Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
HaysWalt

How they determined that NY overfished for flounder

Rate this topic

16 posts in this topic

See bold print! The MRFSS again cwm31.gif

 

 

Looking deeper

 

Published in the Asbury Park Press 5/7/04

Anglers chase fluke further offshore, governed by complex numbers game

By KAREN E. WALL

STAFF WRITER

What if they held a fluke season and no one fished?

 

Would the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey know the difference?

 

 

File photos

 

The opening of fluke season means anglers will be prowling the rivers inshore, and party boats will be checking the deeper waters a mile or more offshore seeking bigger fish.

 

 

To many people involved in the recreational fishing industry, it's a fair question, considering how widely the survey's estimates of fluke catches have been in recent years.

 

As the 2004 fluke season opens tomorrow in New Jersey (it opens May 15 in New York waters), the quota issue will be on the minds of many, because while New Jersey's rules for this year changed very little, despite a "banner" season according to MRFSS estimates, New York's "extraordinary success" resulted in more strict limits.

 

"The numbers they say we're catching don't jive with what what we're catching," said Capt. Joe Bogan of the Jamaica II, which docks in Brielle and fishes daily for fluke during much of the fluke season. "I don't think they have a clue. I think they raise the numbers on years they read a lot (of fish being caught) in the papers."

 

It's actually more complicated than that. How the MRFSS arrives at its estimates is as complex as a calculus problem, but not nearly as specific.

 

And it's the fact that the numbers aren't precise, but are treated as precise by fisheries management officials, that creates the havoc, said Tony Bogan of the United Boatmen, representing party and charter boatmen inNew York and New Jersey as well as other states, as well as a member of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.

 

In 2003 New Jersey overfished its fluke quota by 9 percent, and New York overfished its quota by more than 100 percent, according to the MRFSS numbers.

 

But talk to any fisherman, any boat captain, any person involved in the recreational fluke fishery last year, and all agree that May and June, when some of the highest MRFSS numbers were recorded, was some of the worst fishing weather experienced in years. And the numbers for the rest of the season were no more accurate.

 

"If you look at last year and 2002, the only difference was we added days onto the (2003) season" in New Jersey, Tony Bogan said. "Yet we went from 40 percent under (the 2002 quota) to 9 percent over (the 2003 quota) despite one of the wettest seasons on record."

 

The National Marine Fisheries Service began taking surveys of recreational fishing in 1979, and those surveys were formalized into the MRFSS in 1981, according to the NMFS Web site. But it wasn't until the mid- to late '90s that the survey results were used verbatim by fisheries management officials as a basis for setting quotas, minimum sizes and seasons of a variety of fish species, Tony Bogan said.

 

The surveys consist of the following: telephone interviews with anglers; interviews at the docks/boats with anglers and physically inspecting/weighing their catches; estimating effort, participation, and estimating catches.

 

How it works is as follows: A surveyor calls a number of households in a coastal area and asks how many members of the household fished in a two-month period, how many times they fished and by what method (party boat, private boat, from the shore). Surveyors also conduct interviews at the docks, where they count how many fish were caught, weights of all the fish caught if possible, as well as how often the angler in particular fishes and by what method.

 

Those numbers are then used to estimate angler effort -- how much fishing is done; angler participation -- how many are fishing, and those figures then provide an estimated catch.

 

For example, Tony Bogan said that 493 fluke were recorded in the angler intercept interviews in New York last year. Those 493 fish were then extrapolated, through the effort and participation estimates, to equal 1.3 million fish -- a number MRFSS said exceeded New York's quota by more than 100 percent. Tony Bogan noted that most of the MRFSS intercept interviews were conducted at the eastern end of Long Island, and said that just as Raritan Bay fishing can differ greatly from Barnegat Bay, different areas around New York will yield different fishing results.

 

Joe Bogan agreed, saying one of the differences in fishing for fluke now is the kind of people who do it. In years past the trips were dominated by fishermen who'd go in any kind of weather. Now, many of his passengers are tourists, and most will adjust their fishing to the weather.

 

"People now don't expect as much," Joe Bogan said. "Years back they expected to go home with fish and they expected to feed their family.

 

"Now, it's people who just want a fun day rather than to catch a lot of fish. Those type of people pick their day."

 

With a minimum length of 16 1/2 inches (17 inches in New York, with a three-fish limit), catching a keeper was more difficult last year. And while people know catching a keeper may be more difficult, they also have the hope of catching a 5- or 6-pounder.

