Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

3 Articles Concerning Fluke Legislation- FYI

Rate this topic

2 posts in this topic

Controversy sparks adjustment


Published in the Asbury Park Press 10/10/03


Multiple-year quotas in the works; payback scheme set aside





Plans to fine-tune the summer flounder management plan and quell the controversies swirling around it highlighted a meeting this week between the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.


The joint bodies agreed to begin a framework action to be completed in 2004 to establish a system of specifying multiple-year recreational and commercial quotas to replace the year-by-year system now used.


A framework is a relatively faster method of amending a fishery management plan; worthwhile in this instance because the agreement reached this week calls for implementation by January 1, 2005.


Although details won't be available for some months, a multiple year system would at least assure a constant quota for a given time period. However, it's unclear at this time exactly how recreational measures will be handled under a multiple-year system.


The management organizations also agreed to begin analysis during 2004 on three other actions, of which only one pertains to the recreational sector: the issue of a 50/50 split of summer flounder quota as requested by a petition filed with the federal government by United Boatmen and the Recreational Fishing Alliance.


It's still too early to predict the outcome, but a significant step toward allocation justice was taken when fishery managers voted to include the petition in the 2004 analysis that will follow.


Somewhat surprisingly, the concept of paybacks for recreational overages, hotly debated of late by the ASMFC, was never resolved and it didn't survive the determination of items for 2004 analysis.


No rush to judgment is suggested because the issue might arise in separate ASMFC meetings or jointly sometime in the future. For now, however, paybacks aren't a part of next year's analysis aimed at an eventual amendment to the summer flounder plan.


Nevertheless, anglers shouldn't expect the analysis designated for 2004 to produce significant relaxation of recreational summer flounder measures anytime in the near future.


According to current fishery management philosophy, the rate at which fish are harvested never changes even though a fishery rebuilds or is rebuilt, and even a rebuilt summer flounder fishery won't be thrown wide open to fishing, commercially or recreationally.


Despite a possible New Jersey quota in the range of 4 million fish when the fishery has rebuilt, anglers will arguably never experience a minimum summer flounder size below 16 inches.



Who's counting?


Published in the Asbury Park Press 10/10/03


The fluke landing statistics compiled by the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistical Survey do not reflect the reality that party boat captains see -- and they want to know why they're not being asked.







They should have asked the party boat captains.



DAVE MAY photos


The Capt. Cal II (above) had a boatload of passengers in 2002. That wasn't seen often this year. More often than not, it's private boaters, such as Al Wynne of Point Pleasant Beach (below), whose catches are used as the basis for landings data.



The surveyors who compile data for the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey came up with high early fluke landings that were so at odds with fishermen's perceptions of the fishery as to throw the whole process into question.


The preliminary MRFSS data showed New Jersey fluke landings from May and June this year were 700,000 fish, twice as high as 2002.


The oft-asked question is: "Where did they get their information?"


Capt. Paul Thompson of the Porgy III, Cape May, quipped, "We had better find those four guys in small boats catching all those fluke and talk to them. I know they're out there because we surely aren't catching that many fish."


Thompson's joke was based on the knowledge that MRFSS information is compiled from interviewing a few anglers at random through dockside and phone checks, and then multiplying the results by an assumed number of anglers.


Party boat captains are especially bitter about the survey system and the data derived from it because the results are often suspect, and they still serve as the basis for regulations that adversely impact their livelihood.


Private boaters and bank fishermen are more often interviewed by MRFSS personnel than party boat captains despite the fact that the professionals are usually on the water every day, have an intimate knowledge of the status of the fishery, and keep accurate log books.


It would seem obvious that querying the group that keeps daily records and whose survival is based on fishing success would be of paramount importance, according to Capt. Brock Dalton of the Capt. Cal II, Belmar.


"I've been a captain since 1988, and I've never seen a MRFSS surveyor," he said.


Dalton pointed out that May was a disappointment for fluke fishermen because of the weather and the lack of fluke. The season opened May 3.


"We had to fall back on sea bass during May because there were so few keeper fluke," he said, adding that June produced an improvement, but July was only average.


"August was a different story," he said. "The lull that usually occurs from the last week in July to early in August never materialized, and we had good fishing steadily throughout the month."


Dalton acknowledged that he found most of his success in deep water, where he caught more quality fish than inshore.


Capt. Marty Haines, whose Sea Pigeon IV docks in Perth Amboy, agreed with Dalton.


"The weather was terrible in May," he said. "We missed a lot of days, and when we did get out it was not with many people. And we did not catch a lot of fish.


