Fish Report 4/8/10
Sea Bass Closure Continued By NMFS
.."It's the best science available" is disingenuous. Using a MRFSS centerpoint is management's policy -- not at all the best science: Perhaps not science at all...
I'm opening up the reservation book from April 11th to the 15th & from the 18th to the 25th for tog trips. I also have the book open for sea bass trips from May 22cnd to the end of June.
On April 11th, 23rd & 24th I am sailing 6 am to 4(ish) 10 hour trips for $125.00 -- All the other tog trips are $100.00 regular 7am to 3 pm days.
Boat sells out at 14 - Green crabs provided - Cabin heated if need be - Leave as scheduled or earlier if all are aboard - PLEASE be a little early so we can leave early - Return as scheduled or a little later - Reservation a must, that phone number in signature - Email does not work for reservations - Call - Leave a good phone number--Cell--in case of cancellation.
Tog Limit is 4 fish @ 14 inches - We encourage the release of all females under 16 (and some way bigger too!!) Fish Pool is decided by length so tagged and released fish count too.
Yes, we have caught some big tog this year and in years past. No, I can not pick what size, if any, are going to bite on any given day -- We are going fishing. Inexperienced tog fishers frequently find this an exasperating sport.. So do the sharpies some days. It's more about presentation than in our other fisheries.
An interesting inspection. I think for the first time in my career none of my 4 Coast Guard surveyors were alive when I started fishing -- none were alive when I got my captain's license -- perhaps two of this Team were alive when I had my first vessel under command inspection..
The high-water bilge alarms they checked & found working were very likely a direct result of my pleadings before they were born.
Friends with a few years on me say I must get used to it.
It really was a good inspection--careful, methodical, thorough and professional. They appreciated our efforts of same. It did exactly what the law intends; forced me to go all through my boat in pre-inspection repair and maintenance so that the passengers I carry this season will be as safe as possible under current regulation.
At its conclusion the lead inspector felt a need to write-up something, the dreaded 8-35 deficiency form... Back in 1983 or so everyone had their "Emergency Instruction Placard" posted in the wheelhouse. Then the regulatory clause 'available to read' was interpreted to mean passengers as well. So we all, all around the country, had to move these framed papers out of the wheelhouse to the passenger salon. Now, as of this 2010 inspection, I have to have the placard both up in the wheelhouse and down below.. (pity if you're on a boat where the captain has to quickly read the instructions on how to operate in heavy weather..)
OK, OK, No worries; That's the inspector's interpretation of the rule and I will comply.
But also appeal.
It's a very small thing. Super-small. So small I wouldn't normally bring it up.. except it wonderfully illustrates how we came to be where we are with this year's sea bass regulations........
I was both heartened & disappointed at the recent announcement of the continued closure of sea bass by the Regional Administrator, Dr. Kurkel, through May 21st.
For many years our sea bass season began in late April or the first few days of May--A few weeks after Mackerel. The fishing was so reliable that even in our darkest days of unregulated overfishing people would drive to the coast to fish.. so reliable that decades later I set my boat payments up around it.
Our spring run now appears mostly confiscated by regulation.
All is not lost, however, as in the press release Dr. Kurkel did not set an end to the season. I harbor more than a flicker of hope that some in the corner offices are engaged in debate over the fate cast upon men by these poorest of catch-estimates..
Who will claim statistical support of good governance when MRFSS (marine recreational fishing statistics survey) has all of MD --everyone-- catching 1,355 sea bass last year: All Year. I caught more than that in one day with scientists aboard in 2002, we tagged 1,150 of 'em. Still, the 1,355 catch-estimate snuck through and became "The Best Science Available."
MRFSS also has MD party/charter boats catching 11 (yes, eleven) tautog in all of 2009. We're allowed 4 per person.. This estimate is so poor I can not approximate what percentage it is wrong by..
With absolute certainty these estimates are provably wrong. There are many more. Even following out the PSEs --the "plus or minus such & so percent" that is the hallmark of statistics-- does not put these estimates in the ballpark.
They're just Bad Statistics.
So too is MRFSS' 2009 Massachusetts private boat catch-estimate: Where a steady +-13,000 sea bass in July/August for years jumped to 167,000 in July/August of last year.
..there our troubles began.
It is part of the reason why we have replaced MRFSS with MRIP - That MA 2 month wave estimate and others will become textbook classics.
I can not prove that MA did not catch insane numbers of sea bass last year, nor can I push with a string.
No one can disprove too high an estimate.
But many can disprove when they're too low.
Continued governance with centerpoints of outrageously invalid statistical catch estimates is destroying many businesses.
I plead Mercy..
This "Best Science Available" is a statistical spread -- No statistician asserts that the centerpoint has any special validity other than being a single point: The true and correct number of fish caught, were it discoverable, is often somewhere in the statistical spread, though sometimes far outside it.
Management Must be Allowed, Must be Trusted, Must be Encouraged to find truer estimates by the many means available. To sentence us to bankruptcy because "It's the best science available" is disingenuous. Using these statistical centerpoints is management's policy. It's not at all the best science: Perhaps it's not science at all to take a full and complete statistical answer to the query "How many were caught?" and only use a single point amidst many.
We rebuilt the sea bass fishery, sans management's use of habitat fidelity nor even discovery of EFH in shallow water, with never more than a month's closure.
The various regional stocks could be taken to great heights, far above rebuilding targets, should we discover our region's nearshore coral reefs and manage within the facts of how these fish behave in response to habitat.
This system's subordinates only use the data because they will get fired if they don't. There are but a few mahogany desks with large widowed offices where this data and its use are defended, where regulators rely utterly on previous policy interpretations, where those charged with watching over fish and fishers may yet allow these data sets to bankrupt industry without the greatest of benefit in emergency circumstance to the fish: It may be the poorest fisheries governance I've yet seen.
Bad data must lead to bad decisions.
There is no law that the centerpoint of catch estimates must be used. It is science of convenience, not the 'best available.' It is not even the interpretation of a regulation that has brought so many in the recreationally associated trades to a precipice from which we may not escape..
It's just policy; "That's how we do it."
"Used your home to secure a boat loan?" Too bad. Nevermind the quality of the data. It's policy.
Fishers need an appeal, a review of the centerpoint with a stop-work order on the process while regulations return to what always worked in previous years.
Many in top management positions are new and may very well be interested in doing this policy review among others already underway.
Fishers didn't mess this one up; We didn't overfish.
The policy of using a single point of data --no matter how putrid-- did.
It's creating havoc and needs to be stopped.
Sliding the catch estimate along these huge PSEs would restore faith in governance.
Very soon the new program, MRIP, will be in place.
They tell me MRIP stands for Marine Recreational Information Program.. I say MRIP means MRFSS Rest In Peace.
Tears of joy at that funeral I'll promise..