarded for another new 158-foot vessel to be named the Townsend Cromwell for use in the central Pacific.
- New shellfish genetics research begins at the Bureau's Milford, Connecticut Biological Laboratory, and the goal is to produce strains of oysters and clams with better growth rates, disease resistance, and market qualities.
- The era of aggressive prosecution of fisheries by factory trawlers in the Northwest Atlantic and an equally active era for the cooperative research projects between Northeast Center scientists and those of the other nations involved in International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries. From 1963-1977, Northeast Center staff took part in more than 200 at-sea research projects, on 40 different vessels, representing 8 nations.
- The Northeast's autumn bottom trawl surveys begin. These are the source of the longest continuous time series of marine research vessel sampling data in the world. For the finfish survey, about 300 sites are randomly chosen in waters 2 to 200 fathoms deep off the northeastern U.S. from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras. Spring surveys are added in 1968.
- The 565-ton Townsend Cromwell, a 158-foot research vessel, is completed. It has a top speed of 13.5 knots, a 10,000- mile cruising range, and can perform a wide variety of scientific missions anywhere in the world s oceans and under most severe weather and sea conditions
- Bureau analyses of Atlantic coast shore-station sea-surface temperature records show a warming trend which started near the turn of the century and reached a peak in the early 1950s
- Over 215 million pounds of fishery products are inspected and certified by federal inspectors in 17 states nationwide. Since 1956, the Bureau has developed grade standards for 14 fishery products upon which the inspections and certifications are based.
- Research programs to prevent botulism in smoked fish and salmonella are initiated when several consumers are stricken by those microorganisms.
- Construction begins on a new laboratory at Milford, Connecticut. The staff occupies the new station in 1967.
- A new Marine Products Development Irradiator is dedicated at the Bureau's Technological Laboratory in Gloucester, Massachusetts. By processing up to 1 ton of fish per hour at 250,000 rads, scientists can study the extension of seafood shelf life by using radioisotopes to destroy the bacteria that cause food spoilage.
- Regular surf clam and ocean quahog surveys begin at the Woods Hole Laboratory, providing a continuous time series of species information comparable to that supplied by the finfish survey sampling program since 1963.
- An ecological benchmark of the distribution and abundance of groundfish on New England banks is completed, based on 3 years of intensive surveys with Bureau vessels.
- The Milford Biological Laboratory begins a long-term study of the genetics of commercial mollusks aimed at hybridization and selective breeding.
- Sandy Hook staff begin studies of experimental reef fisheries
- The Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife establishes a laboratory at Narragansett, Rhode Island to take on the gamefish responsibilities of the Sandy Hook laboratory, which began to concentrate more on habitat and environment
- The Bureau's Environmental Oceanic Research Program in Washington, D.C., completes detailed bottom topographic mapping of the Middle Atlantic Continental Shelf and arranges for publication of the maps by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.
- In promoting fishery products, Bureau efforts produce over 74,000 column inches of space in newspapers and magazines with a total readership of over 300 million subscribers or purchasers. In addition, Bureau home economists develop and test 633 recipes during the year for consumers, as well as for institutional, school lunch, and restaurant use.
- The Jellyfish Act is passed to protect fish and shellfish resources in coastal water, promote water-based recreation, and to control and eliminate jellyfish and other aquatic pests.
- Dr. Bruce B. Collette (with R.H. Gibbs) of the National Systematics Laboratory publishes a benchmark work on the comparative anatomy and systematics of tunas.
- The era of ecologically-based fisheries research and management begins in the Northeast.
- The Sandy Hook Laboratory begins studies of natural and artificial marine reefs which lead to several national and regional programs to create new artificial reef habitat.
- Sandy Hook staff begin a special investigation to evaluate the effects on marine life of oceanic disposal of sewage sludge. Journalists dub the study area "the Dead Sea."
- During spring and summer, exploratory Bureau fishing demonstrates the feasibility of using large steel pots to catch offshore New England lobsters in deep water, stimulating commercial fishermen to enter the fishery.
- Scientists with the Gloucester Technological Laboratory conceive and bench-test a simple oyster-shucking procedure using microwave heating to open the shells. The technique later shows a 50% increase in shucking productivity without reduction in total meat yields.
- The Gloucester Laboratory also discovers that the characteristic iodine flavor of the ocean quahog can be removed by several washings, allowing the species to be used in such products as chowders or clam puffs.
- Gloucester laboratory begins pioneering study of fish irradiation as a method of extending shelf life.
- The Stratton Commission presents its final report on January 11 and recommends creation of a new Federal entity — a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency to include initially the Bureau and other federal marine and anadromous fishery functions, the National Sea Grant College Program, and other agencies.
