Skylar

11.21.2012 Toggin & MRIP'S Response

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Fish Report 11/21/12 </SPAN>

Couple More Days Of Toggin </SPAN>

MRIP's Response </SPAN>

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If nothing changes, owing to catch estimates & Accountability Measures I anticipate we'll have about 10 weeks of sea bass season next year with a greatly reduced creel limit. That'll be the end of that. </SPAN>

Despite much less regulation during the late 90s & early 2000s we experienced the wonder of fishery management as sea bass populations rose on every reef along DelMarVa. </SPAN>

Now management, feed a steady diet of false catch data, readies our hemlock..</SPAN>

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I'm adding Sunday & Monday - 11/25 & 26 - With Sunday A Longer $125.00 Trip & Monday A Regular $100.00 - 7 to 3 Tog Trip. </SPAN>

On 11/18 I also announced: Two Tog Trips - 11/23 & 24 - Friday & Saturday After Thanksgiving - 6:30 to 4 - $125.00 - Green Crabs Provided - You're Welcome To Bring Any Hard Bait Including Lobster - No Squid Or Clam! - 16 Sells Out - Tough Weather Pattern, We'll Try. Regular Tog Fishers Are Aware This Is Not An Easy Fishery, Especially When Newbs Are Catching And They Are Not.. </SPAN>

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This quote is from NOAA's recreational catch estimating program's newsletter, MRIP, writing about the NJ Shore Mar/Apr 174,000 Tautog estimate. </SPAN>

"..it is equally unlikely that zero fish were caught during any given year as it is that there was a 35-fold increase in catch in 2010 over 2009." </SPAN></SPAN>

Looks like an admission of bad data to me.. </SPAN>

One of the worst MRFSS over-estimates ever; MRIP then increased that NJ shore estimate by one hundred thousand fish -- And I quote precisely: "..With these improvements in place, we can say with confidence that we have enhanced the quality of our estimates. In fact, the cases you cite are good examples for demonstrating exactly what we mean by that." </SPAN></SPAN>

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If journalistic spin generated heat I could wish you all a warm Thanksgiving. </SPAN>

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Hi All, </SPAN>

Put two pallets of solid block donated by Jeff Bauer at Eastern Shore Brick into the hull of our 50 foot steel boat. Now very toggy, she's ready for Greg Hall to sink when the wind lays down. We'll get a mooring on site in the next few days. </SPAN>

With all the concrete in it we may get more than three centuries of fishery production. By 2050 it will be completely encrusted in coral </SPAN>

..if, that is, light can still penetrate 60 feet. </SPAN>

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Not everyone will want to wade into these waters. Its very difficult to understand how catch estimates are undermining much of our remaining recreational fisheries. </SPAN>

Its important that we not confuse field data - interview data - the information work-a-day folks gather directly from us on a clipboard; Their data nearly pristine, I believe it is the estimation of How Many People Went Fishing where our trouble lies. The data on those clipboards will, one day, be crucial to understanding our true catch. </SPAN>

Below you'll first see MRIP's public reply to my questions of several months ago, then my response to management. </SPAN>

I encourage you to write if so moved. I wish there were a single desk to zero-in on. I'd recommend at least three addresses, Sam Rauch, Bob Beal & Chris Moore. </SPAN>

Worse Data Is Not Better Data. </SPAN>

I'm writing DC too but I don't think they have time for fishermen. </SPAN>

Snail Mail addresses below, you can also look up email & contact info. </SPAN>

If we are to prevent regulatory-caused collapse of our reef fisheries then management must know more than a couple guys at risk of bankruptcy care. </SPAN>

If nothing changes I anticipate we'll have about 10 to 12 weeks of sea bass season next year with a greatly reduced creel limit. That'll be the end of that. </SPAN>

Perhaps our fate is now already sealed. Below is, I believe, a stunning admission of data's inadequacy.

