Morning Star Fish Report

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Fish Report 4/10/22

Fish Report 4/10/22
Opening May Sea Bass Reservations.. 
We've Lost Three Weeks Of Late Season Sea Bass..
Aim To Get It Back! Addresses & Emails Below.

From Essay Below..
I've sworn this will be the last time my livelihood is threatened by recreational catch estimate data no one should believe and hardly anyone does; the last time I squander untold weeks and months of life doing opposition research and lobbying to repair something NOAA ought to have well in hand by now.
(Addresses & material needed for letters at bottom - promise. You could skip all my research and just use the guide at the end. But if you want to know more about how we got here..)

I have never seen broader acknowledgement at the highest levels of NOAA concerning our recreational catch data troubles. Honestly, it's widely recognized. Ungluing this statistical mess will still require incredible effort on recreational fishers part, but the folks who can make change happen are really listening. Statisticians have always blocked our efforts. Now they're listening to fishermen. That's really new.
If recreational fishers will not write their DC representatives and State/NOAA fisheries officials now, however, our catch data will likely continue to grow worse until it's just not worth going fishing anymore. The more their computers say we catch, the less they allow us to catch.
A few emails or even the extra effort to snail mail in the right spots will do more than complaining about regulations on Facebook all year or for a decade.
When summer seasons are cut to 40 days with 1 fluke & 1 sea bass for recreational anglers, then closed the rest of the year because Private Boats "Catch" more sea bass & fluke than all Commercial Trap & Trawl, you'll want to be among the small fraction of anglers that fought..
Write!
******

IF YOU BOOK LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER & LISTEN TO YOUR MESSAGES -
Weather Cancellations Happen - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way..

May Trips Are NonRefundable! Reschedule in event of bad weather? Of Course! But no refunds..

Opening May 15 to June 4for sea bass trips. Size limit 13 inches - 15 per person.
Opening Sunday - May 15 - and Memorial Weekend May 28 & 29 - Sailing 6am to 3:30pm - $155.00 - 18 Clients Sells Out!
Otherwise - Sailing Daily - Saturdays 6:30 to 3:30 at $155.00 — Weekdays & Sundays 7 to 3 at $135 - All Trips Sell Out at 18 Anglers.
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.
With a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you overslept or had a flat..
Trips Also Announced on Facebook at Morning Star Fishing
https://www.facebook.com/ocfishing/ & my personal FB page along with after action (or lack thereof) reports..

Bait is provided on all trips. 

If You Won't Measure & Count Your Fish, The State Will Provide A Man With A Gun To Do It For You. We Measure & Count — ALWAYS — No Exceptions! 
It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure. Bonine seems best because it's non-drowsy. Truly cheap & effective insurance.
Honestly - If you get to go on the ocean once month, once a year, or even less; why risk chumming all day? Similarly, if you howl at the moon all night, chances are good you'll howl into a bucket all day.

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Cooler Is Fine For A Few People. Do Not Bring A Very Large Cooler. We have a few loaners - you'll still need ice.
No Galley! Bring Food & Beverages To Suit. A few beers in cans is fine for the ride home.
Wishbone doesn't replace backbone.. Have to keep a shoulder into reef building to make it happen.
Donations help too!Ocreefs.org

As of 4/10/22 we have 35,906 Reef Blocks & 437 Reef Pyramids (170lb ea) deployed at numerous ACE permitted ocean reef sites - we also have 548 pyramids deployed by MD CCA at Chesapeake Bay oyster sites working to restore blue ocean water…
Currently being targeted oceanside: Virginia Lee Hawkins Memorial Reef 99 Reef Blocks (+55 Reef Pyramids begun 8/18/20) - Capt. Jack Kaeufer's/Lucas Alexander's Reefs 1,888 Blocks (+44 Reef Pyramids) - Doug Ake's Reef 4,174 blocks (+16 Reef Pyramids) - St. Ann's 2,817 (+8 Reef Pyramids) - Sue's Block Drop 1,582 (+20 Reef Pyramids) - TwoTanks Reef 1,223 (+ 11 Reef Pyramids) - Capt. Bob's Inshore Block Drop 912 - Benelli Reef 1,491 (+ 15 Pyramids) - Rudy's Reef 465 - Capt. Bob's Bass Grounds Reef 3,796 (+72 reef pyramids) - Wolf & Daughters Reef 734 - Al Berger's Reef 1,129 (+14 Reef Pyramids) - Great Eastern Block Drop 1,402 (+21 Reef Pyramids).. And a soon-to-be-named reef at Russell's Reef 30 Blocks & 49 Pyramids - We've also begun block drops at Capt Greg Hall's Memorial Reef with 212 Blocks & 2 Pyramids..


