CHOIR: Coalition for the Atlantic Herring Fishery's Orderly, Informed, and Responsible Long-Term Development


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Fishermen Ask Congress For More Fisheries Observers On Midwater Trawl Fleet

April 17, 2007

CHOIR Coalition Press Release
For Immeadiate Release
Contact: Peter Baker, Chair, CHOIR Coalition


Diverse Coalition of Fishing and Ecotourism Interests Calls for More Money to Observe Herring Trawlers

Portland, ME & Chatham, MA A diverse group of fishing organizations and businesses came together with ecotourism companies this week to ask Congress to lay out more money to fund adequate fisheries observer coverage on the herring trawl fleet. Coverage on the fleet has dropped from an all-time high of more than 15% to less then three percent. The cut in observers has made it impossible for National Marine Fisheries Service to monitor the haddock bycatch cap that is intended to limit the amount of juvenile haddock taken as bycatch by the midwater trawl fleet.

“National Marine Fisheries Service has a responsibility to observe what these massive ships are catching and what is being dumped overboard,” said CHOIR (Coalition for Atlantic Herring’s Orderly, Informed, and Responsible Long Term Development) Coalition Chairman Peter Baker. “It’s time for Congress to give them the money they need to put the observers onboard.”

Aside from groundfish and tuna bycatch concerns, many in New England have expressed concern over marine mammal and seabird bycatch in the midwater trawl fishery. This week more than 100 businesses and organizations sent a letter to the New England Congressional delegation calling for an appropriation of $1.5 million dollars in the 2008 Congressional budget specifically to observe herring ships. “All the fish we catch eat herring and these midwater trawls catch everything in their path,” said Chatham, MA *tuna fisherman Ray Kane, “it’s time we get a handle on what these guys are dumping overboard.”

“As a tuna fisherman I’ve been concerned with what these ships catch. If tuna are in a school of herring when the pair trawls come by, they obviously catch the tuna with the herring,” said Tuna fisherman Chris Weiner of Portland, Maine. “The Feds need to be monitoring and observing what gets caught by these herring fishermen, because it’s not just herring.”

The commercial and recreational fishing groups and their allies in the ecotourism community are asking Congress to allocate $1,500,000 for observer coverage on the herring fleet in the 2008 Federal budget.

The text of the letter and the list of signatories can be found below after the press release.

For more information, contact Peter Baker, CHOIR Coalition Chairman, at (508)641-4064 or, Chris Weiner, CHOIR Coalition organizer & tuna fisherman (978) 886-0204, and/or Ray Kane, tuna fisherman (508)367-1693 or see

Additional Quotes

“We know the midwater ships catch cod and haddock. We need to know how much they throw over dead and to know that we need observers on the boats.”
-Glen Legeyt, groundfisherman, Yarmouth, MA

“Guys in our dayboat fleet take observers pretty often and it seems inconsistent that massive midwater ships wouldn’t have to meet the same
-Eric Brazer, Manager, Georges Bank Fixed Gear Sector

Letter that was recently sent to Congress

Dear Senator/Representative XXXXXXXX

We write today to voice our support for increased observer coverage in the
herring midwater trawl fishery in New England.

These vessels employ the largest nets, with the smallest mesh, ever used by the domestic fleet in New England. Current regulations allow these vessels to operate in Groundfish closed areas and only miles from shore. More than 95% of the time they operate without any NMFS observers aboard.

For many years now CHOIR and its allies have voiced concern over the bycatch associated with the midwater trawl fishery for herring. Based on the limited information available (as well as anecdotal accounts), this bycatch includes bluefin tuna, haddock, cod, striped bass, mackerel, river herring, seals, marine mammals and a host of other species. It also includes substantial amounts of discarded herring.

In order to ensure that the data pertaining to the herring fishery is accurate and sufficient for proper management, we request that Congress provide $1.5 million in the FY 2008 budget to observe the herring midwater trawl fleet.

Currently, funding for observer coverage has been cut so that, on average,
observer coverage is around 3% of all trips made, which is far below the level needed to ensure good information for management. In Canada and on the West Coast, vessels like these would have 100% observer coverage.The level of coverage that is seen now in this fleet is unacceptable and inadequate to enforce the haddock bycatch cap that was implemented in Framework 43 to the multi-species groundfish plan.

We encourage you to support a $1.5 million line item in the FY 2008 budget to provide NMFS the resources to properly observe the midwater herring fleet so they can properly enforce their own regulations and provide an accurate description of the quantity and disposition of bycatch in the Atlantic herring fishery.

