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About CWitek

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  1. What folks really need to do--and it is very difficult--is convince the governor and legislator (if the legislator appoints a proxy) to appoint folks who will place emphasis on the long-term health of fish stocks. Some will be responsive, some won't. But it's really more a political process than anything else.
  2. We should have the report on the summer flounder banchmark stock assessment very soon, and see exactly where things stand. I fear that there will be some bad news.
  3. Yes, we're talking about winter flounder.
  4. They fish on the Gulf of Maine stock, while we (along with southern Massachusetts) fish on the southern New England/Mid-Atlantic stock. Our stock is in worse shape, but except for a small part of Massachusetts Bay, the Gulf of Maine stock doesn't seem to be doing too well, either, although the stock assessment is somewhat fuzzy.
  5. Forgot to answer your last question. The states have to adopt regulations that are "no,less restrictive" than those adopted by ASMFC. So NJ, CT and RI have adopted regulations identical to those adopted by ASMFC, while NY has chosen to try to give their local spawning populations more protection, and so have maintained regulations that are more restrictive, which is OK.
  6. Research is finding that the flounder stock is broken down into very discreet local populations that don't mix on the spawning grounds. Thus, the fact that Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey are open would not make the New York closure ineffectual, as they impact different spawning populations--although they may or may not impact New York fish later in the year. For may years, biologists believed that winter flounder entered the bays in the fall, spawned in late winter, and that most exited the bays when the waters warmed and moved offshore. Research over the past year or two has shown that is not necessarily true. An acoustic tagging program in Shinnecock Bay revealed that there is probably two stocks spawning in the bay, one that migrates inshore and offshore as always believed, and one that never leaves the bay, although it moves closer to the cool water of the inlet during the summer; two different peaks of larval deposition give additional credence to the two-stock finding (there may also be a third stock that leaves Shinnecock and travels through the bays, but never goes offshore, but evidence for such third stock is far less compelling). Such small locally-spawning stocks make up New York's overall flounder population. When one local stock is fished down, flounder from other stocks don't move in to take their place. Instead, the area just has few or no flounder left, and remains barren. Genetic study on Long Island fish has shown that populations in some places have grown so small that the fish are inbreeding, which creates its own set of problems. As far as shutting it down altogether, there is a lot of recreational and commercial fishing industry opposition. Any state that is the first to close down its fishery is going to be in for a lot of criticism from folks who still want to wring the last $1.29 out if the dying population. About a decade ago, Connecticut and New York agreed to shut down the entire fishery. But Connecticut pulled out of the agreement literally the night before the announcement was to be made, so New York, which politically couldn't put in such a closure on its own, backed off as well. I sit on both the New York Marine Resources Advisory Council and on ASMFC's Winter Flounder Advisory Panel. We discussed a moratorium on MRAC, but representatives of the tackle shops objected, saying that it was a long winter, and that flounder was the first thing that brought people back into the stores, and so they were important to kick off the spring season. I'm guessing that flounder aren't bringing too many people into the shops these days, but the fishing industry isn't famous for looking ahead and planning for its future. At another MRAC meeting, some party boat folks pushing NY to adopt the same season length as NJ and CT admitted that the fish were gone to the bays, but said that they sometimes caught fish on the wrecks while fishing for sea bass and such, and didn't want to have to release them. It's hard to believe that releasing the occasional flounder hurts their business in any way,but the idea of letting one live instead of putting it in someone's cooler just seemed alien to them. And the Advisory Panel also, on a few occasions, unanimously recommended that ASMFC declare a moratorium on the winter flounder fishery in southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic. At one meeting, when the board was considering the Advisory Panel recommendation, I was personally criticized by an attorney representing the NY party boats as not having an economic interest in the fishery, who thus insinuated that my--and the Advisory Panel's--views shouldn't be considered, because we wouldn't be losing any money if the fishery was closed. So the bottom line is that there are some people who will always try to squeeze the last drop of blood from a dry and crumbling stone, and right now, it is the flounder that's doing the bleeding.
  7. Depends on the state. Some have an absolute ban. Others, mostly in the Gulf, give out one trophy tag. In Texas, I THINK, you can buy extra bull red tags after you've used your first (might be wrong about that one, not sure)..
