Fish Post

Releases – November 16, 2017

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The Mandie Phillips Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education at Appalachian State University, announced today that applications are open for its 2018 scholarship programs. With the goal of awarding $15,000 in undergraduate in 2018 to three deserving students, the Association—a product of the Mandie Phillips Fishing Tournament out of Motts Channel Seafood—operates a unique, privately-funded scholarship program for New Hanover County, NC residents.

In addition, the Association will be contributing $17,500 into the Mandie Phillips Memorial Endowment, to ensure scholarships will be able to be awarded for years to come. Applications are now being accepted through November 15th, 2017.

Students interested in applying for Mandie Philips Memorial Foundation scholarships must meet a series of requirements related to education, character, and family income. Once chosen, Mandie Phillips Memorial Scholarship recipients are provided with additional fiduciary resources to ensure a successful higher education experience.

Through its scholarship programs, the Mandie Philips Memorial Foundation supports high school students of exceptional character who demonstrate a commitment to continuing their education and serving their communities. Started in 2016, the foundation has tripled the number of scholarships it will award this coming academic year.

To be considered for this scholarship, applications must be received by November 15, 2017. Students can apply at the following link: https://scholarships.appstate.edu/apply/first-year-students.

For more information about Mandie Philips Memorial Foundation, please visit www.mottschannelseafood.com. To engage on social media, please “Like” the organization on Facebook and “follow” on Instagram @FishForMandie.

 

Marine protected areas can potentially subsidize harvested oyster populations via larval spillover—however, spillover benefits can only be realized if harvested areas contain suitable habitat for larval settlement and survival, finds research published in open-access journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The study is one of the first to document the contribution of different habitat restoration strategies to an overall marine population. Findings have implications for sustainable fisheries management of oysters and other sessile species.

“Marine reserves and habitat restoration offer clear demographic benefits to target oyster populations, particularly when used in concert,” says Dr. David Eggleston, a marine ecologist at North Carolina State University. “Our research shows that no-take reserves with restored habitat can have significant positive impacts on oyster population densities, size-structure, and potential larval output. Restored reefs that are harvested can also show increased potential larval output.”

Oysters are important for both coastal economies and ecosystems. The shellfish have been a source of food for people for thousands of years and support commercial fisheries around the world. Oysters also provide valuable ecological services including water filtration and habitat for other marine species. Overfishing and habitat destruction, however, has led to an 85% decline in oyster beds compared to historical levels.

Eggleston is part of a program to restore oyster populations in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina—the second largest estuary in the USA. In addition to creating reserves where oyster harvesting is prohibited, the project has also restored oyster reefs in both reserves and harvested areas. The level of restoration differs between the two: in reserves, “high-relief” reefs are created from limestone boulders, as well as concrete or granite rubble, while in harvested areas, a thin layer of oyster shells and limestone rubble is spread on the estuarine bottom to create “low-relief” reefs.

With the project now running for more than 20 years, Eggleston and his team wanted to know whether habitat restoration and harvest protection were providing the intended demographic benefits—and in particular, whether reserves are potentially providing larval spillover to harvested areas.

“To guide sustainable fisheries management, we need to understand the role that harvested and restored oyster reefs play in supporting the overall oyster population,” says Eggleston.

The researchers compared oyster demographics in three habitat types: natural reefs that are harvested, restored reefs that are harvested, and restored reefs that are protected from harvest.

The results confirm the benefits of restored marine protected areas. Not only were oyster densities up to 72 times higher in the restored protected reefs, but few oysters in harvested reefs were greater than the legal harvesting legal size, whereas protected reefs typically had oysters of different sizes, including many large individuals.

Furthermore, the potential larval output was around 6 times higher in the restored, protected reefs. This suggests that more larvae spillover from reserves to harvested reefs than the other way around—and that reserves can therefore contribute substantially to the larval supply of the wider oyster population.

The benefits of habitat restoration were not limited to reserves: compared to natural harvested reefs, the restored, harvested reefs had a much higher oyster density and reproductive output. Indeed, the demographics of the restored harvested reefs were more similar to the restored protected reefs than the natural harvested reefs.

“Natural reefs in Pamlico Sound are relatively degraded,” explains Eggleston. “This means they may not provide many areas where oyster larvae can settle and form their shells. Even though only a thin layer of substrate is used when restoring reefs for harvest, this still appears to increase larval settlement compared to natural reefs.”

The finding that restored harvested reefs have higher larval recruitment than natural reefs has implications for both conservation and fisheries management.

“Our research shows that oyster recovery is not always limited by there being too few larvae,” says Eggleston. “There also needs to be enough suitable habitat for the larvae to settle and grow.”

The researchers recommend that high-relief restored protected areas should be an important goal for oyster fisheries management, but recognize that these are not always desirable or possible. Construction of high-relief reefs can be expensive, for example—as can enforcement of no-take rules. In these cases, low-relief restoration of harvested areas can provide a relatively inexpensive alternative.

“A greater area of restored, yet harvested, reefs may have a similar restorative impact on the overall oyster population compared to relatively small, no-harvest reserves,” says Eggleston.

 

The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) praised NOAA Fisheries’ decision to allow a South Atlantic red snapper fishery season for the first time since 2014. Anglers may harvest one red snapper per day November 3-5, and November 10-12, in federal waters from North Carolina through the entire East Coast of Florida.

“For the past several years, anglers and businesses throughout the South Atlantic region have been frustrated by a lack of access to an abundant red snapper fishery,” said Mike Leonard, ASA’s Conservation director. “Thankfully, NOAA Fisheries and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, working with the recreational fishing community, are using modern science and technology to reopen this important fishery. This will provide significant benefits to the region’s economy, both this year and, hopefully, for years to come.”

During its September meeting, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council requested an emergency action from NOAA Fisheries to open a limited 2017 red snapper season in South Atlantic federal waters. The request was driven by the latest information on recent increases in the east coast red snapper stock.

To help provide much needed information on recreational harvest, anglers were strongly encouraged to record their catch at www.myfishcount.com. This information is critical to accurately assessing the health of the South Atlantic red snapper stock and improving future access to the fishery.

“Voluntary reporting and best fishing practices are longstanding priority areas for ASA, so we are encouraged to see them incorporated into the decision to reopen the South Atlantic red snapper fishery,” said Leonard. “Because this is the first time these concepts have been applied in this fishery, we ask that industry members throughout the region help us in spreading the word to anglers about the importance of self-reporting and using best fishing practices.”