The little fish that could
In November the Atlantic States Fishery Management Coalition—the interstate body charged with managing fishing that occurs primarily in state waters along the Atlantic coastal—voted 14-3 to reduce the catch limit for menhaden by 37 percent after scientific recommendations and more than 90,000 public comments urged them to take such action.
The 12-inch-long menhaden, a species that scientists and conservationists say is fundamental to the ocean food web as prey for larger species of fish, such as striped bass, and seabirds like osprey and bald eagles. Thus, catch in the menhaden fishery was not limited primarily to benefit the species itself but rather to benefit its predators.
A Strong Year for Spawning Salmon in Maine's Rivers
More than 3,100 salmon returned to the Penobscot River, the most since 1986, and nearly 200 ascended the Narraguagus River, up from the low two digits just a decade ago.
Dr. Kocik noted that salmon from eastern Canada also seemed to be making a comeback this year. "The one thing it definitely shows is how connected all of the salmon — not only in New England, but in Atlantic Canada — are," he said, "because they are having some pretty good returns this year as well."
Ever since the Maine salmon were listed under the federal Endangered Species Act, recovery efforts have been in high gear. Biologists have studied salmon habitat and migration routes, and stocked millions of juvenile salmon. Conservation groups protected lands along hundreds of miles of salmon rivers and fought for tighter regulations on salmon farms. In 2009, federal regulators expanded the listing to include salmon habitats in Maine's largest rivers — including the Penobscot, where a dam-removal project will soon allow salmon better access to miles of spawning habitat.
Andrew Goode, a vice president at the Atlantic Salmon Federation, a conservation group, said that the population had been gradually improving since it bottomed out around 2000, but that "this year was definitely off the charts."
The Farmer in the Dell
In June, NOAA announced a new aquaculture policy that recognized the need to develop this industry domestically in a manner that addresses environmental concerns.