Management must be shown that what they believe to be true is not. </SPAN>

We must incorporate fishing's effects from 1992 to 2004 into management's knowledge. The increase DelMarVa experienced in sea bass then, despite far less regulation, is key to understanding a true path to reef-fish restoration. </SPAN>

Thank You,</SPAN>

Monty </SPAN>

*</SPAN>

Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net</SPAN></SPAN>

Party Boat "Morning Star"

Reservation Line 410 520 2076

http://www.morningstarfishing.com/</SPAN></SPAN> </SPAN></SPAN>

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First MRIP's Reply - Below that my response. </SPAN>

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[TD]Marine Recreational

Information Program Update</SPAN>

November 19, 2012</SPAN>

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[TD]MRIP Q&A </SPAN>

In our August issue of Newscast, we asked readers for their questions. We heard from Capt. Monty Hawkins, a charter boat operator, blogger, and recreational fishing advocate, who sent us two related queries. For the purposes of space, we've condensed them below. To read the full text with his accompanying commentary, along with his other posts, you can visit Capt. Monty's blog at </SPAN></SPAN>

http://blog.morningstarfishing.com/</SPAN> </SPAN></SPAN>

Question:</SPAN></SPAN>

How can you say MRIP is "better" than MRFSS when there are still so many estimates that appear to be obvious outliers? Specific examples include:</SPAN></SPAN>

  • Wave 2, 2010, New Jersey Shore Mode tautog catch. The estimate was 483,198 pounds. That number is greater than the TOTAL for-hire Wave 2, 2010, catch PLUS the total commercial landings for the WHOLE YEAR.</SPAN> </SPAN></SPAN>
  • Wave 3, Massachusetts Private Boat Mode black sea bass catch. The estimate was 246,973 sea bass in Wave 3 alone. That number is greater than the catch of the entire East Coast for-hire fleet through Wave 3.</SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

Where's the head-count? Where are the statistical stops to prevent wild flyers in the data? Isn't there some way to clearly flag the "bad" numbers and only report the ones that make sense?</SPAN></SPAN>

MRIP Responds</SPAN></SPAN>

Dear Capt. Monty,</SPAN></SPAN>

Thank you for your questions. These are important issues with complex explanations that straddle the line between the science of producing estimates of recreational fishing activity, and the most appropriate use of those estimates to fairly and sustainably manage recreational fisheries.</SPAN></SPAN>

On the science side, MRIP has implemented a number of significant, peer-reviewed improvements to our previous recreational fishing data collection program. The basis for these improvements is a 2006 review of MRFSS by the National Research Council (NRC), a leading group of independent scientists. One of the chief concerns raised by the NRC was that our catch estimation methods introduced the potential for bias in our results. In statistics, bias can occur when you make assumptions about your data that you haven't tested, such as assuming that catch rates are the same during different parts of the day.</SPAN></SPAN>

The NRC recommended a number of specific changes to MRFSS to remove the potential for bias from our estimates, which the MRIP team - made up of NOAA representatives, state partners, outside consultants, fishermen and other stakeholders - has systematically worked to implement over the past several years. Complete details of all our projects can be found at our website, www.countmyfish.noaa.gov.</SPAN></SPAN>

With these improvements in place, we can say with confidence that we have enhanced the quality of our estimates. In fact, the cases you cite are good examples for demonstrating exactly what we mean by that. To begin with, it is important to recognize that when we talk about an "estimate," we're actually talking about two numbers:</SPAN></SPAN>

  • The first is the "Point Estimate," which is the number you refer to in your question. </SPAN></SPAN>
  • The second is the "Precision." In polling, this is often referred to as the "margin of error." In our estimates, we use a measure called "percent standard error" (or PSE). Precision tells us how confident we can be in the point estimate.</SPAN></SPAN>

For an estimate to have any real-world meaning, BOTH of these numbers have to be taken into account. That's because if there is a high PSE, then we are less certain that the point estimate reflects the true value, a fact that has to be accounted for when using the data. However, less precision is not the same as less accuracy. Because we have removed the potential for bias from the way we estimate catch, MRIP's new numbers - the point estimates combined with the PSEs - are still a more accurate estimation of recreational fishing activity.</SPAN></SPAN>