 

But the possibility of coming home empty-handed is enough to keep some anglers away, especially as party boat captains are forced to increase their fares due to rising fuel and bait prices, among other economic pressures.

 

Joe Bogan burns more fuel now because the fish are further offshore. Where the fluke used to be found on the sandy bottom in 20 feet of water, quite close to shore, now "they seem to stay out a mile or two or three or four," Joe Bogan said, noting the change occurred about four or five years ago, about the same time as the beach replenishment projects were taking place. The bait doesn't congregate in the sandy bottom areas now because there's less vegetation, and because the bait stays further out, so do the fluke.

 

"You try to keep (fare prices) down," Joe Bogan said. But he expects to pay more than $1 per gallon of fuel this summer, even at bulk rates, and he burns anywhere from 40 to 70 gallons of fuel per half-day trip, for which he charges $28 per adult angler.

 

"Bait prices are sky high, too," he said. "Too many people are eating squid."

 

Joe Bogan noted that the number of party and charter boats has dwindled over the years.

 

"It's almost like it can't sustain itself," he said. "You have rising prices for everything you handle but you can't raise your prices commensurate with what it's costing you."

 

So any threat to the number of fluke anglers may keep becomes another hardship for recreational boat captains.

 

And the biggest problem, Tony Bogan said, is how the numbers are used.

 

"MRFSS will be the first to tell you these are estimates, that they show trends in the fishery on a large-scales basis. But NMFS and Mid-Atlantic Council law requires us to use the best available data.

 

"You say OK, it's an estimate. You round the number, you average it. I don't know how you justify using it as 100 percent, because it's not accurate to the fish."

 

"I can give you quotes from every commissioner about the vagaries of the data, but they still use it as precise," Tony Bogan said. "Why use it that way?"

 

He said part of the problem is that the National Marine Fisheries Service only dedicates a small amount of money to MRFSS -- about $3 million last year for fisheries landing data for the entire East Coast. It works out to about 30 cents per angler, he said. Yet NMFS just spent several million dollars on an electronic data recording device for the commercial sector that is to improve collection of catch data on commercial fishing boats.

 

"If they say (the commercial landings are) 1.2 million, they know it's at least that much" because of the precision of the instruments used to record the catch, Tony Bogan said. "They spent more on this improvement to commercial data than they spent in two years on recreational data. So when they say it's the best available data, it's the best available because it's what they choose to do, not what they can do.

 

"If there's anyone who deserves more money it's MRFSS," Tony Bogan said. "They do the best they can with what they have."

 

But their best, which the MRFSS Web site repeatedly refers to as "estimates," is treated as verbatim.

 

"There's a saying, 'Garbage in, garbage out,' " Tony Bogan said. With the managers, "I believe it's garbage going in, gospel coming out.

 

"They have some of the largest troll surveys since they started doing them in the '60s," despite reports that the fluke quota was overfished several times in recent years.

 

"Did we go over sometimes? Probably. But a 102 percent swing in three years (2001 to 2003) is hard to believe," Tony Bogan said.

 

"If there's any lesson we've learned in the last few years in particular, regardless of how we perform, MRFSS can still say what it wants," he said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fabrication of facts to suit the few...

Sounds like politics to me mad.gif

BTW. As far as I am concerned NMFS and ICCAT are useless because of the way they get and ASSume quotas. The distribution for anglers and comms is a bit off and the stocks are not in great health. This being the case, does any ONE group have to pay the piper?? confused.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
For example, Tony Bogan said that 493 fluke were recorded in the angler intercept interviews in New York last year. Those 493 fish were then extrapolated, through the effort and participation estimates, to equal 1.3 million fish -- a number MRFSS said exceeded New York's quota by more than 100 percent. Tony Bogan noted that most of the MRFSS intercept interviews were conducted at the eastern end of Long Island, and said that just as Raritan Bay fishing can differ greatly from Barnegat Bay, different areas around New York will yield different fishing results

 

Unbelievable!

mad.gificon25.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funnier still, even at 3 fish at 17 inches, New York is still not in compliance (Darth Vader wanted 3 @ 18).

 

There is a very real threat of a Fluke moratorium for New York in 2005!

 

At that time, I will start chartering busses to take anglers to the surrounding states!

