CWitek

More bad news: Another poor striped bass spawn in Maryland

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61 posts in this topic

33 mins ago, Inshore said:

For MD, it starts with the river…

 

The Suq is impaired, no one what’s to say it, but it’s not in good shape. Google around on that topic for a bit…

 

One sewage spill/overflow after another, ag runoff the list goes on and on. The river is a mess.
 

These fish need water to spawn in, not some sh1t/pharma/ag runoff toxic cocktail….

And yet, from what I understand, the Maryland DNR either has or recently will open up another four (?) miles of the lower Susquehanna to commercial hook and line striped bass fishing, at something like 600 pounds per day, allowing fishermen to access bass when they're bunched up in cooler, more oxygenated water than they can fihd in the upper Bay, something that's never been permitted before.

 

Sounds like a wierd way to manage a declining fishery, and a good way to kill many of the few young fish that remain.

 

Agree that the Susquehanna is in bad shape, though, carrying pollutants from Pennsylvania and other upstream states as well as from Maryland.  The EPA put together a good plan to get that under control, but there was little or no enforcement over the past 4+ years, meaning that the maximum daily load numbers were largely ignored.

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1 hour ago, CWitek said:

Unfavorable spawning conditions.  There is little or no clear stock/recruitment relationship withn striped bass.  

 

However, there does come the point where, if there is very low recruitment, you lose most of the spawning stock biomass.  That happened in the late '70s, although even then, it was largely the remnant old, large females spawned during the 1960s that led to the recovery of the stock (although the '82s and some later year classes played a role).

 

Right now, the 2001s and 2003s are aging/attritting out of the population.  2004 and 2005s, not big but at least a hair above average year classes, are providing some SSB.  Then you have to jump to 2011s before you have a big year class, and the 2011s never recruited into the SSB in expected numbers.  After that, you have the 2015s, strong average year classes in 2017 and 2018, and nothing else.

 

So if we fail to protect the 2015s, 2017s, and 2018s, and if we don't get another good year class in the next couple of years, we might be looking into the abyss once again, and perhaps reach that point where there is so little SSB left that it will impact recruitment, as happened in the early '80s.

That's interesting, so I have read that Stripped Bass don't spawn every year but what you are saying that is a given fish has a certain year into their lifecycle where they will have the best spawn and if you miss that year it can't be made up later?

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Any silver lining here? Is there a chance that more bad news in the data pushes them to go for more restrictive regulations? Sometimes things need to get bad to force some people to acknowledge reality. 

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6 mins ago, JerseyJeb said:

That's interesting, so I have read that Stripped Bass don't spawn every year but what you are saying that is a given fish has a certain year into their lifecycle where they will have the best spawn and if you miss that year it can't be made up later?

Not exactly.

 

Striped bass recruitment is heavily dependent upon environmental conditions at the time that a spawn takes place.  A cold winter and cool, wet spring tends to lead to strong year classes, while a warm winter and dry spring will predictably create a poor spawn.  Spawning success can swing wildly from year to year.  Thus, the cool winter of 2010-2011 and spring rains of 2011 produced a large year class, while the warm "winter that wasn't" of 2011-2012 (the only significant snow we saw that season here on Long Island fell in October) and following dry spring produced the smallest year class ever recorded in the 67-year history of the Maryland survey.  

 

Given that dependence on environmental conditions, there is no such thing as "making up" a missed spawn.  There will be bad conditions for a few years, and then when conditions are right, a big year class will be produced, so a fish already has to "make up" for the bad years during the good ones.  If it misses a good year, it's a real loss.

 

Fortunately, the bass have evolved to spawn at different times to take advantage of changing conditions in the spawning rivers.  If I recall correctly, the older, larger bass enter the spawning grounds first, spawn, and depart, while the younger, smaller fish enter later (although it might be the other way around).  That way, there is a better chance that, even in a bad-conditions year, there will be a window when conditions will be good enough to avert a recruitment failure.

 

And yes, you are right that reserch suggests that some of the older fish do not spawn every year.  However, I haven't read anything describing the mechanism for why a spawning yar might be missed.  The missed years don't appear to occur on a ragular basis, but instead at unpredictable intervals.

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3 mins ago, Finneus said:

Any silver lining here? Is there a chance that more bad news in the data pushes them to go for more restrictive regulations? Sometimes things need to get bad to force some people to acknowledge reality. 

Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.  More likely, the usual suspects will blame the failure on environmental conditions (which is true), then argue that since it isn't fishermen's "fault," fishermen shouldn't be "punished" with harvest cuts due to a decline in population that they can't control.  (In case you couldn't tell, I've heard that song before).

 

I suspect that at stock collapse might get everyone to wake up and take a good look at a flawed system, but if it is OK with everyone, I'd rather not get to that point.

