Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

  Friday, February 21, 2014: Still in the slow-going guts of winter, though spring is starting to pop its head up now and again – a high today near 70 on the mainland, before the cool front came t…


Friday, February 21, 2014: Still in the slow-going guts of winter, though spring is starting to pop its head up now and again – a high today near 70 on the mainland, before the cool front came through – ahead of a full-blown cold front by next week.

The ocean remains frigid. No reason for it not to be. Even the bay is going to take a solid dose of sunlight and warm air to shake itself out of the 30s. The upside to the bayside waters is how quickly they can warm should some real mild air roll in. The ocean takes a dog’s age to notch its way northward – from the current 35 degrees.


Holgate has reopened to buggies after being closed about a week. Today, the entrance was reinforced by the good guys with LBT public works.

It remains an unusually brisk winter for the far south end, mainly due to foot traffic related to snowy owls. However, the owl walkers have seemingly led the way to all sorts of hiking folks, not just birders.  It’s fine by me. It’s good seeing folks having fun. Cheers me up.

 Vehicular traffic in Holgate is pretty much the same handful of guys, I among them. The drive down has been surpassingly clean and easy. A few dead-bush zones but nothing critical.  

EROSION R US:The Holgate erosion area – not a veritable plain of vegetationless sand between beach and bay -- is as bad as ever. If anything, it has expanded. With the beach replenishment not arriving until fall, any major storm could enlarge this potential breakthrough. However, it is highly unlikely that a new inlet will form right there.

I’ve been mulling over both modern and archival aerial photographs of Holgate and  the set-up where the erosion is now taking place is way different than back in the day -- when Beach Haven Inlet suddenly formed near the current parking area. That overnight inlet was 50 yards across and had a massive water flow during tides. It was soon being navigated by larger vessels. That inlet rather quickly migrated south, eventually ending up at the current “Rip” area of Holgate – though further east. Again, the current set-up is very different.

To the immediate west of the current erosion zone is more of a sedge and meadows environment, not at all favorable to a lasting deep-water cut-across. That’s not to say a few more storms couldn’t eat it away enough to where the ocean and bay hookup almost daily, via regular tidal swings. However, it would likely unhook at low tides, possibly remaining passable to buggies and beachcombers.

I remain cautiously optimistic that the “big” beach fix will rather quickly send immense amounts of sand onto Holgate. The work will come as far south as the submerged jetty, just past the parking area.

I triangulated the furthest south point of the scheduled replenishment with the erosion zone -- and it’s a match, in a littoral drift sorta way. The sand migrating off the replenishment will almost certainly first come in right at the erosion area. Ironically, that’s the reason the erosion zone is so eaten away. That’s where the ocean is turning west. When the ocean turns westward after the replenishment, it will have an astounding amount of sand in tow. Instead of eating away, it’ll be depositing.  Admittedly, it won’t be overnight but it could happen within a year.

It must be remembered, that unlike the spot replenishments done in Brant Beach, Harvey Cedars and Surf City, the planned sand dredging work next fall will be a contiguous replenishment, from Holgate to Loveladies. The amount of sand that will “drift” onto Holgate will be astronomical. At the same time, equally immense amounts of sand will shift eastward, forming a new ocean bottom profile, allowing sand bars to form. That’s a good thing for waveriding and angling -- and it will happen in short order. LBI is insanely dynamic, far more so than areas to the north that suffered wave shortages after replenishments. Our barrier island will almost instantly craft sand bars into refractive gems. Just sayin’.

Had to get some truck work down over at Barlow in Manahawkin. Real good folks. Highly recommended. Since I had some time to kill, I went metal detecting nearby, at an old piece of raised bed from the Tuckerton Railroad branch onto LBI. It was oddly nostalgic finding old pieces of that old railroad track. All I've ever seen was photos of the once sole way to reach the Island. Still, each spike and bolt I found held a feelable energy from the steel rail ghosts of yesteryear.  Here's a video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRAw89H12CE&feature=youtu.be.


Scallops vs. Lobster: Which is more valuable fishery
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton Feb 21, 2014

Which is the most valuable fishery- scallops or lobsters. This question has come up after Beth Casoni of the Mass. lobstermen's association told the Cape Cod times that lobsters were Massachusetts 'most valuable resource' worth $60 million per year.
Well Andrew Minkiewicz of Kelley Drye, who is the chief lobbyst and watcher of government regulations for the scallop industry, sent back a comment saying "Lobsters may be the most valuable resource harvested in state waters, but those boundaries extend to only 3 miles offshore.
The sea scallop fishery, which operates farther offshore, in federal waters, is the most valuable fishery resource landed not only in Massachusetts, but also in the nation. The scallop fishery is responsible for making New Bedford, which handles more scallops than any other U.S. port, the most valuable port in the country.
In 2012, seafood worth $411 million was landed in New Bedford, and more than 80 percent of that — or around $328 million — came from the scallop fishery"
In fact, on a national level, they are both wrong. Its the crab fisheries which are the nation's most valuable fisheries.

The table from NMFS of fishery by value in 2012 puts the crab fisheries first, at $.68 billion, followed by scallops at $.56 billion, with lobster fifth on the list at $.465 billion. All healthy numbers.
In Massachusetts, however, there is no question that scallops is the most valuable fishery in the state, since the port of New Bedford landed $328 million worth of scallops in 2012.