Cut & Paste this essay - send to anyone who enjoys our marine recreational fisheries.


Greetings All,
Some great news in the fight for honest recreational catch estimates, for the permanent repair of MRIP — NOAA's "marine recreational information program"..
Some bad news too though. Sea bass fishermen along DelMarVa have (as of 4/8/22) officially lost a full 3 weeks of our best early winter season because of MRIP catch data. Each region of sea bass regulation from VA Beach to Cape Cod is impacted.

I've sworn this will be the last time my livelihood is threatened by recreational catch estimate data no one should believe and hardly anyone does; the last time I squander untold weeks and months of life doing opposition research and lobbying to repair something NOAA ought to have well in hand by now.

Every time MRIP claims we've caught beyond our Recreational Harvest Limit (RHL - or Recreational Quota), regulations grow more severe.
Except in 2016 & 2017 when the worst of MRIP's estimates were thrown-out by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's (MAFMC) Science & Statistical Committee. (SSC)
The estimates bringing economic pain to the recreational sea bass fishery (with a fish population NOAA tells is fully double "restored" levels) are, I believe, as bad as those 2016/17 estimates they pitched. 

Here's the good news — at the national saltwater recreational fishing meeting in DC end of March, much of NOAA's big brass were present, state fisheries' top people too. Straight out of the gate at conference's opening - BAM! - the very first speaker blasted NOAA's recreational catch estimates from MRIP. Several others did as well. 
Amazing.

Complaining about MRIP from the podium.. I had never seen it before. Am accustomed to being all alone in decrying recreational catch data - at least directly. At the end of the two day meeting all that brass was tired of hearing about MRIP, especially from me. I gave example after example of terrible estimates that have no right to be called "Best Available Science" because they're not remotely true.
My last comment to the 175 attendees was "If you're using MRIP, you're just pretending you have data."

Nowadays MRIP frequently has all Party & Charter Boats catching only a thin sliver's worth of Commercial landings - a small percentage ..while Private Boats, from one state, in one two-month 'wave' period, have been shown to catch as many sea bass as all commercial trawl & trap all year.
When Coastwide Private Boat catch is combined, it is almost normal (in MRIP's estimates) to show Private Boats from Cape Cod to VA Beach catching double the sea bass of All commercial landings. Some years MRIP will even show Private Boats catching double all professional effort - Commercial Trawl/Trap & Party/Charter combined.
Fancy that..

Currently NOAA's Mid & North Atlantic Regional Administer, Mike Pentony, believes he must use any MRIP estimate that springs to life on headquarters' computer screen — even when nearly every other manager in the room, save those with no fishing experience whatever such as environmental reps — knows the data should be disregarded or at least downplayed.

More good news from the conference — I also learned we have a new "Acting Director of Scientific Programs and Chief Science Advisor at NOAA," Dr. Jon Hare, & a new head at at MRIP itself, (Thank Goodness!) Dr Evan Howell. These folks are sharp - sharp as they come really. They are at least willing to consider my 24 year-old complaint of bad catch data's undo influence on recreational regulation; and, now increasing sharply, how recreational catch data is misleading every aspect of fisheries science where abundance & catch are a consideration. MRIP's indications of abundance have even mislead commercial regulation to the point of granting quotas that are far too high. Those painful errors are just now beginning to become obvious, especially in summer flounder. When fish population analysts ('stock analysts' in the trade) use MRIP's inflated catch data, those populations appear much larger. It's a "Well, if they're catching That Many fish, there must be a lot more out there than we previously thought" sort of thinking. From stock analysts estimates both recreational & commercial quotas are derived. 

