More Effective Tuna Management Tools Adopted
Bluefin Tuna Fishing Categories
Important Habitats in the Gulf of Maine
The Sanctuary was an active participant in a Gulf of Maine Council
on the Marine Environment workshop on Marine Protected Areas this
past May. Representatives from three states (Massachusetts, New
Hampshire and Maine), two provinces (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia)
and U.S. and Canadian federal agencies met to discuss the potential
interest in and/or need for development of a network of marine
protected areas around the Gulf. These areas would be selected
for their importance to the protection of endangered or economically
important species, such as right whales, Irish moss, and groundfish
spawning grounds. By definition, marine protected areas are: any
areas of intertidal or subtidal terrain together with their overlying
waters and associated plants, animals, and historical and cultural
features, which have been reserved by legislation to manage and
protect part or all of the enclosed environments. Such areas may
include a range of protection levels, such as: strict protection;
ecosystem conservation and recreation; conservation of natural
features; conservation through active management; landscape/seascape
conservation and recreation; and sustainable use of natural ecosystems.
Initial funding for this work has been provided by the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (which also administers
the Sanctuary Program) and a grant through the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency. Further support for this program is expected
from the Council, NOAA, and the Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary.
The bienniel international conference for coastal issues will
be held in Boston this year. Coastal Zone '97 The Next 25 Years:
Charting the Future of Coastal Zone Management will include panel
discussions on: linking science to public policy and coastal management;
assessing human impacts on resource management; protecting habitats
for living marine resources; innovations in technology; citizen
stewardship programs; cooperative ecosystem management such as
the U.S./Canada Gulf of Maine, Great Lakes and Puget Sound programs;
and recreation and tourism in the coastal zone; among many topics.
The Sanctuary will play a role in the conference by providing
its traveling photographic exhibition "Creatures of the Bank:
an exploration of the biological diversity of the Stellwagen Bank
Sanctuary" and supporting the Monday evening program -- a performance
of master storyteller Jay O'Callahan's "Tell Them: The Spirit
of the Auk."
of Maine Times
The first and second issues of the Gulf of Maine Times are available
through the Sanctuary Office (as will all future issues) or directly
through the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment (sponsor
of the newpaper). The Council provides a forum for the three states
and two Canadian provinces that border the Gulf of Maine, and
the federal agencies with interests in this geographic region.
The summer issue of the Gulf of Maine Times offers articles on
watershed preservation partnerships, Machias Seal Island and its
bird sanctuary, education resource listings, and environmental
news from around the Gulf. To be placed directly on the Times
mailing list, write to: Editor, Gulf of Maine Times, 20 Park Plaza,
Suite 1112, Boston, MA 02116.
Adds Operations Officer
Steve Kibner, formerly a chief warrant officer with the U.S. Coast
Guard (now retired) has been contracted to serve as the Sanctuary's
operations officer for the next year. With 30 years of experience
in search and rescue cases, Steve brings invaluable expertise
to the Sanctuary. He will be charged with running the Sanctuary's
vessels -- the 30-foot HAWK and a 21-foot Boston Whaler (no name
as yet) -- and serving as a liaison with the Coast Guard which
acts as the Sanctuary's enforcement arm. We welcome Steve to the
Interns at Sanctuary
There's a youth movement at the Sanctuary this summer as several
students have begun internships. Liberty Trimarchi, a senior at
Southhampton College on Long Island this fall, is studying effects
of vessel traffic on whale behavior at Stellwagen Bank. She is
a psychobiology major with an interest in pursuing future research
in animal behavior. Michael Franklin, a graduate student in Boston
University's Program in Science Journalism, serves as contributing
editor of Stellwagen Soundings and will be writing a variety of
publications during the summer internship. Richard Nadworny and
Kirk DeLeboursier, both graduate majors in mass communications
at Boston University are contributing to the development on the
Sanctuary's CD-ROM on the food web. The Sanctuary welcomes all
of these talented students.
