CWitek

Some thoughts about the ASMFC bass board meeting

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Charles, any plan that's 50/50 is useless, period. I assume that there's no 'mandate' for a plan to have a higher chance of success?

 

As you said, I imagine that trying to rebuild in 8 years is going to require some significant cuts that will persist for quite a while.  That's going to hurt. I just don't see how the asmfc will have the stomach to do that, at least not how things currently stand.

 

As always, thank you for your time and efforts.

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30 mins ago, CWitek said:

I'll start out by saying that the October 20 bass board meeting ended up on a much better note that I expected.

 

Thanks to Maine's Megan Ware, who made the motion, and New York's John McMurray, who seconded, the ASMFC's striped bass plan development team has finally been tasked with developing a fishery management plan that will rebuild the striped bass stock no later than 2029, based on a low, rather than an average, recruitment scenario.  That's a big win.

 

It's not the end of the fight.  I suspect that when the Management Board sees the measures that will be necessary to attain even a 50% probability of rebuilding the stock by 2029, a number are going to recoil.  If you read between the lines of comments made by both Michael Luisi (fishery manager, Maryland( and Adam Nowalsky (legislative proxy, New Jersey), some members are already planning to introduce other, less rigorous management options into whatever management plan the plan development team puts together.  Luisi, for example, said that he supported rebuilding, but would have preferred to cut the language calling for 2029 rebuilding and the low-recruitment scenario out of the motion.  Nowalsky originally argued to keep the rebuilding section out of the draft amendment, and later called for amending the motion to make it easier to add other options once the rebuilding plan is presented in January.

 

Still, we should have a decent management plan to defend in January, which is a big step forward.

 

Thanks to David Sikorski (legislative proxy, Maryland) and seconder Michael Armstrong (fishery manager, Massachusetts), the plan development team will also look for ways to protect the 2015, 2017, and 2018 year classes while they remain in the Chesapeake Bay; previous protections proposed by the plan development team only applied to the coastal fishery.

 

That, too, is a positive step.

 

In the end, a rebuilt stock is the end product of a successful fishery management process; the other issues debated over the course of the nearly 6-hour meeting were merely arguments over the tools used to get there.  When I sign off SOL this morning I'm going to write what will probably be a 2000 or 3000 word blog describing what went on in some detail, but for this post, I'll just hit a couple of high and low points, set out by category.

 

Management triggers

 

This is one of the places where Amendment 7 can still go off the rails, by introducing more excuses for the Management Board to delay taking action when faced with a threat to the stock.  However, both good and not so good things remain in the Draft Amendment after yesterday's meeting.

 

The good:

The option to reduce fishing mortality to target in 3 years (currently 1 year) was removed

The option that would not have required action to reduce fishing mortality until the 5-year average exceeded the target was removed

The option that would require both fishing mortality to be avove and SSB to be below target for two consecutive years was removed

A number of options that would make the recruitment triggers more sensitive, and require managers to act in response, remain in the draft

A new two-year deadline to implement a rebuilding plan remains in the draft

Dr. Justin Davis (fishery manager, Connecticut) commenting that some of the options could make the public believe tht the board was seeking "wigggle room" not to act

 

The bad:

A peoposal that no action need be taken until the three-year average of fishing mortality exceeded the fishing mortality threshold remains in the draft

A proposal to eliminate all fishing mortality target triggers remains in the draft

Proposals to remove the spawning stock biomass triggers remain in the draft

A proposal that required rebuilding if a stock assessment established a 50% probability that the stock would become overfished within 3 years was removed from the draft

A number of explicit conditions under which the Management Board could delay action despite tripped triggers remain in the draft

Michael Luisi's comment that the triggers should only address fishing mortality and not spawning stock biomass

 

Rebuilding the 2015 year class

 

The good:

Recreational-only moratorium deleted from the draft

 

The bad:

None

 

Recreational release mortality

 

The good:

Proposal to ban gaffs remains in the draft

Proposal to ban wire line was removed from the draft

Proposal to require release of all bass caught on non-compliant gear (e.g., J-hooks with bait) remains in the draft

A proposal to shut down fishing for two weeks in Wave 4 (July-August) was removed from the draft

A proposal for spawning area closures remains in the draft

Dr. Justin Davis' comment that emphasis on recreational release mortality represents an "outdated view of the fishery" which is dominated by anglers who often release

 

The bad:

Proposals to ban treble hooks and barbless hooks were removed from the draft without providing opportunity for public comment

Michael Luisi comment that emphasis on rec release represents "a new way of thinking of and addressing fishing mortality"

 

Conservation equivalency

 

The good:

Almost all of the proposals intended to rein in the abuses of conservation equivalency remains in the draft

 

The bad:

A proposal allowing states to merely match the coastwide reduction, rather than the reduction the coastwide regulations would impose on the state, remains in the draft

A proposal completely eliminating the use of conservation equivalency in the striped bass fishery was deleted

 

And that's a quick review.