Peter Baker, Chairman, CHOIR Coalition
On behalf of the under-signed groups and businesses:

Commercial Fishing Associations/Organizations

*East Coast Tuna Association, Director Rich Ruais, Salem, NH

*General Category Tuna Association, Director Peter Weiss, Boston, MA

*North Shore Community Tuna Association, Saugus, MA

*Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association, Director Paul Parker

*Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, Director Craig Pendleton, Saco, ME

*Northeast Hook Fishermen’s Association, President Marc Stettner, Portsmouth, NH

*Georges Bank Cod Fixed Gear Sector, Manager Eric Brazer, Jr, N Chatham, MA

*Georges Bank Cod Hook Sector, Manager John Pappalardo, N Chatham, MA

*IFISH, Proctor Wells, Bath, ME

*New Hampshire Marine Coalition

*Stonington Fisheries Alliance, President Carol Bridges, Stonington, ME

*Midcoast Fishermen’s Association, Chairman Glen Libby, Port Clyde, ME

Recreational and Charter Fishing Associations/Organizations

*Recreational Fishing Alliance, Executive Director Jim Donofrio, New Gretna, NJ

*National Association of Charterboat Operators, Executive Director Bobbi Walker

*Northeast Charter Boat Captain’s Association,President Rich Milligan, Revere,MA

*Stellwagen Bank Charter Boat Association, President Tom DePersia, Marshfield, MA

*Maine Association of Charterboat Captains, Bath, ME

*Rhode Island Saltwater Angler’s Association, President Steve
Medeiros, Coventry, RI

*Coastal Conservation Association New England

*Massachusetts Striped Bass Association, President Chris Lincoln,
Braintree, MA

*Plum Island Surfcasters, President Kevin Moore, Newburyport, MA

Charter Fishing and Guiding Companies

*Bunny Clark Deep Sea Fishing, Captain Tim Tower, Ogunquit, ME

*Pritnear Charters, Capt. Dave Johnson, Kennebunk, ME

*Rip Tide Charters, Capt. Dave Guerard, York, ME

*Bigger-N-Better Charters, Capt. Mike Sosik, York, ME

*Captain Doug Jowett Fly Fishing Charters, Capt. Doug Jowett, Brunswick, ME

*Asticou Charters Boat Company, Capt. Rick Savage, Northeast Harbor, ME

*Lady J Sportfishing Charters, Capt. Adam Littell, Kennebunk, ME

*Super Fly Charters, Capt. George Harris, Warren, ME

*Lethal Weapon Fishing Charters, Capt. Bob Liston, Wells Harbor, ME

*Shark Five Charters, Capt. Barry Gibson, Boothbay Harbor, ME

*Offshore Adventures Sportfishing, Capt. John Pappas, Cape Elizabeth, ME

*Harris Deep Sea Fishing, Capt. Butch Harris, Eastport, ME

*Fish Tale Charters, Capt. Dave Gittins, York, ME

*Maven’s Guide Service, Capt. Harvey, ME

*Saco Bay Guide Service, Capt. Cal Robinson, Biddeford, ME

*Portland Guide Service, Capt. John Ford, Portland, ME

*Sushi Hunter Sportfishing Charters, Capt. Kevin Anderson, Portsmouth, NH

*Camp Ocean Adventures, Owner Doug Anderson, Newcastle, NH

*Reel Jerk Sportfishing Co., Inc., Capt. Rich Albert, Hampton, NH

*Captain Bill’s Charters, LLC, Capt. Bill Wagner, Deerfield, NH

*Triple Play Charters, Capts. Rich and Sue Kilborn, South Hampton, NH

*Massachusetts Bay Guides, Capts. Greg Sears, Dave Newell, Rob Green,
Jay Berggren, Don Campbell, Joe Marino, Mike Evensen, Gene Bernard, Greenbush,MA

*Boston Fishstix Guide Service, Capts. John Mendleson and Jim Armstrong, Boston,MA

*Striperking Charters, Capt. Vito Demetri, Gloucester, MA

*Striper Moon Charters, Capt. Scott Bradley, Plymouth, MA

*Outer Cape Sportfishing, Capt. Jeffrey Duncan, Provincetown, MA

*Black Dog Charters, Capt. Ryan Bessette, Newburyport, MA

*Sandy B Charters, Capt. Bruce Bornstein, Gloucester, MA

*Kayman Charters, Capt. Kevin Twombly, Gloucester, MA

*Summer Job Charters, Capt. Scott Maguire, Newbury, MA

*North Shore Charters, Capt. Dave Pelletier, Beverly MA

*Rings Island Charters, Capt. Gary Morin, Salisbury, MA

*Fin Addiction Charters, Capt. Jeff Smith, Wellfleet, MA

*Hilton Sport Dock, George Hilton, Newburyport, MA

*Capeshores Charters, Capt. Bruce Peter, East Orleans, MA

*Joppa Tern Charters, Capt. Dan Brown, Newbury, MA

*North Coast Angler, Capts. Skip Montello, Dave Beshara, Al Montello, Allan Smith and Instructor Stephen Papows, Gloucester, MA; Salem, NH, Rockport, MA, Newbury, MA

