Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fish Report 2/22/15

Fish Report 2/22/15 
Of Raffles & Reef Building 
"Hey Captain! Let some fish out!"
They're Not Even Trying To Fix It 
If We Do Not Write, They Cannot Know

Nasty Foul Winter - No Tog Trips Offered Here
I want readers to know this: The sea bass fishery is in real trouble. Big trouble. Bad trouble.  
MRIP is so worthless it cannot be used to determine whether ANY CATCH occurred, let alone be used as a sound scientific approximation of how much catch occurred
MRIP's Recreational Catch Estimates Are Destroying The Sea Bass Fishery

Have Opened Reservations For First Two Weeks Of Sea Bass Season. May 15th, 16th & 17th - Long Cbass - 6AM to 3:30PM - $125.00 - Thereafter Regular $110.00 Trips With Saturdays As Long Trips. These Trips Are Non-Refundable. Reschedule? Yes, of course, when owing to weather. Refund? Ahh, No. (That's the rules for the first two weeks.. Has to do more with credit card policy than how I'd prefer to run my business.) 

Still 10,958 Reef Blocks by the rail – 2,146 at Doug Ake's – 1,218 at Saint Ann's – 558 at Eagle Scout Reef - 557 at Lindsey's Isle of Wight Reef and 286 at the Brian Sauerzopf Memorial Reef.. 
Our Reef Block pile was reloaded with monster 110 pound blocks courtesy of Potomac Valley Brick, Inc. of Salisbury. 

New 2015 Reef Raffle for a bronze Turner Sculpture of a pair of spadefish. Though only about 16 inches high, it's an awesome piece. Maybe I'll keep it in my office this summer for safe-keeping.. 
Nearly $3,000.00 value, only $10.00 a ticket! Turner's work is, quite literally, around the world. It's true sculpture.. 
Send an email w/your address and I'll snail-mail you some tickets. Just return the stubs & money. We'll pull a winner Thanksgiving week. 
Just weeks away from our biggest concrete reef project ever. More on that in coming weeks - Promise! 

Greetings All, 
I anticipate the next fish over my rail will be a cod. 
Maybe not though. With no upcoming trips & the OC Boat Show looming, I forgot to mention in my last report that we had a straight flush - one each of an 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 & 16 pound togs. Sixteen was a personal best for our good friend Chan. Wasn't many fish for a very long day. Nice ones though. 

That was 2 weeks ago. 
Lot of cold since then. Real cold. 
Been breaking ice in the OC Fishing Center Marina every afternoon. We're trying to keep it open. 
Intentionally built to safely break mild ice, my chines are over 4 inches thick of solid fiberglass. She breaks ice just fine. Getting an assist right now from above-freezing temps & rain; it'll plunge back into a deep freeze shortly. 

We'll soon have a change of weather called 'spring.' 
For now it looks like the weather's giving us plenty of time for varnish work in the salon. . . . . . 

The ASMFC just released a new Tautog Stock Assessment. "The tautog stock status in each region is overfished." At this point I couldn't guess what that will translate to in tighter regulation, but I suppose it will. 

There is good news in that sentence however - "each region." The scientists involved with the tog assessment agreed on making 3 distinct regional management units. That means habitat fidelity has finally been brought into a reef-fish management plan in the Mid-Atlantic. 
I think that's an important step in the right direction. Vital. 
If I were in charge of tautog restoration in Long Island Sound, for instance, the first thing I'd want to know is how large the oyster reef footprint was before NY/CT watermen had to sail south to the Chesapeake & Delaware Bays in the mid-1800s. The over-harvesting collapse of northern oysters is what started the "Oyster Wars." (see )
Maryland has recently had remarkable success with oyster reef restoration by replenishing lost substrates with rock. I hear there are rocks near Long Island Sound. Even if the oyster repair wasn't a resounding success; tautog, which must have thrived on long-lost oyster reefs, would surely respond to mussel-encrusted boulders just as well.  

In other words, I think habitat restoration/creation is a far more valuable tool at this point in the restoration of tautog than further catch restriction. 
It's also true that this recognition of habitat fidelity brings us closer to what I think would be a no-brainer for the onshore/nearshore, license-buying, tog fishing public - Tautog Hatcheries. Habitat fidelity ensures the benefit will accrue to those who release them, where they release them. 
It's very possible my boat has moved more tog around than any other program anywhere. I have often moved tog from well-established reefs to newer, but already grown-in reefs after about 4 years on the bottom. Of all the fish we've moved and tagged, only one tag return ever showed a tog had returned "home" to where we'd actually first caught it. I'm only aware of one other tog, released about 7 miles from where it was caught in VA's Chesapeake Bay, that swam back. 
Tog stay where you put them. 
Tog hatcheries would force-feed MRIP a giant can of shut-the-heck-up.. 