- The first meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas is held in Rome, Italy, beginning a period of U.S.-foreign cooperation in research on important oceanic fisheries.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is formed. The Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and the saltwater labs of the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife become its National Marine Fisheries Service. There is a proposal to close both the Milford and Ann Arbor Technology Stations. The Gloucester Lab is moved under the Division of Fishery Products Technology, Office of Management Services, along with the nation's other fisheries technology labs.
- Bruce L. Freeman and Lionel A. Walford at the Sandy Hook lab begin collecting information that will eventually become an eight-section atlas describing sport fish distribution, abundance, life history, and industry shoreside facilities from the Gulf of Maine to the Florida Keys. The atlases are published between 1974 and 1976 under the title Angler's Guide to the United States Atlantic Coast.
- The Boothbay Harbor Lab is closed and its functions moved to the Woods Hole Lab.
- Robert White, first NOAA Administrator, establishes four major offshore fisheries research centers throughout the Nation: the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center, Southwest Fisheries Center, Northeast Fisheries Center, and Southeast Fisheries Center. They report to Fisheries headquarters. Three coastal fisheries research centers, which report to Regional Directors, are also established: Gulf Coast Fisheries Center, Atlantic Estuarine Fisheries Center, and Middle Atlantic Coast Fisheries Center. The basic five-regional office structure is retained.
- The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee is established by the Secretary of Commerce to advise on marine fisheries resource issues.
- An international tagging program is reviewed by the Northeast's Narragansett Laboratory which describes blue shark migration routes.
- Middle Atlantic Coast scientists find fin rot disease in fish to be caused by several pathogenic bacteria. Incidence of the disease appears to be related to environmental pollution.
- Parasitic amoebae and bacteria from several fish and shellfish are identified and characterized by Middle Atlantic Coast scientists.
- Atlantic Estuarine scientists prove that the Atlantic menhaden resource is composed of one stock of migrating fish. Gulf research indicates that menhaden populations east and west of the Mississippi River may constitute separate stocks.
- Atlantic Estuarine scientists develop mathematical models that indicate that a large proportion of total marine productivity is required to support exploited fish populations.
- U.S. commercial whaling ends as of December 31.
- Fisheries Director Philip Roedel announces that the agency, under NOAA, has a much broader charter than its predecessor agencies and is now resource-oriented rather than user-oriented.
- The Coastal Zone Management Act is passed to provide guidance, expertise and funding to help states protect and manage U.S. coastal areas.
- Another first, the spawning of haddock in captivity at the Narragansett Laboratory, is announced.
- The Fisheries Loan Program receives more than $2.2 million this year. Since 1956, $31.3 million has been loaned to fishing vessel owners.
The Endangered Species Act is passed to protect species and populations whose numbers are small or declining; Fisheries is responsible for marine species under the law.
- The Atlantic Environmental Group is moved to the Northeast's Narragansett Laboratory. The group analyzes the marine environment of western North Atlantic and its influence on fishery resources.
- Publication of large volumes on ocean variability within the U.S. Fishery Conservation Zone begin. Staff at the Narragansett Laboratory are in the forefront of mapping and tracking physical and chemical processes in relation to fish distribution, abundance, and stock composition.
- The Fisheries-wide Marine Resources Monitoring, Assessment, and Prediction (MARMAP) Program is established, based largely on the advice of Northeast staff members Dr. Ken Sherman and Dr. Robert Edwards. The project forms the basis for uniform data collection necessary for fisheries management, and critical to the ecosystems approaches now being developed by fishery management councils. Data collected over time includes biological surveys of fish, fish eggs and larvae, predators, prey, water circulation, sea temperatures, water column structure, biological production, and pollution.
- The Gloucester Laboratory initiates a landmark program on quality assurance of fresh fish fillets, including a U.S. Department of Commerce Inspection Program, which provides for quality assurance tests at dockside, at the processing plant, and at retail outlets.
- The Mid-Atlantic Center is incorporated into the Northeast Fisheries Center.
- The National Laboratories and Technology Labs are incorporated into the Centers, with the National Systematics Lab the AEG, and the Gloucester Tech Lab organized into the NEFC.
- Annual sea scallop surveys begin in the Northeast, providing a continuous time series of species information comparable to that supplied by the finfish survey sampling program since 1963.
- Some 195 cases are investigated relating to the Marine Mammal Protection Act as are 381 cases involving endangered species and related products including seizures of quantities of sperm whale oil and teeth, raw baleen and scrimshaw.
- The Magnuson Fisheries Conservation and Management Act is signed into law. The NOAA Fisheries mission becomes the study of commercially fished species and the environmental factors affecting their numbers and health.
