Maritime Shorts: Oysters approved, herring fishery, NOAA funding

Shellfish farm approved for oysters 

SORRENTO — The Department of Marine Resources commissioner Patrick Keliher approved a local shellfish farm’s application to cultivate oysters in Flanders Bay.  

Late last month, Keliher signed off on Acadia Aqua Farms request to add American and European oysters to a plot near Waukeag Neck in the bay off Sorrento. The 14-acre site was previously approved by the DMR to harvest mussels via bottom culture. Because Acadia Aqua Farms, which is also pioneering scallop farming techniques in Frenchman Bay, was going to use the same method as the original application, there were no material alterations to the original lease decision, according to the DMR decision.  


Herring fishery reopening possible 

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Atlantic Herring Management Board set the 2022 Atlantic herring quota for the inshore Gulf of Maine last month and could reopen the fishery this year.  

The board established a 2022 annual catch limit of 1,184 metric tons for the area and voted to continue using a split-season model.  

About 73 percent of the quota will be allocated for the June to September season and the remaining 27 percent will be available for the October through December season.  

In April, the catch limit for 2021 was set at 1,453 metric tons, with some carryover from 2019. The directed herring fishery in Maine has been closed since August because fishermen quickly caught up to the board’s limits, but it could reopen after recent news from the New Brunswick weir fishery.  

The 2021 annual catch limit received an additional 1,000 metric tons based on the Canadian fishery carryover and the herring board called a “days out” meeting for this week to consider allowing more fishing.  

Herring is a prized baitfish for lobstermen but because the species is considered overfished and quotas have been tightened, they’ve turned to other species such as menhaden. 


Downeast project receives NOAA funding 

BEALS — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sea Grant and Ocean Acidification Program awarded more than $2.4 million to support projects that will look at the stressors and potential to build more resiliency in the growing shellfish aquaculture sector. 

A Downeast project was among four that were selected for the funding opportunity. Researchers from the Downeast Institute in Beals, Hancock mussel farmer Evan Young, and a Bangs Island Mussels of Portland were awarded $413,240 for a project that will test the efficacy of various alternative diet regimes to bolster blue mussel resilience to acidification and warming. The project would also test for an interaction between diet enhancement and seawater buffering both at a lab and commercial scale. 

“Marine bivalve aquaculture is a growing industry in Maine, yet early life stage bivalves are believed to be most vulnerable to ocean and coastal acidification and other environmental stressors,” the project description read. “Despite evidence that diet restriction will interact with (ocean acidification and warming) to diminish bivalve condition in the wild, to date, no studies have inverted that premise to test whether diet enhancement can improve bivalve resilience… in the hatchery.” 

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