Ever heard of a triploid oyster? Non-native, they're supposed to be unable to spawn. 
Tautog are a wrasse. Wrasse are found on reefs around the world. Males of one species in particular, the humphead, grow to 6 feet & several hundred pounds. Wonder what a genetic cross between a tautog and a giant humphead wrasse would result in.. Have to make dern sure it couldn't spawn. After all, if it were viable it might eat all the green crabs. 
Much as I'd like to see experimentation of the sort, I think a crossbreeding of California halibut, greenland halibut & summer flounder would have greater economic impact. 
West coast anglers have shad & striped bass that were transplanted by railroad early on, (shad fry in 1885.) The least they could do is give us a few halibut & sheepshead (another wrasse) to experiment with. 

Much more seriously, habitat fidelity in tautog would allow a productive regulatory inshore/offshore distinction. Fish caught in estuaries, bays & sounds could have a smaller size limit/larger bag. Ocean fish could have a larger size limit with a lower bag. 
Can't, can't, can't; always lots of can't. But if we did, in 15 or twenty years we'd have a 100% bad-ass fishery. 
Down here it's already a fishery that could not possibly exist w/o man-made habitat. By seizing upon management's possibilities in both regulation & habitat creation stemming from habitat fidelity, we could move US fisheries science forward. 
(Now for what's pulling fisheries science backward - hard) 

All of MRIP's recreational catch estimates for 2014 sea bass are now in. 
Having exceeded their region's 2014 sea bass quota, NJ, NY & MA must take a 33% cut for 2015. Rhode Island too (with their 3 fish limit) will likely have to tighten regulations. 
Although we arrived at "Fully Rebuilt" status with virtually no closed season & lower size limits, since 2009 regulation has been steadily killing the sea bass fishery. 
Each & every one college educated, some even with Ph.Ds; our best & brightest in management know recreational fishers have exceeded their quota. They can see it on their computer screens. They give reporters an explanation for greater cuts to the sea bass fishery in stark & certain numbers. They speak of MRIP's catch estimates as not just sufficient for science, but sacred.   “They went over the recreational harvest limit significantly. They [management] need to develop measures to restrain the harvest to 33 percent of 2014,” said Kirby Rootes-Murdy, who oversees the fishery management plan for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. 

"We have no way of knowing how much fish are being caught (in winter). We need to know so we can count them, and when we can't do that we can't open the season," said Moira Kelly, a fishery policy analyst for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

I'm certain the management community has no idea of what's actually being caught by recreational sea bass fishers - period. That's because they rely on MRIP, the Marine Recreational Information Program's catch estimates. 

The folks quoted here aren't the bad guys. 
The folks who count fish along the docks are not the bad guys. 
NOAA's interpretation of MRIP's power from the Magnuson Act is the bad guy.  

After all, there's another part of Magnuson, one that deals with EFH - Essential Fish Habitat. That section calls for NOAA to protect, conserve & enhance Essential Fish Habitat. NOAA's interpretation of EFH for our reef fish such as tautog, sea bass or blueline tile, however, has not been broadened to include natural rock formations or the corals that grow on them. 
You wouldn't think corals growing on rock such a reach. 
Hmmm.. Corals, rock & reef-fish. Seems like there could be a connection. 
But - no regulatory teeth at all. 
NOAA has nothing for our nearshore habitats from Magnuson. Coral habitat protection may soon start, however. But only for beyond 100 fathoms. The deepwater/coldwater corals that do not factor into nearshore fisheries production will soon be under some form of EFH regulation. 

Catch estimates, however; now that's different. NOAA doesn't have to go find them, there's no need of discovery. Catch estimates pop-up on a computer screen in easily digested format. 
It's never made any factual difference whether they were true or not. Management just uses MRIP estimates as they appear. 

