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Posts Tagged ‘lobster’

Photo: Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press
“The Maine Lobstermen’s Association said about 30,000 miles of rope has been removed from the ocean’s surface,” the
New York Times reported last year. That’s important for saving the lives of the remaining right whales, but it won’t be enough.

This morning, three Blue Jays were arguing over something they thought was good to eat in my backyard, and I got to thinking about how my attitudes are evolving as from the kitchen window I watch creatures come and go during the pandemic.

It occurred to me that the Blue Jays don’t know it’s my backyard. They don’t even have a way of registering the information. Nor, for that matter, do the baby skunk, the possum, the chipmunks, the squirrels, the cardinals, or the numerous rabbits.

Perhaps we’re all just a bunch of critters using this space for now.

That’s my prelude to a post on the conflicting interests of the endangered North Atlantic right whale and the lobster fisherman.

Some lobster fishermen are doing their bit to live in harmony with nature. Karen Weintraub reported on this issue at the New York Times late last year, after a right whale well known to scientists was found dead.

“Marc Palombo has been fishing lobster for 41 years, and he wants fishermen who come after him to be able to do the same. That’s why he’s testing a new type of fishing gear that, along with other efforts in New England and Canada, is being designed to avoid harming North Atlantic right whales. …

“This year [2019], about 10 have been found dead, but that number is uncertain. Not one of the nearly 30 right whale deaths in the last three years has been attributed to natural causes, said Philip Hamilton, a research scientist with the New England Aquarium, which maintains a catalog of North Atlantic right whales. Mr. Hamilton blames climate change, which has driven the whales northward in search of food.

“Over the last decade, warming in the Gulf of Maine has driven zooplankton, which the whales feed on, northward into Canada’s waters. As the whales follow, they are swimming across fishing and shipping lanes in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where they are vulnerable to being struck by ships or entangled in fishing lines — often long lines of rope connecting buoys at the surface with traps at the bottom.

“ ‘The only way to save the right whale is to have all stakeholders, including industry, at the table collaborating on proactive solutions that will protect them while ensuring the future of the lobstering industry,’ Patrick Ramage, director of Marine Conservation, for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said in a statement.

“Fishermen, like Mr. Palombo, and others have been testing new equipment, like ropeless gear, to protect the passing whales, and their fishing livelihood. …

“ ‘We know that entanglements in fishing gear and collisions with ships are killing these ocean giants,’ Megan Jordan, spokeswoman for Oceana, an international advocacy and conservation organization, said via email. ‘Reducing the amount of vertical lines from fishing gear in the water and requiring ships to slow down can help save North Atlantic right whales from extinction.’ …

“In Canada, a multipronged effort to protect the North Atlantic right whales is underway. After 17 whales were killed in the 2017 fishing season, including 12 in Canada’s waters, the Canadian government initiated a three-year research project. …

“For example, snow crab fishermen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence use rope that can withstand 14,000 pounds of force, Mr. Cormier said. His team is testing rope that breaks below 1,700 pounds, a weight that would allow a whale to free itself. …

“[Meanwhile,] the Maine Lobstermen’s Association recently pulled out of an agreement to reduce the number of fishing ropes in the water by 60 percent. The association’s executive director, Patrice McCarron, said the deal treats Maine lobstermen unfairly, because their fishing gear has not been the cause of any of the whale deaths in the last five years. She also said almost 30,000 miles of floating rope have been replaced with line that sinks.

“Mr. Palombo and collaborators at the New England Aquariumare testing a ropeless system that would leave lobster pots attached to a spool of rope at the bottom of the sea rather than to a buoy on the surface. A few days after setting his pots during a testing, Mr. Palombo headed back to the area and pushed a button on his boat that sent an audio signal to the spool. The rope rose to the surface where it took only a few minutes to retrieve.

“ ‘It’s pretty gratifying,’ he said about testing the ropeless system. ‘We’re the adventurers, we’re the people that are breaking the ground.’ ” More here.

In January, David Abel at the Boston Globe reported on delays in new regulations: “Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is responsible for protecting the critically endangered species, had planned to issue the regulations last year. But they were delayed after months of criticism from the region’s powerful lobster industry, which is worried that new requirements could be harsh and expensive.”

I sure am hoping for compromises that take everyone’s concerns seriously, including the whales’.

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On the principle that “one and one and 50 make a million,” a better world relies on everybody pitching in. Ordinary people can help scientists and other leaders of worthy initiatives.

Lisa Mullins and Lynn Jolicoeur report at WBUR on one example.

“It’s a cloudy, cool July morning, and we’ve come to the docks at Fairhaven Shipyard, near New Bedford, to meet Chris Parks. She’s a tall, elegant, retired Boston banker in jeans and a sweatshirt.

“Parks is a volunteer with the Buzzards Bay Coalition. Residents formed the group 30 years ago to help the struggling bay.

“She’s got a plastic bottle attached to a long metal pole. She submerges it and fills it with sea water. Then she pulls out her tool box full of vials and chemicals. She mixes and measures.

“Parks determines the water is pretty cool on this day — 67 degrees. … In addition to temperature and clarity, Parks tests the water for how much salt and oxygen are in it. She’s been coming to this dock, fastidiously, one or two mornings a week for 17 years.

” ‘I’m doing it because it’s one of the few things that I can do that is a tangible task towards helping the environment,’ Parks says. ‘It’s a little bit of science that helps tell us what’s going on in Buzzards Bay.’

“What’s going on is that the water is warming — and that may be contributing to long-lasting pollution problems in the bay.”

Buzzards Bay Coalition science director Rachel Jakuba says, ” ‘If you have too much algae in the water, that’s when you get cloudy, murky water, loss of eel grass, low oxygen levels that make it hard for fish and shellfish to survive … Bay scallops are very rare now because part of their life cycle depends on eel grass blades.’