In the tautog example you ask about, the PSE was a very imprecise 86.4. One of the reasons the PSE is so high for this species in this mode is because we don't encounter many people catching them. Because of the way that sampling and estimation work, there is a good chance that the point estimate for any individual species and type of fishing (mode) during a single two-month sampling period (wave) may seem unrealistically high or low. Although it is typically the high "outliers" that tend to get the most attention, they must also be taken in context with the low outliers; considering both is an important part of evaluating the bigger picture.</SPAN></SPAN>

As an example, the table below shows Wave 2/New Jersey/Shore Fishing/Tautog Catch Estimates from 2000 through 2012. In nine of those years, the estimate was zero tautog caught (PSEs cannot be calculated for zero catch). In years where there has been reported catch, the PSE is very high.</SPAN></SPAN>

Table 1</SPAN></SPAN>

Screen grab from data query publicly available at www.countymyfish.noaa.gov</SPAN>. </SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]Query:</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]MRIP CATCH TIME SERIES</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]Year:</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]2000 - 2012 </SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]Wave:</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]2 MAR/APR</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]Species:</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]TAUTOG </SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]Geographic Area:</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]NEW JERSEY</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]Fishing Mode:</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]SHORE</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]Fishing Area:</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]ALL AREAS COMBINED</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]Type of Catch:</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]HARVEST (TYPE A + B1)</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]Information:</SPAN></SPAN>

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[TD]WEIGHT OF FISH (POUNDS)</SPAN></SPAN>

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Return to Query Page</SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

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Estimate Status</THEAD><COLGROUP></COLGROUP>[/TABLE]

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[TD]Year</SPAN>

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[TD]Wave</SPAN>

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[TD]Common Name</SPAN>

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[TD]Harvest (A+B1) Total

Weight (lb)</SPAN>

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[TD]Landings (no.) without

Size Information</SPAN>

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[TD]FINAL</SPAN>

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[TD]2000</SPAN>

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[TD]MARCH/APRIL</SPAN>

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[TD]TAUTOG</SPAN>

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[TD]4,287</SPAN>

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[TD]100.0</SPAN>

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[TD]0</SPAN>

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[TD]FINAL</SPAN>

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[TD]2005</SPAN>

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[TD]MARCH/APRIL</SPAN>

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[TD]TAUTOG</SPAN>

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[TD]0</SPAN>

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[TD]. </SPAN>

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[TD]0</SPAN>

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[TD]FINAL</SPAN>

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[TD]2009</SPAN>

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[TD]MARCH/APRIL</SPAN>

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[TD]TAUTOG</SPAN>

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[TD]13,966</SPAN>

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[TD]96.0</SPAN>

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[TD]0</SPAN>

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[TD]FINAL</SPAN>

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[TD]2010</SPAN>

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[TD]MARCH/APRIL</SPAN>

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[TD]TAUTOG</SPAN>

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[TD]483,198</SPAN>

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[TD]86.4</SPAN>

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[TD]0</SPAN>

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[TD]PRELIMINARY</SPAN>

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[TD]2012</SPAN>

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[TD]MARCH/APRIL</SPAN>

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[TD]TAUTOG</SPAN>

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[TD]11,388</SPAN>

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[TD]101.7</SPAN>

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[TD]0</SPAN>

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Both statistically and anecdotally, it is equally unlikely that zero fish were caught during any given year as it is that there was a 35-fold increase in catch in 2010 over 2009. Therefore, what these numbers indicate more than anything is that our samplers encounter very few individuals catching tautog from the shore in New Jersey during Wave 2.</SPAN>

To improve precision we would need to substantially increase the size of our intercept sample, which would mean talking to significantly greater numbers of anglers. That, in turn, would significantly increase the cost of the surveys. As we discuss below, this is certainly an option, but it must be weighed carefully against all the other competing needs for those resources.</SPAN>