Vessel Trip Reports (VTRs) are filled out for each trip by commercial & recreational For-Hire fishers. Not like an MRIP statistical estimate, VTRs are actual reported catch from an actual day's fishing.
Top scientists with NOAA have told me, "VTRs are our worst data." 
Patently obvious from management's actions these many years; where they consider VTRs their worst data, MRFSS & now MRIP recreational catch estimates must be "their best available data." 
Easiest available data, that I'll grant. 
Accurate? Oh heck no. 
In fact, the statement from the newspaper article above is perfectly false. Where Ms. Kelley, repeating what she's been told, asserts NOAA has no idea of sea bass caught in winter; it's actually true that NOAA has a much better knowledge of true catch from VTRs in winter - even considering cheaters, than when MRIP gobs the science up with its estimates. 

Everyone in management claims MRIP For-Hire catch estimates are compared against VTR data each spring. 
Not only is that far too late---by April regulations will have long-since been created from MRIP's estimates; but I honestly cannot recall a single instance where a For-Hire estimate was changed in spring at all. 

In fact, here's a May/June Maryland Party/Charter estimate from 2010 that had zero sea bass. I was told back then it would be found and corrected when VTRs were compared in April, 2011. 
Here is that estimate as it stands today from the MRIP website in February 2015. 
Please believe in May/June 2010 we were catching sea bass just fine & reporting those catches with remarkable accuracy in our VTRs.  

Maryland Party/Charter 
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)

NOAA believes their "Best Available Science" is not the written observations of fishermen reported daily, but MRIP's statistical illusion of rock-hard data from screens & screens full of wild guesses. 

I have actually had NMFS & NOAA tell my legislators, "Sea bass are not an important fishery in the Mid-Atlantic. There are no landings to speak of.
And where'd that information come from? Why, catch estimates, of course. 
NOAA, NMFS & other scientists are even using MRIP data to sense important shifts in global weather. I know ships routinely sail through the NW Passage where Magellan could not - I get that. But it's mighty hard to get good science from bad data. 
Harder still to get good regulation from bad data.  
In truth, what MRIP's estimates verifiably portray is this: MRIP is so worthless it cannot be used to determine whether ANY CATCH occurred, let alone be used as a sound scientific approximation of how much catch occurred.

Been fighting bad data since 1998 when a 2 week sea bass closure went into effect because of a single 1997 data spike in NJ For-Hire landings. That single spike was for 1,200,000 fish. That's approximately a million more fish than the entire US For-Hire sector takes now. But 1.2 million was just the spike--just the estimated increase in landings. NJ For-Hire's total estimate that year was 3.1 million sea bass. The recreational total in 1997 was 4,721,000.. 
Our entire recreational quota from Cape Hatteras north, if landed in 1.5 pound sea bass, would only be 1.5 million fish.. 
If just NJ were the ONLY place we were saving sea bass by regulation, we'd be saving over 3 million a year. Every reef would be incredibly full of sea bass if spawning production had continued apace. Ever-tightening catch restriction is instead resulting in reduced sea bass spawning production. 

I've written about the negative effect "age at maturity shift" has had on sea bass spawning production time & again. (see for one of my pieces on it.) 
In this Fish Report I'm hoping to illuminate more fully why management should not lean on MRIP so heavily for regulatory guidance. . . 

It happens that I had some noaa.guv & folks aboard for a day of sea bass fishing back in late November. I truly enjoy showing folks involved with fisheries restoration a tiny slice of our ocean's offerings. We had fun. Everyone ate well in following days. 

We had a blast catching sea bass & bluefish in about 125 feet of water. All the throwbacks that weren't eaten by blues swam back down.. I knew that would happen and wanted them to see it.
Some aboard still aren't so sure those released sea bass all lived, but I've seen 23 years of releases & two decades of tag returns too. I'm certain release mortality of sea bass is very, very low -- especially if any care is made in hook selection. (kahle or circle hooks..) 
I had to learn about release mortality years before real regulation began in 97. I had to know if the fish I was making people throw back before regulation began were actually going to make a difference. 

I pointed out on the plotter that day how nearby natural reefs were also loaded with cbass, not just the spot we were on. 
Despite some who claim the artificial reef we were over should have been "attracting all the fish away from nearby natural reefs," my logbook showed differently. Habitat is habitat is habitat - the only difference between natural hardbottom habitat production & artificial reef production is how robust a given habitat is, its rugosity - the cubic volume of nooks & crannies. 
Fish & corals cannot tell whether their habitat is natural or not. 
Fish do not fall from the sky, they are always a product of habitat. 

As ever, I tried to mix some science with the day's fun. That was the reason I'd invited all these folks aboard. 
I also tried to learn from them. Believe me, there are some truly sharp people in this fray. 

