SEPT 10, 2019 - A PUBLIC COMMENT REPLY: THE CULTURE WARS OF THE STRIPED BASS DEBATE - “EXPOSING THE BIAS OF CHARLES WITEK”

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SEPT 10, 2019 - A PUBLIC COMMENT REPLY: THE CULTURE WARS OF THE STRIPED BASS DEBATE - “EXPOSING THE BIAS OF CHARLES WITEK”

Postby EC NEWELLMAN » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:38 pm

THE CULTURE WARS OF THE STRIPED BASS DEBATE

“EXPOSING THE BIAS OF CHARLES WITEK”


Charles the 09.08.19 blog should have been remedial work for an individual such as yourself, at least to the layman who has seen and read through you past stories or heard your bloviating during various fishery meetings, but this particular blog reads as one of your poorest descriptions in describing the issues brought up at the Wednesday public comment meeting in Bethpage.

For someone in the past who would mention at meetings when stakeholders spoke up with, “where is your data,” you have written a piece that neglects what the facts and most current MRIP data that the ASFMC technical committee and striped bass management board is making there regulatory decisions upon.

Where was any mention in this blog to the new MRIP estimates when taking a snapshot of the four modes within the New York recreational sector? Why not, as if there is a recreational fishing red flag, wouldn’t we first check with the most current MRIP estimates?

Why didn’t you mention in your piece - which I brought up in my public comment before the audience, that currently in 2019 the New York for-hire industry is less than 2 percent of ‘HARVEST’ reported, especially as the for-hire industry has mandated VTR and electronic reporting.

More troubling and this was noted with the shocking news with the 2018 STOCK ASSESSMENT OF ATLANTIC STRIPED BASS presentation by M. Celestino in February 2019 as of 2017 with “recreational release discard mortality” making up 48% of the coastwide total removals, and currently in New York with the private vessel mode and only based upon preliminary Wave 2 and Wave 3 estimates having and in your own words “killed,” 102,186 dead striped bass released based upon the currently accepted 9% DM (discard mortality). That figure alone approximately equals total harvest for the for-hire industry (both party & charter combined) during the time series from 2016 through 2019 or four years in total.

Somehow Charles you see this as acceptable in discarding perfectly fine eating seafood in ending up as the proverbial ‘crab food,’ and you double down with your theme of having an issue with those who just wish to pay for a day of striped bass fishing and take their one fish home. Somehow that is offensive to you with the vast majority of striped bass fishermen, especially within the downstate and Long Island region noted as being demographically diverse with the people that go fishing on party and charter boats or on their small private vessels and even along the shoreline.

As troubling is this idea that the for-hire industry and those who spoke up somehow was emphasizing a “God – given right” to take a striped bass which is factually not true, instead of the talking point of all those stakeholders in stating it as a personal choice to legally possess one fish if they choose so?

How come those who just perform catch and release have a greater right in commenting about the public resource, then those who understand that fish is food and like to take home one to enjoy eating? Didn’t I make the public comment that we don’t cause undue and unnecessary injury to a fish, then release this exhausted and stressed fish back into the environment where it has to survive and compete? Didn’t I sum this up with my last statement that we wouldn’t do this to a land animal? Yes we have found out through the latest striped bass assessment that Catch & Release is not as benign as you and many others of your ilk believe. Maybe you do not see this side since you are an individual with the financial means that choose to fly to foreign locations to use a high powered rifle to shoot exotic animals and whose heads hang upon the wall in your home…right?

There is the primary issue as per the Addendum in choosing the most reasonable option to reach the mandated 18% reduction which will improve the stock biomass, but in minimizing as best the least impact to both angler enjoyment and financial viability of the for-hire industry here in New York. How can anyone support a 35 inch minimum size when that will dramatically increase fishing time thus correlates and results in discards and mortality to attain a striped bass that meets this new minimum size? Is this not true Charles?