With regard to black sea bass, the PSE for Wave 3 in 2012 was 30.9. This is far more precise, but there's still a fairly wide margin in terms of the potential number of fish caught. It's also worth pointing out these are preliminary estimates. Before they're finalized, all of our estimates go through an extensive quality control process, which includes a point-by-point data review with the specific purpose of looking for collection errors.</SPAN>

This process is part of what we do to "flag" outlier numbers. In addition to our own review, preliminary estimates are open to public scrutiny so that individuals, such as yourself, can point out numbers that should get closer scrutiny. We have also added new features to our query outputs that highlight especially high PSEs, which can be output as either graphs or tables.</SPAN>

As you note in the rest of your post about black sea bass, even if these particular point estimates hold, as we begin to look at data over a longer and longer time series, or across broader geographic areas, the PSE declines and the point estimate becomes more precise. (Readers can see the numbers for themselves and run their own queries at www.countmyfish.noaa.gov.)</SPAN>

This leads to the issue of how best to use the data that our surveys produce, a challenge highlighted in the recent decision to close the black sea bass fishery. (More information about the closure decision is available from NOAA Fisheries' Northeast Regional Office (www.nero.noaa.gov)). As managers face new mandates to ensure that overfishing is not occurring, we may find a greater need for more precise estimates delivered more frequently for some species during some parts of the year. Each of these needs has costs associated with it. Ultimately the question of where the money will come from and how to spend it is part of the dialogue that takes place among fisheries managers, scientists, fishermen, coastal community representatives, and other stakeholders. But the tools are being put into place to get the information when it's needed.</SPAN>

In addition, the work to make our surveys even better - and to anticipate the emerging needs and opportunities of the future - is continuing. Numerous MRIP-funded studies are underway looking at everything from how to improve survey response rates, to rethinking how we count for-hire catch, to looking at ways to enable anglers to submit their own data. As each study is completed, the findings are incorporated into the overall program, making the process of improvement incremental and ongoing.</SPAN>

In closing, we'd like to highlight three main points:</SPAN>

  • The estimates we produce under MRIP represent a clear and quantifiable improvement and we have confidence in their accuracy, but point estimates always need to be considered in the context of the margin of error. </SPAN>
  • We recognize that management sometimes has to occur at a finer scale - either in terms of geographic area or time period - than our estimates are ideally suited for. As we complete the implementation of our fundamental design improvements, we will work with managers, scientists, fishermen, and other stakeholders to evaluate and prioritize investments in programs to meet data user needs for finer precision, timeliness, and geographic resolution. </SPAN>
  • MRIP is an ongoing process of making improvements and addressing shifting needs. We know that the best way to improve the system is through an open and interactive process. We appreciate the attention of fishermen who care enough about the future of recreational fishing to remain informed and engaged. </SPAN>

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[TD]MRIP releases 2012-2013 update to Implementation Plan </SPAN>

Every year the MRIP teams prepare an update on progress made over the past year and a blueprint for moving forward. In the 2012-2013 Implementation Plan Update released this month, MRIP details the work completed and achievements made during 2012 and the plan for the upcoming year.</SPAN>

Last year, MRIP developed an improved method for estimating catch and released re-estimated catch estimates back to 2004. This improvement created the foundation for changes to two other fundamental areas of our survey designs that will take place in 2013. </SPAN>

  1. In January, we will implement an improved shoreside catch survey design along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. </SPAN>
  2. Throughout the next year, we will continue testing new effort survey designs utilizing state angler registries.</SPAN>

In addition to these priorities, work will continue on a number of other fronts as we strive to respond to the latest science and the emerging needs of fisheries managers, regulators, policy makers and stakeholders.</SPAN>

For more detailed information about what MRIP has planned for the next year, please take a moment to review the 2012/2013 Implementation Plan Update</SPAN>.</SPAN>

