CWitek

ASMFC votes to move forward with new striped bass amendment

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On 8/9/2020 at 9:44 AM, Juan Nabers said:

The Jersey commissioners are some real cartoon characters, I guess it's an honor to be an online angler? Online, as in, seeking and sharing information? Ok then! The real anglers they get their pulse reading from must also be some cartoons like ol' Bob The Garbage Man: 

 

It's part of the standard lines in any fisheries debate.

 

There are the "Internet fishermen," "elitists," "catch and release snobs," etc. who show up at hearings, send comments to their ASMFC reps, and advocate for striped bass conservation, science-based management, etc., and then there are the "real fishermen" who might not own a computer, or perhaps not  even how to read or write (because they don't send letters either), but make up a sort of "silent majority" of striped bass fishermen who only fish because they want--and perhaps need--to catch bass to take home for food, and make up the vast majority of bass fishermen..  The NJ delegation, and in particular, the Goivernor's Appolintee, is well-known for such comments.

 

"But anyway, we've been fishing all along.  We see fluctuations in the stock, and we're going to see that...We have taken a lot of opportunity for those fishermen that used to be concentrated on summer flounder, scup, and sea bass and they had no other fish they can take home to eat, so they wound up now taking striped bass, which they didn't take before.

 

"The fishery is serving a purpose of basically supplying people that want to take home fish to eat, that opportunity to do that...

 

"We have a success story...we think we're anticipating that the stock is going to crash in two years and now we're going to jump--I don't think that's the right message to send to the public."  (February 2011, in opposition to a motion to initiate an addendum to reduce landings after a stock assessment update warned that the stock would be overfished by 2017.)

 

"These fishermen go out and catch their two fish and run back to the dock because with gas prices and everything else, they're just harvesting something to eat because they can't harvest anything else...

 

"What I've seen is a dramatic increase of people that want to eat striped bass in the last couple of years and tajutog even.  That's important and it's not picked up in any of these models and everything else, so I wish the technical committee will look at how that is affecting the stock...

 

"No, I don't see that with my fishermen basically approving [a reduction in harvest, after a stock assessment update warned that the stock would be overfished by 2017].  You know, I know what I get by e-mails, but e-mails, you know, come from the United Kingdom, come from places that are not basically striped bass fishermen, but they got the cause and they think of preservation insead of conservation..."  (November 2011--In Note that there is at least one very arden striped bass fisherman who lives in the UK and is an active member of the Stripers Online community, who writes to protect the fish he cares about, but the NJ rep uses his emails as a way to excuse inaction, characterizing him as a preservationist and not an angler.)

 

"I remember years ago people panicking--and this was way before.  It was like 2004 when basically we weren't seeing eight-year-old fish, and all of a sudden New Jersey was forced to put in a slot limit, and basically we went through all the permutations, and we did the regression analysis and three years later we basically said, oh, by the way, since we took away your producer area status so you can't use the conservation [equivalency] there and we're no long [sic] at that--you hae to go with two at 28.  I mean, there are people who have been yelling at us to do something on striped bass for 15 years, even when the numbers were really high.

 

"At 33 percent or whatever we're going to wind up as a reduction here, at that level is a huge amount of reduction in one year.  I mean, we have a recreational fishery and a commercial fishery, that are in trouble up and down the coast, between storms and between everything else that is affecting them, the price of gas and everything else--and there is a social and economic impact to do this...

 

"In two years when we do the regression analysis and basically decide that we really don't need to implement another reduction in three years and we basically change it, at least we won't dramatically hurting the fishermen until those two years that we find out that we didn't need to do this.  That is my concern.

 

"...I'm looking for a place that we can do a slot that would give us the reduction but allow two fish, one over and one under.  Since you're in a situation like Upper Raritan Bay and other areas that there is no fish under 34 inches, so you basically wind up having zero people going fishing because they can't keep fish.

 

"...I have no problem and our credibility [at the ASMFC] always stands as it is.  We protect the striped bass, we've done a good job.  People have different--you sit ten striped bass fishermen in a room and they have ten different opinions on how you're supposed to manage striped bass.  It has always been the case and that has been the case for the 35 years that I've been dealing with striped bass management... "  (May 2014, in opposition to, or at least in an attempt to delay, Addendum IV, which was intended to reduce fishing mortality after a benchmark assessment found that fishing mortality was above target and female spawning stock biomass below target.)

