Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ghost-fishing for Blackfish

Norwalk Harbor seems to be littered with unattended fish traps -- maybe 100, maybe 1,000: no one really knows -- that serve, as one observer put it, as "self-perpetuating fish-killing machines."

On first read I thought it was a mistake. Fish traps? Lobster traps, perhaps, but whoever heard of fish traps in Long Island Sound?

The proliferation of traps was driven by two events, Backer said: the demise of lobsters in 1999 and the rise in the value of blackfish in New York City's live fish markets. Both changed blackfishing in the last two decades, Backer said.

"A lot of old-timers used to set up traps, catch a couple dozen blackfish and fillet them for the winter," Backer said. "But the confluence of events that drove up the value of blackfish made people more willing to exploit them."

So, as Terry Backer implies further on in this Stamford Advocate article (published on Christmas), it's good news that fish from the Sound are being caught and sold locally (or relatively locally). That's a sustainable use of the Sound. But it's irresponsible to leave traps out there and to not check them regularly. The Connecticut DEP, by the way, says there's not much it can do about the problem.

Nice work by Tim Stelloh, who also dug up this story, about the potential implications of an application by a Southport resident, Stuart Bell, on publicly-owned shellfish beds in the Sound.

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Anonymous ben trachtenberg said...

this is really terrible - is there any solution?

11:48 PM  

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