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Looking for the weather to break - get some more tog trips in. Water is c-c-c-c-cold - bite was slow Thursday. See the 1/5 report below for more tog trip info. Email to get added to the reports list. Cheers!

Fish Management Report 1/8/10

Sea Bass Reopened?

A Step Forward

My sincerest thanks to all in the fisheries community that risked perhaps even their careers to help make this day possible.

Hi All,

The Science & Statistical and Joint Monitoring Committees met today via 'webinar'.

After several hours of evidence from the Joint Monitoring Committee and several more hours of debate by the Science and Statistical Committee, it was decided to recommend a large black sea bass quota increase to NOAA's Regional Administrator, Pat Kurkel.

It is possible that we will regain some of our sea bass season - pending action by Ms. Kurkel.

The exact quota recommended is unknown at this time. Further off still are any adjustments to our season. My thanks to all who lobbied on fishers behalf, who wrote letters crying injustice, who would not let data-poor fisheries science destroy the last vestiges of saltwater recreational fishing's partyboat roots. My sincerest thanks to all in the fisheries community that risked perhaps even their careers to help make this day possible.

Last year's sea bass season was stolen - first by the size limit increase, then by 'emergency shutdown' when a discredited & now discontinued catch estimating system, MRFSS, calculated northern states had caught the whole coast's quota.. Perhaps I now know what a prisoner feels like on hearing that he has been exonerated by DNA evidence - but hasn't yet heard the judge's decision.

My sense is we'll still be under house arrest - that we won't get all our sea bass season back.

Perhaps if we had the "Flexibility in Rebuilding America's Fisheries Act" it would have never come to this. I hope to be able to open my cbass season reservation book soon - will the moment the dust settles.

One thought I can not escape: I just spent all day listening to brilliant people, people that can do fantastically complex math or understand the intricacies of decades of fisheries law and regulation: They don't think, they cogitate.

In those 6+ hours of discussion about sea bass, a reef fish, the word reef was never spoken.. No mention of habitat's role..

I'm telling you, Alabama has no natural coral reef system and the shortest coastline in the Gulf, yet has a lion's share of the red snapper quota due only to catch history over artificial reef. That's not fishery restoration; its inarguably fishery manufacture.

We do some of that here too.

The future fishery I envision surely employs catch restriction management: But has at its core habitat; our remnant & to-be-restored natural reefs, plus an artificial reef complex that can stand on it's own.. Fishery restoration and fishery manufacture resulting in bending rods, smiling faces & a day's fishing that doesn't end until the dishes are washed.

Thanks To All,

Monty

Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net

Party Boat "Morning Star"

Reservation Line 410 520 2076

http://www.morningstarfishing.com/

Fish/Trip Report 1/5/10

Bites

Couple More Tries

Hi All,

Had a trip scheduled today; canceled. Mike & I snuck out from 1 to 3:30 just to see if the water was OK, not too c-c-cold.

Anchored. No bites. Watched crabs sink straight down.

Current picked up. Bites. Tag returns...

OK, lets go try some more then.

Thursday and Friday 1/7--1/8 - Tog trips - boat sells out at 6 so I can fish all in a wind break - crabs provided - cabin heated - leave at 7:30 for these trips only - return no later than 3 - 3:30 - $100.00 buys a spot - reservation a must, that phone number in signature - email does not work for reservations - call.

If this weather doesn't break soon we'll be iced out.

The joint monitoring/SSC committee meeting is Thursday - - here is the only chance left to get the sea bass quota upped - lot of businesses on the line... I have tried.

Game on.

Watching CNN this morning - Gal sez if you spend more than 20% of your time lobbying you have to register..

Oops.

Cheers All,

Monty

Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net

Party Boat "Morning Star"

Reservation Line 410 520 2076

http://www.morningstarfishing.com/

Fish/Trip Report 1/4/10

Goin Fishin 1/5/10

Reef Fisheries Crisis: Executive Summary

..Alabama has no natural coral reefs and the shortest coastline in the Gulf: Yet Alabama has the lion's share of the red snapper quota--a major reef fishery---with no catch history whatsoever before artificial reef construction began in the 50s.

Hi All,

Its cold and windy.. but I gotta go fishing. NWesterly; should be plenty calm under the beach.. Water temp is still in the zone..

Tog trip - boat sells out at 6 on 1/5/09 so I can fish all in a wind break - crabs provided - cabin heated - leave at 7:30 for this trip only - return no later than 3 - 3:30 - $100.00 buys a spot - reservation a must, that phone number in signature - email does not work for reservations - call.

