News DMF News 2021 Q3 & Q4

DMF NEWS is now available for download. This edition covers events and issues of the second half of 2021.
  • Division of Marine Fisheries
Cover Page of DMF News Q3 and Q4

Massachusetts Seafood Value Reaches an All-Time High in 2021

Preliminary data shows that the ex-vessel value of seafood landed in Massachusetts reached an all-time high of over $800 million in 2021. This is a remarkable turnaround from 2020 when many segments of the seafood industry suffered revenue losses due to the impact on traditional markets caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

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Massachusetts Distributes $23 Million through the Round 2 CARES Act Fisheries Relief Program and Applies for Further Seafood Processor Pandemic Assistance

On October 7, 2021, payments were mailed to all qualified applicants for Massachusetts’ Round 2 CARES Act Fisheries Relief program, concluding this critical pandemic recovery program. This funding was allocated through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to support activities previously authorized under Sec. 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also called the CARES Act, to states, Tribes, and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID-19.

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DMF Invests in Striped Bass Research to Improve Fishery

Striped bass have long been a central part of the Commonwealth’s fisheries and remain an immensely popular target of anglers whether they prefer a boulder beach lit by the moon, trolling umbrella rigs along a reef, or casting flies and tossing artificials into a frenzied blitz. This long-sustained passion for striped bass is also an important part of the coastal economy, with rough estimates of $600 million dollars being spent annually by anglers pursuing stripers in Massachusetts alone.

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Further Changes to Striped Bass Management are Coming

DMF manages striped bass cooperatively with the other East Coast states through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). The latest assessment released in 2019 showed that striped bass are overfished primarily owing to the relatively poor year classes (the number of young born and surviving in a certain year) in the years 2005–2010.

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Diadromous Fish Program Update

The Division of Marine Fisheries has been responsible for managing diadromous fish passage and populations in Massachusetts coastal rivers for nearly 90 years. These are the migratory fish that switch between marine and freshwater habitats to complete their life history. Most diadromous fish populations have declined sharply from historical periods when valuable fisheries were supported. 

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Monitoring and Understanding Low Dissolved Oxygen in Cape Cod Bay

Researchers point towards a changing physical environment and the introduction of a new species of algae as the probable cause for the hypoxic conditions that developed in Cape Cod Bay in 2019 and 2020. Data collection continues with an eye towards predicting the occurrence of future hypoxic events. 

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Recreational Permitting System Modernized

MassFishHunt—the official recreational fishing, lobstering, and hunting permitting system for Massachusetts—has been upgraded!

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State Legislature Formalizes the Shellfish Advisory Panel

In last summer’s approval of the FY 2022 budget, the legislature enacted a new section of state law that created a formal panel of stakeholders and agency representatives to advise DMF on ways to improve shellfish management in the Commonwealth. 

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DMF Reclassifies the Three-Bays: 2018 Dye Study Results in Shellfish Area Classification Change

In June 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted a hydrographic dye study of the Plymouth Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) at the request of, and with assistance from, DMF. The purpose of the dye study was to determine the extent and impact of the WWTP on the Plymouth-Kingston-Duxbury “three-bays” system.

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2022 Quota Outlook

The quotas described within the article are subject to change. Check the Division’s quota monitoring webpage for updates. Quotas are described for: Atlantic herring, Atlantic menhaden, black sea bass, bluefish, horseshoe crab, scup, spiny dogfish, striped bass, summer flounder, and tautog. 

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Three Different Approaches Taken to Commercial Quota Reallocation for Fluke, Black Sea Bass, and Bluefish

Reallocation of quotas has been a major focus of discussion at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council in recent years, and will continue to be so as allocation approaches based on historical landings data get revisited in response to changing species distribution and fisheries performance. 

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Regulatory Updates

During the period of July 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021 the following regulatory changes were enacted by DMF after public hearings and Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission approval, or by the Director under his declaratory and emergency authorities. 

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Division of Marine Fisheries 

The Division of Marine Fisheries manages the state’s commercial and recreational saltwater fisheries and oversees other services that support the marine environment and fishing communities.