CWitek

ASMFC to discuss new bass amendment next week

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The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Atlantic  .Bass Management Board will meet next week, when it is expected to vote to move forward with a new amendment to the striped bass management plan.  If it does so, the vote will kick off a two-year process leading up to the new management document.  

 

The last amendment, Amendment 6, was adopted in 2003, so an argument could be made that it's time to look at the management program and see if changes are needed.  The problem is that there are very loud voices, largely centered in Maryland, but also in New Jersey, Delaware and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, who want to ease striped bass regulations, reduce the female spawning stock biomass target, and increase fishing mortality.  There are also people who want to make the management plan more conservation-oriented.  Those two sides are going to clash, and it is anyone's guess which will prevail.

 

However, we got a foretaste of what at least some people are thinking in a Work Group report that was released by the ASMFC on Wednesday http://www.asmfc.org/files/Meetings/2020SummerMeeting/AtlanticStripedBassBoardSupplemental.pdf (it begins on page 35 of the materials incljuded in that link).  Things don't look too good.  You know that we're looking at problems when the Executive Summary begins with a sentence that declares that the ASMFC's striped bass management program has largely been a success, and that the biggest challenge facing the bass is recreational release mortality.

 

So take a look at the link, and clear your calendars for the next couple of years.  As was the case with Amendment 6, we're going to have to go all-out to prevent things from getting worse.  Seventeen years ago, we came away with a tie--we didn't get the management that we wanted, but the folks who wanted to increase harvest didn't get what they wanted, either, and we at least got acknowledgement that keeping large fish in the population was important to the stock.

 

We will have to fight hard for a draw again this time, although there is a chance, if certain things work out, to do a little better than that.  However, that will happen away from the ASMFC, and it is at the ASMFC where we need to concentrate now.  It won't be easy, because the ASMFC is not structured to be a force for conservation, but for exploitation; it only recently changed its statement of purpose, which emphasized harvest of fish stocks.  But there are good people on the Management Board, from the New England states, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and we need to convince them to do the right thing.  It will take a broad effort, including anglers in all the key states, to make that happen.

 

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Striped Bass management largely a success ? On what planet ? Not to mention that I cannot find anyone ( maybe I need new friends ) who believes the recreational C&R mortality rates that were thrown around last year. I don't.

 

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I know.

 

I wrote a blog the other day that noted that if a surgeon, military officer or investment manager had the same kind of “success,” a lot of people would end up dead broke and/or just plain dead.

 

I don’t think the recreational release numbers are wrong; I just think that the source of such mortality doesn’t matter.  If the same fish were caught and brought home, there wouldn’t be a “problem.”  But because the fish died after release, and not by harvest, they’re somehow deemed less worthy deaths than either commercial or recreational landings.

 

Freshwater fishery managers came to understand that a long time ago, and manage some waters strictly for catch and release, where release mortality approaches 100% of fishing mortality.  But saltwater fisheries management has not yet matured to that part; landings remain sacred.

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The list of administrators, Governor appointees, and legislators who provide oversight of ASMFC are listed, by state, here:

 

http://www.asmfc.org/about-us/commissioners

 

I recommend everyone email all three of your State commissioners, advocating for greater protections and smaller harvests of Stripers. 
 

On a happier note, I was out on the Tappan Zee this morning around 6 and it was a lovely day with lots of fish activity.  

12EA29E0-C4A5-48B9-B5C5-B6A58DC02D26.jpeg

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3 hours ago, CWitek said:

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Atlantic  .Bass Management Board will meet next week, when it is expected to vote to move forward with a new amendment to the striped bass management plan.  If it does so, the vote will kick off a two-year process leading up to the new management document.  

 

The last amendment, Amendment 6, was adopted in 2003, so an argument could be made that it's time to look at the management program and see if changes are needed.  The problem is that there are very loud voices, largely centered in Maryland, but also in New Jersey, Delaware and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, who want to ease striped bass regulations, reduce the female spawning stock biomass target, and increase fishing mortality.  There are also people who want to make the management plan more conservation-oriented.  Those two sides are going to clash, and it is anyone's guess which will prevail.