Worse, and as noted in ‘Catch Age Composition’ with the regulatory shifting in harvesting behavior within the New York Marine Coastal District to the removals of striped bass - that based upon aging sampling with fish a decade old and greater? What impact will there be by increasing within a year in raising the current minimum size from 28 inches up seven inches to 35 inches? Somehow you believe this will not only cause directed harvest to the oldest striped bass, but as noted during the public comment with an unimaginable compliance and enforcement issue, or are long time stakeholders missing something in making this last statement?

Wasn’t this one of the critical goals in single stock management to have a wide distribution of age year classes of fish ranging from juvenile to the oldest in a stock, especially with larger striped bass being female? Wouldn’t the now inordinate rate of removals of the largest and oldest striped bass have a serious impact for many years to come when we literally skew those removals to the oldest fish?

More so, wouldn’t those on the regulatory side in fishery management wish that the next generation of young people have a reasonable opportunity to catch a trophy striped bass, but then again you Charles Witek supports the current New York governor who is most noted for having the most radical abortion law in the country. In fact since we are trying as best to bring this to the public’s attention as this was something you omitted, whether purposely or unconsciously which was outlined by this statement on page 6 in the Draft Addendum for public comment, to wit:

“While data required to quantify these measures are not currently available, the effects of changes to the striped bass management program approved through this addendum can be qualified as follows:
For the recreational sector, increased minimum size limits or other restrictions can lead to decreased availability of legal sized striped bass which can lead to increased effort and an increase in dead releases.”

The future for whom we ask, but nonetheless for the talking point on sector separation for the striped bass fishery for for-hire, since as per the new and re-calibrated MRIP estimates now show a number of years of consistently reporting of both low harvest and catch for for-hire vessels in contrast to the private vessel and shore bound modes. As a percentage of a fishery and to your theme of “killing fish,” it would be appropriate for the ASFMC to recognize which modes are doing “the most killing” (in your own words) and use differential regulations with size limit and possibly sea length in open days for for-hire since the Commission had approved the appropriate use of conservation equivalency to meet the reduction.

What is there for you to debate based upon what is within and approved in the documents about and on the use of ‘CE’ and which will be used by some other states in choosing that regulatory path next year? Maybe a comment within this current blog to the audience to not be surprised on what we will hear in October at the Commission meeting in New Hampshire by three to four states in possibly choosing/making this regulatory choice moving forward with the striped bass fishery in 2020? Should New York recreational fishermen bear more of the economic blunt than other states in meeting the reduction… I do not believe so, nor do most stakeholders and fishermen believe that the New York recreational fishing community should not be allowed to shape a regulatory option best suited to their needs which also meets the required reduction.

Charles, this is about the best interest of all people, and a subtle underlying thought by a few people (I was pulled over to the side by an old time captain about this at the end of the meeting) is in having an audience which was made predominately made up of the surf casting community who came across as elitist in rarely mentioning the socio-economic impact by those who support the 35” minimum size limit. Let me ask,

“Who spoke out for those with a small private vessel that can only fish within the local bays, rivers (North and East) as well as harbors on Long island and New York City, or as much for people who only have access to some dock, pier or shoreline as I stated as we have along the 426 miles of New York City waterfront who rarely see striped bass greater than 35 inches when they fish?”

How about their enjoyment, or do we, or more so YOU only recognize the enjoyment of the economically advantaged high end fly fishing and light tackle community?

We from the for-hire industry do not wish this to sink to a class warfare discussion which you have a documented history of, and have been noted for with previously comments and blovations at meetings about the people in our communities who do fish and are neither involved in fishery politics and just wish for a fish to take home. Aren’t people more important than fish Charles, or are you so callous an individual as you come across with very few people speaking with you at a MRAC meeting?

In closing Charles, this blog piece may be noted as your most noted “puff piece” as you only could dwell upon the emotions of the fishermen who showed up and not upon the data which clearly indicates who has done an inordinate amount of harvest and discard mortality over the past decade and a half. We are living in data – driven fishery management as it is the foundation for specification guidance by the technical people as well as both for the Council and Commission to make regulatory decisions upon. This is why there was not one comment made by anyone from the for-hire industry who spoke at the podium that questioned the science from the benchmark assessment and the findings on the current condition of the striped bass biomass.

