FishOn: State postponing lobster closures to protect right whales

Stephan Savoia/AP file photo/The state Division of Marine Fisheries now expects new rules on closures of lobstering area  to protect right whales to go into effect between mid-February and early March.

We here at FishOn have been absent from these pages for the past couple Mondays. Slight case of mistaken identity. Fear not, we've escaped. Here's hoping you didn't pay the ransom.

First column of the new year, so we're still finding our footing, staying within ourselves and letting the game come to us. It's early and it's a long year.

There, that pretty much encapsulates the product of virtually every Opening Day interview we ever did.

One thing we know we'll be writing about in 2021 is the plight of the North Atlantic right whales, so let's start with them.

The end of 2020 brought a flurry of proposed protective actions from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and NOAA Fisheries that will be batted around until final rules can be enacted.

In the Bay State, DMF, among other recommendations, has proposed closing all state waters to lobstering from February to May to coincide with the right whales' annual migration and feeding along the Massachusetts coast.

It is set to present those recommendations to the Massachusetts Fisheries Advisory Commission on Jan. 28. That meeting initially was set for Jan. 7, but DMF was swamped with public comment to review, as seemingly every conservation group in the world except the Cross Street Irregulars weighed in.

Last Friday, DMF said the altered timeline means it won't be able to “promulgate final regulations for Feb. 1, 2021.”

It now expects the new rules — including the closure — to go into effect between mid-February and early March.

“As a result only those waters within the Massachusetts restricted area will be closed to trap gear fishing on Feb. 1,” DMF said. “All other waters within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth will not be subject to a trap gear closure until a final rule is promulgated.”

Promulgate. Good word.

FishOn baseball quiz question

On this date in 1973, baseball's American League owners approved Charlie Finley's plan to institute the designated hitter as a three-year experiment. Who was the very first DH to bat? And who was the first Red Sox DH? Hint: They are not the same player, but the two played in the same game. Answer down below.

New year priorities

Just like us here at FishOn, NOAA Fisheries has made some resolutions for the new year. Ours is to eat more pie. The agency's priorities, frankly, don't sound nearly as fun. And they unfortunately don't seem to include finding a quarterback for the Patriots or pitching and a second baseman for the Red Sox.

On the management side, it's the usual howdedo. Sustainably manage stocks, increase aquaculture production, stabilize highest-priority protected species while minimizing their bycatch and entanglement and increase confidence in the quality and safety of U.S. seafood. It also wants learn a foreign language and be open to new experiences.   

On the science side, the agency's priorities include modernizing "its information, collection, management and dissemination systems" and developing the next generation of analytical tools to model and forecast changing ecosystems.

It also wants to improve its tracking of the recovery performance of protected species. And of course, it wants to drop a few pounds and just be kinder.

The best part of the report, however, was the name of the man who penned it: Cisco Werner, the agency's director of scientific programs and it chief science advisor. Cisco! How great is that?

We've got five bucks that say he has, at various points in his life, been referred to as the Cisco Kid. And that is how we shall refer to him from here on out.

FishOn baseball quiz answer

The first DH in baseball history was the Yankees' Ron Blomberg. The first Red Sox DH was Orlando Cepeda. They were in opposing dugouts at Fenway Park on April 6 in Boston's 15-5 victory over the Bronx Bombers. Blomberg, batting sixth went 1-for-3 with an infield single off Luis Tiant. Cepeda, batting fifth for the BoSox, went 0-for-6.

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

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