Fish Report 12/13/10
Sea Bass & Tautog Management
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I have a new video that I hope will end habitat's dark ages..
Of course, that's what I thought in 2001 when I first sent footage to Congress: They'd written the Essential Fish Habitat laws; I assumed they'd want to enforce them.
And, that's what I thought in 2004 when I made a better one.
Now again I hope to convey with words and images the perfectly obvious result of habitat loss: The feeling I get when I pull over a reef that I have fished before and find not only are the fish not biting, not only have many been caught; But that the reef itself is gone: That if I mark any remaining hard-bottom it could be a decade before it comes back to life.
From that manner of life experience I can relate to stories of old-time skippers who witnessed similar frustration on far grander scale...
So you want to restore the fishery, eh?
What I think will be on YouTube by noon 12/13/10 - Key word search: Capt. Monty's Reef Video - Nearshore Reef MAB - Maryland Coral Reef. Might be in two pieces.
Also in the immediate future is the result of our ignorance, the result of a sea bass restoration plan that swings all its federal might -- at windmills.
I stand in it's path; have no fiscal option but taking the blows.
It will be a great irony to close a fishery because some have moved forward --incredibly far outside of the black sea bass restoration plan-- on reef production & restoration; That because some have increased their region's sustainable catch, all will suffer.
Indeed, the annual catch landed in OC, MD could not possibly occur without our newly created reefs.
Like squirrels in a wheat-field, you can't possibly have reef-fish in abundance without reef-habitat in abundance.
The mussels, corals, oysters, crab, shrimp and fish of a mature artificial reef are no more artificial than cicada, ants, birds, raccoon, opossum and deer in a large farm tract left untilled for a decade.
And: Where animals are able to feed and shelter from predators they will spawn.
My experience in these 30 years at sea tells me habitat is crucial in fisheries production; Tells me habitat more than waist deep is easily lost in the shuffle; And tells me habitat already lost for several generations may be permanently lost.. unless we look for what likely existed as evidenced by anecdotal catch in the early and mid-1900s, even as far back as the mid-1800s.
And then restore it.
I suspect that if NOAA will but grasp the importance of sea floor habitat, in conjunction with the incredible tool that is habitat fidelity, we can take some fisheries far beyond our restoration targets.
And, because this focus on production has not yet occurred we stumble along with oscillating stocks, poor utilization, and the poorest of governance.
Sea Bass and Tautog fishing --not the fish-- are in serious hot water right now.
Write your marine fisheries representative and ask why...