 

"...it's always easy to take fish away; but when it comes to giving them back or increasing the quota, it is very difficult...

 

"The history of us is when you come and take away fish, we never give them back.  I don't want to do that because people have hidden agendas and we know that people have been calling for a reduction in the striped bass fishery even when the stocks were at an all-time high and now they have found the vehicle for doing that.  I wish to basically put a sunset [on Addendum IV's harvest reductions]."  (August 2014, in an attempt to limit the duration of Addendum IV's harvest reductions.)

 

"We just voted on the 25 percent reduction; and now, because you're picking out one fish at 28 inches, you're basically saying that we have to have a 31 percent reduction, which is 6 percent greater than we voted on and we went through the plan.  This makes no sense whatsoever.

 

"...This is disingenuous to the public and it also does not leave the flexibility for the states to have to handle different types of responsibility in their state to look out for what happens in their state.

 

"It might be perfectly acceptable for his fishermen to have one fish at 28; and that is great, let them go one fish at 28; but we have to accommodate the fishermen in our state, the charterboat, the partyboat and the recreational guys and the guys that fish from the beach.  We need that flexibility as long as we make the 25 percent reduction.  I didn't for [sic] a 31 percent reduction; I don't think anyone around this table voted for a 31 percent reduction..."  (October 2014, arguing successfully for a conservation equivalency approach that will allow New Jersey to kill more fish than would be allowed under the 1 @ 28" limits adopted in Addendum IV.)  

 

"I've also been down this road before; as you made me change my sloit limit years ago, when I go for a regulations and four years down the road, three years we find out we were not in as bad shape as we thought we were.  I think there were a lot more reasons why we saw a 25 percent [effort and catch] reduction in 2018; if that's the number.  I think that is going to continue because of the drop off of anglers going out, and reduction of trips again.  I really would think it's important so we can justify; because if people see we have a 25 percent reduction when we need a 17, we average it out between [20]16, [20]17 and [20]18...

 

"I'm asking as a way of how to handle the 2000s; I just don't want to make it 2018 figures because it might be lopsided.  But if you average it with the 2016, 2017 and 2018 it shows the trend over three years; and it might not be 25 percent reduction, but it will be something different than it is right now at 17.  Less than a 17 percent reduction, it might be less...

 

"What happened over the years and I wasn't going to get into this [yet, somehow, he always does], is the history went out with regulations...

 

"By the time we got to 2000 the striped bass had all gotten big from the years we protected them.  All of a sudden the guys that didn't want to fish for striped bass, because they said they weren't good to eat.  They wanted to fish for summer flounder, black sea bass and other species; now turned their attention to striped bass.

 

"...Now to catch a striped bass all you have to do is throw a hook in a bunker and you were king.

 

"You could catch a 50 pounder.  It introduced a lot more people into striped bass fishing; and again for food, because you couldn't catch other species...

 

"Now we largely want to do catch and release; but there is another sector that basically harvests.  A lot of our businesses that we have in our states from the recreational sector, the charterboats the party boats the tackle stores, depend upon both individual groups functioning in unison.  When you start eliminating one of those you wind up with a collapse of businesses up and down the coast."  (April 2019, in an effort to weaken the provisions of Addendum VI, even after a benchmark stock assessmend declared that the striped bass was both overfished and subject to overfishing.)

 

"Every state has a different constituency and different fisheries.

 

"What we try to do is accommodate the fisheries in those particular states.  That's what conservation equivalency is about.  We're not looking to skate the issue.  We're not looking to basically get an edge, but we're looking to address the fishermen that we basicall represent.  You kinow that everyone is talking about the e-mails that they get.

 

"You know a form e-mail is very simple to get out.  But go out and talk to the people on the street.  Go out and talk to the people that fish on the docks and the piers, you know the ones tnat aren't basically sitting behind a computer, basically out fishing and basically looking to take a fish home to eat it and things like that.

