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Fish Report 11/23/09

Limits of Tog

Regional Cbass/Fluke/Scup/Tog Management

Crockett's Mid-Atlantic Fishery Policy is Wrong

Schumer & Pallone's Bill Isn't

A basic tenant of restoration biology might be that our ability to destroy habitat always precedes our understanding of that habitat's value..

Were the true value of reef--any manner of reef--not found in fishery production, the best course for fishers would be to remove reef, thereby concentrating the remaining fish...

Hi All,

Couple decent days on the rip, just a bit of weather we could fish. Limited all who dropped a line though there were only a couple tog over 10 pounds..

Crazy fishery.. Friday I had 3 accomplished anglers dropping their lines within a few feet of each other -- it wasn't working for two of them! No amount of underhand mugging could break George's lock on the hot drop.

They finally did get going.. Tragic in a funny way for a while.

Only had the birds working where we wanted them Friday. Usually more blues, this day about split between stripers and blues. We get some nicer weather we'll see more of this 'bonus round' of after-tog-limit action - I hope.

Small tog have been a sight. I've never seen so many. Owing to recent artificial reef work there's now at least 10 times as much tog habitat--more & brand new--near the bass grounds. I'm very glad to see the production, the little guys, acorns before oaks.. As these youngsters join the spawning stock we'll have an awful lot of new reef grown-in and ready for colonization.

Ain't all smalls by any means; oh no, we still have a couple anglers everyday that catch their personal best - provided the bar's not set too high!

My thoughts on regional management are below. The writing shows why whole-coast or 'coastwide' management of any species that exhibits short regional migration is a farce; why we must have region-specific regulation to advance fisheries restoration further; and why Lee Crockett, Director of the Pew Environment Group's Fisheries Policy, is steering fishers into disaster, a disaster without benefit to fish or fisher -- a lose lose situation -- and why any concerned with real marine restoration need to support The Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2009 By Senator Schumer & Rep. Frank Pallone.

Still selling out at 12. I'll go toggin everyday the weather's fit through the 30th save Thanksgiving. Tog season closes come December 1st.

Perhaps we'll do some trips in December for blues and even stripers if they'll come inshore, out of the MPA.

Have to haul-out too, briefly.

As ever, winter trips will be announced via 'fish report' emails.

Tog reopen January 1st.

I intend to be there.

Regards,

Monty

Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net

Party Boat "Morning Star"

Reservation Line 410 520 2076

http://www.morningstarfishing.com/

A Simple Case for Regional Black Sea Bass, Summer Flounder, Tautog & Scup Fishery Management - Monty Hawkins - 11/23/09

If coast-wide management were working sea bass would now be found in incredible numbers off the DelMarVa coast --now-- today in even greater population than the fantastic numbers of the early 2000s.

That is not the case. Management fails to comprehend the finality of the situation; that rebuilding can not occur with a coast-wide plan.

In a few years time I suspect that managing fish without a strong habitat component, indeed with no habitat consideration whatever: That managing species in broad coastwide swaths as opposed to regional zones, these distinct sub-populations of fish set apart by habitat; That such management will be as incongruent, as dramatically inconsistent, as indefensible as declaring "All men are created equal" while feeding slave children trough-swill with the dogs: That the self-evidence of truth in fisheries governance is only as strong as those tasked with bringing it to the fore: That the .org brute strength of money combined with expert skill in societal manipulation now borne with fisheries ignorance can lead to no good outcome for fish nor fisher..

The coast-wide cbass closure presently being endured is a result of reportedly high landings in one region; this northern area vacuuming up the entirety of the recreational quota while every other region had shockingly lower reported landings.

The economic pain created by this particular closure and the many other resultant see-sawing gains and losses of management's goals are an unnecessary burden.

Every tagging study north of Hatteras shows that sea bass will return to the habitat from whence they came, that each reef or region has a distinct population.

The notion that a fishery can not have sub-stocks without genetic difference, or some other obvious manner of speciation, leaves ignored a whole host of useful tools for restoring fish and gauging success while doing so.

We should not be worried if a "stock" could interbreed, as surely the cbass off Virginia Beach, VA. and Jones Beach, NY. could; No, for restoration purposes we should estimate the likelihood that they would interbreed in a given year. In this example it is fantastically unlikely that these two distinct reef habitants/colonists separated by some 300 NM will ever comingle reproductively. It is here that spawning philopatry, or breeding site fidelity, is as much an 'apple & orange' manageable characteristic as having two completely different species; that what defines a fish through some obvious characteristic, such as the difference between weakfish & spotted seatrout, is as much a tool as what reef area a population uses to spawn.

In and of itself, this argues for regional management. There are, however, far greater reasons, foremost is the danger of regional collapse through unregulated concentration of fishing effort.

Whether spikes in fishing effort/catch/landings are brought about by consolidation of permits--as when IFQs or 'catch shares' are being acquired thereby concentrating effort into fewer hands & smaller geographic regions; or by simple economics, this where the most valuable part of a stock is located in one region and targeted by highly mobile gears, even including spikes in recreational effort; the over-pressuring that may have been prevented via regional quota/management is almost applauded under a coastwide plan.

This is not simply theoretical: over-pressuring regional stocks has occurred where larger, more valuable, sea bass were exploited in concentrated multi-state trawl effort.

As ever, regional collapse of a fishery remains unnoticed in coastwide data set, smoothed away in a broad-scale graph..

It will happen again and again and again--forever--until these demersal fisheries are regionally managed. Any hope of true, lasting restoration is lost until this is corrected.

Tagging studies reveal nearly absolute regional habitat fidelity in s. flounder, black sea bass, tautog and, presumably, scup.

Here it becomes obvious that achieving long term restoration goals with a coast-wide management plan is impossible; that any success could only be temporary as effort shifts outside the natural territorial bounds of these regional stocks.

And, it is with this information that the importance of seafloor habitat should leap out from the data to anyone willing to look for it.

A basic tenant of restoration biology might be that our ability to destroy habitat always precedes our understanding of that habitat's value.

Just as the Dustbowl of the 1930s taught the crucial importance of habitat management in farmland, so too should our present state of fisheries teach us the value of reef habitat management in the mid-Atlantic.

There are two reef videos on YouTube http://www.morningstarfishing.com/ -- So far as I know, in 2009, that's all the work on our region's shallow water corals...

Were the true value of reef--any manner of reef--not found in fishery production, the best course for fishers would be to remove reef, thereby concentrating the remaining fish...

Not at all what needs done, but it is exactly what happened in the mid & later parts of the 1900s --- It was only continuous refinement in electronic navigation that disguised a serious downturn in fisheries as a fish-catching jubilee.

Our responsibility is to see, to know, to discover what was and restore it.

Instead, we remain blinded by coastwide fisheries estimates of every manner--economic, recreational catch, stock assessments of reef dwelling fish made with no knowledge of reef--when a regional concept is our only hope.

The Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2009 By Senator Schumer, NY & Rep. Frank Pallone, NJ is our only hope of buying the time needed to save fishers - the businesses - before our present use of law whirlpools the whole industry.

I expect I'll write my DC representatives in support of that legislation.

Meanwhile, the giants trying to cipher the mysteries of the sea while gazing from their distant towers are pushing hard to kill it...

A few simple biological truths would fix the whole business.

Regards,

Monty

Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net

Party Boat "Morning Star"

Reservation Line 410 520 2076

http://www.morningstarfishing.com/

226628518068170346121351079lwwwmorningst-1.jpg

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