Highly Migratory Species Report
by John T. Koegler
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association February 2006 Newsletter)
Florida Snowbird Report
Sailfish Marina had their best January sailfish tournament in their history. Fifty boats fished for 2½ days and released a record 958 sailfish. The previous year’s tournament caught and released only 636.
Has anglers' total dedication to sailfish catch and release caused this major rebound? Despite over 30 years of angler conservation, no explosive sailfish rebound had been previously documented. Now after only 3 years of a total HMS long line ban in the Florida straits, the sailfish population explodes! Is this amazing recovery based on eliminating only long line discards? Especially when self-reported long line catches and/or dead sailfish discards were reported as low? The long line ban was imposed primarily to stop the slaughter of small unsellable swordfish. A major sailfish rebound was not forecast nor expected.
What lesson can be learned from the sails’ miracle rebound? Do all managed fisheries have a similar history? Are commercial landings and discards the key factor in the recovery of any managed fishery? Should this unexpected recovery be highlighted in all future fishery management decisions? Do not these facts apply to all managed fisheries?
ICCAT is the international organization that has responsibility for management of bluefin tuna and other HMS species in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. ICCAT holds a yearly November meeting to review landing data and get members international agreement on rules to manage these fisheries. The US has been a member since 1976. The US assigned NMFS as domestic manager. NMFS HMS division writes the rules and manages the US HMS fisheries.
NMFS has done a good job of writing rules and regulations to control US fishermen both commercial and recreational. US fishermen compliance has resulted in some recoveries in bluefin tuna and big increases in swordfish population.
This past November a major surprise occurred.
Bill Hogarth head of NMFS was elected to chairman of ICCAT. He agreed to serve for two years. Congratulations to Bill on his appointment and best wishes for making changes at ICCAT to make it function as intended.
Other key items from the meeting were:
1-Approved: A US resolution to encourage research and use of circle hooks and to report on the distribution and knowledge about Sargasso weed was approved.
2-Approved: A recommendation to punish Chinese Taipei for huge overages in their bigeye tuna landings. However, the Taiwanese said that they could not implement it. The key question is what will ICCAT do about it since Taipei is an ICCAT member?
3-Approved: The US recommendation to protect shortfin mako sharks was approved. The outgoing ICCAT chairman made major changes in the original recommendation. These changes so weakened the recommendation that the new rule will do little to rebuild the shortfin mako population.
4-Not Approved: The EU proposed new rules for certain gear and to ban the sale of recreationally caught ICCAT managed species. The proposal also contained a proposal to report recreationally caught fish.
Will VMS be mandated for recreationals?
Commercial fishermen are familiar with VMS. VMS is short for Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). This is a satellite tracking system that reports a vessel’s exact position to NMFS. NMFS planned use of this system is to keep closed areas free of commercial fishermen 100% of the time. In the past closed areas were frequently violated.
However, NMFS success with this system has NMFS bureaucrats believing that all fishermen should be willing to accede to any policy that they deem appropriate.
Isn’t this the same management thinking that was recently imposed on all fluke fishermen for 2006? In that plan NMFS mandated a major reduction in quota in the Fluke management plan. NMFS using a 1998 court order as their reasoning unilaterally imposed a major reduction in 2006 fluke mortality. Is this an example of their future management style? If so, there is a zero need for fishery management commissions or councils, especially when the guidance and insight they are mandated by law to provide is unilaterally eliminated by NMFS.
Katrina’s Continued Toll
There has not been any weather event that has had a bigger impact on more people, businesses and wildlife than Hurricane Katrina. This storm’s devastation was not limited to beachfront locations, but extended far inland. Even areas that had for over 70 years experienced minor hurricane damage were totally destroyed. The damage is so absolute in some areas that it is hard to comprehend.
Consumer Reports February 2006 issue has an article on page 6 that covers future fallout. The article’s title is: “Higher insurance premiums blame climate change.”
A report from CERES (an insurance industry think tank) found that insured US losses from weather-related disasters have increased 15-fold in the last 30 years. This is a greater increase than in any other recorded time frame. Recent losses from natural disasters have outpaced both population growth and inflation. Their climate experts envision more future severe disturbances including windstorms, hailstorms and droughts.
CERES states that insurance will become less available and less affordable as the costs of disasters challenge insurer’s ability to pay. They state that a gradual transfer of risk back to consumers and governments in the form of higher premiums, higher deductibles and more government backed high-risk pools is likely.
The article continues, “Swiss-Re and other European re-insurers (they insure insurance companies) regard climate change as a fact. These companies are incorporating this fact into their risk analyses used to design policies and set insurance premiums. These companies are planning to hike some premiums in 2006. In Florida a standard homeowner insurance policy may have a deductible of $5,000 which is even higher on expensive homes or damage-prone areas.
Just imagine insurance companies’ payout if a 70 mile long stretch of New Jersey shoreline were hit with a 30 foot high hurricane storm surge. Would it surge as far inland as the Garden State Parkway? Could it go even further? Such an event’s insurance costs would make the Gulf estimated costs look like a picnic.
Insurance costs will have a major impact on our ownership costs since none of us can buy or sell a house, car or boat that is financed without insurance coverage.