 

"I represent all those people, from the catch and release fishermen to basically guys that want to take something home to eat.  When I took this job I knew I was going to wind up making one group mad sometimes and making another group upset...I'm looking at taking on the force that basically does that.

 

"I grew up fishing on Canarsie Pier and Steeplechase Pier in Brooklyn.  That's what people wanted to do.  They don't have the same opportunity as people in boats that basically fish for striped bass.  They always caught smaller fish.  What we try to address is that we don't unequally hinder those people on the docks and piers.

 

"...It's easy when you come from a state that just has striped bass, and they get in there and everybody fishes pretty much the same, and you have a small group of anglers.  When you start representing 800,000 in-state anglers and 500,000 out-of-state anglers, you are trying to accommodate the tourists and everyone else that comes in to the state.  (August 2019, successfully defending conservation equivalency that allows New Jersey regulations that are less stringent than those elsewhere on the coast.)

 

That's only one person's comments, and I only picked three time periods that coincided with benchmark assessments or an assessment update bringing bad news, but you get the idea.

 

For those who want to understand how the ASMFC works--or doesn't work--read the above passages well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Edited by TimS
quote edited

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On 8/8/2020 at 7:41 PM, CWitek said:

There are no legal standards that the ASMFC must adhere to, and its decisions aren’t subject to judicial review.  That, in itself, explains a lot about why we are wherever are.

Thanks again, really appreciate all your insight. Just read a bunch of your MSA posts and learned a lot.  *

 

If you don’t mind more questions...


How did species like bluefish scup and fluke and others end up managed under MAFMC and Magnuson Stevens while striped bass menhaden and others are subject to ASMFC disfunction?  I’m assuming there’s some legislative language and political issues at play? Is there any hope of amending MSA to include stripers and other species currently under ASMFC management?  

 

Basically wondering if it’s possible there’s a way out through a bigger structural management shift or if we’re stuck fighting within the ASMFC every few years.  
 

Maybe someday if (hopefully when) you write your book on fishery conservation and management you could include a regulatory framework flow chart diagram for everyone like me who can’t wrap their head around all the responsibilities and relationships between federal, interstate, state and independent councils and agencies.  

 

 

 

 

Edited by TimS
Even though I think they are a great organization, it's a commercial website and we don't allow links to commercial sites here

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On 8/9/2020 at 2:42 PM, Bait Tailer said:

Thanks again, really appreciate all your insight. Just read a bunch of your MSA posts and learned a lot.  *

 

If you don’t mind more questions...


How did species like bluefish scup and fluke and others end up managed under MAFMC and Magnuson Stevens while striped bass menhaden and others are subject to ASMFC disfunction?  I’m assuming there’s some legislative language and political issues at play? Is there any hope of amending MSA to include stripers and other species currently under ASMFC management?  

 

Basically wondering if it’s possible there’s a way out through a bigger structural management shift or if we’re stuck fighting within the ASMFC every few years.  
 

Maybe someday if (hopefully when) you write your book on fishery conservation and management you could include a regulatory framework flow chart diagram for everyone like me who can’t wrap their head around all the responsibilities and relationships between federal, interstate, state and independent councils and agencies.  

 

 

 

 

Remember that bluefish, scup and fluke are managed by the ASMFC, too, as well as by NMFS acting with the advice of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

 

Magnuson-Stevens governs fishing in federal waters, but Section 306 of that law makes it clear that, with very limited exceptions, it does not impinge on the rights of states to manage fisheries within state waters (if you followed the red snapper debacle in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago, that's why there was a problem down there; the states went out of compliance with NMFS' recreational regulations within state waters, leading to anglers overfishing the red snapper stock, leading to the feds shortening the federal waters season, leading to more overfishing in state waters, etc.)  

 

Thus, the Mid-Atlantic governs the offshore fisheries for bluefish, summer flounder and scup, which are largely commercial.  Because most of the recreational fisheries take place in state waters, the Council delegates recreational management to the states acting through the ASMFC; the annual catch limit is set pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens, but the sizes, bag limits, seasons, etc. are largely governed by the ASMFC (bluefish is a little different, because there is general agreement on bag limit rather than size limit and/or seasons, although Georgia, at least, did get ASMFC permission to go its own way).  The Mid-Atlnatic and the ASMFC actually have a good working relationship at the moment; they meet jointly on jointly-managed species, and any motion made must be passed by both bodies; if it isn't the motion is deemed to have failed and isn't adopted by either body.  That's just a gentlemen's agreement, though, and could change at any time.