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[TD]Ask MRIP</SPAN>

Do you have questions about MRIP, its implementation plan, or what we have planned for 2013? Ask us and we'll answer your question in an upcoming newsletter. If you've got a question about MRIP that you'd like answered, please e-mail Forbes Darby at forbes.darby@noaa.gov</SPAN>. </SPAN>

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My Reply Sent Broadly To Management 11/21/12</SPAN>

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Gordon, Forbes; Good Folks, </SPAN>

Thank You for publishing my questions in the November 19, 2012 MRIP Update newsletter. </SPAN>

Here from the Update's response: </SPAN>

"..Both statistically and anecdotally, it is equally unlikely that zero fish were caught during any given year as it is that there was a 35-fold increase in catch in 2010 over 2009. Therefore, what these numbers indicate more than anything is that our samplers encounter very few individuals catching tautog from the shore in New Jersey during Wave 2.

To improve precision we would need to substantially increase the size of our intercept sample, which would mean talking to significantly greater numbers of anglers. That, in turn, would significantly increase the cost of the surveys. As we discuss below, this is certainly an option, but it must be weighed carefully against all the other competing needs for those resources."

My take-away: While reality should not interfere with recreational catch estimates, we could really tighten-up with a lot more funding. The devil is in these zeros, that's how we achieve statistical balance..

From another section of the Update: "..With these improvements in place, we can say with confidence that we have enhanced the quality of our estimates. In fact, the cases you cite are good examples for demonstrating exactly what we mean by that. To begin with, it is important to recognize that when we talk about an "estimate," we're actually talking about two numbers..."

Previously this wave/mode estimate showed astonishing disregard for veracity in MRFSS' earlier estimate of 73,000 Mar/April NJ shore-mode tautog.. Now MRIP has ADDED 100,000 tog to one of MRFSS worst estimates ever and are PROUD of it.

Because true beliefs and true statements must correspond with reality: And because estimates like this, while not true, are fed directly into our regulatory system unfiltered: Falsehood's acceptance into a rigid system demanding of truth is destroying recreational fishing. </SPAN>

Effort is much more consistent than management believes. Its infinitely more difficult to predict MRFSS/MRIP performance than to estimate how many guys sat on a bucket along a cold New Jersey jetty in Mar/April 2010. </SPAN>

Every fisher knows there are places where MRFSS/MRIP should have zeros and places where zeros make no sense at all. In fact, MRIP even has zeros where VTR catch-data has been surrendered showing robust catch. Only from deep inside the regulatory bubble could anyone ever assert making data worse than ever-before is somehow a better product. </SPAN>

Problem is, down here </SPAN>-way down here-</SPAN> down where falsehood's acceptance becomes regulatory might there's no time for temporal smoothing. No one has ever averaged wave data over a span of years for purpose of upcoming regulation or measure of quota taken. Wave data gets feed into the system as soon as its published. There ARE NOT "two numbers we're talking about;" Policy (easy to change compared to law) ..fishery management's policy is ONLY concerned with estimate centerpoints. </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

Yes, of course averaging across multiple years would help; Of course using the statistician's intended answer, which certainly includes PSE, would help -- But management is hunting fishers who are over-quota right NOW.

There's no time for hunting truth.

Management believes recreational effort is hard to predict when, in fact, recreational catch data is impossible to predict.

The claim catch-estimates become smoother both in time and in broader geographic area does not ameliorate sudden spike's effect on catch. Spikes with unrestricted assertion of catch--with sky-high numbers NO ONE BELIEVES--are as the tight wet-leather wraps around Boethius' head.