A day to unpack after the conference and then an internet meeting about the new "Recreational Harvest Control Rule." This is a Herculean effort moving through both the ASFMC & MAFMC. It's only in consideration because mangers have become fully aware they cannot trust MRIP and are trying to keep rec fisheries alive through this harsh period of bad data. We'll need to support the new rule. It's all we'll have until MRIP is taken behind the woodshed by the highest levels of NOAA - if ever.
Our present system of fisheries restoration/management/regulation, you see, is dependent on knowing "Catch" for virtually all of its calculations. To answer, "How many fish are in the sea?" & "How many fish should managers allow to be caught?" scientists and managers need to know catch.
These antiquated regulatory methods are based on early fisheries works focused on commercial fishing: when fish are sold by the pound or ton, knowing catch is simply a matter of paperwork. "Knowing catch" was never thought a mystery in mid-1900s texts on fisheries science. All one needed do was look at dockside sales. There were an awful lot more fish being caught in the 1950s & 60s. Recreational fishing then was thought so inconsequential as to be just "silly methods of capture." (In fact, there were more sea bass landed commercially, mostly by trawl, from 1950 to 1961 than in all the years since combined.)
The proposed "Harvest Control Rule" https://www.mafmc.org/actions/hcr-framework-addendaamendment allows management to use many other measures of management success besides just running MRIP's latest estimates through equations never intended for recreational estimates.
If you're going to comment to ASMFC on the rule - please support Option C: The Fishery Score approach.. A simple blank email here with "Harvest Control Rule, Option C" in the title is worth as much as one of my essays.. comments@asmfc.org

After so much great news at the national conference, on that two hour web meeting I heard a young fishery management staffer describe (exactly what he'd been taught in school?) how "when regulations tighten fishermen begin looking inside the estimates at state/wave levels. They weren't designed for that."
I don't know if other fishermen are prying apart coastwise data for a peak at the building blocks or if it's just me. No matter. Yes, they were designed for big broad swathes of coast. Even a State estimate is best used across the whole year. The NY Private Boat estimate for all of 2016, for instance, had a nice low PSE "Proportional Standard Error" of 22. That's really good for a state estimate. MRIP's proud of that accuracy. At 6,166,963 pounds of sea bass, however, the Science & Statistical Committee threw it out for being a statistical outlier.
That's a really short list - one of very few estimates ever to be tossed.
Boy do we need this last crop of sea bass estimates pitched too.
Consider — Virginia's wave 3 (May/June) 2021 Private Boat is estimated at 500,000 lbs. You'd have to add up 2006 through 2020 — 15 Years! — to get that many pounds of VA sea bass.
I've been catching sea bass with my VA neighbors a very long time, 42 years now. Even 50,000 lbs would be highly suspect. And this estimate scarcely plays a role in our current issue.
Madness.
When scientists and managers ponder recreational catch they are reliant on MRIP's statistics - not weighed catch. Should regulations be tightened in certain regions & relaxed in others? "Conservation Equivalency" based regulations were invented for this dilema—and this widely used method of management is the only reason I still have a business; it's why states, or collections of states forming 'regions,' can create separate regulations. Under Conservation Equivalency recreational catch data is split by hairs all the way down to state & individual two month periods called 'waves.' (Under MRIP May/June is wave 3, Nov/Dec wave 6, like that..) The estimates may not have been designed for being pried apart - but managers & fishery scientists do just that all the time.

It's not just close examination; so far as I'm concerned, and will try to prove, MRIP's estimates aren't much good at anything. They should all be corrected.


How can For-Hire recreational fishers know "its bad data"? The biggest difference is we Party/Charter skippers create real data every time we go fishing. We have to fill out electronic log books called "VTRs" or Vessel Trip Reports.
If we do not go and don't submit? That becomes data too.
If we go and do not submit? That's cheating & our permits would not be renewed.

