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Capt. John
09-18-2008, 05:30 AM
Just thought if you have not read you SHOULD read John M blog here on the site. The last two posts really make you think about the way our fisheries are headed. His post on bluefins is scary to say the least --124-3, although my mind and my business says I can't do without bluefin in my charter business...my heart says "maybe we have to"!! When you think of the numbers of fish taken ( I mean bled and boxed)recreationally just off the bank this season I'll bet it adds up to alot of fish. That coupled with the fact we are seeing NO small fish return here ( I mean 20-40lb fish). We are probably looking at a small localized population of fish in New England. Just think at the size of the fish this year, most of those will become part of the giant population next year and are almost even now out of the "light tackle" league.

The second post about striped bass is right on I think, the population is healthy enough for the NMFS to ignore the fact that the bass are in or going to be in trouble and I'm sorry to say it's highly due to the recreational take.... I for one am in favor of a catch and release fishery all together, no I don't think it will ever happen but would help the fishery tremendously. If you look at it this way, the false albacore fishery is just about a 100% catch & release fishery, not by regulation but because they have no food value really and the albie fishery sure does not lack the numbers of fishermen that still chase them. We may just need to head down that road with many of our fisheries if we want our kids to enjoy fishing in the near future.

http://www.reel-time.com/blogs/mcmurray/

NMB
09-18-2008, 07:23 AM
while i would not oppose a strict catch and release policy, perhaps a 5 or 6 fish per season limit would make sense. it would require a fee, i'm sure, since we'd have to purchase yearly tags like they do for landlock salmon etc.

when i took my first trip to the amazon for peacock bass some 6 years ago, i was stunned to learn how serious and sophisticated these so called backward third world countries were when it came to protecting the fisheries.
for example:
only artificials can be used. bait of any kind is strictly prohibited except for licensed commercial fishermen. in all of my trips, and i go at least once a year, sometimes more, i have never seen anyone-americans, local in country anglers, nor local residents fishing for subsistence use any kind of bait. they all say that fishing with bait is not sporting-it's for commercial fishing.
they strictly limit the amount of fishing by closing entire river systems for a full season or more just to determine if the fish population is in good shape. they realize that the closures hurt local operations over the short run, and they try to compensate, but maintaining the quality of the fishery for the long run is first and foremost.
there is heavy duty enforcement for violating the rules. there are local "wardens" everywhere. usually appointed by tribal elders. immediate arrest, heavy fines, confiscation of boat, even prison sentences, loss of future fishing priveledges.
while this may seem draconian to us, the amazon river systems and fish populations are healthy and everyone i have met accepts it-without squabble.
the point is that we tend to want what we want and when we want it, which is usually now, without much real regard for later. in other places people seem to be more willing to sacrifice a little now in order to maintain it for the long haul.

schwilp
09-18-2008, 08:33 AM
John McMurray's article is excellent and I agree with John F. that it's a must read for anyone fishing for tuna. Our stocks are collapsing - I've only been fishing for tuna for 7 years and I've already seen dramatic changes. The fish we are seeing now are almost exlusively from the 2000-01 year class... we've not seen any appreciable amounts of small fish since them - rumors yes and a few off the NJ coast, but the total numbers are way down. We may not be able to halt the carnage in the Mediterranean but we can try and save a remnant adult stock here and hopefully a portion of these fish won't cross the Atlantic (if they all cross then we really are in trouble). I agree with John M. that a moratorium is in order. 80-90% of bluefin mortality by numbers is from the recs. right now (and >60% by tonnage) so this is the logical place to start.

Painful as it may seem I agree we should shut down the fishery (or have a tag only fishery...).

you may open fire now!

Fishingmaniac
09-18-2008, 08:55 AM
A number of recreational hooks no way compares with a number of commercial nets. If there was no recreational fisherman, there would still be no fish because of commercial interests. NOT true the other way around. That said, I don't know how else to stop the slaughter other than a complete moritorium. That said, no other countries will obey it. That said I'm still fishing this weekend!

TwoLightsKid
09-18-2008, 09:49 PM
Thanks for posting the link. Very informative blog and I think he's entirely correct about both tuna and stripers. It's certainly nice to see someone from outside of Maine acknowledge how bad it's been up here the last two seasons. I believe we are the canary in the coal mine, and I hope a lot more people take notice before things go too far.

Mattb
09-19-2008, 09:12 AM
I believe we are the canary in the coal mine, and I hope a lot more people take notice before things go too far.