- The Polish Plankton Sorting and Identification Center in Szczecin, Poland opens for business. The facilities and staff were established and trained in a multinational effort in order to process samples taken in the massive ongoing research efforts during the ICNAF era. Scientists from the Northeast Center were instrumental in training staff to identify and classify zooplankton and in helping establish laboratory procedures. The Sorting Center proved so successful that it is still operating today.
- Further Fisheries consolidation on the east coast incorporates the Woods Hole, Sandy Hook, and Narragansett Laboratories with four regional laboratories into the Northeast Fisheries Center.
- A long-term environmental monitoring program was established by the Northeast Center in its Ocean Pulse and Northeast Monitoring Programs. This project was later expanded to a nationwide project, NOAA's Status and Trends Program in 1984-85.
- Dr. Bruce Collette and others publish a paper definitively showing that Spanish mackerel prevalent in the Gulf of Mexico and along the U.S. East Coast were a species distinct from Spanish mackerels known in Brazil. These results convinced U.S. fishery managers not to base decisions on the only available biological data, which was from the Brazilian fishery, preventing a sure failure since the Brazilian fish were larger, and had very different maturity characteristics.
- The agency conducts tests to develop excluder panels that keep turtles from being caught in shrimp nets while permitting shrimp harvest.
- Loggerhead and green sea turtles are listed as threatened for all populations worldwide.
- Northeast Center staff become part of the boundary dispute that had been simmering between the U.S. and Canada over how to divide Georges Bank in light of 200-mile EEZs claimed by both countries. Outlining species distribution, abundance, spawning areas, and traditional uses of commercial fishermen in the areas, the staff reports generated over several years formed the basis of the decision dividing the Bank.
- New Lacey Act Amendments are passed to make it illegal to trade in fish wildlife, or plants taken in violation of any U.S. or Indian tribal law, treaty, or regulation.
- On March 10, the FCZ is designated as the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by Presidential Proclamation.
- Dr. James Hanks steps down as Milford laboratory director after 22 years.
- The Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act is passed to assist in the conservation, restoration, and management of the species and enforce compliance with the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Striped Bass.
- An arsonist destroys the Sandy Hook laboratory building housing the research aquarium facilities, many records, and the library.
- The Northeast Fisheries Center's Woods Hole Laboratory is rededicated in August, celebrating its first century of research accomplishment and service.
- National Systematics Laboratory staff publish a paper identifying various species of spiny lobster from the tails alone. This was to address difficulties military purchasers were encountering with buying "U.S. origin only." The paper was reprinted by Osprey Books as a mass-market illustrated guide popular with processors and buyers.
- The Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act of 1986 is passed to distribute Federal money to the states for use in developing research programs to enhance the management of interstate fisheries.
- A multi-year collaboration among Northeast Center scientific staff and outside colleagues results in publication of a comprehensive atlas of Georges Bank, a benchmark work published by MIT Press under the title Georges Bank.
- Using data collected by the Sandy Hook laboratory the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) closes the 12-mile sewage sludge dumpsite in the New York Bight.
- In 1987-88 Jack Pearce of the Northeast Center chairs the New Jersey Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Incidents which leads to a State of the Ocean report, quelling rumors and misperceptions about the New York- Middle Atlantic Bight water quality.
- A groundbreaking ceremony is held for a planned state-of-the art laboratory facility for oceanic and estuarine marine research to replace the Sandy Hook laboratory facility destroyed by fire.
- "Monetary value of U.S. commercial fisheries landings are at over $3.5 billion at dockside with economic value of recreational fishing an additional $13.5 billion." — Letter from American Fisheries Society to U.S. Senate Committee.
- At a symposium organized for the purpose, Sandy Hook staff report the results of a four-year study into the recovery of marine life and habitat at the 12-mile dumpsite off New Jersey. The intensive, multidisciplinary effort described changes in the physical oceanography, sediment processes, and biota. The results will be reported in a dedicated issue of a peer-reviewed journal in 1995.
- A ban is imposed on importation of shrimp caught with gear that harms sea turtles unless the country in question has a strong turtle conservation program in effect
- The High Seas Driftnet Fisheries Enforcement Act is passed to maintain a list of nations that allow large-scale driftnet fishing (which entangles protected mammals and fish as well as commercial fish) beyond their EEZ.
- The Northeast's Cooperative Shark Tagging Program marks its 30th anniversary. The value of the in-kind contribution of the volunteers is estimated at $8 million annually. Shark scientists decide to aggregate results of the program for a benchmark publication on distribution and migration to be published in 1995.
- The new facility at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, now named the James J. Howard Laboratory, is officially dedicated, replacing the one destroyed by arson.
- The new laboratory at Sandy Hook, the James J. Howard Laboratory, is officially opened.
