Environmental Quality in the Gulf of Maine
Codium ad nauseum
Native to Japan, Codium invaded the Gulf of Maine in the mid-1960s and has since spread north to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and south to the Carolinas. In Massachusetts, Baker says, the alga is washing up in such large quantities along the southern coast of Cape Cod that residents and visitors are avoiding area beaches. As a temporary measure, officials in Harwich brought in a front-end loader to scoop the piles into Codium dunes. Baker described one dune as 150 yards long and about six to eight feet high. Then it starts to rot, and people really start complaining, he adds. It smells pretty bad.
seriously affect the foraging of urchins, lobsters and host of other native
species that rely on the kelp habitat, writes Jon Percy, who reported
on the research in a recent edition of Fundy Issues (www.bofep.org). The
aggressive growth of Codium not only destroys economically important seaweeds
can also wipe out shellfish beds.
Although it hasnt yet gained a major foothold in the Bay of Fundy, Codium has been sited in St. Marys Bay in southwest Nova Scotia. SCUBA surveys conducted by Dr. Robert Scheibling and his colleagues at Dalhousie are closely monitoring its distribution along the provinces southern shore.
In coastal Massachusetts, however, Codium is now firmly established. CZM is working with Harwich town officials, the Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Agricultural Resources to identify disposal options for the Codium, such as landfilling or composting. Laboratory tests on Codium indicate that it probably wont make good garden compost, Baker says, though some fishermen say its great for tomatoes.
CZM is working on a management plan to evaluate removal and disposal options for towns dealing with Codium and other invasive algae problems. It will include a survey of Codium along the southern coast of Cape Cod to determine if it may be crowding out or outcompeting eelgrass communities. Baker says it is uncertain whether the invader will continue to proliferate. A similar Codium explosion occurred in the mid-60s but then receded. We dont know if it is going through a boom and bust cycle, similar to the mid-60s, or responding to high nutrient loading, he says.
Franks announcement came as the NEFMC was deliberating over the details of a new round of controversial federal regulationsknown as Amendment 13that will further reduce fishing boats days-at-sea. The new rules, which go into effect on May 1, are designed to bring the groundfish management plan for the Northeast into compliance with the Act.
While many of New Englands groundfish stocks have begun to increase in recent years, some stocks remain at low levels or are not increasing fast enough under the law.
Some lawmakers in the
region fear that Amendment 13 will cripple New England fishing communities.
The New England fishing industry employs thousands of people in our districts, and these hard-working men and women deserve to know with certainty the future of their business, they wrote in a joint letter to Gilchrest.
This action followed a move by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who
added a rider to a federal appropriations bill to delay implementation of
Amendment 13 until the end of September and give the NEFMC time to address
issues raised by the Maine fishing community.
Maines fishing industry is a 400-year tradition upon which our economy relies, Collins said. In its current form, Amendment 13 would be unfair to many of Maines fisheries, in some cases allotting them zero fishing days per year.
Maine fishermen contend that the Amendment unfairly burdens them by not taking into account the longer steaming time Maine boats need to reach the rich fishing grounds of Georges Bank and by limiting opportunities for smaller boat fishermen to take advantage of days-at-sea allotted for harvesting more abundant stocks (most fisheries where this activity can occur are on Georges Bank).
In late January, the Senate passed legislation overturning Collins delay. (At press time, the repeal was still subject to House approval.) Fisheries management officials, who believe the delay would harm fishermen, told Collins that they will address the concerns raised by Maine fishermen.
The basis for the study grew out of a meeting CCN organized for individuals and organizations concerned about harbor and marine infrastructure. Participants ranged from government officials, harbor authority representatives and tourism operators to community economic development activists.
When people in small coastal communities meet with government representatives, they often leave feeling that theyve been consulted but not listened to, says Ishbel Munro, CCNs executive director. From the outset of this study, a sense of teamwork developed and committee members shared a common spirit of working together toward solutions rather than adopting an us-versus-them approach.
Munro added that the studys detailed look at Nova Scotias coastal communities and the economic, social and demographic changes they have undergone over the past decade will be a valuable tool for those working to improve these communities.
For more information, contact Munro at (902) 485-4754.
The study also suggested that chemicals from the atmosphere that alter the water chemistry of streams were harming salmon. Potential remedies included the experimental addition of lime to rivers and streams as a way to counteract acidification.
The report questioned Maines heavy reliance on hatcheries to increase the salmon population and said hatcheries should focus on preserving the genetic diversity of remaining wild salmon populations by providing them with a secure place to grow.
The committee also recommended that Maine avoid stocking streams with salmon or nonnative fish that may mate with or crowd out wild salmon, or out-compete them for food.
Comprehensive, statewide action should be taken now to ensure their survival. And a formalized decision-making approach is needed to evaluate options, establish priorities, and coordinate plans for conserving and restoring the salmon, said Michael Clegg, professor of genetics at University of California, Riverside who wrote the report.