Unfortunately, people need to do more than take notice - they need to wake up and do something about it- go to meetings, write letters, raise a stink. This is where things usually fall apart with recreational anglers, particularly in the northeast. With a few notable exceptions (e.g. NJ's bunker ban a few years ago) we're an incredibly apathetic bunch, and the managers seem to know this. Until we start to stand up and demand more from the striper fishery, guys like Diodati (he's certainly not the only one, but he's a fine example)will continue to push for more dead stripers.

Tunacious
09-19-2008, 09:49 AM
I don't recall seeing many...if any small bluefin in cape cod bay and north until the early 2000s. Not that all the boats are doing some damage, but the real culprits are the rod and reel guys.

twofinbluna
09-19-2008, 03:50 PM
Oh boy, I am not even going to get into this 'moratorium' issue. At least for once he did not blame everything on the commercial fishery, and also blamed it on recs, too (at least being fair and blaming all of us, not just some of us...) . And also, there is no such thing as a '5 year' moratorium...once you stop fishing, you lose your quota, and you are done FOREVER. You would be nuts to think you can stop and start back up when you feel like it! What Mcmurray is promoting here is an end to all fishing- and guess what- no quota (aka- moratorium) means no catch and release, either. You need quota to target these fish. And all you rec guys probably thought I was nuts when I said that the anti-fishing crowd was going to be coming after you, too.

And the poster that said no other country will obey a moratorium could not be more correct- other nations will laugh at the idea of stopping all fishing. It will never, ever happen. It only makes us look silly by even recommending it. We need those nations to follow their quotas, thats what we need.

And one last quick point- there is not a single credible scientist anywhere suggesting bluefin are going extinct, or anything close to it. There are lunatic, anti-fishing scientists saying that (Carl Safina), but no credible ones.

Anyways, I am not wasting anymore of my time with this piece, not worth it.

schwilp
09-19-2008, 08:33 PM
Twofin - I've been a big supporter of yours for years (and you'll notice I did not suggest a closure for commercial season). The ICCAT is a joke and their "quotas" have been absurd for the past 5 years. I'm not sure it makes sense to continue the fishery so we don't 'lose' our quota. At the current rate we won't even fill 25% of the comm. quota this year (though this is better than last year).

I think we need to take a much more radical approach... which may include boycotting the ICCAT. They have not, cannot and will not stop the carnage in the Mediterranean. We (Canada and the US) may be able to save that portion of our stocks that stay in the Western Atlantic. The Eastern stock is doomed to extinction unless there is a concerted effort in Europe to enforce the regulations and follow the scientists' recommendation r.e. quotas. Most of the worst offenders (Tunisia, Libya) are not even in the EU and are not really amenable to any outside pressure except through out and out national embargos of all goods or by listing the bluefin as an endangered species (both of which seems very unlikely)

Twofin, I hope you are right about tuna stocks but I've not seen any data that supports your position r.e. stock estimates.. If you have some survey data (that's recent) that suggests the BFT stocks are coming back up - then I'd like to see them. I am in favor of a moratorium on rec. fishing and continued strict quota for comms that favor the 'cleanest' fishery (i.e. harpoon). Unless ICCAT can resolve the deadlock in the Mediterranean then I think we should break with them and make our own quotas. I think the comm. fishery should/can be continued but I doubt the fishery can withstand the current combined rec/comm pressure unless stocks somehow rebound. No one would be happier than me if I were wrong on this issue - I love these fish and love to fish for them and I will do just about anything to make sure they are around in 10-20 years.. I am not an expert in this area and my observations on the water only span 10 years - maybe I am wrong, but I feel we may be reaching a tipping point regarding the bluefin...

twofinbluna
09-19-2008, 10:15 PM
schwilp-

Let me first say that I get a bit frustrated when I hear things about moratorium but it is not aimed at you or Capt John and so dont take it to be. I know that everyone cares a lot about these fish here and that nobody simply wants to stop fishing just to stop fishing, and is saying things (whether I agree with them or not) that are from the heart. So, again, dont take my post to be me being ****ed at you or anyone else here. (edit in- come on, you cant say ****ed?)

I think you are right that what has happened with ICCAT has been a joke and my point was that realistically we should be all working together to try and find a way to get those nations to comply. Its not so much that the quotas are wrong (although I agree the quota for the east/med. is rather huge) but the fact that so many nations blatantly overfish their quotas. They have years with 35,000 mt or more over their quota. Whats worse is that the governments of many of the nations not only dont enforce the quotas, but they go so far as to subsidize the fleets and promote excessive fishing. Those nations need to take this issue seriously and I dont think it will happen without some urging.