Could only do so much in one trip. If I ran the show I would PAY staff to go fishing at least a few times a year. 
Seeing the ocean only through a computer is making a mess of what is truly a fairly straight-forward task. It's easier to get a sense of the task ahead when seen from several angles instead of just a computer. 

Here's what I didn't know. I didn't know we would catch nearly as many sea bass that day as MRIP would claim Maryland caught all year. 

Maryland - All Recreational Modes: Party, Charter, Shore & Private Boat - For All Of 2014  
Estimate StatusYearCommon NameFishing ModeTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSELandings (no.) without
Size Information

Even the high-side of PSE (the "percentage standard error" like "margin of error" in a political poll) even PSE only takes the estimate up to 800 sea bass. Management is occasionally very proud of PSE. How does PSE fare here? 
There were lots of weeks when my boat caught more sea bass than even MRIP's PSE high-side for the whole year. 

I'm telling you, management thinks they have something with MRIP. 
They got nothing.

Folks who were out with me that day now have a bit of gut-instinct telling them MRIP can be very, very wrong. Their new viewpoint formed only from a day's enjoyment; mine is from a lifetime of work. 
It's not a gut feeling for me. I'm positive. 
I'll tell any who will read or listen: 
MRIP's Recreational Catch Estimates Are Destroying The Sea Bass Fishery.

I once had a woman become furious with me while fishing for sea trout. It was a slow day back in '86 or so & she wanted me to let some fish go, let them out. 
"Hey Captain! Let some fish out!"
Excuse me? 
"Let some fish out! When I bought my ticket they said if fish weren't biting you had a tank and would let some go so everyone would catch fish!" 
Oh man.. She wasn't lying. No one was laughing. Selling party boat tickets in the early 1980s, fish-mount Mark & Tuffy used to thrive on telling the biggest lie. Lots of times during the White Marlin Open people wanted to know when we'd start catching marlin. "Where's your fighting chair?
If MRIP, like that lady years ago, thought perhaps we sometimes took fish out with us to release alive, then they'd have us catching negative-fish some years. If estimates didn't have to stop at zero on the low side, perhaps MD Party Boats would have caught "negative 456,000 sea bass" in 2010 & 2014 instead of just zero. 
Maybe estimates would show exactly how we put more back then we took. Those MRIP estimates would have a pretty little PSE decorations to allow room for a bit of error, a little statistical window dressing that never-ever gets used.

But MRIP's not allowed to include that possibility in an estimate. Zero is as low as they can go. 
Readers familiar with selling stocks 'short' will know exactly what I'm driving at. 

Maryland Party Boats were officially estimated at zero sea bass in 2014. Yet Maryland's For-Hire sea bass skippers sent NMFS hundreds of VTR catch reports saying we had indeed caught sea bass and how many. 
In fact, if we get caught NOT telling them what we caught - Big Trouble! 

Zero is as low as they can go. There is no such stop on MRIP's high side. There is no ceiling. Where zero stops the stupid dead in its tracks on the low side, an estimate can run to the moon and back on the high side. 
Low estimates, though completely bungled, must stop at zero. High estimates have no stop and, at present, no one willing to stop them. As I have shown time & time again since 1998, there is no catch estimate that's 'just too high.' 

I could find bad estimates for months on end. Here are just a few to illustrate what's being used to create regulation. 

MRIP NY Private Boat ONLY. 
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSELandings (no.) without
Size Information
This is NY Party/Charter during the same two month period.  
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSELandings (no.) without
Size Information

Estimate StatusYearCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSELandings (no.) without
Size Information
PRELIMINARY2013BLACK SEA BASS234,00415.4391,863160

This is MRIP's estimate for all Massachusetts' Private Boats from Cape Sea Bass to the Massachusetts/Rhode Island state line. (Oops, I meant Cape Cod. It's a not-very-big area with an 8 fish limit) (I Added Comment In The Last Box, & as with the NY estimate, is certainly well over 25% of the recreational quota. NOAA absolutely believes MA private boats could have caught 250,000 pounds more sea bass through the period than All US For-Hire - Its a very sad place for science..) 
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)
PSEPounds Greater Than 
ALL U.S. For-Hire 
Sea Bass Catch