 

I would laugh if this wasn't so sad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Where's Reverend Al Sharpton when you need him? As lame as he is, and the tactics he uses are - Recreational Fishermen NEED people to start acting along these lines. Similar to what PETA does. It sure as hell works, and what "we" are doing now, sure as hell doesn't work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This statement just continues to blow my mind:

 

For example, Tony Bogan said that 493 fluke were recorded in the angler intercept interviews in New York last year. Those 493 fish were then extrapolated, through the effort and participation estimates, to equal 1.3 million fish -- a number MRFSS said exceeded New York's quota by more than 100 percent. Tony Bogan noted that most of the MRFSS intercept interviews were conducted at the eastern end of Long Island, and said that just as Raritan Bay fishing can differ greatly from Barnegat Bay, different areas around New York will yield different fishing results.

 

This is absolutely ludicrous! mad.gif

 

How can an entire season be based on a 493 fish sample confused.gif

 

[ 05-08-2004, 06:19 PM: Message edited by: HaysWalt ]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Now that is what I consider to be underhanded...

 

I just can't believe they'd base a one million plus catch on a measley 467 fish sample- The data we recs have to live by is worse than even I thought eek.gif

 

At least the comms have hard quotas- had to slip that in! biggrin.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
a measley 467 fish sample-

 

Of course, they knew better than to use a measley number like 467, which is why they decided to use 493. It makes all the difference in the world.

 

Where's my medicine?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
a measley 467 fish sample-

 

Of course, they knew better than to use a measley number like 467, which is why they decided to use 493. It makes all the difference in the world.

 

Where's my medicine?

 

You're a funny guy- I was hoping nobody would notice my small error.

 

You obviously don't work for the MRFSS!

 

Walt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, Karen got that part a little off. We had a very long conversation and touched on many different points, far too many for just one article. (not to mention that I talk so damned much her hand was probably aching trying to keep up)

 

The correct information is that of the couple thousand anglers actually intercepted with Fluke in NY (actually 2100), the total weight for those 1.5 million fish (not 1.3) was determined by extrapolating from the 490 fish they actually weighed. There were a total of 519 fluke measured and 490 weighed. The 2100 intercepts accounted for a total of 7108 fluke recorded (that includes discards/unseen fish, the number physically counted by MRFSS interviewers was a fraction of that... 794 to be exact)

 

It was the first time I have spoken with this particular reporter and she was extremely interested in gaining as much knowledge as possible. I look forward to speaking with her again in the future. She's got my cell # now!

 

Capt.TB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a guy waiting for the party boats to come in this afternoon, and he was stopping guys taking surveys and peoples opinions..... The smart ones walked away..... a few gave info... I can see it now....ok you got 5 fish so how many people were on board...25 ,,, so 5x25=125 so there were 125 fluke caught today on the boat....yea riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The correct information is that of the couple thousand anglers actually intercepted with Fluke in NY (actually 2100), the total weight for those 1.5 million fish (not 1.3) was determined by extrapolating from the 490 fish they actually weighed. There were a total of 519 fluke measured and 490 weighed. The 2100 intercepts accounted for a total of 7108 fluke recorded (that includes discards/unseen fish, the number physically counted by MRFSS interviewers was a fraction of that... 794 to be exact)

 

It was the first time I have spoken with this particular reporter and she was extremely interested in gaining as much knowledge as possible. I look forward to speaking with her again in the future. She's got my cell # now!

 

Capt.TB

 

OH, and that is supposed to make me feel better?

 

BTW, Karen runs "The Best Show on the East Coast" as far as I'm concerned- HL&S in the APP!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No Walt, it isn't! biggrin.gif

 

Tough thing is,all the numbers beg to be questioned. 700 some odd actual fish counted turns into 1.5 million? 490 fish weighed determines the weight of 1.5 million fish (and ultimately whether or not the recreational sector as a whole exceeded it's quota, since the quota is in pounds not numbers of fish)

 

As I said to Karen, I truly believe that MRFSS budget needs to be increased exponentially, but we also need (we meaning people like myself who are now on the Council) to start making our fisheries managers to use this data as it was intended. The MRFSS people will be the first ones to cringe at the way some of their data is used, and the best available argument doesn't fly with me. Being the best available does not preclude you from attempting to mitigate the variability of the info at hand. Best available does not mean the only information useable. I could go on but I have spent so much time on this lately (including 2 days in Silver Springs, MD last week at the MRFSS headquarters) that I am burned out at the moment.

 

Got back Thursday afternoon from three days of MAFMC meetings in exotic Seacaucus, NJ wink.gif and have been "fisheries managemented" out for the last two weeks.

 

Time to take a 24hr rest.

Capt.TB

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.