 

Depending on what happens between now and the final adoption of Amendment 7, the new amendment could have a very positive impact on striped bass fishery.  Unfortunately, there are still lots of opportunities for the amendment to go sideways.  We all have a lot of work to do to keep it on the right path.

 

 

 

Charles ...just a massive thanks to you for attending and breaking this down into layman's terms.

 

Yesterday was the first time I ever attended such a session and found it quite frustrating as a "silent" audience member.

 

Hats off to you  (tried to connect with you on LinkedIn ... alas you are in the upper class of "premium").

 

 

 

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Thanks Charles. For those of us who try to duck into these meetings between doing other stuff at work, getting a full summary is very helpful. 

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53 mins ago, Drew C. said:

Charles, any plan that's 50/50 is useless, period. I assume that there's no 'mandate' for a plan to have a higher chance of success?

 

As you said, I imagine that trying to rebuild in 8 years is going to require some significant cuts that will persist for quite a while.  That's going to hurt. I just don't see how the asmfc will have the stomach to do that, at least not how things currently stand.

 

As always, thank you for your time and efforts.

Hopefully, 50% will be a minimum, and some board members will push for  something better.

 

Although I wouldn’t say that 50% is “useless.”  It’s far better than a plan more likely to fail than succeed, and far, far better than having no plan at all.

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1 hour ago, CWitek said:

 

 

Conservation equivalency

The bad:

A proposal completely eliminating the use of conservation equivalency in the striped bass fishery was deleted

 

I thought this conversation was interesting yesterday. Everyone essentially admitted that public comment supported leaving this in the Amendment but then it was stripped out anyway. I understand that there was little chance it would end up in the final Amendment so why muddy the public comment period with it as an option. But...not even letting people voice their opinion on a subject that has clearly garnered public support is wrong, just disregard for the public as a whole. 

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30 mins ago, baldadonis2002 said:

 

 

Hats off to you  (tried to connect with you on LinkedIn ... alas you are in the upper class of "premium").

 

 

 

Not sure how that happened.  I never paid for “premium” status

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1 min ago, Finneus said:

I thought this conversation was interesting yesterday. Everyone essentially admitted that public comment supported leaving this in the Amendment but then it was stripped out anyway. I understand that there was little chance it would end up in the final Amendment so why muddy the public comment period with it as an option. But...not even letting people voice their opinion on a subject that has clearly garnered public support is wrong, just disregard for the public as a whole. 

Conservation equivalency is management crack.  All the state fisheries folks are addicted to it, afraid that if it’s banned, they won’t have it when they want to do something to make their fishermen happy.

 

The funny thing is that the interstate Fishery Management Program Charter, which is supposed to be the governing document, requires strict conservation equivalency, that has the same impact of the coastwide measures, but that’s not how it’s used in practice.  Both the Draft Amendment 7 and the Conservation Equivalency Policy and Guidance Document contain language contrary to the dictates of the Charter-/and the Policy Document freely admits it. 

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8 mins ago, CWitek said:

Hopefully, 50% will be a minimum, and some board members will push for  something better.

 

Although I wouldn’t say that 50% is “useless.”  It’s far better than a plan more likely to fail than succeed, and far, far better than having no plan at all.

Well it seems like 50/50 with the asmfc only goes one way, after waiting 2-3 years to see how it worked out….

 

The asmfc does not deserve any leeway or benefit of the doubt. Their track record does not support that. They need to be better, a lot better. 

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I am having a hard time with striped bass regulations.  In the past I have written letters to politicians, local and city newspapers, attended meetings.  It doesn't seem to matter.  I feel defeated.  When an issue involves money principle or those who are not making money get the short end of the stick.  I am to the point I cant get emotionally involved anymore.  I am toast.  Thank god there are good people who continue to fight

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1 min ago, dannyplug1 said:

I am having a hard time with striped bass regulations.  In the past I have written letters to politicians, local and city newspapers, attended meetings.  It doesn't seem to matter.  I feel defeated.  When an issue involves money principle or those who are not making money get the short end of the stick.  I am to the point I cant get emotionally involved anymore.  I am toast.  Thank god there are good people who continue to fight

That’s perfectly reasonable. They don’t value public opinion and even said so yesterday. 
 

I’m going to write letters again but I honestly see it as pointless. But, I’ll try. 

 

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15 mins ago, dannyplug1 said:

In the past I have written letters to politicians, local and city newspapers, attended meetings. 

 

12 mins ago, Drew C. said:

I’m going to write letters again

 

There are more than few of us who tried this, too.

Only response I received was

"Thank you for your concern"

 

I will try again

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