"It picked up in the middle of June, but it was no bonanza, and we were catching so little after Labor Day that I quit Sept. 11," he added.


Haines pointed out that he ran an all-day schedule -- 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. -- one of the few boats that did this in Raritan Bay, and many days his boat catch was 40 to 50 fish.


"Forty fish for 40 people is nothing," he said. "And there were a lot of days that we only caught 20 to 30 fish."


Capt. Fred Ascoli, whose Miss Chris and Lady Chris sail out of Cape May, said there were no fluke to speak of in the ocean and Delaware Bay during May and June.


"A fair shot of back bay fishing was observed in May and about half of June," he said, "but outside the story was bleak."


Unlike fishing in the northern portion of the state, Ascoli said July and August did not yield a significant improvement, and the back bays fell off to "next to nothing."


"A good day for my boats was about 40 to 50 keepers with about the same number of anglers," Ascoli said. "But most days we had only 25 to 30 fish."


Ascoli summed up September fishing with a single word: "Zilch."


Capt. Joe Bogan, Jamaica II, Brielle, was shocked that MRFSS claimed that fluke fishing was good in May when his catches were poor because of weather and cold water.


"Although we had the usual turnout of anglers for May," he said, "fishing was so poor that our June carry dropped about 35 percent after word got around. And bad weather in June caused about a 10 percent drop in sailings."


Bogan did find that fluke fishing improved in July and August, but MRFSS data is not yet available on those months to compare with his notes.


"We carried well those two months," he said, "finding bigger fish in deep water, which is . . . becoming the summer pattern of late."


Bogan said that although many anglers did not fill their bag limits during those months, the fish were large and thus made up to some extent for a lack of numbers.


Capt. Tom Buban, whose Atlantic Star runs twice-daily out of Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor during the fluke season, said he was stunned at the MRFSS claim of good fishing in May and June.


He, as did other keen observers of the management process, knew that high MRFSS numbers early in the season can easily result in an overrun of the quota on paper, and force management officials to put more strict regulations in place when the rules are drawn up in December.


"My people were pretty disappointed with the fluke fishing," he said. "They get tired of coming out, and seeing 10 or 12 keeper fluke on the whole boat.


"People want to take home a fish to eat, and they'll stop coming, if they can't catch one for dinner," he said. "And then for the government to say the fishing was good . . ."


Buban had no MRFSS personnel check his catches, log books or interview his customers, but he did have an opportunity to talk to a surveyor late in the season.


"I asked him where they got high figures like that in May and June, and he said, 'I have no idea; fishing was slow from what I could see,' " Buban said.


Raymond D. Bogan, lawyer for the United Boatmen, said the organization's party and charter boat members from the mid-Atlantic states to southern New England are concerned about the MRFSS data.


Not only did the professionals encounter poor fluke fishing in May and June, but, especially in New Jersey and New York, they had to fish in deeper water to find fish in July and August. These grounds are typically not fished by small private boat owners.


"I never put much faith in MRFSS data to begin with," Bogan said. "Even when the numbers are in our favor, like last year."


The National Marine Fisheries Service admits that MRFSS data can at best only indicate a trend, and should not be regarded in the same light as commercial numbers which are compiled from actual reported landings.


However, management officials use the recreational information as if it was hard landings data, claiming: "It's the best data we have."


Capt. George Bachert, skipper of the Teal out of Atlantic Highlands, disagrees. He, and other party captains, keep accurate records of catch and landings.


"It's all there for them to see," he said.



Fluke management is ignoring what's happened to industry


Published in the Asbury Park Press 10/10/03





One of the most bizarre aspects of the fluke management process is the new participants' total disregard of history.


The present generation of biologists and management officials has parlayed computer programs and sophisticated argument into a series of plans that is ruining the recreational fishery -- with no apparent regrets.


The federal Bureau of the Census, which has no ties to special interests -- recreational, commercial or environmental -- conducted saltwater angling surveys in 1960, 1965 and 1970 as supplements to the federal Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife national surveys.


It was found that the recreational sector landed about the same weight of fish as the commercial sector.


In 1974, a regional survey was conducted of anglers in coastal states of the Northeast, and another marine recreational fisheries survey was done in 1978.


It was found in 1974 that 1,473,000 people participated in saltwater fishing in New Jersey alone. That year it was determined that fluke fishermen caught 15,800 metric tons of summer flatfish, of which New Jersey, by traditional standards, caught 6,004 metric tons.


The estimated recreational catch of fluke in 1979 was 8,626 metric tons with an additional 2.13 million fish caught and released alive, and in 1980 the recreational catch was estimated at 14,700 metric tons with an additional 4.62 million fish caught and released alive.