PRELIMINARY2014MAY/JUNEBLACK SEA BASS207,83642.3603,44244.2247,816

Rhode Island Private Boats Fishing About The Same Area In An Immediately Adjacent Area. (obviously rookies) 
Estimate StatusYearWaveCommon NameTotal Harvest (A+B1)PSEHarvest (A+B1) Total
Weight (lb)


Despite my pleading for rational consideration of known catch against estimated catch, MRIP's estimated catch is sent through regardless of improbability. NOAA currently demands MRIP's estimates MUST BE used as-is by managers for regulatory purposes

I saw trips in the 1990s when just the boat I was running caught north of 7,000 sea bass in one day. That was why I began self-regulation & have supported state & federal regulation from the beginning. I know management can work. I've seen it first hand.
Sea bass restoration is not a hypothetical to me. In 2002 & 2003, the first years of a bag limit for sea bass & just 6 years into management, we very often limited-out the whole boat at 25 fish per-person. All those over-12 inch fish we caught & kept back then were spawned when there was no bag limit & only a 9 or 10 inch size limit.... 

But that success is not a concern to management. The era was never shown to have an overfishing problem with MuRFSS catch estimates. 
They're not looking for success. Regulation only strikes when catch estimates spike. 
Now, using MRIP only, management knows Maryland caught far-fewer sea bass in all of 2014 than we historically caught just on my little party boat in a day - maybe even in just one hour. They don't need to tighten our regulations further. They can tell from MRIP we're behaving. 

Ahhh.. But for recreational fishers in New Jersey, New York & Massachusetts; MRIP tells management all they need to know about a re-emergence of our wicked overfishing past. 

I'm hopeful it's a little different this time. Now there are a tiny handful of folks at NOAA & big enviro who have first-hand knowledge of exactly how badly wrong an MRIP estimate can be on the low side. 
MRIP says Maryland party boats caught zero sea bass and the state caught 348 for the year. These few insiders must be thinking "..but isn't that about what we caught on a Maryland partyboat in just one trip?" 

Thus far if any story can be concocted that supports recreational fishers making their best catches ever despite the tightest regulations in history, management buys the estimate. 
They justify destruction of an entire recreational fishery with bad catch estimates by thinking what they're doing is what's best for fish & fishers. They're making a 'tough love' regulation, always tougher than before, that will finally take the sea bass fishery to the promised land. They believe continued response to catch estimates "by the book" is what's best. 

Nevermind exponential sea bass population growth in the late 1990s. Killing the fishery with regulation today is better than bolstering it with biology & ecology. . . .

Readers will recall MRIP's March/April NJ Shore Tautog Estimate was greater than all US Commercial Tautog Landings for all of 2010. Guys freezing their tail off trying to catch the first tog of the year along NJ's rock jetties; in those two cold-water months guys probably didn't catch a hundred fish. 
No matter: MRIP shoots a flare, klaxons blare; "OVERFISHING ALERT - OVERFISHING ALERT" and 173,000 tog are officially caught from shore in the March/April period.  

Like the 3.1 million sea bass estimate for Sept/Oct 1997 in NJ's Party/Charter sector; That tautog estimate is EXACTLY the sort of spike that has happened to the sea bass fishery each & every time regulation has tightened. I detailed each catch estimate spike in my 3/14/14 & 3/16/14 Fish Reports. 
Each & every time sea bass regs have tightened, it was because of single mode estimates ..e.g. just Party/Charter and not Private Boats. Or, always the case since 2003, Private Boats catching incredibly better than ever before while For-Hire catch struggles under the weight of regulation. 

Catch estimates showing fantastic new levels of catch despite tighter & tighter regulation have never happened broadly across a state's Private Boat & For-Hire sectors at the same time - or even across a multi-state region. It's always a spike in one sector's estimate. 

When hackers introduce fake deposits into the banking system and then withdraw those fake deposits as real cash - that's theft by bad data. 
MRIP is destroying the recreational sea bass fishery by exactly the same technique in reverse: MRIP shows fake withdraws that managers perceive as overfishing and tighten accordingly - that's theft by bad data too. 

Maybe it's not criminal, but it sure feels that way from my vantage as a business owner on the receiving side. 

Everything I've written about over & over & over these many years: historical habitat shrinkage, spawning age/maturity, habitat fidelity & the incredible power of habitat increase -- None of that is being used in the fight for reef-fish restoration. These other tools are of no concern so long as management believes they have plausible catch estimates they can use in their oh-so comfortable routine of greater & greater catch restriction. 