Minimum passengers required for this trip is zero - I gotta go fishin.

Below is a 'summary' I wrote for meetings with Representatives..

..getting a fresh fish dinner more fun.

Regards,

Monty

Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net

Party Boat "Morning Star"

Reservation Line 410 520 2076

http://www.morningstarfishing.com/

1/4/10

Reef Fisheries Crisis: A 2010 Salem Witch Hunt..

Capt. Monty Hawkins & Capt. Victor Bunting - Ocean City, MD.

Executive Summary:

1) Job Losses - Instantaneous. Affects Texas to Maine - many fisheries - sea bass/flounder worst off coastal Maryland. Bankrupts at least half the industry - could very well lead to collapse of supporting industries.

2) Fishers will then turn to every form of Federal & State Relief - including Federal Disaster Relief.

3) Collapsing businesses is wholly unneeded to restore fisheries; especially sea bass & flounder which are considered fully rebuilt. Regulations are based on data terribly flawed - Even referred to by fisheries science professionals and every sector of Govt. associated with fisheries as Data-Poor: Sea bass are the most data-poor fishery.

4) Regulations impact two near-shore fisheries most responsible for MD's coastal fishers' economic stability - sea bass & flounder. Closing them forces fishing pressure on tautog which will either collapse that species or force regulators to close that too because of overfishing.

5) The Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) has, as of January 2010, been replaced by the Federal Government with the Marine Recreational Informational Program. (MRIP) In Sept/Oct--Wave 5--2007, MRFSS has landings for summer flounder in MD at 1,711 for Party Boats (boats that frequently fish more than 50 passengers a trip) And 36,017 for shore fishers.. Further incriminating these data sets, according to MRFSS in Sept/Oct of 2006 shore fishers caught zero flounder. These are real examples of data accepted by MRFSS. The MRFSS survey has black sea bass @ 1,355 for all of MD 2009. They "know" party boats caught them all. Private and charter boats caught none. In fact party boats likely caught that many in one May weekend; the charter & private boats caught sea bass too. These data sets are terrible.

6) Not only can NMFS not estimate well how many we caught: the MRFSS data is thought to be much better than the data-poor fish population assessments. The data-POOR stems from using trawl-nets to count fish that live where you can not pull a net. Those in fisheries know these stock assessments can never be right.

Every single reef associated fish--all of them--are proving difficult to manage.

7) A major failure by regulators is to not recognize the futility of managing fish in vast areas that remain in small areas: Habitat Fidelity is the rule, not the exception in reef fisheries; its not too complex a theory..

To wit: Alabama has no natural coral reefs and the shortest coastline in the Gulf: Yet Alabama has the lion's share of the red snapper quota--a major reef fishery---with no catch history whatsoever before artificial reef construction began in the 50s.

Despite the glaringly obvious truth associated with Alabama's artificial reef construction, there still has been no effort by fisheries staff to discover, protect & enhance the natural corals--Essential Fish Habitat--of the mid-Atlantic region as is called for by every update of the Magnusson Act.

8) Release mortality figures are so wrong that their use results in over half the recreational sea bass quota being killed by throwing fish back. If remotely true, release based fishery management would have failed years ago.

From Maine to Texas fisheries are being closed. The recreational fishing industry is dying because of hard, unforgiving use of Science & Statistics. These reef fish, such as red snapper & black sea bass, closed or so restricted as to be economically lost despite being referred to by fisheries science professionals and every sector of government as the "Data-Poor Fisheries."

Scientists are incapable of estimating reef fish populations well and know it. They still pull nets to gather population estimates. Nets get stuck on reefs.

The MRFSS (Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey) is so-very well known to be a poor estimator of recreational catch that it has been replaced by a new program, MRIP.

These failed data elements simultaneously combine as federally mandated fishery rebuilding timelines expire -- forcing the gravest of fishery closures yet seen in the reef fisheries.. just as these species are being declared rebuilt.

The reef fisheries are where managers must trust their gut; reach for other sources of information. Yet the 2006 reauthorization of the Magnusson Act now gives the greatest of powers to the fisheries' Science and Statistical Committees: Management's weighing of other information, even considerations of economic & cultural importance, are removed via the hard "Science & Statistics" of these fisheries. That very data that is no better than evidences brought forth in 1692 against women thought to be witches.

The modern day result of accusation is similar economically...

Do not allow science & bureaucracy to blindly destroy legacy, custom & culture with science no more soundly formed than a witch hunter's professings.

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