Thats why we need to work to put pressure on our leaders so that they will in turn put pressure on other nations. Its sad that we need to put that much effort in to get another nation to do what is right, but unfortunately thats life. For many years now there has been people here fighting to get our leaders to do that, but never enough people to make it happen. I think now that this fishery has grown and we have a very large charter and rec fishery on the smaller fish, that we have the numbers to do it. Wont be easy but that is the most important thing we can do now to help the stocks. We have found out over the years that we need other nations to manage right to have a healthy stock here.

Now dont take that to mean that I dont think we should continue to do what is right here, as well. Not saying that we can do anything we want or anything like that. We should continue to follow the science and set quotas at the right level and do other things we need to do to continue to manage well. Do I think a moratorium is the way to go- not at all. A moratorium is a big deal- you are talking about ending the fishery, and I really do not think thats needed. Something everyone should also keep in mind is that if you stop fishing here, all that happens is our quota gets given to some other nation...bad not only because it means you dont have any conservation benefits from you stopping fishing (actually will hurt things), but you also will not have any quota if you want to start fishing again 5 years down the road. I am not saying you should base your opinion on that fact alone, just saying its something that should be at least be remembered.

Has the rec fishery gotten huge? Yes, but a moratorium?...I dont think so. If were as worried as you and others, my first move would be to try and either shorten the season that you can target them, or lower bag limits, or raise size limits, or something less drastic than stopping all fishing. I am not saying I would necessarily do that, just what I would do if I was as worried as some here. Thats just my opinion, and I am not saying you cannot feel otherwise. Like I said, had this discussion a lot lately and I am not getting into it all again here I just wanted to give my opinion.

And without getting into it again, there is a lot more to our commercial fishery not filling quotas in the last 5 years than anyone's overfishing. I am sure most people know that I think that the forage issue is a major issue and I continue to. We have just a little more forage around this year than before the midwater ban, and we already are seeing a lot more fish. I was very impressed with this summer, only 1 year after the midwater ban. Hug improvement. But we have some major forage issues still and it will be years before it gets back to where we need it. Canada's very strong fishery in the last few years (and again this year) speaks to the idea that a lot of fish just are not coming here anymore. And if you talk to chummers (who always caught about a majoirty of US landings), the dogfish problem is another massive issue. I also think that ICCAT overfishing, both in the East/Med. but also the Central. In both regions you have massssive amounts of overfishing. But you would be wrong to blame our fishery problems on overfishing alone, as Mcmurray, Safina and others try to do, and we have some very real problems here at home that are hurting our landings. I have always said that we have both local and Atlantic-wide problems, and that focusing on one or the other is the wrong thing to do. It would be simpler if it was just one or the other, but unfortunately its not.

But putting that aside, if we do not all work together to fight for better management outside the US, anything we do here will be a losing battle. You will never see any of those nations with a moratorium and so when Mcmurry and others say that you need to understand that its not going to scare anyone over there into doing anything, and will in the end only bring more restrictions here. Its not going to ever happen over there. The best we can ask for now is compliance with quotas and while the quotas may be big- we would be MUCH better off if they followed them than we are now when they double them.

Some people- like Carl Safina- would rather put all their effort into shutting the fishery down here in the US and ignoring the problem over there, mostly because its easier for them to pick on us here. But it has gotten us nowhere and has only kept everyone more divided at the same time. If we dont work on the same team to get our leaders to pay attention, we dont have any chance in getting results at ICCAT. And like I said, we need to manage right here- that means continuing to follow the science and quotas. But if you dont get those other nations to comply you are never going to do enough to really help the stocks and so we need to take that part of the fight very seriously.

I dont know, like I said, I have been having this and similar discussions a lot lately and not in the mood to get into it all. It will be interesting to see how everything pans out in the coming months, though, hope that we make it thorough OK.

[edit in- Just realized how long that was......keep in mind I tried to keep it short and it was still that long, so you can see why I am not in the mood to really get into all the complex details of this issue right now!!]

twofinbluna
09-20-2008, 03:14 AM
*Correction*

I realized I mis-wrote something in that post above and its an important one so I wanted to post a correction instead of editing the post (incase people already read the post)......schwilp, I think you caught my mistake as you pointed out that quota setting is a joke...anyways, apologize for the mistake.

I MEANT to say that what we need to fight for is to get those nations over there to follow the recommended quotas, not the quotas that actually are in place. Big difference, and I feel stupid for not catching this before. What happens is the science calls for a quota but that is not always what is decided on, mostly because the EU and others fight so hard to not let it be that number. The scientifically recommended quota for the Eastern Atlantic/Medit. is 15,000mt quota while the actual quota they have been using is 29,500mt....again, BIG difference. They have actually had years with 60,000mt or more of landings, which is enormous, but that does not take away from the fact that even if they abide by their quota, they are doubling what is recommended.. The entire US, when its catching its whole quota, only takes something like 1500mt, and again, thats if we fill our quota completely.

