Skylar

02.01.2012 ...a brain in their head...

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FishReport 2/1/12 <o:p></o:p>

CoupleMore Trips <o:p></o:p>

"..abrain in their head.." <o:p></o:p>

MarineEcology's Nadir <o:p></o:p>

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HiAll, <o:p></o:p>

Sunday'stog trip was very OK for some. Others got their head handed to them. Biggestwas 13 1/2.. <o:p></o:p>

Awesomewinter weather but the water is chilling.. <o:p></o:p>

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Goingagain on Sunday 2/5/12 - Tog - 12 sells out - $100.00 - 6 AM to 2 PM (whichallows clients to get home in time for the game.) <o:p></o:p>

Mondaytoo - Tog - 2/6/12 - $125 - 6 to 4 - 14 sells out. <o:p></o:p>

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Atthe joint ASMFC & MAFMC fisheries meeting in Williamsburg, VA. the Chair ofthe Stock Assessment Workgroup (SAW) told me "no one with a brain in theirhead would believe that estimate" in reference to the NJ shore-caughtMar/Apr 2010 tog recreational catch estimate of 71,756 fish -- from shore, inlate winter, in New Jersey. <o:p></o:p>

That'smore tog caught from shore in weeks than all the party/charter boats along theentire coast caught in all of 2010. <o:p></o:p>

Inthe new & improved MRIP recreational catchestimating system, those same shore fishers are now credited with 173,092 togin Mar/Apr 2010. <o:p></o:p>

OneHundred Thousand More Fish ..where they probably caught a few hundred at mostbefore waters warmed in May. <o:p></o:p>

There'sgoing to be a "Listening Session" at the next MAFMC meeting inmid-February. This time the guy in charge of MRIP will be available to answerquestions. <o:p></o:p>

Ihave a few..<o:p></o:p>

Youcan read more about it at http://www.mafmc.org/ - see press releasetitled "February 15th..." <o:p></o:p>

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Thentoo there is the issue of Habitat. <o:p></o:p>

ThisFrom Delaware's Artificial Reef Website: Artificial reef construction isespecially important in the Mid-Atlantic region, where near shore bottom isusually featureless sand or mud. We have neither the natural rocky outcropscommon in New England or the coral reefs of our Southeastern Atlantic Coast. <o:p></o:p>

Iwish Maryland had 1/3 as many 'rocky outcrops' as Delaware -- If you've everfished the South East Grounds or the Old Grounds; You've fished rocks. <o:p></o:p>

Someof the oldest fishers in DE have told me they lost good fishing spots duringthe clam boom that was finally brought under control by early regulatoryactions of the 1980s. <o:p></o:p>

Isuppose its true, technically, that we don't have coral reefs like theSoutheastern Atlantic - Our Corals Are Different ..but fish don't seem to mind.(search 'Maryland Corals' on YouTube for video of our corals) <o:p></o:p>

Delawarehas an incredible artificial reef program: Probably the best in the nation forits length of coast. <o:p></o:p>

Withsuch incredible habitat-based fishery production I expect Capt. John on theKaren Sue to catch a new world record tog any day: but I bet Capt. John knowsmore natural bottom than artificial reef; I'd bet Capt. Eddie & Capt Rickdo too.. <o:p></o:p>

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I'mtold new artificial reef units at Site 11 are grown over in sea-whip, a softcoral, in about 4 years.

That's extremely fast compared to my experiences with natural reef and likelyowes to many other whips spawning nearby - its a larval rich environment withhigh-profile substrates.. <o:p></o:p>

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Delawarehas a rich & long history of reef-fish catches before any reef program wasever thought of. At sea those reef fish were caught on natural bottoms. <o:p></o:p>

Giventhe extensive list of accomplishments & scientific gear available to staff,it would seem a simple thing to find out where all those sea bass came frombefore Delaware's reef permits started filling up with materiel. <o:p></o:p>

Justas we recently lost Capt. Bob Gower & Irv Mumford, Delaware too will soonbe losing its deepest, richest sources of fishing's history.. <o:p></o:p>

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Howdid Mid-Atlantic commercial fishers catch more sea bass in the 1950s than inall decades since combined? <o:p></o:p>

Ithink this steep decline results from 'slash & burn' fishing, where theleast robust reef-growths were lost in early trawling. <o:p></o:p>

Ithink after that we had the unregulated rise of surf-clamming; Where not onlywas growth removed from rocks but entire bottoms were altered in such fashionthat no regrowth of reef --the Mid-Atlantic's temperate corals-- was possible. <o:p></o:p>

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Ithink the late 1980s were reef-fish & habitat's lowest point, their nadir;That continued heavy fishing pressure combined with steep habitat declinesresulted in near collapse; That claims of 'restored' sea bass & tautog madeby modern management are more to the credit of artificial reef builders--withcatch restriction certainly important too. <o:p></o:p>

AndI think recreational catch restriction based on MRIP's new data will be aseffective as habitat restoration based on the poorly researched assertions ofthe "All Sand & Mud, There's No Natural Reef In The Mid-Atlantic"crowd.. <o:p></o:p>

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Habitatfidelity in fish is such a crucial factor. We see it now with shads &sturgeons, know of it in striped bass & weakfish, have long known of it inthe salmons; It's also found in sea bass & tautog.. <o:p></o:p>

Becausemanagement is tasked with restoring fish with habitat fidelity --our sea bass& tautog-- then habitat should be a primary component of fisheryrestoration.<o:p></o:p>

Instead,even today, the work of Wigley & Theroux who first declared there were nohard-bottoms here in 1981 remains "Our Best Available Science." <o:p></o:p>

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Currentlyour recreational marine fishery restoration burden is based solely on catchestimates--high estimates which always seem to result in further catchrestriction. <o:p></o:p>

Yetwe've just had a 4 week recreational cod catch estimate lowered by 1,307,935fewer cod -- that's just in Massachusetts, just that state's private boat catch& just in the month of April, 2010.. <o:p></o:p>

Loweredby well over a million fish while that miserable NJ tog estimate was raised by100,000 fish: How Can We Possibly Create Foundational Science With This Data? <o:p></o:p>

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Mypoint: Yes, we need catch restriction---but we need it applied with more commonsense and less of these insane catch estimates. However, catch restriction cannot shoulder the entire burden of restoration; managing extractionalone will never restore habitat. <o:p></o:p>

Andwe'll never concern ourselves with restoring habitat if we can not be troubledto look at our region's seabed and compare it to fishing's history. <o:p></o:p>

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Ibelieve catch restriction has done about all it can for the reef fish; Thatmuch of those species' current restoration success should be credited insteadto the reef builders; I believe discovering habitat's past is vital tofishing's future and that no forward motion will come of "sand &mud" thinking. <o:p></o:p>

Regards,<o:p></o:p>

Monty<o:p></o:p>

Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net

Party Boat "Morning Star"

Reservation Line 410 520 2076

http://www.morningstarfishing.com/

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