Management believes New York or Massachusetts private boats could have quite handily caught more sea bass in two months than all US professional effort landed all year, they believe  under-regulated catch is worse than unregulated catch just like in the 1970s & 80s. They believe catch is still the problem they need to grapple. 
Management continues to believe habitat & spawning behaviors are simply wild theoreticals no one could ever reign-in for management's purpose. They believe little plastic boats fishing with the strictest sea bass regulations in history are capable of far more catch than all Trawl/Trap & For-Hire fishing combined. This while the Private Boaters themselves absolutely believe they are being victimized by traps on artificial reefs, Private Boaters believe they Do Not Even Have A Chance at catching sea bass because "the traps catch them all" (except sometimes they think party boats catch them all..)  

I want readers to know this: The sea bass fishery is in real trouble. Big trouble. Bad trouble.  
Mark my words. This regulatory situation will get much worse before it gets better if we do not stop management's present use of MRIP. 
A slow painful death, a regulatory anaconda squeezing the life from it's prey; we must write.  

To make real progress in sea bass restoration we must discover how to exceed the population of sea bass that existed immediately after WWII.. Commercial landings, mostly by trawl, from the 1950s remain greater than all commercial landings from 1961 to present. 
No estimate. Not a guess. Those fish were weighed & sold by the pound. 
Habitat creation & restoration; habitat fidelity as a guide to managed extraction; invigorated spawning production brought about on-purpose by management: that's how we can exceed any population of sea bass that ever existed. 

Instead of pretending MRIP offers "science," we should take MRIP out behind the woodshed. It's because management has grown used to and comfortable with recreational catch estimates as their "best available science" that management is blind to what real fisheries science has to offer. 
Why should management work on restoration via biology or ecology when all that's called for is catch reduction.. 

What a waste, what a shame. 
Write to your State Fisheries Director &, much more importantly, your DC Reps. 
Tell them this: 
Management's continued use of completely incorrect recreational catch estimates is destroying some fisheries, especially the sea bass & red snapper fisheries. The new recreational catch estimating program, MRIP, is much worse than the MRFSS program Congress ordered replaced in the last re-write of Magnuson.
Accurate estimates would have been a wonderful tool in solving overfishing problems which peaked in the late 1980s. Overfishing long-since arrested; management must now move forward with biology & ecology. 
The ocean grows greener, not more blue. 
Seafloor habitat lost in the height of industrial fishing has yet to be discovered, let alone restored. Even exquisitely well-studied hardbottoms---the oyster reefs & bars lost in the Mid-Atlantic's estuaries, have yet to be calculated into fisheries restoration for their habitat production. 
Our most powerful tools in reef-fish restoration---the creation/restoration of habitat and forcing early spawning maturity---lie unused in management's tool-kit while managers continually restrict catch in unending cycle as each new set of MRIP estimates arrives. 
We must instead look at what worked & see plainly what hasn't.  
Remove MRIP from fisheries regulation until a true repair to our catch estimates has been fashioned. 
It is quite clear that NOAA & NMFS's comfort is so extreme that even blatantly false catch estimates, inexcusably bad data that no one would ever call 'good science', are of no concern because it's their "best available science."  
Our repair must come from Congress. 
Bad Catch Estimates Make Bad Regulations. 

Ask your Senators & Representative to help. 

Lots & lots & lots of bad catch estimates have now created lots & lots of bad regulations. 
More will follow. 
NOAA & NMFS cannot let go. They're Not Even Trying To Fix It
So far as NOAA's concerned, using catch estimates exactly as published is their job. 
Everyone needs a paycheck. They're not going to quit doing their job. Congress has to make them. 
If we will not write, Congress will not know. 

We're being robbed of the sea bass fishery. That theft is not just in past & especially upcoming regulation. 
I have witnessed firsthand the growth in population sea bass regulation is capable of. The real theft will occur while NOAA/NMFS/Council/Commission are patting themselves on the back for 'repairing' this reef fishery. Restoration's true potential may languish forever if catch estimates are the only 'science' brought to bear. 

Your Congressman & Senators are the only ones who can fix it. We must get MRIP declassified as "best available science." 
Congress must force management to consider an estimate's veracity before it is used. 
MRIP's just wrong for its assigned task. In fact, their idea of repair in today's iPhone world is to switch from random calling to a mail-in survey.
Unshackled from statistical malfeasance, restoration's real possibilities will emerge. 
We should all look forward to that day. 

Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

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