The other aspect of Party/Charter skippers' knowledge of recreational catch is from observation. We have to have a good idea of where other boats are fishing to remain competitive. Rarely would Private Boats be a consideration. Yet in MRIP's data, Private Boats often catch more sea bass than the commercial community—and always more than Party/Charter.
If I took my clients fishing where a fleet of trawlers had just passed, they sure wouldn't do well. Same if a large Partyboat had recently pounded a particular reef or wreck. MRIP, however, says Grady Whites & Boston Whalers are better at extraction - much better. If it were so the savvy For-Hire fisherman would only need to watch carefully for the "fleet'' in pressure sensitive fisheries and not concern himself with other For-Hire boats. Still, we keep a rough idea of Private Boat pressure. Off Maryland I'll often ask fellow For-Hire skippers "How many Private Boats did you see today?"

How wrong can MRIP be? A fine example is in the 3 weeks of sea bass season we just lost.
Maryland, Delaware & Virginia are a "Region" where sea bass, summer flounder & tautog management are concerned. "One for All, All for One" sort of thing. Consider: in the ten years from 2009 to 2018 Virginia Private Boat anglers were estimated to have caught, on average, 1,162 pounds of sea bass in Nov/Dec. (A Thousand Pounds basically. Not Much.)
In 2019? 179,481 lbs. (Big Jump.)
In 2020 (when no on from MRIP was checking docks for catch during Covid) - 363,041 (500,000lbs) - That's an astounding increase from the previous decade's average of 1,100lbs with a decade-high of 5,156lbs in 2017. You must examine back to the unregulated period in 1991 to see an equally preposterous estimate. MRIP estimates they "caught" the most sea bass over 30 years — when no one was actually counting..
In 2021 VA Private Boats were estimated at 'just' 94,284 lbs.
A 19,197.2% increase from the previous decade? 
It's a spike.
Happens all the time in MRIP.
No one sees enough Private Boat traffic to make fantastic catches like this, but that hasn't slowed statisticians who have no idea whatever of any sort of fishing, let alone the early winter sea bass fishery..

Now, anyone familiar with the Nov/Dec sea bass fishery might be thinking, "Everyone knows Party/Charter is doing almost all the catching then."
True! 
And our catch numbers, repaired back in 2003, are almost good - almost. They're OK.
All three states For-Hire together averaged 13,209 sea bass for Nov/Dec.
And just VA's Private Boats landed 363,000 fish? When we only see a small handful of Private Boats on the nicest days of Nov/Dec?
Believe me, extrapolating "Effort" -multiplying the number of anglers- is where MRIP's trouble is. 
MRIP claims Party/Charter catch just 12% of DelMarVa's Nov/Dec sea bass — that anglers on Private Boats vastly outnumber For-Hire clients.
I'd wager everything I own it is instead Private Boats that do not catch 12% of our early winter sea bass.. 

NOAA's Regional Administrator will book no discussion at a Council or Commission meeting. MRIP is "Peer Reviewed" and "The Best Scientific Information Available." So, because it's also the only data available - MRIP must be used.

We'd be just as well served by a Powerball lottery machine — have some pretty gal draw each state's Private Boat landings by ping-pong ball.
Honestly.
MRIP, in my opinion, is that random.

While Virginia's wayward estimates are what pulled DelMarVa into this year's overfishing fray, states to our north have not escaped NOAA's wrath.
No, up north it's worse.
Connecticut's catch too shot skyward recently. From 2002 to 2011 CT Private Boat anglers were estimated to average 27,967 lbs of sea bass annually.
From 2012 to 2021 their catch climbed 3,500% to average 971,924 lbs across the last ten years. A million pounds is a lot of sea bass. 
Suddenly, in 2021 it doubled. MRIP's CT Private Boat estimate of 812,354 sea bass equates as 2,040,144 lbs.
Although Connecticut has a robust Party/Charter fishery, MRIP has them catching just 3.2% of that state's sea bass in 2021. I've been told its closer to 35 or 40% - that Party/Charter truly & sensibly have a strong presence in CT's recreational sea bass fishery.
Because Party/Charter estimates have been stabilized since 2003 (after which Private Boat catch went crazy - always higher & higher) we can presume the MRIP CT Party/Charter sea bass annual estimate of 26,975 is fairly tight. With a usable base catch created by For-Hire estimates and a "Percentage of Catch" formed with For-Hire operators' multi-decade observations; now instead of relying on state population-scale statistics, we can build a better estimate using For-Hire's firmer catch estimates & daily VTRs, plus their observations from being "on the grounds" with some captains fishing a lifetime.

