Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fwd: Fish Report 4/25/13

Fish Report 4/25/13 
Still Openings Saturday 
Adding Sunday: Reef Building Then Fishing  
Comment On Rec AMs Amendment; YOUR COMMENT COUNTS 

A Long-Tog Trip Announced For Saturday, 4/27 Still Has Room: 
Saturday, April 27th – 6AM to 5PM -- $150.00 – Twelve Clients Sells This Trip Out. See Particulars 5 & 6 paragraphs down.

The Hall family is hosting and, as always, donating in its entirety our OC Reef Foundation fund raiser again in 2013 on Wednesday, May 15th from 5 to 7 at Hall's Restaurant, 59th street bayside in OC, MD. 
All you can eat Italian; This year we'll also have ham & beef carving stations served up by Man, Myth & Legend; John Simms himself of Anthony's Carryout. Look for great silent, Chinese & live auction items and a good time with many reef supporters. 

We've got a box of raffle items coming from Gander Mountain in Pittsburgh, a beautifully matted photograph, the "Last Waterman" by guide Dan Harrison of Crisfield; A custom hand-made skinning knife by Randy Orr (along with some Benelli logo items out of their US distribution & repair center in Pocomoke, I'm sure..) 
And that's just from this morning..
Watch For Oyster Bay Tackle, Ake Marine & All Tackle OC Donations – Always There For Us.. 
Very Casual; Its Going To Be A Great Dinner! 

Adding a different sort of trip, a reef building/tog fishing trip: Sunday, April 28th, Need 4 or 5 anglers willing to tote reef blocks & help deploy them at Jimmy's Reef. Perhaps the guys at Tow-Boat US, Ocean City, will also get a barge-load of pipe out Sunday. If so, we'll set a mooring buoy for that. We'll begin loading at 8 and, hopefully, be tog fishing by noon. (blocks weigh 27 pounds apiece) At $50.00 each I won't cover expenses - but it'll take-up some of the sting. Looks to be a calm day – build reef, catch tog – Perfect. 
No Reservations For Sunday's Trip: Please email me directly.
No Live Tog Leave The Boat - Dead & Bled - Period. (I Believe The Live-Fish Black Market Is Hurting The Tog Fishery)
All Regulations Observed - 4 Fish @ 16 Inches.
Green Crabs Provided. You're welcome to bring any hard bait or shrimp: Lobster, White Crab, Blue Crab, Hermit Crab: Even Gulp Crab .. No Squid, No Clam = No Dogfish.
Be A Half Hour Early - We Like To Leave Early.
Clients Arriving Late Will See The West End Of An East Bound Boat.. 

Reservations Required @ 410 - 520 - 2076.
LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Are Common - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way..

I have opened my reservation book to sea bass reservations. 
NMFS, however, will probably NOT announce our sea bass season until a few days before the season Starts May 19th. Ticket Prices For Sundays & Weekdays In 2013 are $110.00 - Saturdays $125.00.
Opening Day, Sunday, May 19th & Monday the 20th, however, will be Long Sea Bass Trips 6AM to 3:30PM - $125.00.. Ditto Friday & Saturday, May 24th & 25th.

Pre-regulation announcement sales will be transferable--BUT NOT REFUNDABLE.

I have every reason to believe May 19th will be correct. Unfortunately, these are dark times in Federal Fisheries Management.

Soon to change: 4,182 "oyster castle" reef blocks by the rail - 1,192 at Jimmy's Reef. 

Greetings All, 
Had trips booked. Laid-in instead for swell then wind. Still almost 7 feet at sunrise yesterday, thought I'd let the tog regain their senses. Might have chewed today—maybe. With gusts to 30 predicted for this morning I didn't want to find out. Hmmm… should chew Friday! 

Got word from Jim Armstrong at MAFMC that we can comment on the Recreational Accountability Measures amendment via email at – be sure to put Rec AMs in subject line. See My Comment Below..

I do not think many anglers truly grasp this amendment's impact. Managers, it turns out, really can tell BS (bad statistics, of course) when they see it. But they're forced —by their own laws— to USE THOSE BAD STATISTICS AS IF SACRED. 
The reason Massachusetts private boat anglers are looking at a 3 sea bass limit in 2013, why NY anglers will likely have an 8 fish limit; Why we've had emergency sea bass closures in 2 of the last three years, why we had an emergency flounder closure 4 years ago — Its All Because ANY ESTIMATE'S CENTERPOINT CONJURED-UP BY MRIP OR MRFSS MUST, BY LAW, BE TREATED AS THOUGH PERFECT. 
Sure, sure: in Sept/Oct 2007 MD shore fishers caught 39,000 flounder — Incredibly far more than the previous decade combined; more than all MD party/charter will catch in 15 years — OVER QUOTA -- Season Closed. 
I have many examples of estimates that make no sense whatever. Our "New & Improved" system, MRIP—A Brand New "Repair" Mandated By Congress--here corrects the MD shore flounder estimate thusly: Where MRFSS had those shore anglers catching 36,000 that early fall; MRIP says "No, we've caught these evil overfishers red-handed— It Was Really 39,000 Flounder Caught From Shore That Sept/Oct!" 

Statistically speaking, that's a really Bad Estimate.  

Peak sea bass abundance of the last 35 years was in 2003 after only 6 years of management. We had just begun the very first ever bag/creel limit of 25 fish per-person in 2002, but the cbass population had already been skyrocketing. We spent most of the early management period watching the sea bass population grow like crazy with just a simple size limit and virtually no closed season nor any bag limit. 

Now tighter & tighter regulation forces hardship because the estimates are wrong.

