Maritime Shorts: Fish die-off, mussel rules, urchin research

Fish die-off  

FRENCHBORO — A fish die-off at the Cooke Aquaculture salmon farm off Black Island has been cleaned up, according to the company.  

The die-off was reported to state officials on Aug. 27 and remediated later that day, said company spokesman Joel Richardson. The fish deaths were a result of uncommonly low oxygen levels in the fish cages and were a low percentage of the overall number of salmon at the sites.  

The state Department of Environmental Protection opened an investigation into the incident and had a staff member conduct an inspection at the farm last week. Staff will review the data collected and determine if there was a compliance issue related to the deaths. The inspection report is due to be completed by Oct. 1.  


Mussel rules 

AUGUSTA — The state Department of Marine Resources is taking comments on a new rule that would establish mandatory monthly trip-level harvester reporting for people who hold a mussel boat license or a hand-raking mussel license.  

If the new rule is approved, starting in 2022, harvesters would need to report their boat name, type of gear, set time, pounds landed, license of dealer sold to, port landed in, type of gear used, the longitude and latitude, average depth and other data to the DMR.  

The Maine Mussel Fishery Improvement Project had requested mandatory harvester reporting for the wild mussel fishery in August to better monitor the health of the resource. The collection of effort and location is standard practice to provide information necessary for fisheries management.  

A hearing on the changes will be held on Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. at the DMR’s Augusta office. Masks are required for those who are not fully vaccinated. A remote option will also be available. Comments on the proposed rule are due by Oct. 1.  


Sea urchin research  

AUGUSTA — A researcher from the University of Rhode Island is looking for help from the Maine sea urchin industry on a project that will address information gaps in the status of the green sea urchin fishery.  

Coleen Suckling, a professor at the college, previously worked on sea urchin production for European sea urchin and now is leading several projects aiming to optimize hatchery produced green sea urchin seed and sustaining wild cough urchins.  

The main objective is to look at how effective urchin populations are at reproducing to identify if altered management practices need to be considered to help the natural stocks grow. Suckling and researcher Tara Plee want to collaborate with urchin producers and divers to conduct surveys and collect some animals in and outside of the allocated harvesting period. 

According to a release from the state Department of Marine Resources, Suckling will hold a virtual meeting with those who express interest to go over more details of the project. 

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