An international group of whalewatch naturalists, researchers
and operators met in Provincetown, Mass. in May to discuss the
role of education in the growing industry of whale watching. Representing
nations as distant as South Africa, Iceland, Brazil, Japan, and
Australia, the participants developed recommendations and endorsements
for education as an integral part of the whalewatching experience.
The meeting was organized by the International Fund for Animal
Welfare, based on Cape Cod, and the World Wildlife Fund. The Sanctuary's
education coordinator, Anne Smrcina, was invited to participate
as an official observer.
Whales Make Early Visit, Early Exit
The northern right whales made an early visit to Massachusetts
waters this year, arriving in Cape Cod Bay in late January. The
first mother-calf pair appeared on Feb. 15, a full week earlier
this year than any previous year. Unfortunately for local researchers,
the early arrivals did not mean a longer season -- for the whales
also left a few weeks sooner than in past years. One possible
reason for the departure was a major bloom of the nuisance algae
Phaeocystis. This thick, slimy surface growth may block sunlight,
impede the growth of other phytoplankton and discourage the arrival
of zooplankton, including the right whale's favorite food -- copepods.
The bloom did not last long, only a matter of weeks, but by that
time the right whales had moved on (some were seen at an area
called Wildcat Knoll, which is northeast of the Sanctuary, and
others continued on to a well-known feeding area, the Great South
Channel). Phaeocystis blooms have been recorded regularly throughout
the past century, although there are some concerns that increases
in pollution may support or prolong larger amounts of growth.
The official 1997 hurricane season started on June 1 and runs
through the end of October. The names for this year's storms,
selected from library sources and agreed upon by the World Meteorological
Organization are: Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fabian,
Grace, Henri, Isabel, Juan, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette,
Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, Wanda.
Effective Tuna Management Tools Adopted
National Marine Fisheries Service has adopted a series of sweeping
proposals to more effectively manage the valuable and highly-competitive
Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery for 1997.
fisheries service finalized a new tuna permit program to improve
collection of information about the number of fish caught and
the amount of fishing effort; prohibited bluefin tuna fishing
by General category permit holders on restricted fishing days
and prohibited retention of smaller size fish by General category
fishers; and split the Angling large school/small medium and trophy
category quotas into North/South subquotas. The fisheries service
is still reviewing the public comments received concerning the
proposed prohibition on the use of spotter aircraft.
new changes to the regulations are the result of comments and
suggestions from fishermen and other interest groups. "I am pleased
by all the good advice we received from those interested in the
future of Atlantic bluefin tunas," said Rolland Schmitten, fisheries
service director. "These new regulations will improve our management
of this fishery."
changes to the Angling category regulations are expected to allow
fishermen from a greater geographical area to pursue bluefin tuna
for a longer period of time and lengthen the fishing season. [Tuna
are highly migratory, possibly spawning the the Gulf of Mexico,
then moving north to feed. Some may even circumnavigate the Atlantic.
Although recreational fishing had occurred in both regions of
the U.S. east coast, a fast-growing southern industry had begun
to make a significant dent in the national quota before the tuna
even reached northern waters.]
the new regulations, the recreational quotas for large school-small
medium and large medium-giant (trophy) Atlantic bluefin tuna quotas
have been allocated as: 53% of landings to the northern region
and 47% to the southern region (the dividing line is 38 degrees,
47 minutes North Latitude or just south of New Jersey).
recent years, the fisheries service has also received substantial
comment concerning the number of active vessels fishing for tunas.
Fleet size estimation is considered an important element in the
current recreational monitoring system. Therefore, the fisheries
service has developed a new automated tuna permit system. Permits
renewed under the automated system are valid through Dec. 31,
1997. Permit holders who have not yet renewed permits through
the automated system must obtain valid permits for 1997 by Sept.
1. All permit holders must renew their permits annually and are
available by calling 888-USA-TUNA.
Tuna Fishing Categories
a commercial category; primarily rod & reel, cannot catch small
(school) tuna; permittees can catch as many fish as possible
until the quota is met; must not fish on restricted days (based
on school migrations as well as Japanese holidays).