 

However, we got a foretaste of what at least some people are thinking in a Work Group report that was released by the ASMFC on Wednesday http://www.asmfc.org/files/Meetings/2020SummerMeeting/AtlanticStripedBassBoardSupplemental.pdf (it begins on page 35 of the materials incljuded in that link).  Things don't look too good.  You know that we're looking at problems when the Executive Summary begins with a sentence that declares that the ASMFC's striped bass management program has largely been a success, and that the biggest challenge facing the bass is recreational release mortality.

 

So take a look at the link, and clear your calendars for the next couple of years.  As was the case with Amendment 6, we're going to have to go all-out to prevent things from getting worse.  Seventeen years ago, we came away with a tie--we didn't get the management that we wanted, but the folks who wanted to increase harvest didn't get what they wanted, either, and we at least got acknowledgement that keeping large fish in the population was important to the stock.

 

We will have to fight hard for a draw again this time, although there is a chance, if certain things work out, to do a little better than that.  However, that will happen away from the ASMFC, and it is at the ASMFC where we need to concentrate now.  It won't be easy, because the ASMFC is not structured to be a force for conservation, but for exploitation; it only recently changed its statement of purpose, which emphasized harvest of fish stocks.  But there are good people on the Management Board, from the New England states, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and we need to convince them to do the right thing.  It will take a broad effort, including anglers in all the key states, to make that happen.

 

Thanks for the update-- who are some of the players we can blitz with advocacy? I'm hoping I'm not the only one interested to learn who the loud voices are on both sides. 

 

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2 hours ago, Bjorn240 said:

The list of administrators, Governor appointees, and legislators who provide oversight of ASMFC are listed, by state, here:

 

http://www.asmfc.org/about-us/commissioners

 

I recommend everyone email all three of your State commissioners, advocating for greater protections and smaller harvests of Stripers. 
 

On a happier note, I was out on the Tappan Zee this morning around 6 and it was a lovely day with lots of fish activity.  

12EA29E0-C4A5-48B9-B5C5-B6A58DC02D26.jpeg

thanks for this 

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2 hours ago, Juan Nabers said:

Thanks for the update-- who are some of the players we can blitz with advocacy? I'm hoping I'm not the only one interested to learn who the loud voices are on both sides. 

 

Bjorn 240's list.  Contact the three commissioners for your state.

 

Some people write to commissioners from other states, and some of those commissioners might be impacted, but for the most part, if you don't live in a state, don't expect that state's commissioners to care what you think.

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19 mins ago, CWitek said:

Bjorn 240's list.  Contact the three commissioners for your state.

 

Some people write to commissioners from other states, and some of those commissioners might be impacted, but for the most part, if you don't live in a state, don't expect that state's commissioners to care what you think.

Got it and understood.  Are there commissioners that publicly lean one way or the other? 
 

Many thanks  

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About the only thing that the ASMFC will do is manage the further depletion the resource.

 

I don't have a happy feeling about the outcome.

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19 mins ago, Juan Nabers said:

Got it and understood.  Are there commissioners that publicly lean one way or the other? 
 

Many thanks  

Yes.  Generally the New England delegations, New York's state fisheries director, New York's legislative proxy, and the Pennsylvania and Virginia delegations lean toward conservation.  North Carolina and the Disctrict of Columbia probably also have a pro-conservation tilt.

 

Maryland has been leading the fight to liberalize the regulations, with Delaware, New Jersey and the Potomac River Fisheries Coimmission also taking a pro-harvest position.

 

The two federal agencies, Fish & Wildlife and the National Marine Fisheries Service, hover around neutrality.

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4 mins ago, Gotcow? said:

About the only thing that the ASMFC will do is manage the further depletion the resource.

 

I don't have a happy feeling about the outcome.

If you listened to any of the previous debates, you probably heard a number of New England representatives pushing pro-conservation measures.  New York's fisheries director was probably the only person at the table who went on the record for 1 @ 35" rather than the slot; he has also been good on bass conservation issues.  Pennsylvania and Virginia have also been strong advocates.

 

On the other hand, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware and the PRFC want to see more dead fish on the dock.