*Calexa Charters, Capt. Glen Feldmann, Eastham, MA

*Maverick Charters, Ltd., Capt. Jack Riley, Harwich Port, MA

*White Ghost guide Services Ltd., Capt. Jim White, East Greenwich, RI

*Kerratim Charters Inc., Capt. Fred Gallagher, Shannock, RI

*Block Island Sportfishing Charters, Capt. Steve Miller, Block Island, RI

*Benmar Custom Charters, John Groff, Mystic, CT

*Reel Crazy Sportfishing, Capt. Pat Juliano, West Haven, CT

*Kingfisher Charters, Capts. Mark and Scott Anderson, Noank, CT

Researchers and Educators

*Penobscot East Resource Center, Director Robin Alden, Stonington, ME

*Bar Harbor Whale Museum, Curator Toby Stephenson, Bar Harbor, ME

*The Whale Center of New England, Director Mason Weinrich, Gloucester, MA

*Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, Director Peter Borrelli,
Provincetown, MA

*Blue Ocean Society, Director Jennifer Kennedy, Portsmouth, NH

*Friends of Maine Seabird Islands, President Jane Hopwood, Rockport, ME

*Allied Whale, Director Sean Todd, Bar Harbor, ME

*Island Institute, Robert Snyder and Jen Litteral, Rockland, ME

*Audobon Society-Seabird Restoration Program, Senior Researcher Scott Hall,
Belfast, ME

*Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Regina Asmutis-Silvia,
Plymouth, MA & UK

Whale Watch Companies

*Cape Ann Whale Watch, Capt. Jim Douglass, Gloucester, MA

*Newburyport Whale Watch, Bill Neelon, Newburyport, MA

*Portuguese Princess Excursions/Whale Watch, Provincetown, MA

*Boothbay Harbor Whale Watch, Mechele Vanderlaan, Boothbay Harbor, ME

*Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co., Naturalist Zack Klyver, Bar Harbor, ME

*Harris Whale Watch, Capt. Butch Harris, Eastport, ME

*Atlantic Fishing and Whale Watch, Capt. Brad Cook, Rye Harbor, NH

*Granite State Whale Watch, Pete Reynolds, Rye, NH

Ecotourism Companies

*Downeast Windjammer Cruises, Capt. Steve Pagels, Cherryfield, ME

*Bar Harbor Ferry Service, Capt. Steve Pagels, Bar Harbor, ME

*Acadian Nature Tour & New Horizons Cruise Co., Capt. Gary Fagan, Bar Harbor, ME

*Aquaterra Adventures Kayak Co., President Dave Legere, Bar Harbor, ME

*Ardea EcoExpeditions, President Darrin Kelly, Gouldsboro, ME

*Old Quarry Ocean Adventures, Inc., Capt. Bill Baker, Stonington, ME

*Lulu Lobster Boat Ride, Inc., Capt John Nicolai, Gouldsboro, ME

*Sea Venture Custom Boat Tours, Capt. Winston Shaw, Bar Harbor, ME

Publications, Shore Support and Private Businesses

*Barnacle Billy’s, Inc., Billy Tower, Ogunquit, ME

*Maguro America, Inc., Robert Fitzpatrick, Chatham, MA

*On The Water Magazine, East Falmouth, MA

*Saco Bay Tackle, Saco, ME

*Tightlines Tackle Co., Dave Mason, Walpole, ME

*Offshore Pursuits Premium Tackle, Dave Dodsworth, MA

*Elsam Corp., Andover MA & Ogunquit, ME

*Boatwise, LLC., Capts. Rick and Sue Kilborn, South Hampton, NH

*Northeast Merchant Systems, Inc., Sturbridge, MA

*Chaliflour’s Flowers, Gift & Gourmet, Ryan Abood, Manchester, NH

*Offshore Pursuits, LLC., Dave Dodsworth

*, President Ryan Abood, Manchester, NH

*SAM Mechanical Services, LLC.

*Blue Sea Fisheries, Inc., Capt. Dave Pell

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