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Just now, CWitek said:

Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.  More likely, the usual suspects will blame the failure on environmental conditions (which is true), then argue that since it isn't fishermen's "fault," fishermen shouldn't be "punished" with harvest cuts due to a decline in population that they can't control.  (In case you couldn't tell, I've heard that song before).

 

I suspect that at stock collapse might get everyone to wake up and take a good look at a flawed system, but if it is OK with everyone, I'd rather not get to that point.

We only seem to be able to govern in crisis these days. 

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3 mins ago, Finneus said:

We only seem to be able to govern in crisis these days. 

ASMFC has always been about crisis management, rather than precautionary regulation.  Take a look at the transcript of the November 2011 Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board meeting to get a good feel for how they think about and react to news that the stock will become overfished six years in the future.

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And add todays boaters with all the horns and whistles as far as electronics go and the pressure on the species is out of control. Need a game fish status for an assured recovery and it will never happen, too much money in it still being a table fish.

 

And the Hudson strain doesn't seem to of enough substance to make up for the Chesapeake classes, not that the Hudson numbers have turned any heads.

 

If the consensus is we have 40 million stripers roaming up and down the coast and we have 5 million folks looking to catch them, thats only 8 fish a year per angler to deplete the stock to "0", another alarming thought. Even if those numbers are skewed, even doubling the number of bass makes it a losing situation. Too many anglers with too much equipment taking too many fish.

 

I won't see it but I'd think in another 50 years a 20 pound striper will be trophy sized, they are managing this fishery into twinks and schoolies making up 95% of the striper population. Sad.

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17 mins ago, CWitek said:

ASMFC has always been about crisis management, rather than precautionary regulation.  Take a look at the transcript of the November 2011 Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board meeting to get a good feel for how they think about and react to news that the stock will become overfished six years in the future.

The anger from that in mind boggling. 
 

All of this could have been prevented with some common sense and concern for the resource. 

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18 mins ago, CWitek said:

ASMFC has always been about crisis management, rather than precautionary regulation.  Take a look at the transcript of the November 2011 Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board meeting to get a good feel for how they think about and react to news that the stock will become overfished six years in the future.

"We’ve heard a lot of gnashing of teeth concerned about the actual status of the stock, and we, the board, have to take some serious action to prevent a variety of things happening, particularly mortality on the larger fish. I know we’ve gone off on a venture here in the last couple of meetings saying that we’ve got to protect, got to protect, got to protect, and at the same time the reality of what you’ve presented is so starkingly black and white that the status of the stock is not in harm’s way."

 

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22 mins ago, Highlander1 said:

And add todays boaters with all the horns and whistles as far as electronics go and the pressure on the species is out of control. Need a game fish status for an assured recovery and it will never happen, too much money in it still being a table fish.

 

And the Hudson strain doesn't seem to of enough substance to make up for the Chesapeake classes, not that the Hudson numbers have turned any heads.

 

If the consensus is we have 40 million stripers roaming up and down the coast and we have 5 million folks looking to catch them, thats only 8 fish a year per angler to deplete the stock to "0", another alarming thought. Even if those numbers are skewed, even doubling the number of bass makes it a losing situation. Too many anglers with too much equipment taking too many fish.

 

I won't see it but I'd think in another 50 years a 20 pound striper will be trophy sized, they are managing this fishery into twinks and schoolies making up 95% of the striper population. Sad.

With 90% of fishing mortality coming from the recreational side, gamefish status doesn’t really address the problem, particularly if the fish “saved” from the commercials were reallocated for the record side to kill.

 

In addition, there are far more dollars on the rec side than on the commercial; Virginia Institute of Marine Science did a study demonstrating that, from a purely economic standpoint, gamefish is the way to go.

 

The only way to win is to focus on reducing fishing mortality, and spend less time worrying about who gets to kill the fish.

 

And yes, the Hudson has far less impact on the costal migratory stock than does the Chesapeake.

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46 mins ago, CWitek said:

 

The only way to win is to focus on reducing fishing mortality, and spend less time worrying about who gets to kill the fish.

Good luck with that, each side is going to keep complaining that it is the other sides fault. Rec will never accept that they are responsible for majority of the deaths. Commercial will fight for there limits to not get reduced.

 

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 While I respect Mr Witek I don't believe the data upon which his conclusions are reached. But it  doesn't really make a difference. Regardless of who is responsible the state of the Striped Bass population is a disaster. NO BASS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO BE TAKEN BY ANYBODY, REC OR COM UNTIL THE STOCKS HAVE RECOVERED!!!!!

Marc

 

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2 hours ago, canalsharpie said:

Good luck with that, each side is going to keep complaining that it is the other sides fault. Rec will never accept that they are responsible for majority of the deaths. Commercial will fight for there limits to not get reduced.

 

That’s exactly why the emphasis needs to be placed on establishing the appropriate fishing mortality rate, rather than in who catches the fish.  Once F is set, the debate over who makes what cuts becomes less important, since if there is no agreement, both sides take the same percentage hit.

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