Angling: a recreational category; rod & reel primarily;
trophy fish cannot be sold; can target either school or larger
(commercial) categories; various quotas for different fish sizes
in different regions.
Harpoon: a commercial category; only fish 73" or larger;
catch unlimited until quota met.
Incidental from longlining: untargeted take from longlines
(a lenghty line with many baited hooks used to catch a variety
of species); no small (school) fish allowed; catch unlimited
until quota met.
Purse Seine: a commercial category in which a net is
drawn up and around a school of fish; very limited number of
permits, strict fish size requirements: cannot land fish less
than 73 inches or greater than xx inches)
Reserve: a portion of the quota used as a buffer, to
prevent the total tuna catch from topping the national allotment
of fish (which would result in ICCAT imposed penalties on the
until now some boat owners held more than one type of permit.
After January 1, 1998 that will no longer be allowed. Those individuals
seeking permits will have to select one category only.
(total curved fork length & approx. round
School: less than 27 inches; less than 14 lbs.
School: 27 to less than 47 inches; 14 to less than 66 lbs.
Large School: 47 to less than 59 inches; 66 to less than
Small Medium: 59 to less than 73 inches; 135 to less than
Large Medium: 73 to less than 81 inches; 235 to less than
Giant: 81 inches or greater; 310 lbs. or greater
Tuna 1997 Catch Limits
School or Small Medium
Large School or Small Medium*
Medium or Giant**
Recreational Season starts January 1. No sale of School, Large
School and Small Medium bluefin
** Commercial Season starts June 1. Large Medium and Giant bluefin
may be sold by Charter/Party Boats amd General category vessels.
Once a Large Medium or Giant bluefin tuna is retained, fishing
must cease and the vessel must return to port. Angling category
boats may take one Large Medium or Giant bluefin tuna per year
provided it is reported to the National Marine Fisheries Service
and is not sold.
Begin Monitoring of Sanctuary Water
Aspiring student scientists have made Stellwagen Bank National
Marine Sanctuary their research laboratory as they study the Sanctuary's
waters. The information may help in monitoring how the Sanctuary
environment is changing over time and how human activity may be
impacting the Sanctuary.
Sea Education Association (SEA), a non-profit marine educational
institution located in Woods Hole, Mass., offers opportunities
for undergraduates to learn about marine science first-hand. Rich
Maletesta, Faculty Oceanographer at SEA, volunteered the services
of these young scientists to the Sanctuary early this year.
the course of each semester, students will periodically profile
the water column in two areas of the Sanctuary, one eastern and
one western site, using a large underwater instrument called a
hydrocast. The instrument collects data on water temperature and
salinity and measures chlorophyll pigment as an indication of
the amount of phytoplankton, which is the foundation of the food
web in the Sanctuary. Students also use the hydrocast to measure
the level of phosphates in the water. Phosphate is an essential
nutrient for phytoplankton, but at higher levels it can have negative
effects by stimulating too much growth. Scientists are particularly
interested in the phosphate levels at the western site since a
sewage treatment plant will soon begin dumping treated waste water
from a nine-mile pipe out of Boston (some 16 miles from the Sanctuary's
western boundary). Monitoring of the Sanctuary water may reveal
if these phosphates are affecting the marine ecosystem over time.
of Seafloor Habitats Continue
Biologists and geologists will be studying seafloor habitats in
the Sanctuary during a July cruise by the ABLE J, a research vessel
based in Boston, Mass. Scientists from the National Undersea Research
Center at the University of Connecticut and the U. S. Geological
Survey will be investigating a type of habitat called "clay pipes"
that gill netters have targeted for years. Whether these areas
are important habitats for invertebrates and fishes, or just an
area that draggers have avoided (thereby making them more accessible
for other gear types) will be assessed in this research. This
is the third year of a project that is looking at variations of
landscapes and effects on the distribution and abundance of fishes.
In addition, researchers will use a remotely-operated vehicle
to retrace transects from a 1985 study (originally done with a
submersible) to observe changes over time to the seafloor.
