Friday, November 06, 2009

Fish Report 11/6/09

Fish Report 11/6/09
Toggin Better Than OK
Sea Bass in Converse
Hi All,
Couple good tog of late, tad north of 10 pounds. Just a very few. Very steady on stout mediums, the 3 to 7 pound fish.
Ran through all my tags - now reloaded - tagged a 21 3/4 inch sea bass, bunch of others..
Fished with 2 people on Wednesday. Wore 'em out - in early. Grind it out Thursday but well worth the effort. All limits save one, that though we threw back plenty of tagged legals.
Blown out Friday but did manage to site anchors at Kelly's for the coolest reef unit I have ever seen. I'm telling you, though small, the tog are gonna party there like cowhands at a Nevada chicken ranch - its going to be a tog factory. Sinking Saturday morning - weather permitting.
Have decided to sell out at 12 for toggin. Getting everyone on the structure is what this fishery is about - less is better. Stick with what I know: Crabs provided - sell out at 12 people - leave at 7 - Saturday's different - leave the best phone contact possible with reservation staff in case of bad weather....
Would prefer to be selling 22 tickets for sea bass--often busier in November than August--but NMFS perceived there was an emergency: Overfished Recreational Quota - Closed for 180 Days.
Seems the fellows up north outfished the party boats by a wide margin, private boats catching 5.34 cbass for every one caught on a party boat. That would defy belief here off Maryland's coast; I can't speak to it up there however.
Coastwide, way over quota they say..
I carried 2 MRFSS interviewers the other day. A perfect data capture - pristine. No doubt that NMFS believes their MRFSS data. But what happens between that perfect interview, intercept they call it, and a large area catch estimate is..
Driving me crazy.
Seems it would be so easy to truth, if they wanted the truth - really wanted it.
Not a whisper of that that I've heard. They trust the MRFSS data. Trust it enough to treat their clients like pirates did traitors: economically, I may as well be buried to my neck in sand, watching the tide come in. The fishers that Pew thinks are going to enjoy a pleasant life of quiet bioeconomic stability wait, watching from behind the pirate's island palms as this cohort of fishers meets their watery death.
NMFS: This data's solid, more than good enough to issue an economic death sentence - fishery closed.
..And now, like the brown eyed children in Jane Elliot's 3rd grade class, to most of the public and virtually all of the environmental community, we greedy evil fishers have perpetrated yet another vile foulness upon this ocean: 'You deserve to be closed, animal.'
I have worked far too hard at restoration to suffer willfully uninformed bureaucratic ineptitude casting me as a dolphin slayer in some tidal pool..
The folks that own this town are all in tongues.. quota-restoration-Magnusson-big environmental rebuilt fisheries-quota-stop overfishing-over quota-quota-economic pot of gold at the end when restored-quota too high-overfishing.. worked themselves into a tizzy I think, their serotonin release coming at great cost to fishers.
Honestly, if rational thought held sway, if this was really about fish and not some pretty paperwork decorating an inbox, if the management community were truly concerned with black sea bass populations and not just another footnote in their flowery report to congress, if restoration of a fishery--whose definition is never just a fish population; no, defining fishery must include the entirety of its environmental, economic & societal tendrils as well as those fish stocks which it uses: this current black sea bass restoration emergency would not, could not, be where cbass fishers are having good catches: no, if this system were fine-tuned and functioning, the emergency would be where fishers did not catch sea bass, not where they did--those skunked warranting attention, not those slamming 'em--emergency management where local collapse of a local stock known is occurring, this need-of-work plain as stench coming from the head door on a rough day; where regional absence of sea bass represents very real trouble, proactive management now afield looking for disruptors of their fishery..
Perhaps that is exactly what they would do though--show concern for low catches--if they believed Maryland really only caught 1,355 sea bass or Delaware's fleet of partyboats caught none at all. Maybe they'd be all over it.. but are, laughingly, content to toss out obviously bad catch estimates: the low ones.
That we might have the same fate for overestimates.. Estimates high protected by the brotherhood of tongues, estimates low of no consequence.
The worst trouble businesses can have is being perpetrated by those in government who are tasked with sustaining them.
No one questions the validity of catch-restriction as a tool:
This fishery can not be managed as it is. ALS and Federal tag returns unambiguous; it must be split into regions.
When a lot of fishers complain about data do not suppose management to have suffered injustice to good work - something's wrong with the data.
When trawl net surveys have great difficulty catching but the fewest sea bass it is because those fish live on corals, places where nets can not go--or--where  operators of conscience know they should not go. Data-poor does not have to make fishers poor. Use solid catch/release data to model the stock.
Sea bass change sex according to the size of the male spawning population. This can be used to take oscillation out of regional populations, or it can be ignored to make the swings wilder.
To close this fishery based on strict adherence to law while conveniently ignoring the habitat provisions in that same law should be punishable by law.
There's plenty here that needs to get straightened out.
Irritating enough as is; it will get far worse by spring.
Unless it gets better.
A fisherman - I know that's possible.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076

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