Also as this being one of the major fishery issues I and a few others have been directly sparring with the Council over the last few years where time and again we have laid out a position that has numerous positives in allowing recreational fishing for Black Sea Bass during the months of Jan - Feb which is the Wave 1 period.
During 2017 as it concerns the BSB fishery, there have been also a number of relevant issues that for-hire operators and fishermen should be made aware of, and I highly recommend going here to read through the issues relating to not only liberalizing the BSB further, but in trying to both allow fishing during the EEZ closure and opening up the Wave 1 fishery:
I have also provided information as far as how the Wave 1 opening has turned into a battle not only between individual states fighting against the opening, but by a number of operators who do feel that in any opening during this time of the year, the harvest would be deducted from and during the Wave 3 - Wave 6 periods thus resulting in fewer fish and/or open days being available. This some feel could possibly cause a further harvest reduction of the RHL (Recreational Harvest Limit) during the year, and essentially make the most robust stock in the management region:
- Closer to becoming a by-catch fishery during the rest of the season.
In order to evaluate the potential implications of a 2018 February Wave 1 fishery may have on the rest of the year, recreational season reduction examples were developed at the coastwide, regional and/or state level (Table 2).
Memorandum from Brandon Muffley, Staff to Council on September 26, 2017
I like to make note here that the tables seen, especially with the manipulated estimations of harvest done by the recreational sector modes of for-hire and private vessel are TOTALLY INACCURATE in so far as noted in the document:
Harvest estimates that include all modes assume 50% of the harvest from party/charter vessels and 50% from private/rental and shore mode. Information from 2013 is highlighted in grey...
As I like to point out, EVEN WITHOUT the 2018 specifications being changed to allow more fish to be harvested during the December meeting, this is not accurate.
Again I EMPHASIZE that this is based on an ASSUMPTION done by someone sitting in a office manipulating the various models/scenarios, that private vessels (proverbially "a small fleet of") would be fishing 65 to 90 nautical miles from the dock during January and February. There was also Table 2 within the noted document which showed that even with the bizzaro-world estimates put forth in - and by using a 50% private vessel harvest, shared reductions among the various individual states would be at most anywhere between 1 through 4 days:
It brings me to a point of anyone in the for-hire industry in not supporting this very limited opening during the winter Wave 1 of February, and you will see one comment here*:
* Note, the public comment period will continue to receive comments from for-hire operators and fishermen over the coming days until the meeting...
Note II: Original emailed comments
I did pleasurably speak to this captain for awhile yesterday and believe me, I do understand his position. In fact in repeating what I have heard and seen from party/charter operations and fishermen in the neighboring states of New York and New Jersey, there is a noticeable slight divide on the inshore vs offshore party/charter side in both states on this particular issue.
I just like to point out:
- Winter BSB Wave 1 fishing was ALWAYS a traditional fishery during a FULL calendar year until closed, thus taken away and never restored when the most recent benchmark assured fishery regulators that the stock was fully rebuilt
- Table 1 starts with an extremely inaccurate premise on the 50/50 percentage harvest split between-hire/private vessels, and even with the largest margin of erroneous data estimates (at least as I can remember seeing) in Table 1, as shown in Table 2, the reduction is extremely minimal in lost days during the rest of the season
- The MAFMC during previous meetings in 2017 added some of the highest reduction uncertainty percentages seen throughout the BSB flow-chart, at a time where the stock is at its largest measured biomass. To be so overly-risk averse where fishermen from the lobster industry through numerous finfish fisheries point out that they cannot get away from catching BSB when fishing is not only extremely disturbing, results in wasteful regulatory discard practices and destroys the legitimacy by those who regulate our fisheries in providing the most regulatory responsible use of a valuable marine resource
- That during the August Council meeting in Philadelphia, a number of changes were conducted during the motion to allow a full then weekends only Wave 1 BSB fishery. It was tragic to see a charade occur with the twisted regulatory language being put forth by various council members in order to allow recreational access to the BSB fishery during the winter and the motion still failing at the end of the discussion
- The unending and consistently heard talking points at fishery meetings on not only improving the collection of data, but in the data being the most updated thus increasing in accuracy in order to provide sound guidance in shaping specifications and regulations in the coming years
There are also a few other points that have been brought up to me which would lead to one opening up the BSB Wave 1 fishery (even with the limited 1 month opening), and I will very quickly lay them out.....
RUMOR MILL - Possibly closure coming to codfish in the SNE management area....
This was coming from a few fishermen I speak to in New England as there was another codfish assessment done. In fact from what I know, the LATEST GEORGES BANK COD - UPDATED AUGUST 2017 ASSESSMENT this idea may be coming from. I do not know, but again from what is stated within this document, i WOULD HEDGE TO WORRY on further restrictions being levied by the NEFMC on the recreational sector south of 42 Lat in the coming year(s).