Ever greater regulation stemming from estimate spikes dries those leather wraps: Our slow, painful, economic contraction surely leading to collapse draws nearer. </SPAN>

I am certain beyond measure this was never management's intent. </SPAN>

I am also certain we already know what our region's sea bass fishery could look like - we zoomed past it almost a decade ago. </SPAN>

That was some good fishing. </SPAN>

Today they're seeing broad habitat expansion's effect up north. I believe sea bass in Southern New England--now expanding even into central New England, into New Hampshire--those sea bass are "All Hands On Deck" come spawning time because habitat holding capacity is increasing. </SPAN>

Malthus held that, "A population will grow or decline exponentially as long as the environment experienced by all individuals in the population remains constant." I think he left out (or maybe wiki did) "..as the environment expansion or contraction experienced by all..remains constant" </SPAN>

See J. Turner's work on Buzzards Bay water temp increase. If so, Northern Sea Bass Habitat Must Be Increasing. </SPAN>

We saw fantastic increases in sea bass & tautog before state/fed management began based only on kitchen table regulation begun in 1992. Aided at last by real regulation in 1997, these reef fisheries reached a splendid crescendo in 2003. </SPAN>

Habitat expansion while every sea bass in the marine environment is an active spawner creates incredible production; the capability of these fish to increase their population while key ingredients are in play is stunning. I wrote about it a lot back then. You might read my work, "On the Recent Improvements of Live Bottom Habitats in the DelMarVa Region of the Mid-Atlantic Bight" from 2001. </SPAN>

With no tag-return among thousands revealing an urge to wander--with habitat fidelity firmly established via hard data; We can fool sea bass into thinking habitat is unlimited via size limit regulation as we have in the past by accident. Today, instead, we watch our region's population contract as the fishes' spawning behavior exhibits 'habitat at capacity' slowing. </SPAN>

Were fishers to experience fishing twice as good year over year -- that would be an unbelievable boost. When catch estimates show a 30-fold increase, that's just horse feathers. </SPAN>

Now, with fishery management sourced only from "enhanced" data, management with no smoothing and no PSE consideration is about to destroy one of the easiest fisheries to restore -- without ever having discovered habitat, or habitat fidelity, or any method of boosting spawning production with our fishery sciences in concert </SPAN>

..and without even a shred of Congress's true intent to improve recreational catch data. </SPAN>

My last economically viable fishery is sea bass. If management's course remains as is, Maryland will have lost her last coastal partyboat fishery & I my life's work. </SPAN>

I hope you have no idea how it feels to lose your life's work to regulation fabricated from falsehood. </SPAN>

I hope you'll strive to move fishery management beyond present day policy's poverty to an era of swift reef fish population increase. </SPAN>

That would benefit all involved, including the fish. </SPAN>

For that I wish you a peaceful Thanksgiving. </SPAN>

My Regards,</SPAN>

Monty </SPAN>

* </SPAN>

Capt. Monty Hawkins

mhawkins@siteone.net</SPAN></SPAN>

Party Boat "Morning Star" </SPAN></SPAN>

* </SPAN>

* </SPAN>

Addresses </SPAN>

* </SPAN>

Secretary Blank </SPAN></SPAN>

U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20230 </SPAN></SPAN>

* </SPAN>

Secretary Lubchenco</SPAN></SPAN>

NOAA</SPAN></SPAN>

1401 Constitution Avenue, NW - Room 5128

Washington, DC 20230 </SPAN></SPAN>

*</SPAN>

Assistant Secretary NOAA Eric Schwaab</SPAN></SPAN>

NOAA Fisheries Service

1315 East West Highway

Silver Spring, MD 20910</SPAN></SPAN>

* </SPAN></SPAN>

Director NMFS Sam Rauch </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

NOAA Fisheries Service</SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

1315 East West Highway</SPAN>

Silver Spring, MD 20910 </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

*</SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

John Bullard </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

NMFS NE Regional Administrator </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

55 Great Republic Drive </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

Gloucester, MA. 01930 </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

* </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

Dr. Chris Moore </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

MAFMC </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

800 N. State Street, Suite 201 </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

Dover, DE. 19901 </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

* </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

Executive Director Bob Beal </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

ASMFC </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

1050 N. Highland Street, Suite 200 A-N </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

Arlington, VA. 22201 </SPAN></SPAN></SPAN></SPAN>

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