“The Buzzards Bay Coalition is attacking that pollution aggressively. It’s working with homeowners to upgrade their septic systems with technology that reduces nitrogen. …

“Jakuba says as researchers figure out how global warming fits into the bay pollution picture, citizen scientists will be key.

“Mark Sweitzer, 68, is a citizen scientist and lobsterman based at Point Judith in Galilee, Rhode Island. …

“Six times a month while he’s catching lobster, Sweitzer lowers a device to the bottom of the ocean — about 200 feet. It tracks the temperature and other characteristics of the water at every depth, and it syncs the data to an iPad on board. …

” ‘I’m just happy to do it, because I feel like I’m providing some information — even though it might not have immediate effect on my boat, but in long-term trends in the fishery and how it might influence policy or regulations,’ Sweitzer says. …’

” The settlers — the tiny little ones that are four days old that have reached the bottom — there is a temperature at which they will not survive … and there are temperatures at which we have an influx of fish. Black sea bass used to be primarily a mid-Atlantic fish. And now … the black sea bass are down there gobbling up these little lobsters that don’t have much of a chance to make it in the first place.’ ”

Read how other fishermen are noticing ocean changes before scientists do and reporting back, here.

We have a friend who sets lobster pots off New Shoreham, Rhode Island. His catch has gone down steadily over the past few years, so I know there is a problem.

Photo: Mark Degon/WBUR
Lobsterman Mark Sweitzer works out of Point Judith, Rhode Island.

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On Tuesday, a group from work set out at lunchtime for lobster rolls (and shrimp rolls and crab rolls) at James Hook & Co., whose golden lobster weathervane appeared in one of my previous posts.

Then we joined the crowds on the Harbor Walk to luxuriate in tall ships and a gorgeous sky.

A vessel flying the Jolly Roger was dwarfed by the triumphs of modern capitalism. (I won’t say “piracy” because I have no idea what goes on in those buildings.)

 

A teaching schooner called the “Roseway,” from the World Ocean School, was taking tourists out.

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John leads the way for the end-of-summer clambake, rallying Suzanne and Erik to go with him first to collect driftwood, then to swim out to where there is good seaweed on the rocks.

It’s an all-day project ultimately involving six adults and one toddler.

Rocks get placed in a pit, wood gets burned on top, wood coals get shoveled out, lobsters, seaweed, potatoes, corn, clams, mussels in cheesecloth, seawater, and more seaweed get dumped on the very hot rocks, a tarpaulin covers everything and is sealed with more rocks so the steam stays in.

After a couple hours, newspaper gets spread for  a tablecloth, the neighbors arrive, and the tarp is whipped off.

In the kitchen, Meran has made a salad with her garden’s tomatoes, plus spaghetti with fresh clam sauce. Sandra has brought an assortment of her famed homemade cookies. Patrick has brought extra utensils for cracking open lobster claws.

If you want to learn more, do what John does. He searches the Internet on “how to do a clambake” and reads several websites.

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Near where I work in Boston, there is something new to see every day.

Here are two shots of the ever picturesque North End. 

Here are shots of the harbor post-Irene and the James Hook & Co. golden lobster.

And here are the deep red plants that attracted a hummingbird outside the cafeteria yesterday. He didn’t show up today for his screen test, so I borrowed someone else’s hummingbird.

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The first art opening of the season at Jessie Edwards Studio is great not only for the art but for catching up with friends after the long winter.

I greeted David and asked why he hadn’t been at the 350th anniversary festivities, given that his family goes back so far on the island. He said he had been putting in lobster pots that day. He has put in 30 this year. Last Saturday he pulled 11 lobsters, which he doesn’t think is much for 30 pots. His extended family eats them all.

Another friend is writing a biography of his parents, which he intends to self-publish. He hopes the cost doesn’t keep him from getting the words that he wants on his tombstone: “I broke even.”

Given the crowds at openings and all the catching up, you have to be pretty determined to see the art. I nudged my way through temporary gaps and checked out everything.

Kathleen Noonan Lang was showing her island monotypes. See them here. I especially liked her “Sailor’s Delight,” with its rosy evening sky reminiscent of the weather rhyme “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.”

When my cousin Sally had a show of her monotypes in Connecticut, I asked her to describe her approach. She wrote:

“To make a monotype, you basically create an image on a sheet of plexiglass and run it through a press. There are dozens of techniques but my tools of choice are primarily paper towels and Q-tips; very sophisticated. I roll on a layer of ink on the plate and then push it around with the paper towels and Q-tips, run it through a press and then work on the plate again and print another layer. Often I’ll develop several prints at one time, working on the ghost impression left over on the plate, rolling on a transparent base to raise the viscosity of the remaining ink (as my father would have said), and print it again. That’s the short version. Most of my monotypes have 3-4 layers. It is a very exciting process and there is always an element of surprise as when the paper is pulled from the plate.”

I like that sort of surprise.  It’s kind of like writing a blog post and being surprised by where your train of thought leads you. In playwriting class we are encouraged to surprise ourselves that way.

I wanted to include some clay art from Suzanne here, but she says she hasn’t been taking pottery long enough to have anything to display. Her brother said, “How about the shell she painted for my birthday?”

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In case you find yourself with too many lobster pots, consider this approach, suitably embellished with the U.S. flag for the Glorious Fourth. (If you don’t live in the U.S., you could skip the flag.)

 

 

 

There is quite a variety of flowers here. The blue ones on tall stems in the front are called chicory by most people but Ragged Sailor in Rhode Island.

If you have any creative ways you have retired your own lobster posts, do leave a comment.

 

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