Releases Dump Site Map
A new map from the U.S. Geological Survey shows Topography, Backscatter
and Interpretation of Sea Floor Features in the Massachusetts
Bay Disposal Site (adjacent to the Sanctuary). Based on 1995 surveys
of Massachusetts Bay, the map will be used for managing and monitoring
at the dump site. Copies of the publication, Open-File Report
96-273 by Page Valentine, William Danforth, Edwin Roworth and
Sara Stillman, are available from the Sanctuary or the USGS. The
map was produced in cooperation with the National Oceanic and
A new lecture series, designed primarily for whalewatch naturalists,
has been instituted by the Sanctuary in conjunction with the New
England Aquarium. The first round of talks offered participants
information on right whales and bluefin tuna in local waters;
background information on the Sanctuary and its research, enforcement,
and education programs; and a look at seafloor habitats and fish
communities. The Sanctuary plans on extending and expanding this
lecture program with further talks throughout the whale watching
season. Naturalists are encouraged to contact the Sanctuary for
more information on this free program.
The 3rd annual Plymouth MIMIFest brought over 2,000 students,
teachers and chaperones to the coast during the third week of
May for a series of activities tied to "The Voyage of the MIMI"
curriculum. Sponsored by the Sanctuary and The Barn School, the
Fest offered programs in scrimshaw, knot-tying, survival at sea,
and whale identification. Students were treated to a harbor cruise
and toured the MIMI vessel as well as the adjacent MAYFLOWER at
the State Pier. Peter Marston, aka Captain Granville (star of
the book and video), met with eager students to discuss issues
of interdependency and care for the environment. Each year the
number of participants grows as more schools learn about the program.
Sanctuary is now making plans for next year's MIMIFest. Any teachers
interested in participating with their students should contact
the Sanctuary office for registration materials.
Bank Conference Planned
On October 25th, the Sanctuary is sponsoring a major Science and
Education Symposium on Stellwagen Bank at the University of Massachusetts,
Boston Harbor Campus. The event will incorporate the annual Massachusetts
Bay/Boston Harbor Educators Conference. From shipwrecks to geological
exploration, the program will provide a wide variety of topics
impacting on the Sanctuary. Intended for teachers, researchers,
and graduate students, the symposium will offer four morning strands
of talks on: cetacean studies; biological sciences; geology and
physical sciences; and social sciences. The afternoon will be
filled with wide-ranging workshops designed for educators. The
event is co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Marine Educators, the
Massachusetts Bays Educators Alliance, and the Urban Harbors Institute
of the University of Massachusetts. For more information, contact
Show Moves to Provincetown
The Sanctuary's photographic exhibition, "Creatures of the Bank:
an exploration of the biological diversity of the Gerry E. Studds
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary" has opened in Provincetown,
Mass. Located in Merchants Hall at 359 Commercial Street (just
a short distance from MacMillan Wharf and the whale watching fleet),
the show includes stunning underwater photographs by local amateur
and professional photographers. The Center for Coastal Studies
is hosting the exhibit; Ian MacMillan is donating the exhibit
space. Previously, the show opened in December on Capitol Hill
in Washington, DC at the House and Senate Office Buildings, and
then moved to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. The show
is free to the public.
of the Auk: Sanctuary Supports O'Callahan Story
An extinct bird is finding new life in the art of storytelling.
When Richard Wheeler undertook his 1,400-mile-long trek from Newfoundland
to Cape Cod following the migration route of the Great Auk, he
related his tale to Jay O'Callahan. This master storyteller was
captured by the message and drama of the account and decided to
make it part of his repetoire. Thus, "Tell Them: The Spirit of
the Auk" was created. The Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
helped fund development of the story as part of a larger curriculum
package based on the voyage (which was also turned into a NOVA
show entitled "The Haunted Cry of a Long Gone Bird"). Using the
auk as a metaphor for the cod and other groundfish, Wheeler brought
attention to the plight of groundfish stocks and the fishing communities
that are dependent on them. The curriculum package will, in addition
to the auk and cod, focus on the right whale and issues of extinction,
survival, abundance, and sustainable use of resources.