 

That would make it seem as if the bass should win.  The problem is that there is a lot of collegiality at the ASMFC, with people trying hard to reach an agreement that all can endorse, which is how we ended up with the bad conservation equivalency decisions.  There is also political pressure--and the state fishery managers have to answer to their governors--to protect certain industries.  That throws the balance toward the wrong result.

 

So I agree with you--this is going to be a tough fight.  But the key is to get involved early, and just keep pushing.  And while we want to win a more conservative management plan, the real imperative is to keep from losing.  If we can keep the reference points where they are today, as well as the management triggers and the goals and objectives of the plan, it's a tie we can live with.  If any of those are watered down, the bass loses.

 

I'll be honest--I don't have warm and fuzzy feelings about this either.  But an amendment is a big deal, that will govern how bass are managed for the nest 15 or 20 years.  We can't afford to walk away from this one, even if the odds aren;t as good as we'd like.

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36 mins ago, CWitek said:

 

I'll be honest--I don't have warm and fuzzy feelings about this either.  But an amendment is a big deal, that will govern how bass are managed for the nest 15 or 20 years.  We can't afford to walk away from this one, even if the odds aren;t as good as we'd like.

Do you recommend any pointers, stats or data to reference in an advocacy letter for conservation?  If you're comfy sharing anything as a template or strong points to drive home that would be really great. 

 

 I'm interested in exploring social media avenues to target both anglers & commissioners in pro harvest states.  The same data points to drive in a letter or email could be used to target social media TL's. People are in an advocacy mood-- they just need some steering. 

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1 hour ago, Juan Nabers said:

 

Do you recommend any pointers, stats or data to reference in an advocacy letter for conservation?  If you're comfy sharing anything as a template or strong points to drive home that would be really great. 

 

 I'm interested in exploring social media avenues to target both anglers & commissioners in pro harvest states.  The same data points to drive in a letter or email could be used to target social media TL's. People are in an advocacy mood-- they just need some steering. 

I also recognize that a one man social media campaign is futile compared to how strong it would be if everyone on this site who gave a damn sent a direct line to their commissioners.   A template could help! 

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1 hour ago, Juan Nabers said:

 

Do you recommend any pointers, stats or data to reference in an advocacy letter for conservation?  If you're comfy sharing anything as a template or strong points to drive home that would be really great. 

 

 I'm interested in exploring social media avenues to target both anglers & commissioners in pro harvest states.  The same data points to drive in a letter or email could be used to target social media TL's. People are in an advocacy mood-- they just need some steering. 

We can certainly use your help.

 

The big points now is that the fishery is 90% recreational, and that recreational is 95% surf and private boat, and 90% catch and release.  In a fishery like that, you manage for abundance--foir live fish in the water--and not for yield and maximizing the number of dead fish on the dock.

 

That's a very difficult message to send to saltwater fisheries managers--they just don't understand anything but yield.

 

However, Dr. Armstrong of Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries put it well in an American Sportfishing Association webinar on striped bass last month:  "When abundance doubles, effort doesn't double, it quadruples...Thus it behooves everyone to keep the stock healthy."  (Did that out of memory, so  might have gotten a word or two worng, but the sentiment is right.)

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3 hours ago, CWitek said:

 

 

That would make it seem as if the bass should win.  The problem is that there is a lot of collegiality at the ASMFC, with people trying hard to reach an agreement that all can endorse, which is how we ended up with the bad conservation equivalency decisions.  There is also political pressure--and the state fishery managers have to answer to their governors--to protect certain industries.  That throws the balance toward the wrong result.

 

I'll be honest--I don't have warm and fuzzy feelings about this either.  But an amendment is a big deal, that will govern how bass are managed for the nest 15 or 20 years.  We can't afford to walk away from this one, even if the odds aren;t as good as we'd like.

Yup, too many special interests ruin effective management efforts.

 

Here's what I see happening.

A series of bad management decision causes a complete collapse of the SB stocks and we'll be lucky if there's enough left to rebuild with a complete shutdown of the fishery for years.

 

I remember only too well what happened last time the stocks collapsed.

Many don't and think it's a bottomless well.

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