Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Fish Report 5/12/21 Gov’s Gotten Too Nosey!

Fish Report 5/12/21
Attention ALL Party/Charter Operators - NOAA's SE Regional Office Has Gotten Too Dang Nosey!

Greetings All, 
I'm now engaged in regulatory battle with NOAA's SERO (SE Regional Office) & need help. Any recreational skipper who has a party/charter permit for dolphin(mahi)/wahoo will likely want to engage in this fight also. Share this post/email with your Party/Charter captain friends.. They're NOT going to like this. I doubt many skippers have seen these new eVTR questions yet. (evtr=electronic catch forms will fill out for each trip) I'm sure most haven't.  Any clients who'd like to see their skippers maintain what bit of sanity remains would want to participate as well. 

I've been asking managers for several weeks "who can we complain to?" and have learned nothing except there's already a lot of complaining. I've written as high as I could in NOAA and gotten no response.   Recommend you contact your congressman/senators and upper reaches of state fisheries. Also contact SERO and SAFMC directly. (Email addresses near bottom. Now Remember, Everyone's Your Friend When Trying To Accomplish Something In Politics! Catch More Flies With Honey Than Vinegar!) 
Problem: NOAA from St. Petersburg FL has added bunch of new questions on the electronic forms we recreational operators have to fill out for every trip. They want to know our business at levels we may not even know. I certainly don't. Our daily eVTRs (electronic Vessel Trip Reports,) as created by our region's NOAA/state partners were, until a month or so ago, quite sensible and useful in fisheries management. (Well, they would be much more useful were it not for MRIP. One thing at a time..) 

NOAA's Greater Atlantic Office (above Hatteras to Maine & over to Great Lakes) asks simply: How many and what species did you keep/throwback and for how many anglers? 
Now SERO (South East Regional Office) wants to know: How many gallons of fuel did you burn for this trip? How much did that cost? How many clients rode free? What was your total income in fares? What's the deepest you fished? The shallowest?
We already tell NOAA approximately where we fished, roughly how deep and how many anglers we had. That makes sense in a 'fisheries management' sort of way. 
These new questions? They'll lead to trouble. They're too dang nosy. Why does NOAA want to know who rode free among my clients or how much I took in sales? How about bartered fares - trading services.. "Free" is a rare thing to begin with. What in tarnation do daily fare tallies have to do with fisheries extractions anyway? 
Partyboats get fuel when they need fuel. We don't micro-manage daily use. If a business owner doesn't need to know daily consumption, why in heck would NOAA? 
NOAA is the premier nautical charting agency in the world. One would think once they know where you fished they would know min/max depths. 

Will be a slug of charter operators seeing these questions for the first time next Saturday when cbass opens.. (We have to fill out a VTR every trip)

I've been threatened with the closing of my business in mahi season (no permit!) and fines if not compliant with regulation I had no say in. 
Those of us who fish above Hatteras have no representation at the South Atlantic Council - no voice to SERO and no real reason to monitor their antics anyway. 
Now, suddenly, we do.

I was a strong proponent of VTR data collection as a means of improving management years ago. But this? This is way over the top. 

SERO is at our backsides with their permitting toehold because mahi & wahoo were left off the HMS fisheries permit when it was created. (HMS or Highly Migratory Species permit covers marlins/tunas - bluefin were recently combined with it.) Rather than simply adding mahi & wahoo to the existing HMS permit (HMS has its very own office and section of NOAA!) they made an entirely new permit that covers the whole east coast and Gulf of Mexico - and got a whole new section of workers in the SERO building. 
Who can run lines astern for marlin/tuna and NOT expect an occasional mahi or even wahoo? All those species should be under one permit. 

These new questions have to go. Please write or call your state's people and voice your concern. 

Here's what SERO told me.. 
We encourage compliance, however, compliance to the program requirements is your decision. But it is NOAA Fisheries decision to renew permits based upon compliance, and/or if there will be fines for non-compliance. 
There are a few sections of the South Atlantic Amendment that I would like to point you to: {here a 200-some page document!}
- Chapter 2, Action 2.1 page 12 - This describes the data elements and the Council's reasoning and the fact that currently similar data elements are required to be reported by Commercial vessels.
- Chapter 3.3.2 Economic Environment-Rec Sector, Business Activity page 33. This describes what data is generated from this data. 

Clearly I really dropped the ball by not following along as amendments are created down south—far outside our normal regulatory reach. If I'd read this 200-some page piece I could have seen it coming. 

SERO needs to get an earful From YOUR Congressman! is SERO's Regional Admininistrator. is the big boss at SE Fisheries Management Council (SEFMC). They have a full meeting soon and should know your concern. 

Easy One - 

And Senators..

Write! Tell Your State's Fisheries Director & Staff All About It Too! — Especially Tell Skippers You Know.. 
NOAA has No Business getting this far in Our Business! 

Thank You! 
Capt Monty Hawkins 

Blog Archive