If CT For-Hire catches about 35 or 40% of that state's sea bass instead of an inconsequential 3.2%, a simple calculation based on the Party/Charter estimate drops the Private Boat estimate like a stone from almost a million sea bass to just 67,437.
But what if Private/Boat skippers are overestimating their percentage of the catch by double - if instead of 40%, CT For-Hire really only catches 20%? I bet not, but watch what happens: with CT Private Boat landing 80% & For-Hire just 20%, the 2021 Private Boat estimate drops from 2,040,000 lbs to 337,186 lbs (or from 812,351 to 134,875 sea bass — or, most simply, from 2M to 1/3 of a million pounds.)

That's how important "Percentage of the Catch" calculations could be. For-Hire skipper's percentage estimations are really based on the number of boats they see. We're always watching for fishing pressure. Always have.
Here are some of my Connecticut "Where are the Boats" calculations from "On the Theft of Marine Recreational Fisheries by MRIP Recreational Catch Data" which I published as "Fish Report 2/28/22"
***********
In Sept/Oct 2021 Connecticut Private Boat anglers caught 3X more pounds of sea bass than they'd averaged in the previous decade's Sept/Oct periods  — 1,009,000lbs.
With MRIP's estimate of 236,419 Private Boat anglers it would have taken 67,548 boat trips at 3.5 anglers per boat. Divide again by 45 possible days of fishing in Sept/Oct and it would take 1,501 Private Boats targeting (or secondary targeting) sea bass every possible weather day — 1500 every fishable day..
Of course, that's not how Private Boat fishing works. Fishing pressure shoots skyward on Saturday then declines until Friday morning.
While the MRIP effort estimate for CT Party/Charter remained within a couple hundred clients between 2019 & 2021 at around 5,750 anglers; CT Sept/Oct Private Boat shot from 91,500 anglers in '19 - to 114,600 in 2020 - to 236,419 in 2021..
Stranger still, while CT Party/Charter skippers think they catch 35 or 40% of their state's sea bass landings, MRIP shows a Two-Million pound lead for Private Boat.
That would leave CT Party/Charter's extraction immaterial to fishery managers - if any of them believed it.

Massachusetts Private Boats were up a quarter million pounds in 2020 and 1.2 million pounds more in 2021 to an astonishing 2,275,000 pounds total.
Another Section from Fish Report 2/28/22: 
..according to NOAA's official catch estimates, Massachusetts' Private Boats caught 2X more sea bass by themselves in May & June 2021 than all Partyboats & Charter boats from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod landed all year.
Here by annual measure: in 2020 Massachusetts Private guys caught more sea bass than all Party/Charter by 732,000lbs. In 2021 those MA Private Boats outfished all recreational professionals by 1.6 million pounds.
That's just Massachusetts' Grady Whites, Boston Whalers & even some kayaks from Cape Cod to the Rhode Island state line that caught 2.5 million pounds of sea bass in 2021. All Massachusetts Party/Charter only caught 40,000lbs in 2020 and 70,000 in 2021..

New Jersey played a minor role in the Regional Administer's demand we cut 20% off the 2022 recreational quota. Their May/June catch rose from a pretty much average 600K to 1.3M in 2021.

New York's recreational estimates have always been the worst. They're just a mess. NY's Private Boats have been shown to catch more sea bass than all Party/Charter and Commercial combined. Their Private Boat Average is 2.2M across the period while Party/Charter shows 370K or just 14.4% of NY's sea bass..

Here also from my 2/28/22 report - the section on Maryland's Private Boats.
MD's Private Boat May/June 2021 catch offers a tiny overestimate in MRIP's world. It had nothing to do with this year's harsher regulations. Still, I've been fishing Maryland's coast for sea bass almost every fishable day since May 1980. I know of what I write. This is a solid look at recreational sea bassing's truth…

..Along the Maryland coastin May/June 2021 MRIP has MD Private Boats catching 103,000 sea bass.
I have both Party/Charter & Private Boat guys watching for boat counts. They're used to me asking on the radio and texting. We only have one inlet. A crazy high day would be 40 Private Boats. Oft times it's much closer to none. A bit of wind or just a weekday no one took off to go fishing? No effort or dern little.
Yet MRIP's effort estimation of 19,600 dedicated Private Boat trips shows we'd need 186 boats targeting sea bass from OC Inlet each of the 30 days I was able to get my boat out in May/June 2021.
Most days each of us sees one or two private boats - either within a couple miles or nearby - a dozen/fifteen altogether.
Think we'd notice 170 more?

