Monday, May 05, 2014

Fish Report 5/5/14

Fish Report 5/5/14 
Going Fishing (Tomorrow!)
Coast Guard Inspection & Drills 
NOAA/NMFS's Failing 


Tog Fishing - Inshore Trips All. Green Crabs Provided.  
Tuesday! May 6th, 7 to 3  $110.00 Per–Person – Twelve Anglers Sells Out (but very few anglers likely. Pretty day. Might just go with one..)  
Wednesday, May 7th  7 to 3  $110.00 Per-Person  8 Anglers Sells Out – Filming "Hooked On OC" TV.. 
Thursday, May 8th – Shorter - 7 to 1 - $100.00 – 12 Anglers Sells Out. Afterward Have A Local School's "Fishing Club" Trip At 2:30 And Need 2 Volunteers To Help W/Kids. (Not Fish!) 
Friday, Saturday & Monday (not Sunday) - 7 to 3 – $110.00 - Twelve Anglers Sells Out.. 
Looking forward to toggin with good conditions. 

Reservations Required at 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..  
Be a half hour early! We always leave early! 
..except when someone shows up right on time. 
Clients arriving late will see the west end of an east bound boat..

8,812 "Oyster Castle" reef blocks by the rail – 2,548 at Jimmy's Reef – 1,794 at Ake's – 408 at Lindsey Power's. Keep dropping 24 every trip. Will Schedule Eagle Scout Drops Soon. Take 144 blocks plus on those trips. 
Should get a load of concrete pipe out soon. Many more to come. 
You Can Sponsor Reef Building At - Thanks! 

Two MRIP Private Boat Estimates Claim NY & NJ Recreational Private Boats Landed More Sea Bass In Two Months Of 2013 Than All Mid-Atlantic Commercial and For-Hire Party/Charter Landed All Year. 

Greetings All, 
Every once in a while you're glad for having prepared. We drill for emergencies as required by Coast Guard and have since drills were required back in the early 1990s. 
It was 1998 or so when a fellow on a booze-cruise leapt over the rail -completely on purpose- in the inlet, on a dark night with a screaming flood tide. Capt. Tucker had the helm of the O.C. Princess, Capt. Drew his senior mate – they got the jumper back aboard.  

No question: The drills we'd done saved that guys life. 

Mate Bill, having swiftly achieved Sainthood for what he did in the Morning Star's engine room, has already departed our company. (Perhaps you saw him next in line at that little ceremony in Rome, No?)
Been teaching my new mate and still need another: Man overboard, fire drills, abandon ship – Practice. 

When we got in from fishing Friday an old friend & client walked right off the dock: "Man Overboard! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!" 

Guy was embarrassed but fine.. Cold. 
Had CG inspection today, Monday. Boat passed. MOB drill went particularly well.  

Tog fishing after last week's gale wasn't all that. Fair many throwbacks, handful of keepers; a scratchy bite in what we assumed was still-poor visibility – dark water. 
I hear the bite was better Saturday. Looking forward to going fishing in settled weather and not after a gale.. 
Looking forward to toggin with good conditions. 

Managers will look you square in the eye and tell you MRIP catch-estimates are for broad regions, that MRIP & MuRFSS before it were not designed for enumerating single aspects of a recreational fishery. They hold the "Building Blocks" such as the estimate of how many flounder were caught from shore in Delaware during July/August 2010 is not accurate in-and-of itself; nor is the estimate of how many summer flounder Virginia private/rental craft landed in May/June, 2010. 
Management calls these building blocks "Wave, State & Mode Estimates" - Wave 2 is March/April, for instance; Wave 6 Nov/Dec. Modes are Shore, Private-Rental Boats & For-Hire. 
It is widely thought in the management community that these many "Building Blocks" added together create a solid estimate of how many flounder were caught in the broad area from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod in all of 2010 by all methods of recreational fishing, all together.. 

In fact, when our new Administrator For Fisheries, Eileen Sobeck, responded to my Congressman's inquiry about catch estimates influence on sea bass regulation, she replied with very nearly the exact verbiage I've so often seen before..