  8. It turns out that the initial rumors of a 36" maximum size were inaccurate, although Virginia is looking at tightening regu Where are the rockfish? Virginia looks to enact tighter striped bass regulations By Lee Tolliver Staff writer Jan 10, 2019 Updated 15 hrs ago Courtesy of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission Fred Barnes shows off the 73-pound Atlantic Striped Bass that was certified in 2008 as a state record. The record was topped by one pound in 2018 by Cary Wolfe's 74-pounder. After years of chatter about the declining population of striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay, the state is looking at tightening its regulations for upcoming seasons. At Wednesday's Finfish Management Advisory Committee it was announced that the Secretary of Natural Resources has suggested looking at alternatives to current length and bag limits for one of the state's most popular gamefish. During the recently concluded Chesapeake Bay fall season, anglers could keep two fish a day that measured between 20 and 28 inches, although one fish could be longer than 28. Dozens of fish longer than 40 inches, considered prime breeding stock by biologists, were harvested last fall — far fewer than previous seasons. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission "striped bass committee will look at the stock assessment and consider any changes to regulation when it meets in February, but those changes wouldn't come into play until 2020," said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler, himself a recreation angler with a masters degree in marine science from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. "We think we should be more proactive and get something in place that will help this tremendous fishery recover." The commission's preliminary stock assessment for a fishery that extends well up the northeastern coast isn't good. It appears the species is being overfished by both commercial and recreational fishermen. So it's likely the agency would implement tighter restrictions. A couple of decades ago, the fishery had been depleted to the point where the agency issued a moratorium on fishing for striped bass. At Wednesday's advisory meeting, there appeared to be some misunderstanding as to what the secretary was asking for, and social media blew up with talk that he had ordered the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to make changes. "That is totally incorrect," said Steve Bowman, commissioner of the VMRC. "The secretary and I have talked about striped bass because, obviously from what we're seeing and hearing, the population isn't what it should be. "Has he ordered a directive? Absolutely not." A major point of concern for Virginia's anglers would be to have the state work with Maryland fisheries managers so that regulations are equal between the two states that share the bay's rockfish population. Bowman gave assurances that the conversation would begin soon. In the meantime, the advisory committee has been tasked with coming up with the best possible solution pleasing the most anglers while still meeting the call for changes. One idea being supported by anglers on one Facebook post is to adopt size and bag limits similar to those that prevent the taking of big red drum. Since new rules were enacted a couple of decades ago, the species has made a remarkable comeback and the population of big trophy fish easily could serve as a benchmark for regulatory success. Anglers in Virginia can keep three drum a day that measure between 18 and 26 inches. All others must be released. Anglers can earn an award in Virginia for released fish measuring longer than 46 inches. Last year, Virginia waters produced 864 reds that met that standard. In contrast, state waters produced only 192 striped bass that met a 40-pound keeper minimum last year. The last really good striper season was in 2012, when 906 fish of 40 pounds or more were caught, and 425 measuring at least 44 inches were released. "We want our pros and the advisory committee to give us some ideas so that we can present them to the angling public to help this fishery," Bowman said. "We want to be proactive and protect this very important fish." lations, and might consider a slot. Here's a story from yesterday's Virginia Pilot.
  9. It's something of a stretch to say that hunters generally report their catch, too. I don't recall the NY response rate, but in some other states that have released figures, it hovers around 50%. Of course, that is better than the estimated 20% for recreational bluefin tuna, and 7% during a recent Alabama red snapper season.
  10. That's not really the issue. The issue is that state fishery administrators are members of the administrative branch of government, ultimately reporting to the governor. And if the governor's office directs them to take a position, they have no choice but to do so if they want to keep their jobs. Left on their own, there are more than a few times when they would do something very different.
  11. Because there are essentially no flounder; the small remnant has grown so scarce that inbreeding is becoming a problem. We discussed this at the Marine Resources Advisory Council at the time that ASMFC decided to allow a longer season. The bottom line is that the DEC did the right thing and ignored the folks who wanted to kill the last buffalo. And yes, there were plenty of such folks at the meeting.
  12. Unfortunately, when a scientist is representing a state, science isn't his/her only consideration. Politics will always play a role. And yes, I've been told that the sentiment has been expressed by scientists at both the state and regional level over the past few weeks, although I haven't heard that myself.
  13. I'm hearing about a lot of EEZ talk coming from people with seats around the table. The 2011 and 2015 year classes will be baked into the stock assessment. The folks who don't want to see additional restrictions have to somehow get around the conclusion that, right now and taking into account all of the data through the end of 2016, the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. Because those two conclusions trigger action under the management plan. The course that the Management Board is on now says that instead of adopting more restrictions, we're going to redefine "overfished" and "overfishing" by changing the reference points, so that the relatively low abundance and high removal rates cited in the assessment are no longer problematic. Some people will be uncomfortable with doing that, but the idea of a big bunch of fish swimming around somewhere in the unknown will be used to soothe their concerns. You're right, that in the past managers have delayed action by claiming that there will be more fish in a few years. But they've never done that in the fact of a declaration of overfishing and an overfished stock. That's a situation we haven't been in since before Amendment 3 was adopted in 1986 (after that, the stock was still overfished for a while, but overfishing had been halted). We're in new territory here. Expect new ways to frustrate conservation efforts.
  14. But being Cooke-owned, they lose that leverage. Now, most of Omega's clout is with state and local officials, and in Virginia, even that is beginning to erode. Cooke is not well-regarded due to some serious problems, like the Washington salmon pen collapse, in various local waters.
  15. That's the sort of change that could provide a real wake-up call to striped bass managers up and down the coast. It also could have a big impact on the upcoming debate. Virginia's Secretary of Natural Resources gets it. I'm very familiar with some of his previous work; he has long been committed to getting fisheries management right.