Maybe Charles you would have a ‘moment’ in which you could put aside your outright pattern of subjective bias and consider the most appropriate regulatory approach in targeting the specific modes which have caused the most removals. You have failed before this very audience to outline the crux of this issue to why we are going through this reduction exercise again by neglecting to mention the very MRIP estimates which you have time and again pointed to in backing up your position in the past. Personally I doubt you will ever recover in being exposed as one, a person who has little consideration for other people or those who make a living from taking people fishing.

Steve EC Newellman
NY RFHFA
09.10.19
Note: To be publicly shared……..
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Re: SEPT 10, 2019 - A PUBLIC COMMENT REPLY: THE CULTURE WARS OF THE STRIPED BASS DEBATE - “EXPOSING THE BIAS OF CHARLES WITEK”

Postby whitechin » Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:04 pm

Let alone some of the racial bias he has shown.
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Re: SEPT 10, 2019 - A PUBLIC COMMENT REPLY: THE CULTURE WARS OF THE STRIPED BASS DEBATE - “EXPOSING THE BIAS OF CHARLES WITEK”

Postby EC NEWELLMAN » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:20 am

IT'S OBVIOUS ON WHAT THE NEW MRIP ESTIMATES ARE NOW PRESENTING TO FISHERY REGULATORS


After the news coming from the prior day SSC meeting on possible reductions coming to the recreational sector for Black Sea Bass in 2020, one captain called me last night and asked me how could that be done based upon what the "Fisheries Independent Data" (trawl surveys) and the positive review on the current status on the stock? Is this a case once again of:

"You're getting more, but will not see much of it going into the pail of the recreational fishermen..."

It is apparent after the latest SSC meeting that the black sea bass fishery is being managed by those on the SSC as a stock that is still undergoing rebuilding, and that the 800 lb gorilla within this discussion is the utterance and now more common use of the word "uncertainty" due to what the new MRIP estimates are now showing. As one SSC member clearly stated,

"MRIP just gives us the data..."

It was a mic drop moment as he went no further in explaining if the data makes any sense "if" MRIP is accurately estimating - in comparison to the trawl survey data that they are receiving.

Let me present you a recent example of one of the most egregious MRIP Follies which have come to our attention, that being NY Wave 2 STRIPED BASS and take a closer look to what occurred:

1- Season open April 15th in NY with only 16 days being accounted for in Wave 2 since it covers the period from March 1st - April 30th, thus April 15th to April 30th.

2- Striped Bass fishing was concentrated in an area north of Sandy Hook through south of the EZ-pass shakedown bridge known as the VZ.

3- MRIP preliminary (it's meaningless on preliminary to final data with MRIP) reports 262,050 striped bass harvested with the confines of Raritan Bay and Lower NY Harbor.

What does this breakdown to if measured by the days of fishing in PRIVATE VESSEL HARVEST?

1- 16,378 SB for all days of this 16 day period being fishable
2- 17,470 SB if we had just one un-fishable (weather day)

Can anyone believe this number for a fishery that was conducted in an extremely small area within the confines of the Vampire State in a ONE FISH possession fishery?

This brings us to an example I used, and follow this closely as we are going to use a eye-popping number of vessels fishing within this area, and these are New York registered boats that are landing in New York State:

- 200 PRIVATE BOATS (mode) fishing each day

- 6 fishers on each of the 200 boats so that we have 1200 fishermen fishing (each private vessel would have a charter boat capacity of fishers as I wanted to max out the highest data) and remember this is private vessel mode not for-hire/charter

- 1200 fishermen successful in catching their ONE KEEPER which comes out to 1,200 SB going home each and every day

- For 15 days (remember 1 weather day only removed) we have 18,000 SB harvested during NY Wave 2 (vs 262,050 reported by MRIP) or 7% (actually 6.86%) of this NY Wave 2 Striped Bass harvest estimate in 2019.