There was a camera mounted to do count boats at Ocean City, MD's Inlet, but it failed in May/June.

No escaping it - If Private Boat Catch, Then Private Boats Fishing.
Like the little old lady in the Wendy's commercial of yore: "Where's The Beef?"
Where are the boats NOAA? No one sees 'em save on your computer screens.
*********

Every regulatory tightening has had a factual impact on For-Hire landings, yet among Private Boat estimates a million or more pounds added or lost in one wave/one state is not at all unusual. Management can rarely observe a response to regulatory tightening save by closure. When a season or bag limit is cut or a size limit raised, MRIP is just as likely to show catch doubling as being restricted.
Worse still is MRIP's increasing catch over time. They cannot seem to stop adding more anglers. More anglers equals more catch.



Below is a table I pulled from a 2011 piece I wrote called "Course Correction." I've modified/updated it with a column of 2022 data. The biggest difference from a decade ago is MRIP has grown fantasticality worse. While recreational catch bounces around like an open carton of BBs rattling around an empty boxcar over a rough stretch of track, science & management are unable to see the truth of a fish population's response to regulation - especially from a historical context.
This is the "repair" to MURFSS we were given in the 2012 release of MRIP. NOAA claimed (and I believed) when 'saltwater registry' numbers became available the truth of catch would become known. 
Instead? MRIP invented more anglers who "Did Not Register" & added more Effort. When MRIP interviewed Private Boat & Shore anglers they thought these recreational fishers were lying; concealing their true number of trips. (What? WHY? Afraid the boss would see? Sheesh..) MRIP added more trips per angler again — more Effort, again. 

Estimate Status
Y
NY
Priv Boat
Common Name
Same years but MRIP in 2022
PSE
MRFSS Sea Bass 2011


FINAL
2003
Sept/Oct
BLACK SEA BASS
209,143
40.7
101,350


FINAL
2004
Sept/Oct
BLACK SEA BASS
51,433
61
29,863


FINAL
2005
Sept/Oct
BLACK SEA BASS
7,369
68.8
7,749


FINAL
2006
Sept/Oct
BLACK SEA BASS
104,695
50.3
58,398


FINAL
2007
Sept/Oct
BLACK SEA BASS
133,138
57.1
42,352


FINAL
2008
Sept/Oct
BLACK SEA BASS
160,890
48.6
54,352


FINAL
2009
Sept/Oct
BLACK SEA BASS
401,463
45.9
105,256


FINAL
2010
Sept/Oct
BLACK SEA BASS
561,289(over a million lbs)
39
325,074



Yes, we need our full sea bass season back. The estimates I've shown are a darned mess and should not be used to rob anyone's recreational quota.
What I spelled out in my 2/28/22 report, however, is MRIP's long term upending of management's successes. Estimates have risen so much they've fouled the most difficult aspect of fisheries science - gauging how many fish are in the sea.
Recreational catch estimates are about to cause real trouble owing vastly increased commercial quotas. 
It's true recreational quotas have also been substantially increased - but only to match ghost quota that's never been caught - fish on computer screens. 
They didn't ask for it, but commercial fishermen certainly aren't going to turn down increases in quota either. Their summer flounder quota was raised 49% and sea bass even more, 59%,  for the 2019 season and beyond. Those are, by far, the largest quota leaps in fisheries history and owe only to MRIP's last "recalibration."
Most of MRIP's recreational catch remains a harmless illusion on a computer. Commercial quota, however, will indeed turn into fish on ice at the market ..if they can catch em.
In 2020 & 21 fully 25% of the commercial summer flounder quota was unharvested. So far it's being blamed on covid.
We'll see.
Not only is there immediate trouble for the recreational For-Hire sea bass fishery in losing three weeks of vital season; beneath the tip of that iceberg is a major fisheries disaster of overly enlarged commercial quota - a wreck already in motion. 




