We here at FishOn are gearing up for a big week, as the New England Fishery Management Council is set to finally vote on the proposed monitoring measure that proponents say will bring more accountability and catch accuracy to the Northeast Multispecies groundfish fishery and the industry says will probably sink the small-boat fleet for good.

It's kind of like living in New Hampshire. Live free or die. Those are your options.

A quick recap: The council has been working on the measure — Amendment 23 — for more than two years. It seems like 50. 

The amendment will set future monitoring levels for sector-based groundfish vessels. The council faces four alternatives: Monitors aboard 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of groundfish trips. The council has chosen 100% coverage as its preferred alternative.

That's not good for the groundfishermen. Once the federal government stops harvesting spare change from between the sofa cushions to keep reimbursing the fleet for at-sea monitoring, the onus for paying falls on the fishermen at a current tune of about $700 per day per vessel.

If 100% monitoring carries the day, it will add an estimated $6.4 million of additional costs across the fishery. The fishermen aren't even patting their pockets. They are serious when they say it could easily spell the end of the fleet.

So this is a big deal.

Environmental groups have poured in resources and comment in support of the preferred alternative. If they set a betting line on fisheries management, conservationists would probably be heavy favorites.

The industry is in Hail Mary mode. The long pass, not the prayer. Though at this point, it's a difference without a distinction.

In a letter, the Northeast Seafood Coalition reached out to Gov. Charlie Baker for support and leadership on the issue — Massachusetts stands the most to lose within the fishery — and was rewarded with a palpable silence.

Sixteen members of the Massachusetts Legislature, at the urging of Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr and others from fishing communities, signed a letter asking the council to reject Amendment 23 as currently constituted. They cited the measure's inconsistency with a number of standards within the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and executive orders.

"The council should be focusing on strengthening the fishing business during this time to support food security programs focused on the harvesting of pollock, redfish and haddock stocks," the legislators wrote to the NEFMC. "It should not be undermining groundfish business and groundfish sector viability at a time when fishing communities, the commonwealth and the nation are faced with the health pandemic."

The council will convene via webinar on Tuesday for its three-day meeting that originally was set for the Beauport Hotel Gloucester. As the agenda stands, Amendment 23 and other groundfish issues will dominate the middle session on Wednesday.

Big day.

Oh, and this

Before we wander away from the monitoring amendment, let's pass along the info for how to participate in the webinar for the three-day meeting. Online access to the meeting is available at register.gotowebinar.com/register/5172076717962269709. Participants wishing to speak or comment during the meeting must register for the webinar and then join the webinar. Those who merely want to listen also have a call-in option by dialing 631-992-3221. The access code is 352-930-778.

The Tuesday session is set to begin at 9 a.m. The Wednesday and Thursday sessions are scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. All agenda and meeting materials are available on the council website nefmc.org.

There. That should do it.

Baseball quiz question

On this date in 1919, in the first game of a doubleheader on the last day of the season, the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-1 in a game at the Polo Grounds in which the two teams set a major league record that has stood for 101 years. What it be? Answer is below.

Taking a dive

While we're on the subject of records, do you know what species of marine mammal holds the record for the longest and deepest dives? Answer is ... right here!

It's the beaked whale.

According to a story in the New York Times, researchers have documented one Cuvier beaked whale dive that lasted 3 hours 42 minutes and eclipsed the previous record by more than an hour. The whales have been known to plunge 10,000 feet below the surface of the ocean.

"This is just so beyond what we've seen before," Andreas Fahlman, a physiologist at the Oceanographic Foundation of the Valencian Community in Spain, told the New York Times. "They're not supposed to do this, but they do."

So what's their secret? Fahlman told the New York Times it could be a couple of things.

"For one, the whales are probably shunting blood flow away from their liver, kidneys and guts to free up oxygen for their brains, hearts and muscles — tissues essential for deep dives," the Times story stated. "At the same time, they might be lowering their heart rates to ramp down metabolism."

So, here's a question: When blue whales hold their breath, what color do they turn? Just curious.

Baseball quiz answer

The Giants and the Phillies combined to play the fastest nine-inning game in major league baseball history, coming in at a tidy 51 minutes. Both starting pitchers — Lee Meadows of the Phillies and Jesse Barnes of the Giants — tossed complete games. Collectively, they allowed 18 hits, three walks and three strikeouts.

As always, no fish were harmed in the making of this column.

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or shorgan@gloucestertimes.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.

Recommended for you