Administrator Sobeck wrote: "For the Mid–Atlantic region black sea bass management program, the stock management unit is from Cape Hatteras to the Gulf of Maine. Annual MRIP catch estimates of black sea bass for that geographic region are reasonably precise and constitute the best available scientific information for use in stock assessments and management decision-making. The 2013 estimated landings for black sea bass for the Mid-Atlantic management unit totaled approximately 2.46 million pounds, which exceeds the annual harvest limit by only about 200,000 pounds. 

The 4/15/14 letter continues: "Historically, some stakeholders have commented that MRIP catch estimates for individual strata (time intervals, modes of fishing, area fished) within the annual coastwide estimates are less precise, and have pointed to certain individual estimates they believe to be unusually or impossibly high. The statistical properties of the MRIP survey design and estimations program do result in lower precision of estimates for individual strata with small sample sizes. As a result, some estimates for such strata appear high, or low, as compared to others in a time series. This is why looking at black sea bass catch for a single mode, a single 2-month sampling period, and a single state will provide results that may not resonate with constituents. As the data are aggregated over more modes of fishing, a longer time period, and larger geographical areas, the overall sample size is significantly increased, and the precision of the catch estimates for the combined strata is much improved. 

That I disagree with this thinking is no secret. 
I am soundly at the top of "some stakeholders" for whom "results may not resonate..." 
Perhaps she's coming into the game thinking I just started complaining about recreational catch estimates. 
Where NMFS holds wave/state/mode estimates as suitable building blocks to achieve a coastwide estimate, I say boloney. 
Here's a look at 2013's Mid-Atlantic Recreational Sea Bass Catch – From NC to NY – and a few of its Building Blocks. 

All Mid-Atlantic Sea Bass - All Year – (Those versed will note the ultra-strong sub–20 PSE)
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSEPSE Spread 
PRELIMINARY2013BLACK SEA BASS720,44717.61,263,40518.6800,000 to 1,700,000

Building Block #1 – All Private/Rental Boats – All Year – PSE Still Very Strong 
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PRELIMINARY2013BLACK SEA BASS637,49919.81,140,00520.6650,000 to 1,600,000

Building Block #2 – All Party/Charter For-Hire. (Please note 1 million pounds less than Private Boats and also an even more precise PSE probably because we turn in data everyday
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PRELIMINARY2013BLACK SEA BASS81,27617.8120,96216.480,000 to 155,000

Building Block #1A – Just part of the entire annual estimate - New York Private Boats - July & August. (Wave 4)
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PRELIMINARY2013JULY/AUGUSTBLACK SEA BASS236,77933.1510,14134.7190,000 to 830,000

Building Block #1B – Another part of the annual estimate – New Jersey Private Boats – July & August. (Wave 4)
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PRELIMINARY2013JULY/AUGUSTBLACK SEA BASS162,53850.6246,51751.9Zero to 490,000

Building Block 1A & 1B represent One Mode, Two States & One Wave out of a possible Three Modes, Six States & Five Waves. (Jan/Feb not currently estimated) 
Those two summer private boat estimates use 757,000 pounds of the coastwide recreational sea bass quota. Two Building Blocks out of a possible 90 – These Two Private Boat Estimates Claim NY & NJ Recreational Private Boats Landed More Sea Bass In Two Months Of 2013 Than All Mid-Atlantic Commercial AND Recreational For-Hire Party/Charter Landed All Year. 

{The Math: Commercial Landings Unavailable For 2013 And Are Estimated By Averaging 2008's to 2012's Landings At 495,000 Pounds Annually. 
NY & NJ Private Boat at 757,000 minus 495,000 Annual Mid-Atlantic Commercial Landings equals 292,000 minus 121,000 Total Annual Mid-Atlantic For-Hire Landings equals 141,000 pounds greater catch by private boats in two months than all Mid-Atlantic & Commercial Effort Landed All Year.}

Did I mention most of these Private Boat cbass came from state waters? Fat chance the Party/Charter & Commercial fleets would burn fuel with 2 pound sea bass up under the beach!

Hey NMFS , Do You Still Believe? Here's what the Administrator just wrote: "As the data are aggregated over more modes of fishing, a longer time period, and larger geographical areas, the overall sample size is significantly increased, and the precision of the catch estimates for the combined strata is much improved." 
What I've been trying to point out all these years is these spikes, outliers, are NOT improved by MRIP. 
MRIP has offered no improvement over MuRFSS. None. 
Estimates in this newer version of MuRFSS are often factually, provably, worse. 
When combined with greater emphasis placed on recreational catch estimates by Accountability Measures, MRIP becomes a monster able to destroy any fishery with its spikes & outliers. 

