I want everyone who reads this to do a careful reading on what Captain Tim is putting forward here, and I will tell you this...."I wouldn't have been as restrained as he is in letting loose on what truly is disappointing/disturbing news for recreational anglers and for-hire businesses in the New England region."
The meeting was in Danvers, Massachusetts. I left Ogunquit at 7:00 AM and got home around 5:30 PM. We listened to presentations, looked at catch statistics and models. The 'jist; of the meeting as far as the Gulf of Maine angler is concerned are the upcoming regulations for the fiscal fishing year starting in May of 2018.
The motion passed and was not revisited or revised. That means that, if the motion passes the muster of the Groundfish Committee, the Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), we will have the same regulations as we did last year.
I'm not optimistic about the chances of it going through. The reason being, there is an 80% chance that the same regulations we had last year won't get us to the management goals in reducing cod.
Number one, I don't believe the catch statistics as it applies to the private recreational angler. The statistics show that the private angler caught many more cod than they actually did, more cod than the previous season. At the same time, the cod catch has decreased in the data rich party boat fleet/charter fleet. No one believes the figures. They are laughable.
The government's method of collecting data from the private angler is seriously flawed. Where the private angler numbers come from extrapolations based on questions at intercept sites, the numbers from the for-hire fleet come from surveys from data collectors on board. Plus, some of the data that has previously been proven wrong is still in the system! You can't make this stuff up.
Two, there is a chance that the state of Massachusetts will stop allowing cod to be caught within state waters. This alone would free up enough cod and allow the recreational groundfish angler in New England to live with the same regulations as last year.
Three, I seriously believe that the cod quota will be higher in 2019. The overage in cod quota last season won't be enough to be higher than the expected increase in cod quota.
Four, the statistics don't account for the cod that were released alive and caught again, thus actually reducing the overall cod mortality
Five, the recreational angler will not catch as many cod during the 2018 fishing season. The fish will be bigger. That has been the trend for the last three seasons. But since they opened up part of the closed commercial fishing area in the Western Gulf of Maine, a rich cod habitat area, those cod will not be available to the recreational angler this season, reducing the catch and dropping the numbers of cod, decreasing the cod mortality among recreational anglers.
Six, we need to show regulation stability in the for-hire industry. Without it we are dying a slow death. Consistency is the mother of good business. The same applies with the regulations.
Seven, regardless of what the RAP says, in a motion or otherwise, the Council/NMFS will do what they are going to do anyway.
And what NMFS wants to do is to take another month of haddock fishing away from the recreational angler.
With the same regulations as last season, we could not keep haddock from March 1 through April 15 and from September 17 until November 1.
What they would like to do is also take May haddock fishing away from us. I couldn't have them do this (the reason for my motion). But, like I said, they might do this anyway.
The motions get passed on to the Groundfish Committee tomorrow. They will accept the recommendations of the RAP or they won't. It's the first step of three before approval.
I seconded this motion. That motion was to recommend a control date of May 1, 2018 for the for-hire fleet. This is a limited entry provision or could turn into one.
This has happened in other fisheries where they put a moratorium on licensing for individuals who applied after the control date.
For us it offers some protection if they shut down other fisheries and those individuals decide they want to run a party/charter business. I'm not sure it would ever come to that. We did the same thing with a control year of 2006. This is only the second time this has been addressed in a motion from a recommending body since that time.