How can the "can't count fish" MRIP wizards get this wrong in extrapolating and parsing out the data for a fishery with only a one fish possession? Is MRIP giving us an estimation of over 262,050 striped bass removed just by the anglers from southern Brooklyn and Staten Island in April, when few anglers even have their boats in the water since there is no other nearshore fishery for a fishermen to bring something home anymore? Can anyone contemplate 200 registered boats from this area of NYC fishing each and everyday with 100 percent guaranteed success in sight of Nortons Pt. Brooklyn?

It again brings us to what we are seeing in the summer flounder and black sea bass fisheries where the following charts were presented, and an updated document as of yesterday prepared and to be used for the following week MC meeting.

First, what are the few stakeholders who show up for the AP stating at this time?

"MRIP has proven itself so inaccurate after three major redesigns that it is proven useless for management purposes." (as seen in the slide)

What else?

"There is a clear data trend that the for-hire sector has an extremely small impact on both harvested removals and even worse from what we are seeing with regulatory discards with the discard mortality being charged to the recreational sector. "

It is interesting to now see what GARFO staff, MRIP, the NEFSC and those on the MAFMC technical people are now being presented with tables in the document package of two extremely noticeable data streams:

1- Private Vessel and Shore Bound modes have an ordinate amount of harvest that appears to be 90% and greater on removals.

2- Private Vessel and Shore Bound modes are causing the high rate of regulatory discards and the resulting DMs (discard mortality) that the SSC builds into their specifications flow chart for scientific uncertainty due to the data MRIP has given them.

There was a time in NMFS fishery management starting in the early 1990s that the sharp knives were out to essentially "fishery cleanse" the commercial sector with this theme during federal fishery meetings:

"When one sector and group of fishermen are causing such an enormous rate of mortality to a stock, regulators MUST use the regulatory tools to not only lessen, but more so to limit their impact to the viability and sustainability once the stock is rebuilt."


Wouldn't that also apply to the recreational sector and the four recognized modes that are measured?

The next question should be in the regulatory guidance, thus approaches in lessening the concentrated impact on harvest on stocks such as striped ba

1- overly large minimum size that are not representative of the spatial distribution and productivity of the fishery during the season,

2- by-catch possession limits, and

3- limiting the amount of days open in that fishery especially in the mixed fisheries which sea bass interacts with

The primary driver here is that MRIP continues to be an abysmal failure in catch and harvest data accuracy, no matter with their 'Bernie Madoff 17th floor' spin department pumping out the "warm and fuzzy" news releases as they just did yesterday:

MRIP - NOAA Fisheries Reissues Policy for Transitioning to New Recreational Fishing Surveys - September 11, 2019

What should be the driving goal here in fishery management then in receiving the most accurate 'Fisheries Dependent Data' to target which groups and or users are causing such an disparate negative impact to the sustainability of a stock?

Those in the GOMex region realized this failure of MRIP estimates a number of years ago and have implemented collection tools and survey methods which greatly improved catch and harvest data accuracy. So why not here in the MAFMC management region in applying a differential regulatory scheme between for-hire vs private vessel and the shore bound mode, especially as the for-hire industry has mandated electronic reporting and much better data accuracy?

This was the follow up piece to what was written yesterday, and I always put a please share, and if there are any questions, corrections, misstatements or outright inaccuracies:please let me know and present your data.

One last note as Kim sent out the agenda before noon today, and you will notice something interesting, and maybe it is me, but there is a time allotment on each agenda item. Oh boy?
This is going to be interesting if either Director Gilmore or Mikey Frisk will enforce the beat the clock time limit to these discussions.....as in just five minutes for the LaPointe 'BS' - best suggestions report? Another 75K paper study then that went no place as the governor has now weighted in on this?

Good day,
Steve EC Newellman
NY RFHFA
09.12.19

Charts used in the Charles Witek and this discussion - random order....

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Re: SEPT 10, 2019 - A PUBLIC COMMENT REPLY: THE CULTURE WARS OF THE STRIPED BASS DEBATE - “EXPOSING THE BIAS OF CHARLES WITEK”

Postby scupper » Sat Sep 14, 2019 8:43 am

Rules forced me to sell my Federal Sea Bass permit a few ago .... Plenty of fish but too many nonsense rules
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