 

So the only way you'll see bass managed under Magnuson-Stevens is if the EEZ was opened up to striped bass fishing, which would probably be the greater evil.  Instead, what we need to do is amend the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act to compel the ASMFC's management actions to be bound by Magnuson-Stevens-like standards.  That will be a tough fight, because I expect both the ASMFC, state managers, and the recreational fishing and boatbuilding industries to oppose it, but with the right makeup of people in Congress, it could and hopefully will happen.

 

And yes, the American Saltwater Guides Association is a good group and a great bunch of people.  I know the leadership well, and work with them.

Edited by TimS
quote edited

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On 8/9/2020 at 2:42 PM, Bait Tailer said:

Thanks again, really appreciate all your insight. Just read a bunch of your MSA posts and learned a lot. *

 

If you don’t mind more questions...


How did species like bluefish scup and fluke and others end up managed under MAFMC and Magnuson Stevens while striped bass menhaden and others are subject to ASMFC disfunction?  I’m assuming there’s some legislative language and political issues at play? Is there any hope of amending MSA to include stripers and other species currently under ASMFC management?  

 

Basically wondering if it’s possible there’s a way out through a bigger structural management shift or if we’re stuck fighting within the ASMFC every few years.  
 

Maybe someday if (hopefully when) you write your book on fishery conservation and management you could include a regulatory framework flow chart diagram for everyone like me who can’t wrap their head around all the responsibilities and relationships between federal, interstate, state and independent councils and agencies.  

 

 

 

 

When it comes to striped bass the ASMFC, is the gorilla in the corner. They have sole management authority over striped bass. NMFS gave them that authority a looooong time ago.

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11 mins ago, MakoMike said:

When it comes to striped bass the ASMFC, is the gorilla in the corner. They have sole management authority over striped bass. NMFS gave them that authority a looooong time ago.

It was Congress, not NMFS,that granted the ASMFC the authority,  in the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act, passed in 1984.

 

NMFS never had striped bass management authority, except in the EEZ, given Section 306 of Magnuson-Stevens.

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41 mins ago, CWitek said:

Remember that bluefish, scup and fluke are managed by the ASMFC, too, as well as by NMFS acting with the advice of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

 

Magnuson-Stevens governs fishing in federal waters, but Section 306 of that law makes it clear that, with very limited exceptions, it does not impinge on the rights of states to manage fisheries within state waters (if you followed the red snapper debacle in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago, that's why there was a problem down there; the states went out of compliance with NMFS' recreational regulations within state waters, leading to anglers overfishing the red snapper stock, leading to the feds shortening the federal waters season, leading to more overfishing in state waters, etc.)  

 

Thus, the Mid-Atlantic governs the offshore fisheries for bluefish, summer flounder and scup, which are largely commercial.  Because most of the recreational fisheries take place in state waters, the Council delegates recreational management to the states acting through the ASMFC; the annual catch limit is set pursuant to Magnuson-Stevens, but the sizes, bag limits, seasons, etc. are largely governed by the ASMFC (bluefish is a little different, because there is general agreement on bag limit rather than size limit and/or seasons, although Georgia, at least, did get ASMFC permission to go its own way).  The Mid-Atlnatic and the ASMFC actually have a good working relationship at the moment; they meet jointly on jointly-managed species, and any motion made must be passed by both bodies; if it isn't the motion is deemed to have failed and isn't adopted by either body.  That's just a gentlemen's agreement, though, and could change at any time.

 

So the only way you'll see bass managed under Magnuson-Stevens is if the EEZ was opened up to striped bass fishing, which would probably be the greater evil.  Instead, what we need to do is amend the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act to compel the ASMFC's management actions to be bound by Magnuson-Stevens-like standards.  That will be a tough fight, because I expect both the ASMFC, state managers, and the recreational fishing and boatbuilding industries to oppose it, but with the right makeup of people in Congress, it could and hopefully will happen.