I have been typing/discussing this stuff so much that I got careless when I typed my posts and missed my mistake until I read it over now, my bad...its a major difference and one that I had to point out. I have just gotten so used to referring to the scientific quota over there as the quota and realized that saying it that way is wrong...So again- what we want is to fight for them to comply with the recommended quotas, not the quotas they are using now! Basically we want them to go by the science like we do here in US and Canada. Something they have not been close to doing in a long time!

Capt. John
09-20-2008, 03:18 PM
Twofin (and others) I know how passionate guys are here about tuna (I'm one believe me if there was one fish I could fish for the rest of my life-it would be tuna). My reason for the post was to alert people to what is out there...not saying I agree with a moratorium on bluefin, I was to believe that John Mc was calling for a morat for the whole world ?? Not just the US..which has been pointed out here, makes no sense at all to just close the US fishery.

WOW- I did not know the quotas were so lopsided, HOW in the world does a nation get 35,000MT to take when the US only gets 1500MT :confused: ?? And we don't even fill our quota ?? So the eastern stock still has enough fish to fill and double those quotas??? I'm blown away...

Twofin- You say we need to all fight on this together to put pressure on our leaders to pressure ICCAT BUT how do we do that when we can't even get our leaders to listen to sound striped bass management ideas?? But really I want to how HOW we can achieve this, is it possible to somehow force ICCAT a board filled with commercial interest to do anything ??

schwilp
09-20-2008, 05:52 PM
Thanks Twofin - I think we actually pretty much agree on everything... I'm afraid I'm a bit more pessimistic, that's all. I'm not sure how we can actually apply pressure to "rogue fishing nations" (sorry I couldn't resist)... If I thought it were possible then I would agree 100% with your scheme - it makes the MOST sense to go to site of the worst abuse and redress it at the source. Even if the ICCAT would listen to it's own scientists (which it has not..) and decrease the Eastern Stock quotas I'm not sure it would work as most of the really destructive fishing is done outside the quota system (illegally). Sadly, from what I know of the tuna 'ranches' in the Mediterranean it seems unlikely that our govt - or even the combined forces of the EU, Canada and Japan could stop them from fishing - unless we were willing to involve a military option (which would definitely work...) Now if NATO shot down their spotters... that would work....

My call for a moratorium is a desperate measure. I'm afraid that even if the entire Rec and comm fishery here in Canada and the US shouted, even if the US stood it's ground together with the Norwegians and Canadians at ICCAT - we couldn't stop the Libyans... how do you stop outlaws on the high seas? It would take a national, very high visibility effort - likely by the President to condemn the nations that are the worst offenders publicly and backing this up with threats of economic sanctions - the countries: Croatia, Libya, ? Tunisia (not sure about that). I'm just not sure that's possible in the time frame we need to save the fish. The moratorium is a "Plan B".... it's not as good as Plan A (your plan) - but given the realities of the situation it might be necessary... I hope you are right though - I really do.

On the forage fish issue (which may even the bigger issue) I'm with you 100%... Hopefully the new bill in the House will start to place limits on Omega Protein and we can push for further bans closet to home on the mid-water trawlers..

twofinbluna
09-20-2008, 05:53 PM
Twofin- You say we need to all fight on this together to put pressure on our leaders to pressure ICCAT BUT how do we do that when we can't even get our leaders to listen to sound striped bass management ideas?? But really I want to how HOW we can achieve this, is it possible to somehow force ICCAT a board filled with commercial interest to do anything ??


John-

First I know you posted this for the right reasons- you dont have to explain that....I have worked with you enough on other issues to know you have the right intentions!

Second, I am running out the door but have been thinking about this specific part of the issue (quoted above) a lot lately and will comment when I get back home later. Yes, it is possible, but not easy. But I don't think we have a choice if we really want to get results that make a difference.

And quickly I agree completely with your reaction to the quotas....and the worst part is (like I said) that even when though the quota they have (29,500mt) is enormous, keep in mind they more than double that figure in some years!!!! And often with extremely small and/or spawning fish!!!! Sickening isnt it!

twofinbluna
09-20-2008, 05:55 PM
schwilp-

Again, running out the door but I am sure we agree on a lot more than we disagree about this issue! Will comment more later!

Fishingmaniac
09-20-2008, 06:09 PM
Thank you Twofin and Capt John et all. I'm learning a lot from you guys. But I still don't think that recreational tuna fisherman amount to much more than a peehole in a snowstorm.