Anyone interested in preserving the work of fishery management's decades of effort should try to understand what I'm getting at here. I think we're undoing much of management's success by handing off quota to commercial fish. When population declines, likely lead by summer flounder (fluke), are at last blatantly observable by the fall of 2022 or 2023, it will show up in NOAA's graphs and tables as having been overfished by Grady Whites & Boston Whalers with the grandkids aboard - even by kayaks in the Massachusetts sea bass fishery..

Statisticians wouldn't listen to fisherman's advice at any step since the 2007 Congressional mandate of recreational catch estimate's repair. In fact, the more we complained, the more they raised them.
I was told "Can't prove it" over & over - even just a few weeks ago.
Well, if you're a statistician I suppose fishing and catch is unknowable.
Believe this, as a fisherman I find the results of these multi-multi million dollar statistics an absolute squandering of money spent by NOAA. They have only resulted in recreational dollars unearned along US waterfronts. Worse still is the absolute waste of decades we could have used to focus on true fisheries restorations.

Ungluing this mess will require incredible effort.
If recreational fishers will not write their DC representatives and NOAA officials now, then catch will likely worsen.
When summer seasons are 40 days with 1 fluke & 1 sea bass and then closed the rest of the year, you'll want to be among the small fraction of anglers that fought.
Write.

Here's what US East Coast recreational fisheries need. A & B are your sample letter. It's ALL new people at NOAA. They didn't do this. Save your tongue lashings for elsewhere and maybe they'll repair it. Emails will work, snail mails sent to a DC Representative's field office are better. (Snail mail to DC gets snarled in anthrax inspections.) If you contact an office and find out which staffers handle environmental/fisheries matters you'll get a heck of a lot more traction.

Best advice I ever got for these efforts: "Everyone's your friend when you're trying to get something done in politics." It's 'catch more flies with sugar than vinegar' sort of thinking. If you've never heard, "Oh, that must have fallen off my desk," just trust me. Write Nice. We certainly got read with the 2/28/22 piece.

A) Though examined numerous times to statisticians' peer reviewed approval, NOAA should create an "Extended Peer Review" where everyone involved has a say in MRIP's validation & use. Managers, Fisheries Scientists, Knowledgable Fishermen, & Statisticians - all need to have a close look at the mess and repair MRIP's "effort." We absolutely must involve more than statistical mathemagicians - they don't recognize the impossible.

B) NOAA should develop "Percentage of the Catch" models to check MRIP estimates for statistical outliers—prepare tables showing how much of a species is caught by Party/Charter vs Private Boat as observed by long time professional fishermen. These observations balanced against VTR data and MRIP's For-Hire estimates would simply be a test, a red flare warning of a bad estimate coming through the system. "Percentage of the Catch" values with a spread of even 30% could be used to create "Bayesian stops" where catch or effort either too high or too low is not considered possible without closer scrutiny.


Write Your DC Reps (Senators & Congressman) Email will get read but if you snail mail a regional office they'll reply in writing. 

NOAA is under Commerce, Secretary of Commerce, thesec@doc.gov Gina M. Raimondo

U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20230


Dr. Rick Spinrad PhD (rick.spinrad@noaa.gov ?? NOAA's big boss)
NOAA/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Room 5128
Washington, DC 20230

Janet Coit, Esq. NOAA Fisheries (New Fisheries Boss with LOTS of fisheries and enviro experience)
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20230


Evan Howell PhD. Director of MRIP (New! Willing to take a hard look at it!)
NOAA Fisheries 
1315 East-West Highway 
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Michael Pentony NOAA's Regional Administrator GARFO

Bob Beal
Executive Director ASMFC


Dr. Chris Moore
Executive Director MAFMC



If doing this you probably already know your state's fisheries people.. Keep them informed.
If not, they're pretty easy to look up.

We can crack this egg.
Shall.
Must actually. 
Cheers!
Monty

Capt Monty Hawkins 
Mhawkins@morningstarfishing.com 
Info@ocreefs.org

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