So far as the statistician is concerned, their answer to "How many did they catch?" includes every bit of the PSE. 
Statisticians are telling management, in language they understand, we think the catch is anywhere in this set of values. 
Management hasn't got time for that. They just use the centerpoint. 

To top it off I assure you; No management occurs, none whatever, without delving into state/wave & mode estimates. They always tell us how great the data is in broad-scale then NOAA/NMFS/ASMFC/MAFMC/State Fisheries Departments - They all & everyone routinely manage every fishery straight from wave/mode/state estimates. Management would be nearly impossible w/o fine-scale use of this "broad-scale only" data. 
How did Maryland come to lose December tautog? By management's inspection of wave 6 tautog estimates. 
How did NJ come to have such a short tautog season? Because of super low estimates in 1998. 
How did flounder get closed by emergency in Maryland in 2008? Because of a MD Sept/Oct spike in 2007. 
How did flounder become so restricted in NY yet much less-so in NJ? Because state by state quotas were divvied up using ONE YEAR of MuRFSS's state by state estimates. 
How did Massachusetts Private Boaters recently come to have a 4 sea bass limit & New Yorkers' an 8 fish limit? By state/wave/mode estimates.. 
Believe this: I could go on & on. Management as we know it would be impossible w/o fine-scale use of this "broad-scale only" data. 

Management's claim these estimates are fine for their intended purpose is a complete misrepresentation of their factual long-time use. 
The estimates are not better since 'the repair.' MRIP needs a major overhaul. 
Management's single focus on inane, even preposterous recreational catch data has caused them to miss all manner of biological signals coming from our fisheries, especially the reef fisheries.
Marine fisheries restoration is, after all, a young science with much discovery to come. Sadly, good people with pure intent are presently bound by law to create regulations with bad data. 
My business and many others, even into the Gulf of Mexico, are being carved at the joints owing only to spikes in single wave/mode/state estimates. 
Catches that did not occur are being used to constantly tighten regulation. 

We must not allow NMFS to claim: "Annual MRIP catch estimates for geographic regions are reasonably precise and constitute the best available scientific information for use in stock assessments and management decision-making" Yet always, ALWAYS, watch them turn around and delve straight into the lowest levels of MRIP's building blocks of data to see where catch sourced from, to see what controls might be needed to regulate recreational catch via state-by-state & seasonal catch restriction. 
All Regulation Stems From These Building Blocks. Coastwide Estimates Are Rarely Used.  

We WANT management that accurate. We WANT managers to have truly fine recreational catch estimates.
But because estimates are not that accurate, not yet, they must not use MRIP's estimates as if they were. 

NMFS needs to back-off. History shows they will not. 
Congress, via Magnuson, needs to make them. 

Management today assumes our ocean, so seemingly unchangeable in its enormity, is as capable of fishery production as it ever was. They must believe all of fisheries restoration can be made to occur through commercial & recreational catch reports. Management must, as demonstrated by their absence of action, consider catch restriction based on landings to be a singularly important method of fisheries restoration--the only method needed. 
This simple sad mistake; this notion of an invincible sea & seabed, undamaged & unscathed after nearly a century of industrial fishing; Their method of restoration sourced solely from absence of knowledge and acceptance of false inputs lies atop many reasons why fishery restoration is now regressing in the Mid-Atlantic despite greater & greater catch restriction. 

Management and fisheries restoration based solely upon catch-restriction can never fully rebuild our region's rich fishery production – For That We Must Restore Habitat. For habitat to be at its height of usefulness we must also learn how to manipulate spawning production. 

Higher than all decades since combined; We have an incredible effort ahead to reach the sea bass population represented by commercial landings from the 1950s. 
So long as the management community bases restoration decisions & strategy on recreational catch estimates that could not possibly be true--are laughably false; and defends their use of poor estimates with ill-formed logic easily seen through, we can continue to expect poor results from their efforts. 

Before a truer path of fisheries restoration can be created, management must first accept they've been sorely misled by recreational catch estimates. 
I aim to help with that. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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