- A South Korean fishing company whose vessel was caught poaching fish from U.S. waters in the western Pacific settles in U.S. District Court for a $1 million fine and agrees to have its fleet of 17 fishing vessels tracked by satellite for 5 years. The provision allowing satellite tracking by U.S. authorities is unprecedented.
- The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act is reauthorized and amended to include a requirement for the service to develop, with stakeholders, plans for reducing and eventually eliminating significant takes of marine mammals in all fisheries known to frequently or occasionally capture marine mammals. Nearly all of the category 1 and 2 fisheries occur along the U.S. eastern seaboard.
- Due to a budget impasse in Washington, Fisheries employees are among those government workers furloughed with full pay from December 22, 1995 to January 8, 1996.
- The Fisheries celebrates its 125th anniversary by, among other things, co-sponsoring two exhibits at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. - Ocean Planet and "Science at Sea"
- A new field test that confirms the presence of bleach on the abdomens of female lobsters is approved for use by NOAA Fisheries Enforcement agents. The test was developed by NOAA Fisheries agents and seafood specialists in partnership with other scientists. It is illegal to land an egg-bearing lobster, and bleach can be used to remove the eggs. Word of the new test results in a zero incidence of bleached females.
- Amendment 7 to the New England groundfish recovery plan is put in place. For the first time, the plan includes measures to end overfishing and rebuild the stocks.
- Sea scallopers test the first ever electronic reporting system in the northeast. As part of a voluntary experiment, the vessels use transponders linked to a satellite to report their use of days at sea.
- NOAA Fisheries goes to public hearing with a plan intended to reduce takes of large whales in gillnet, lobster, and shark drift gillnet gear off the East Coast as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The hearing set in motion a unique program of cooperative research and training to reduce large whale entanglements.
- NOAA Fisheries scientists report first progress toward rebuilding for Georges Bank groundfish stocks, noting improvements in the weight of the spawning stocks for cod, haddock and yellowtail flounder.
- For the second time in the organization’s 95- year history, the U.S. hosts the annual meeting of a convention organization, the International Council for Exploration of the Sea, in Baltimore. NOAA Fisheries Northeast Center and the National Science Foundation do most of the work organizing the meeting. More than 500 scientists from 28 countries attend. The meeting’s keynote address was on harmful algal blooms and the event coincidentally occurs during an outbreak of pfiesteria, a harmful algal bloom, in Chesapeake Bay, attracting significant local interest in the ICES meeting.
- New England Fishery Management Council committee confirms that for the first time in more than 20 years, Georges Bank stocks are not being overfished.
- A tanker vessel strikes and kills a blue whale, probably during its transatlantic crossing. The whale is spotted across the tanker’s bow, towed to shore near Middletown, RI, and attracts national attention as the carcass is necropsied by a group of nationally known whale scientists. It is only the second recorded stranding of a blue whale off the U.S. Atlantic coast in this century.
- The region's first all-female scientific party conducts the annual marine mammal survey aboard the NOAA Ship Albatross IV
- NOAA Fisheries Northeast assists in conducting the most formal experimentation to date involving commercial scallopers in research that has direct implications for evaluating management schemes to be used in their fishery. Six commercial vessels conduct survey and depletion experiment work in Closed Area II on Georges Bank, resulting in more than 1700 tows and important measurements that can be used to evaluate the effects of rotational closure to manage the scallop stock sustainably.
- Within weeks of one another in different incidents, two Massachusetts whale watch vessels strike whales while returning from Stellwagen Bank, the first such recorded incidents in the region.
- In January, scientists at the NOAA Fisheries Northeast Center confirmed that five stocks of groundfish in northeastern waters need continued protection from over harvest: yellowtail flounder off Cape Cod, white hake, American plaice, and winter flounder stocks on Georges Bank and south to the mid-Atlantic. The findings were announced in a report produced by the 28th Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Review Committee, a scientific body convened regularly since 1985 to review fish stock status and provide scientific advice to fishery managers in the Northeast.
- In April a team of veterinarians and biologists necropsied a right whale found floating dead in Cape Cod Bay. The three-day necropsy on a Cape Cod beach reveal the animal had a broken jaw. An autopsy report later concluded the animal died from injuries most likely sustained when she was hit by a ship.
- In mid-June commercial sea scallopers returned to portions of Georges Bank that had been closed since 1994. The opening was made possible by a 1998 survey conducted jointly by Northeast Center scientists and commercial scallopers. The 1999 fishery continued until November 2 and resulted in nearly six million pounds of scallop meats worth approximately $36 million.
- In August, Northeast Center scientists reported that the northeastern witch flounder stock is much improved and that sea scallop stocks are still recovering. The report, a product of the 29th Northeast SARC, was hailed as a confirmation that recovery measures can work for these species. The report also recommended restraint on fishing for longfin squid and recommended against an increase in harvest of short fin squid.