Monday, May 16, 2011

Fish Report 5/16/11

Fish Report 5/16/11
Tog One More Time
Sea Bass Sunday
Ajax's Conquest & An Economic Impact Assessment  
Friday, May 20th And Saturday, May 21st, Long-Tog Trips, $130, 16 Head Sells Out, 6:00 to 4:00..
Tog Limit Two Fish --Tagging. 
Maybe a cod? Jumbo Tog Hunting - Sea Bass Start Sunday..
Be early. Everyone likes to leave early. Show up late and you'll see the west-end of an east-bound boat..
Sea Bass Trips: Reservation book open from May 22cnd on - Stern spots & Saturdays disappearing...
Hi All,
No sea bass allowed yet.
Instead, just one day of light-rail tog fishing. Lots of maintenance.
Fishing's more fun..
Anchored up Saturday, kicking around spots I know well. Tag some, box some.
Hard to say where tag data will take us. I hope to much better fishing; Believe it already has.
It's certain that when someone catches a marked fish it can only be because somebody else let it go; that recreational fishing/catching has been prolonged in simple management or sportsmanship..
Couple of fellows laid into the fish Saturday, crushed 'em. I put one back, a male about 12 pounds. A regular breaks-off a super-dandy well clear of bottom. Same guy recaptures two tagged fish. Another semi-regular, a fellow we keep careful eye on, sees his karma change after I throw back still-alive sea bass from his cooler. He catches a 14 plus pound tog, a tog that wouldn't exist if we hadn't built the reef it lived on, Wouldn't exist if we hadn't self-regulated the fishery in 1992..
Almost always willingly & beyond requirement; Clients & crew will obey regulations on my rig.
Sea bass open soon. We're even catching keeper sized bass inshore with tog; I hope to do quite well further out.
May 22cnd's booked-up. Long range weather is looking very good. Early season weekdays have plenty of room but few stern spots.
Way below I've included the Economic Analysis that NMFS did this year on 2011's sea bass regulations. 
The analysis fails to capture the gut-wrenching sleepless anxiety of wondering where & when the madness of MRFSS' recreational catch estimates will stop, Of wondering if regulations will do what unrestricted foreign factory trawling could not: Destroy Recreational Reef Fishing.
Only one year's economic impact--a forecast of 2011; it also fails to note that this is the third year of cutbacks in sea bass.
From 1984 thru 2009 I would have been nearly sold out on sea bass trips last week. That's just one week: Below you'll see a report showing how Maryland boats lost somewhere between $19.00 and $3,476.00 in total sales with the 2011 sea bass closure's regulatory impact.....
In Sophocles' Greek Tragedy, Ajax, the mighty & heroic warrior sets off into the night to avenge his honor. He does not know Athena has touched him with madness. In darkness Ajax slays cattle & sheep believing they are his sworn enemies; He captures & tortures a ram believing it to be Odysseus..
Sophocles' plays still speak to humanity, always will.
I believe the story of Ajax illustrates perfectly how fishery management's use of Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) catch-estimates is madness; How any faint light of truth will expose these catch estimates as nearly always ludicrous & completely without warrant.
Designed to show trends in recreational catch, MRFSS (we say Murfs) shows Maryland's recreational landings of Atlantic mackerel were very high all through the 1980's tapering to nothing today. Whether we actually had exactly 655,859 fish in 1983 or 195,732 macs in 1988 is immaterial. What counts is 6,594 in 1995 -- The six digit estimates, followed by 4, followed by all zeros since the mid-2000s. As a trend --and only as a trend-- the data is accurate.
We have a meeting on June 6th to begin discussions of near-future tautog management. Regular readers have already seen Athena's touch of MRFSS-madness upon management for the tautog catch estimates, Have seen what is certainly under 1,000 fish actually being caught represented as 18,587 -- Have seen where Maryland's coastal catch alone is estimated to be higher in July/August 2007 than in the rest of the species range, Where MD's private boats are estimated to have caught more than all other states' fishermen--all together and all combined..
If nothing is done, our wicked Overfishing will remain upon the page. Athena might smile as the combined strengths of NOAA, NMFS, MAFMC, ASMFC & MD DNR perform as Ajax did, stealing into darkness and slaying the innocent. The estimates are unjust, Regulating from them madness.
The United States Government knows MRFSS is no good for micro-managing fisheries. That's why they've spent millions & millions creating the new MRIP program to replace our failed system. MRIP is almost ready.
For now we must insist MRFSS data become frozen in 7 year averages for management's purpose. MRFSS has grown completely unreliable as need of data has grown.
MRIP --which either stands for Marine Recreational Information Program, or Mrfss Rest In Peace-- is supposed to offer far more accurate estimates ..but not soon enough to avert economic disaster in the for-hire recreational sea bass fishery, Not soon enough to stop the near-future tautog closures that will certainly ripple up and down the coast, Not soon enough to undo the many sales lost to tackle shops.. 
I haven't knowledge to testify about red snapper insanities nor even the summer flounder regulatory disasters of states north: I do know that using MRFSS as hard-data is akin to deriving divine guidance from a peyote séance: That, touched with madness, Ajax slew the beasts; That 2000 years ago citizens understood perfectly the concept of failure due to madness and its similarity to apparently sane actions founded upon faulty intelligence.
What of this Economic Impact Statement? This expensive footnote in a management scheme where reef is of no import to reef fish...
Speaking of reef (not that I was but will anyway) I sincerely hope that very soon catch restriction will be seen as a necessary part of fisheries restoration--But not all of it: That size, season & creel limits will soon be supported by habitat restoration work: That the great might of NOAA will be directed out of the estuaries and brought back from fantastic ocean depths where new discovery happens at every moment; That NOAA's researchers can be recalled to areas overlooked & disregarded, To fishing's historic battlefields where evidence can still be collected, Where nearly all of fisheries now-minimized economic production takes place; Where habitat reconstruction plans can still be created for habitats lost when commercial fishing's industrial revolution overran science, fish populations & habitat alike..
Back on topic skipper..
So there's this Economic Impact Statement tucked way below the fine-print of a Code of Federal Regulations Notice; You'd have to be a lawyer to read that deeply & with comprehension.
But there it is. They want comment on it by May 23rd. 
I participated in this Economic Impact Survey. Was too cold on my boat that day. We talked at a local coffee house. I told the interviewer how our sea bass troubles began with the 'Emergency Closure'  
..Wait. You don't suppose they'd actually use MRFSS' catch estimates to calculate economic damage caused by using MRFSS in fisheries management, do you? 
Economic troubles were ongoing before the October 2009 emergency closure because we threw back over 90% of our catch with many, many releases in that kitchen-prized size of 12 to 12 /12 inches.
Customer satisfaction, which should have been upticking as more fish were finally growing into the 12 inch slot, instead plummeted & ticket sales declined: Winding in pan-fish needs to be accompanied by hot oil, breaded fish & dirty dishes.
Clients of today understand perfectly the need to leave some for next time and spawning time, but also want to keep some this time. 
So, in spring & summer 2009 sales were already off.
Had to deal with this 'Great Recession' too.
Then, in early fall, MRFSS catch estimates declared that NY's private boats had caught more sea bass in both 2008 & 2009 than the entire mid-Atlantic party & charter fleet combined, That NJ & Massachusetts' private boats too had out-caught the entire coast's party & charter fleet..
Hmmm: Private boats in a single state out-catching the clients of everyone north of Hatteras that fishes for a living..
Its odd that from 1990 up until 2008 charter/party, the For-Hire boats, nearly always outfished private boats, often by wide margins. But in 2009 skippers such as myself were suddenly being outfished 4 to 1 or better by these private boats.
What an abrupt and sudden shift; All these outboards & inboards were now fishing fantastically harder and with better luck despite tightening regulations in the Great Recession. This shift is made stranger still when every marina's books will testify fuel, bait & slip leases were down............
Somehow it has come to be that no one is allowed to argue MRFSS data. Catch estimates are what they are. Managers must either believe, profess belief, or resign.  
No one stood in Ajax's way as he strode into the night either.
"Angler Effort Is Difficult To Predict"
In the fall of '09, with regulatory certainty sourced only from MRFSS, knowledge generated by the catch-estimating program ordered replaced, & using previously unimaginable catch estimates: The sea bass fishery was closed by emergency regulation.
Foul & Wretched Machine: Management's use of MRFSS as hard data very nearly cost me my boat, my home; Drained all savings and IRA retirement with its recreational catch illusions
..yet management missed entirely the very real halving of our region's sea bass population in Feb/March 2004.
We need to have better in order to truly restore fisheries.
Madness gone, Ajax fell upon his sword.
In our modern story the combined might of Federal & State Fisheries Agencies will again slay an imaginary overfishing enemy. Using MRFSS' data, we're going to suffer much tougher tautog restrictions
..unless by freezing all MRFSS data in 7 year average we allow for management's need until MRIP can be brought fully into play.
Included below is the economic impact section. If you want to make comment you can write your state's head of fisheries or follow the links.
In the EIS we see there will be between 2.1 to 19.5 million dollars in sales lost this year & between 40 & 390 jobs lost to fishery data's fallacy.
That does not count 2009 or 2010's MRFSSed-up management.

