by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association June 2004 Newsletter)
I will be doing a good deal of traveling during the next few weeks. I will attend the ASMFC meeting May 24 – 27. This will be an interesting meeting due to the discussion and decisions about striped bass, summer flounder, scup, herring and several other species. I will discuss striped bass further in another article. The other important decision will be about how to handle New York’s summer flounder problem. As you know from the last few newspapers, I am supporting allowing New York some flexibility in resolving this issue. I have been questioned about my support for New York given that New York is mainly responsible for our dilemma about striped bass regulations. People also remember New York’s positions on summer flounder paybacks and the size limit on scup and tautog. My feeling is it is inappropriate to help make decisions that punish anglers, both commercial and recreational, when it was the bureaucrats from their state who took these unfriendly actions. When I can’t understand the science I have to support those anglers who will be unfairly impacted. I also have to look at the commercial and recreational fishing industries in New York and take into consideration the negative impact any summer flounder decision may have. It is the science that is faulty, not the anglers or t he bureaucrats from New York. Next year we could be in the same boat if the science isn’t improved.
I will also attend the Marine Fish Conservation Network meeting from June 1 – 4. We will be looking at the two oceans commission’s reports. We will also be discussing the reauthorization of the Magnuson Act. The following week I will be at a meeting of the American Sportfishing Association where we will be discussing the national freedom to fish bill and other issues that affect the recreational fishing industry and the anglers throughout the United States.
I will get home just in time for JCAA’s Fluke Tournament. I had an opportunity to do an interview for Newsmakers on Comcast about the fluke tournament and mentioned the 14 pound fish caught in the tournament last year. After the interview, one of the technicians told me it was his father-in-law who caught the fish and that 14 pound fluke is now the world record for 8 pound test. Maybe this year we will break the world record.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Striped Bass Board will be meeting on May 25th from 11:00am till 1:00pm. I will contact Ed Cherry prior to the JCAA meeting on the 25th so he can report what is happening. Thursday night there will be a meeting at the JCAA office for the JCAA striped bass committee. We will be discussing options and strategies based on what happens at the ASMFC meeting. We need a position paper completed before any hearing in the NJ Legislature. This meeting will begin at 7:30 on the 27th. Please contact Ed Cherry if you have any questions.
We will soon complete the survey that will be part of the fluke tournament. All entrants who send in their application prior to June 2nd will be mailed a survey, a self-addressed envelope and directions for completing the survey. After June 2nd, if time allows, surveys will be mailed. For the late entries, surveys will be available at the port or download from our webpage. The survey must be mailed in by Monday, June 14th.. We need to have all the data in our hands by June 18th. Your only alternative, if you miss the mail date, is to bring your survey with you to the JCAA awards ceremony. Remember, if you are not attending the awards ceremony, you must mail your survey by Monday, June 14th. Commerce Bank will offer a special prize of $500 that will be drawn at the awards ceremony. To be eligible, we must have your survey. You do not need to be present to win. This is important. We always complain about the available science. This is your chance to do something about it.
The Oceans Commission, NMFS and many other bureaucrats are trying to find new ways to tax anglers. I discussed this in last month’s newspaper and we have included an interesting article by John Geiser this month. The recreational angler already contributes a tremendous amount of money at both the state and federal level whenever we buy fishing tackle or spend money on other fishing-related activities. There are excise taxes, fuel taxes, boat registrations, sales taxes and other ways to get our money. New Jersey anglers spend between 41 and 61 million dollars on sales tax for fishing-related purchases. New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife receives about 1.3 million dollars to spend on marine fisheries. Much of the additional funds that brings the total budget to just over 2 million dollars comes from Wallop Breaux Funds, something we pay for in our excise taxes on fishing tackle. New Jersey’s Governor and Legislature need to further fund marine fisheries activities with the money they already receive from our recreational anglers. They need to keep their hands out of our pockets. Until they can show they are using the already generated revenue to more fully fund marine fisheries activities, JCAA will continue to oppose any new license, tax or permit fee for saltwater recreational anglers. We don’t care what they call it, we know what it is.
Menakhem Ben-Yami is a fisheries sociologist and scientist from Israel. I communicate with him through a message board that includes people from around the world. He sent me this email and I wanted to share it with you. Pay particular attention to #5 where he discusses the peer review process. I have been saying the same thing for years. I mentioned to Menakhem that he did not include recreational fishing in his definitions. He replied that most of the countries he deals with pay little attention to recreational fishing.
I think that it might be useful to recall some definitions that we discussed here several years ago:
1. Fishery management is about maintaining the production of fish and the well-being of fish producers at sustainable levels.
2. Good assessment of the desired level of production (expressed either in the terms of input or output, or a combination of both), and of the production sector are necessary for successful management. The fishery science, as practiced today, may not be able in many cases to produce such assessment. It may be "the best available" but not necessarily adequate science.
3. Fisheries management is all about people. People are all it can manage, and people are those who either enjoy or suffer from its consequences, including depletion of fish stocks. Therefore, it cannot be feasible if it is perceived by fishing people as erroneous, wrong, unjust, etc. This is one more reason for fisheries managements' not working.
4. Choice of management strategy (by the authorities in charge) is in most cases political and economic. The two basic strategies are (1) favoring the existing fishing people and their communities, and (2) favoring larger and financially more efficient owners, which as a rule includes large corporations. Both strategies may eventually achieve similar fish yields, but each at different social and economic costs.
5. Within each strategy various technical/technological means can be adapted. Some of those are today criticized as based on inadequate, or just wrong science and assumptions. An example: selective fishing for only larger individuals in groundfish fisheries that, according to some scientists, leads to creation of stunted, starving populations of undersized, early and weak spawners, and, perhaps, genetic changes in those fish populations where genetically slower growers enjoy the selective fishing and bequeath this trait over an increasing share of the stock.
I think that another reason for having inadequate science in charge for so many years is that the "peer reviewing" of publications and scientific reports is being done by scientists, however independent, who come from the same discipline and the same, prevailing school of thought as the authors. Thus, assessments made on the basis of statistical models are reviewed by statistical modellers, who obviously believe in their basic methodology, but not by scientists who may think that the whole existing modeling methodology cannot produce reliable results
View Calendar of Upcoming Events
[News Contents] [Top]