The total allowable recreational East Coast landings of fluke this year was set at 9.32 million pounds or 4,226 metric tons or 70 percent of what New Jersey alone caught in 1974.


The Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 required that the National Marine Fisheries Service collect catch statistics and obtain relevant economic, social and ecological information on marine recreational fisheries.


Red flags and rockets should have been going up long ago in federal fisheries offices from Silver Spring, Md., to Woods Hole, Mass.


New Jersey participation in saltwater fishing has dropped from 1,473,000 to 961,000 in 2000, and was said to be 850,000 in 2002.


The charter boat industry was hit hard in the 1960s by the appearance of the tuna clippers on the bluefin tuna grounds, and in the 1970s most full-time captains were forced to seek other employment after the government imposed rigid rules on the school tuna fishery.


The party boat industry began to suffer at the same time, but, because captains were able to shift their focus from harshly regulated species to unregulated species for a while, the impact was not as dramatic.


Nevertheless, the fleet began to dwindle in both New York and New Jersey. The boats out of Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, Bayonne and Elizabeth, began to disappear, and the party boat fleet that once numbered 114 boats from the north Jersey basins to Point Pleasant Beach, are down to half that number.


The Sheepshead Bay fleet, which once numbered 40 boats, is now down to 11. The 10 boats that once tied up in Jamaica Bay are down to two.


Some apologists are quick to claim the effort has switched to private boats, but New Jersey's fleet of registered boats fell from 243,281 in 2000 to 206,562 in 2001.


Management officials were relentless in pushing their rebuilding goals and extending regulations to more and more species, and no species was restricted incrementally more than fluke, by far New Jersey's most popular fish.


As an example, New Jersey anglers landed 391,000 striped bass in 2000, according to MRFSS, and they harvested 2,926,000 fluke.


The party boat captains who specialized in fluke fishing noticed the effect of the ever-tightening regulations. The fluke is a food fish, and when anglers cannot bring home a fluke to eat, they board party boats fewer times a season or stop fishing entirely.


There were many weekdays this season when a lot of party boats in Atlantic Highlands stayed tied to the dock because of a lack of anglers or sailed with a dozen fishermen.


Compare that with the early 1900s when the steam-powered Dolphin anchored on the hills and mussel beds with 1,250 anglers dropping baited hooks from three decks or the side-wheeler Taurus took 750 anglers to the grounds.


Party boat names like the William Story, the Acomac, the Majestic, the Mobjack, the J.S. Warden and the Stranahan, which once ran out of Newark, to join the fleet from Jersey City, Hoboken and Elizabeth made up of the Falcon, Sea Boy, Thelma, Reliable, Mary Combs, Titania, Edith, Three Brothers, Elise K, Kaiser, and Sovereign have been forgotten except for the old records.


Not so buried in time, though, are the vessels and their captains from the 1950s and 1960s. The Shark River fleet alone was impressive.


There was Capt. Frank Cline, Rambler; Capt. Ralph Mertineit, Chief; Capt. Hugo Harms, Gertrude H; Capt. Charles Dodd, Optimist Queen; Capt. Norman Mordaunt, Optimist; Capt. Roger Hall, Optimist III; Capt. John Kocsik, Ranger; Capt. Fred Kern, Capt. Kern; Capt. Pete Saro, Spray II; Capt. Frank Nahrgang, Jace II; Capt. John Ziegler, Skipper; Capt. Jud Haviland, Ranger; Capt. Hank Leonard, Lenny; Capt. Dave Shinn, Miss Belmar; Capt. Alvin Shinn, Sea Jet; Capt. Walt Siegler, Big Marie S; Capt. Pete Saro Jr., Spray III; Capts. Joe and Mickey Vassallo, Princess Joy and Capt. Joe; Capt. Henry Hillman, Blue Dolphin; Capt. Joe Galluccio, Sea King; Capt. Charles Shirley, Black Hawk; Capt. George Tompkins, Sea Ranger; Capt. Jerry Ottmer, Gulfcoast; Capt. Bill Van Wettering, Capt. Bill Van,; and Capt. Lewis Fromkin, Sea Swan.


Today there are only six party boats sailing from Shark River docks.


There is no doubt that fisheries management officials are bringing fluke stocks back. The two questions now are: 1) to what levels are they being restored? and 2) at what economic and social costs?



The good CaptTB has been very busy lately!!!



Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wanted to add to the above post but got the following message: Sorry, the time in which you may edit your message has elapsed. What's up with that?


In any case here's what I wanted to add;


The good CaptTB has been very busy lately! icon14.gificon14.gifkiss.gif

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to register here in order to participate.

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.