Common sense and a goal of reef creation would be fantastically more beneficial to all concerned.
Freezing all MRFSS data in 7 year average would suffice for management's need until MRIP can be brought fully into play. 
No one in system seems able to help--they are all living the madness. I really think Joe Biden is the only one who can arrest this modern-day Ajax.. Think I'll send him another note.
Capt. Monty Hawkins
Party Boat "Morning Star"
Reservation Line 410 520 2076 
Potential 2011 Regional Economic Impact Analysis Summary Regionally, projected federally permitted party/charter revenue losses in 2011 range from $2.1 million to $7.8 million in sales, $686 thousand to $2.6 million in income, and between 40 and 156 jobs, if a 10-percent reduction in the number of affected trips occurs. The estimated losses are approximately two and a half times as high if a 25-percent reduction in affected trips is assumed to occur.
Potential revenue losses in 2011 could differ for federally permitted party/charter vessels that land more than one of the regulated species. The cumulative maximum gross revenue loss per vessel varies by the combination of permits held and by state. All 18 potential combinations of management alternatives for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass are predicted to affect party/charter vessel revenues to some extent in all of the Northeast coastal states. Although potential losses were estimated for party/charter vessels operating out of ME and NH, these results are suppressed for confidentiality purposes. Average party/charter losses for federally permitted vessels operating in the remaining states are estimated to vary across the 18 combinations of alternatives.
For example, in NY, average losses are predicted to range from a high of $3,477 to a low of $593 per vessel, assuming a 10-percent reduction in effort, as described above. Average gross revenue losses per vessel under each of the 18 combinations of alternatives were generally highest in NC followed by MA, NJ, NY, RI, CT, MD, VA, then DE. Across states, average gross projected revenue losses range from a low of $19 per vessel in DE to $19,003 in NC.

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