 

As always this was incredibly helpful. Thank you for clearing this up for me.

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On 8/7/2020 at 1:50 PM, afterhours said:

IMO Creating a world class fishery would create more $$ for the local economies than dead fish do. To me it's a no brainer.

I'm with you...but the industry advocates don't see it that way, far too short sighted. People spend millions chasing tarpon they can't eat - bonefish they can't eat - marlin they are gonna let go. Anglers spend hundreds of millions annually traveling to places where the fishing is good. For some reason the narrow minded industry advocacy folks can't see anything but fewer fish and failing stocks as success :dismay: It's heart breaking...

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1 hour ago, CWitek said:

It was Congress, not NMFS,that granted the ASMFC the authority,  in the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act, passed in 1984.

 

NMFS never had striped bass management authority, except in the EEZ, given Section 306 of Magnuson-Stevens.

Except for the EEZ is a big exception! It’s the same for virtually every species.

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1 hour ago, MakoMike said:

Except for the EEZ is a big exception! It’s the same for virtually every species.

And they NMFS still has management authority over bass in the EEZ; it’s a federal regulation that prohibits bass fishing there, but allows transit with bass between Block Island and the mainland.

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On 8/7/2020 at 4:11 PM, MAArcher said:

If catch and release is killing all the fish, why not do away with catch and release for a while?   Make it catch and keep only, one fish per day, any size.   That way all the folks sitting on the beaches catching and killing small fish all day with small j hooks and small bait will have to make a decision, if they want a big fish, they have to switch to big fish tackle, otherwise they can catch their schoolie in ten minutes and go home, killing just one fish instead of a dozen that day?   

MAArcher has to get some kind of award for epic reply(s) or something like that.  We're still on this almost a year later... great thread! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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49 mins ago, Frugal Fisherman said:

MAArcher has to get some kind of award for epic reply(s) or something like that.  We're still on this almost a year later... great thread! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His preferred solution to the 9% mortality rate of released fish seems to be going to a 100% mortality rate by keeping everything you catch. 

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8 hours ago, Finneus said:

His preferred solution to the 9% mortality rate of released fish seems to be going to a 100% mortality rate by keeping everything you catch. 

Yes, but you have to stop fishing when you catch the first.  Overall less fish will be killed and none will be wasted as crab food.

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47 mins ago, MAArcher said:

Yes, but you have to stop fishing when you catch the first.  Overall less fish will be killed and none will be wasted as crab food.

There is basically no way to regulate that, it’s entirely on the honor system. Also, if the fish is killed to be people food or crab food, it makes no difference to the fishery.

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I'm also amazed this thread is still going. I have to say that since last year the trend continues it's path to disaster for the fishery.  The train has left the station and a moratorium is coming no matter what anyone wants.

Everyone I know who fishes regularly has the same results, there are simply less fish around.

I have said many times before that states like FL are enlightened and protect their game fish with smart regulations and plenty of enforcement officers.  Snook and tarpon are an excellent example of how to expand a fishery for people to enjoy on a sustainable basics .  Snook have not been commercial for as long as I can remember. No one has ever bgt a snook or had a snook for dinner in a restaurant . BTW snook are fabulous eating fish.  There is a tight season for catching a keeping the fish.  I could go on and on,but you get the idea.  

 

Somebody has to stand up,but I doubt it.

 

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1 hour ago, Finneus said:

There is basically no way to regulate that, it’s entirely on the honor system. Also, if the fish is killed to be people food or crab food, it makes no difference to the fishery.

Actually, there is.  They do it with king salmon on the Kenai River in Alaska.  When you buy your fishing license, it comes with an extra printout page that is nothing but blank lines.  As soon as you keep a king, you write the date on that page of your license, and keep your line out of the water.  If they find you fishing after makring your license, or find you with a fish and an unmarked license, you receive a summons.  At the same time, you can catch and release all day if you don't keep a fish, which tends to encourage anglers to delay keeping fish until late in the day, when they may or may not catch that last fish they're looking for.  It does work to limit fishing mortality,

 

 

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