Fishery Issues, Fishery Management, and the latest Fishery news.


Postby EC NEWELLMAN » Mon May 13, 2019 10:17 pm

Since Captain Monty has made this public in socialized media, some correspondence with someone at the highest levels of NOAA.

For about a month this winter I focused much effort on the worsening of our recreational catch estimates - even rode up to DC (again) to complain in person to Congress. I also asked readers to write in comments..

We got in.

I received a note today from Adm Tim Gallaudet, head of NOAA, stating, “I couldn’t agree more..”

Turmoil about recreational over fishing has increased apace with NOAA’s increasing statistical lunacy through its MRIP recreational catch estimate program — assertions where Shore anglers or Private Boats from one state, in just a few weeks or months, regularly out fish all Commercial & Party/ Charter from Hatteras North to Maine are madness.

We have PLENTY of work to do in fisheries restorations. We need to have done with this distraction and get after the work that really needs done.

Below is the email chain..



I could not agree with you more. We cannot do it overnight, but we are in the process of reforming our MRIP program with electronic monitoring and reporting. Thank you much for your interest,

Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere /
Deputy NOAA Administrator

On May 12, 2019, at 6:17 PM, Monty Hawkins <> wrote:

Hi Admiral Tim,

I saw you speak at a Fisheries conference in Alexandria a couple years back. You’ve an impressive intellect..

Way down on NOAA’s list of “important things to do” is recreational fisheries.

But I’m telling you, after two decades of complaining about recreational catch estimates, it’s now far worse than ever before. In fact, no one with any knowledge of a fishery believes MRIP’s estimates on that fishery — and with good cause.

In the last two years MRIP, already failed at its launch in 2012, has grown beyond ridiculous with its two “recalibrations.” I’m not wrong. It’s grown to preposterous on your watch. Quota management which includes MRIP in its calculation will soon fail worse than anything we’ve yet seen in fisheries.

Below is a letter I’ve just sent Jon Hare at NE Fisheries Science Center

MRIP’s estimates aren’t just wrong, they’re off by orders of magnitude. Boy does it need fixing.

Cheers Sir,

Monty Hawkins
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Hi Jon, I hope the weather up your way isn’t as lousy as down here.

It sure seems no one has faith in MRIP anymore. Used to be a joke - harhar, did you hear about the fisherman who doesn’t like the estimates? Seems as though no one’s laughing anymore.

MRIP was garbage out of the gate. Now, after these recalibrations, it’s so lacking in firmity a few simple comparisons are enough to convince even non-fishers of MRIP’s fraud. And it is fraud, Jon.

Think about this .. way, way down on NOAA’s scale of importance is the tautog. Yet it’s my life, my key to survival in winter since cbass closed in wave 1 (Jan/Feb).

Maryland has a good man running tog management, and good people above him approving decisions.

When MRIP tells Craig there were over 15,000 tog caught outside 3 miles in wave 6, 2018 (and when I could only get out 21 days) and over 3000 more inshore, he has to believe it, doesn’t he?

A teeny-tiny error in MRIP’s world, yet I’d bet everything I own - all of it - that this seemingly small estimate is nearly two orders of magnitude off..

Lots & Lots & Lots Of Estimates—All of them?—are off by several orders of magnitude.

How in blazes can we expect good outcomes when a number of such primary importance to fisheries calculations is so very bad..Whose desk must I land this on? Who can say “Enough!”

Sport fishers are a hard bunch to get a solid answer from - like herding cats I hear. Yet I promise you - I absolutely guarantee you - using VTRs & even MRIP’s For-Hire Estimates plus a “Percentage of the Fishery” given by frequent participants will land science a far better catch estimate than what MRIP’s doling out..

Take sea bass off MD’s coast last early fall (wave 5).

MRIP has Party/Charter at almost 5,000 sea bass. Although that too is likely high, it’s better by far than the Private Boat number of about 130,000 cbass.

Sakes Man! We’re a single seaport. We know what’s being caught. In sea bass the Private Boat catch would never be even 25% of the For-Hire landings. 5,000 is 80% of what number? You’d have 6,250 kept sea bass, not 135,000..And be much, much closer to the truth of our catch.

Allowing MRIP to destroy science and fishers’ faith in management is also allowing vast new populations of fish on computers. From THOSE numbers commercial fishers’ allowable catch is allocated - and that quota WILL cross a dock.

MRIP has drug fisheries science back to a nearly Ptolemaic Accuracy - no Accuracy at all. Who has enough stars on his lapels to order this mess fixed?

It’s obviously not enough to have really smart people who know nothing of fishing call the ball. We’ll need really smart people and lots of meetings/online surveys with recreational high-liners to get at the truth of our catch.

If not, after just a few years MRIP will have altered recreational fisheries so badly, they’ll fail — either because stock assessments were made too high & factual commercial extraction was also, or because of regulatory strangulation.

To whom must I turn - who should I write?

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