Some managers have, unfortunately, grown comfortable with these estimates. Have developed methods of wholly internal, non-scientific rationalization of fantastic statistical variance with the likes of: "I think there's a huge bubble of fishing effort that shifts from state to state" (and mode to mode?) - "that's why statistical spikes in catch occur." Or, "Angler effort is difficult to predict" as a catch-all to explain why catch estimates soar thousands of percent — even though folks in the fishery saw nothing out of the ordinary.. 

Science is demonstrable & testable; Proven with accurate measurement--Repeatable Accurate Measurement. Therefore, when Massachusetts private boats are asserted to have caught, with the tightest regulations of any state EVER, more sea bass last May/June than all Massachusetts's party/charter effort caught in all the  May/Junes of the previous two decades combined — I'd say a much higher level of proof should be required to meet the definition of 'science' than simply having a number on a computer screen. 
The law requires we "Use the best available science." Management must step up & say, "Show Us The Math"  ..but the law requires no proof whatever for any estimate & currently allows no adjustment. Simply because an estimate exists allows it to be called the "Best Available Science."  The centerpoint of an estimate IS the estimate. If the centerpoint shows fishers having gone over quota – so be it. 
Season CLOSED. 
Now with Accountability Measures we could easily see an Emergency Closure followed by a regulation-mandated closure for the Entire Following Year. 

Managers know we're in a tight spot; have written a new amendment which, among other strong points, allows an estimate to slide up or down within its PSE (an expression of Margin of Error — here PSE = Percentage Standard Error) 
For instance, that absolutely preposterous NJ Mar/April jetty estimate I've shown so many times has a PSE range (or Margin Of Error) from zero to 470,000 tautog caught and carried home — The entire answer to "How many blackfish/tautog did NJ jetty fishers take home in Mar/April, 2010" is: "MRIP is 95% confident those anglers took somewhere between Zero & 470,000 tautog." 
The Actual Number Of Fish Taken Is No More Likely The Centerpoint, Nor Zero, Nor 470,000 — The True Number Of Fish Caught & Kept Could Be Anywhere In The Estimate.  
But managers have to use the exact centerpoint of 174,000.. 
Everyone knows those anglers could not possibly have taken that many. The real number they caught is reported to me by participants & people who follow the fishery closely as very nearly zero fish — certainly less than 100. An estimate of 1,000 would be considered absurd— The Water's Too Cold… 
This new MAFMC Amendment will allow managers to react, to repair estimates of fisheries they manage before harm is done.. 

A fishery so simply elevated by new habitat construction lies beyond the edge of our understanding owing to estimates where no rational argument can be made for their veracity. No clear case be made for habitat expansion while the argument for continued catch restriction pogo-sticks about in response to whatever estimate suddenly rests upon managers' computer screens..  

There are many bad estimates – uncountable. 
How management uses catch-estimate data really needs fixing. With Accountability Measures Now Upon Us — These "AM Paybacks" Mandated By Magnuson — Any Fishery Could Fall Victim To Catch Estimates. 

This situation will absolutely get much worse if no repair is made. 

The Omnibus Amendment for Recreational Accountability Measures is a big deal. 
A really big deal. 
We need to support it. 
We Need To Make Sure It Is NOT WATERED DOWN.
You Need To Comment On It.

If we build big reefs--lots of them, and Fix The Estimates: The next generation will worry more about the catching & not the repairs.. 

See Comment Below. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD


Comments Due by May 15th. 
See May 2nd Ocean City Meeting Notice & Link To Federal Register at -- Other state's meetings at   

Now ByEmail: Send Comment To: Be sure to put Rec AMs in subject line..

Or put a stamp on it – Always More Impact. 
Snail Mail Comment To: 
Rec AM Amendment - Jim Armstrong
800 N. State Street - Suite 201 
Dover, DE 19901  

Dear Chairman Robins, Dr. Moore & Mr. Armstrong, 
I'd like to urge Council to consider creating the strongest possible defense against poor recreational catch estimates. Because catch estimates have grown worse, not better, while management's need for accuracy has grown greater, the management community MUST be allowed to use the full statistical answer to, "how many fish did they catch?" and not just an estimate's centerpoint.  
Below are my selections from the Recreational Accountability Measures comment sheet. 

1D) Alternative 1D. ACL/ACT Post Hoc Evaluation. The ACL/ACT that was set for a given fishing year is re-evaluated based on an updated assessment.

 2C) Alternative 2C. Eliminate In-Season Closure Authority. Regulatory language regarding monitoring / closure of the recreational fisheries will be removed. This alternative, if chosen, would reflect a preference for addressing recreational overages in subsequent fishing years rather than imposing an early closure.

 3C) Alternative 3C. Confidence Interval. When a stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring for that stock, the recreational sector ACL will be evaluated based on an annual comparison of an appropriate confidence interval of the total catch estimates (landings and dead discards), where the entire confidence interval (i.e., including the lower confidence limit) is above the recreational ACL to trigger an AM. Both landings and dead discard estimates will be evaluated in determining if the recreational sector ACL has been exceeded.

 4C) Alternative 4C. Payback when Stock is Overfished or when OFL is Exceeded. ... the overage (in pounds) will be deducted, as soon as possible, from a subsequent single fishing year recreational sector ACT only if the stock is overfished and/or OFL has been exceeded AND B/Bmsy is <1. When these conditions are not met, AMs will consist of adjustment to bag/size/season and in-season monitoring for early closure when the recreational overage caused OFL to be exceeded, but B/Bmsy >1, or caused ABC to be exceeded. In-season monitoring only will occur when only the Rec ACL has been exceeded.

Thank You For Your Consideration, 

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