- Division of Marine Fisheries
Massachusetts allocated $23 million for additional CARES Act Fisheries Relief
In this second round of COVID-19 fisheries relief funding, Massachusetts was allocated approximately $23 million, the third-highest allocation in the country, behind Alaska and Washington.
Massachusetts Remains a Top Seafood Producing State
The seafood industry has been important culturally and economically to Massachusetts for centuries. In 2019, Massachusetts remained one of the top states for commercial seafood landings and value in the country, according to NOAA Fisheries’ recently released Fisheries of the United States, 2019 Report (https://bit.ly/3xj0Dcl). Massachusetts was second to Alaska in ex-vessel value of landings in 2019 at $679.3 million.
Port by Port: Profiles & Analysis of the MA Commercial Fishery Released
DMF is excited to announce the release of the Port by Port: Profiles and Analysis of the Massachusetts Commercial Fishery report, including individual port profiles.
Additional Resources for DMF News 2021 Q1 & Q2
DMF Intensifying Its White Shark Research
As another summer is upon us, white sharks are returning to feed in Massachusetts waters. Since 2009, DMF biologists (and collaborators) have been examining the movement ecology, behavior, natural history, and population dynamics of this species through its Shark Research Project. To date, agency staff have tagged more than 230 white sharks with a variety of high-tech tags to study their fine- and broad-scale movements.
“Navigating Massachusetts Seafood,” a Virtual Speed Dating for Buyers & Sellers
The Division’s Seafood Marketing Program primarily focuses on consumer education and events, but in 2019 the seafood marketing steering committee suggested facilitating a business-to-business event to network buyers and sellers of local seafood. We planned an in-person networking event at the annual Seafood Expo North America (SENA) convention but then pivoted to a virtual event due to COVID-19.
Winter Flounder Spawning Habitat Study
New DMF research into winter flounder spawning habitat using advanced DNA technology is expected to aid in the future refinement of spawning closures and time-of-year restrictions on dredging and other projects.
Resumption of DMF Survey Operations
Last year, the Division was able to continue most of its standard operations, albeit under modified procedures incorporating necessary COVID-19 safety measures. However, several areas of our activities occurring aboard vessels could not functionally accommodate social distancing practices and were consequently put on hold. These include our fishery-independent resource assessment trawl survey, most of our commercial fishery at-sea sampling, and recreational for-hire head boat sampling for the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP). As restrictions are being lifted this spring, we are happy to report that these data collection programs will resume nearly normal schedules in 2021.
DMF Conducting Studies on Striped Bass Release Mortality
DMF implemented regulations last year requiring the use of circle hooks while recreationally fishing with live or dead bait for striped bass in place of J hooks which been shown in studies to “deep hook” more often than circle hooks. The rest of the East Coast states joined us this spring in also requiring circle hooks to comply with the rules set out in Addendum VI to Amendment 6 to the Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan. Also part of Addendum VI was the requirement to reduce removals by 18% through new bag and/or size limits. Following Addendum VI, DMF implemented a recreational limit of 1 striped bass per day, within the slot of 28” to less than 35” total length. These strict new rules are intended to reduce mortality so that the striped bass stocks can begin rebuilding.
New Angler Education Program: Take Me Saltwater Fishing!
This Spring, the Information and Education group launched the pilot year of the Take Me Saltwater Fishing program. The program (an addition to our established Let’s Go Fishing saltwater angler education clinics) is specifically targeted to adult anglers who are interested in leading youth saltwater fishing activities within their community. Trainings are focused on preparing adults to plan and run saltwater fishing outings. Additionally, the program allows participants to check out saltwater rods and tackle for free and provides youth saltwater fishing guides and gift bags for kids to take home.
Saltwater Fishing Derby
The Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing Derby is underway! Entries must be caught on rod and reel, meet minimum qualifying weights and lengths, and be caught in state controlled waters and/or first landed in a Massachusetts port. Fish submitted for the weigh-in portion of the derby must be measured and weighed at a Division certified weigh station. Anglers participating in the catch and release portion of the derby are required to submit a picture of their fish on a measuring device. All eligible entries will receive a derby pin.
Public Access Update: Deer Island Pier is Open!
The facility was constructed by the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), in cooperation with DFG’s Office of Fishing and Boating Access, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, and the City of Boston. The $2.4 million project was paid for mostly with funds from the sale of Massachusetts recreational saltwater fishing permit, with assistance from the MWRA.
Creature Feature: American Shad (Alosa sapidissima)
The diadromous American shad is one of the largest members of the herring family, Clupeidae. Diadromous fish are those that migrate between fresh and salt waters to complete their reproductive life history. This sea-run lifestyle is not all that common and found in less than 1% of the fish on the planet. American shad are anadromous meaning they spend most of their lives in the ocean and return to freshwater to spawn.
During the period of January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021, the following regulatory changes were enacted by DMF after public hearings and Marine Fishery Advisory Commission approval, or by the Director under his declaratory and emergency authorities.