Rumor Mill II - Blackfish cuts in 2018 and what will be the regs for next season...
Yes the TAUTOG Amendment is coming, and most see from bad to terrible regulatory news coming in the following year. Those on the Commission are in the process of, "How do I love thee? Let me count the 'DAYS'", that being open days you can blackfish. As of right now, NYS has a very limited blackfish season in open days, as we have come to see as green crabs are given away or tossed overboard after December 14th. There is little if anything to fish for from the middle of December until who knows when sometime in April the following year for recreational fishermen in the once Empire State. I tell everyone I speak with to call over to the new Chief at the DEC bunker to get any upcoming blackfish regulatory news.
Reality Check - Scup when can and can't fish we for them...of course depending on the state you land your fish in...
Since the individuals who regulate/manipulate, here once again in the regulatory fishing armpit on the east coast, New York has a current season scup season of May 1 - Dec 31. Does anyone see a problem here with running into silver when fishing for black biscuits? This would have to be addressed in some form to allow what New Jersey currently has with Jan. 1–Feb. 28 being open. Here once again we here would/may have to have some horse-trading to allow an opening, but be reminded, that NYS opens on May 1 for scup while NJ opens on July 1. There will be a full hands on MMA battle at the DEC bunker in trading off this part of the season in May and June for winter fishing. Strangely enough though, there are areas offshore where scup can be avoided or barely making up part of the days catch during February for a NYS fishing vessel.
Reality Check II - How much economic sense does it make in opening up the BSB - Wave 1 fishery?
It depends upon a number of metrics and of course mother nature as the benefits will help from a few to a number of for-hire operation, can have little impact if the WINTER KING shows up in appreciable numbers west of Block Island, or with the stability of the offshore weather. January can be a noticeably fickle weather month as December changes in temperature and conditions have shifted one month forward. This year it was well documented that this February was one of the warmest in the weather books to the point where I saw not once, but twice on two separate days, numerous people in Manhattan wearing flip flops and tee-shirts. Of course crazy warm weather on land does normally end up meaning blustery winds offshore. Just saying, no one can predict the weather, but February has tended to be a more stable weather month when compared to January or heavens to goodness, March.
Wild card Rumor/Reality Check - consistent possession, size and possible season regulations?????...
I would not have broached this little nugget of heartburn, but I was told from a extremely reliable source that the idea of creating a stable regulatory scheme on season/size/possession...such as and as an example of 4-5 BSB possession and a 4-5 months season at a reasonable size limit (especially for the northern states of NY and eastward). Now I have heard something along these lines spoken/put out by someone at a Council meeting. Could it be a "whopper of a brain fart being laid out there to test the waters?" I do not know, but I would not be surprised if the extremely serious issues with the re-calibrating MRIP causes the council to go in this direction as far as trying to maintain stable Catch Limits? (Note: refer to Jason Didden and his letter to Chris Moore on this issue and what was brought up at the MSA Reauthorization hearing by GSSA Director Greg DiDomenico - (3) The chronic problem of estimating recreational fishing mortality):
The Mid Atlantic Council has also conducted a peer review of the new MRIP survey and the results are not yet available. We believe one possible outcome could prove that that estimates of recreational harvest may be 4 times higher than previously thought. The potential impact of the new survey results on stock assessments will vary but may be severe. For example, it is possible that it may trigger overfishing designations of several stocks or result in assessments that reveal higher population size and lead to increases in acceptable biological catch levels.
Could this type of news extremely worry those members on the MAFMC in deciding on opening up a limited Wave 1 fishery?
I do believe if everyone considers in opening and providing access to a fishery which many fishermen do enjoy, it is a big positive for not only for-hire vessels, but the overall fishing business in this region, We are coming to a point where various factions are fighting over scraps and crumbs when it comes to times of the year when a specific fishery should be open, and the bitterness has gone from the dock to battles on public forums.
Depending on the home port ranging from here in the Big Apple or on Fantasy Island to across the bridge in New Jersey, everyone should think big picture because for those who fight opening this fishery, just remember that the fishing boots could be taken off your feet and you're left tied to the dock when the other factions are able to shape a season option that prevents other fishing boats in targeting a particular species.
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the for-hire fishing industry in this region is morphing into a limited seasonable business, not only due to the various constrained regulatory schemes on season, size and possession, but in what we currently are experiencing in how the traditional fisheries and the fish themselves have changed their migratory patterns. For the reasons I have laid out above, the positives do out weight the negatives, and I would recommend to support those within the recreational sector who do wish 2018 - BSB Wave 1 in February to be open.