Japan research center says it found a path to mass production of eel juveniles
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Japan Reports] Tokyo Feb 20, 2014
The Fisheries Research Center (FRA) of Japan announced on February 12 that it succeeded in the experiment to raise artificially-produced eel larvae to the stage of juveniles in large aquariums.

The center says that, through the development of new technology, a prospect has emerged for the stable production of eel (anguilla japonica) under full-scale aquaculture.

In the conventional farming technique, eels are raised by growing juveniles caught in the wild.

In recent years, there has been concern over the continuation of eel farming because of decreasing harvests of juveniles.

In 2002, the FRA succeeded for the first time in the world in having larvae--raised from the stage of eggs--transform into juveniles.

In 2010, the center also achieved full-scale aquaculture--in which artificially-produced eels are grown to parents, and are made to produce their own offspring.

Since 2012, the center has been coping with the development of the technique to raise larvae in large aquariums.

To date, aquariums with capacity of 5 to 20 liters were used for the research on development of techniques to raise eel juveniles.

But the FRA used only transparent aquariums because of the need of the manual labor in managing larvae specimens as well as the need to confirm the larvae individually by sight.

In addition, researchers have faced the problems of realizing a relatively small amount of production per aquarium as well as decreasing survival rates of larvae due to the occurrence of germs in the aquariums.

This time, the center said, it used non-transparent aquariums made of vinyl chloride with a capacity of 1,000 liters.

The research team raised about 28,000 artificially-hatched juveniles in the aquariums from June 2013, and, on December 9, 2013, it found that one larva age 184 days transformed into a juvenile.

By January 2014, 17 individuals transformed into juveniles, with other larvae also continuing smooth growth.

The FRA has applied for a patent license regarding the method to raise eels using aquariums.

It says it will continue experiments using this method to eventually find the technique to realize mass production of anguilla japonica.

NOAA ocean temperature study shows NE fish stocks shifting away from traditional fishing grounds
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Michael Ramsingh - February 19, 2014
A climate change study from NOAA has shed some light on how certain commercial fish stocks have shifted in the increasingly warming waters off New England's coast.
NOAA biologist John Manderson is working on a stock assesment project for butterfish that intends to map how the species has shifted from its normal ocean habitat due to changing water temperatures.

This chart shows NOAA's findings on how fish species along the New England and Atlantic East Coast have migrated further away from the shore, and common fishing grounds.
Source: NOAA

Manderson is working with physical oceanographers that model fine-scale changes in ocean temperatures. He’s also working with stock assessment scientists to find a way to incorporate his mathematical adjustment into their fish population models.
So far the research has found that since 2006 fish along New England's coast have been migrating northeast, away from the shore, but more importantly farther from traditional fishing banks in the region.
This climate-induced migration has wrecked havoc on commericial groundfish fisheries in New England, particulary for cod stocks. According to a recent letter from the chair of the New England council to the head of the Dept. of Commerce, 2013 groundfish landings in New England will be around 43.4 million lbs, with revenue of only $55.8 million. This represents a 38% reduction in revenue since 2011.
Manderson's findings, paired with the groundfish situation in New England serve as an example of how US fishery management decisions have been impacted by recent shifts in the ocean environment and the ongoing need to incorporate more timely environmental data into commercial stock assessments.

Florida moving toward regulation of sea cucumber harvested for export to China
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Associated Press] By Craig Pittman - February 18, 2014 -
This is a story about sex, supply and demand, global trade, corruption, government regulation and one of the ugliest sea creatures in Florida.
Among the marine animals that live in the Florida Keys is the sea cucumber. It is animal, not vegetable — a long and lumpy invertebrate that looks like a cross between a diseased zucchini and an overinflated eclair.
For decades, divers who strapped on scuba gear to collect saltwater fish for aquariums have also scooped up the occasional sea cucumber. In 2012, they collected about 14,000 of them in the Keys, according to Melissa Recks of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Nobody got rich off of them — they were going for about $1 each.
Then, last year, Florida's sea cucumber catch more than tripled, hitting 54,000, Recks said.
The reason for that astonishing jump lies in the Asian market, where they are eaten, not displayed in aquariums. In China in particular, the sea cucumber is used to treat joint pain — and, more importantly, as an aphrodisiac.
As a result, demand is heavy there for sea cucumbers, also known as "trepang" and "bêche-de-mer" and "the vacuum cleaners of the sea." The demand is so heavy that worldwide 20 percent of sea cucumber fisheries have been fully depleted.
That's bad news. Despite their alleged ability to boost human sexual performance, sea cucumbers suffer from a major disadvantage in their own reproduction because they are "broadcast spawners," Recks said.
That means they eject their sperm and eggs out into the water in the expectation that enough other sea cucumbers are close by doing the same thing so that they will mix. If there aren't, no spawning occurs. If too many sea cucumbers are harvested, they may never bounce back.
So many sea cucumbers were harvested in Costa Rica, Ecuador, India and eight other countries that the population collapsed, prompting those countries to ban further harvesting, Recks said. Even in areas that are supposed to be protected, such as the Great Barrier Reef and Galapagos Islands National Park, so many sea cucumbers were snatched up that their population crashed.
Except for requiring a license to collect live sea creatures, Florida does not regulate sea cucumber collectors. Fearing disaster will occur in the Keys as it has elsewhere, the group that represents people collecting sea creatures there, the Florida Marine Life Association, asked state wildlife officials to create new regulations to protect sea cucumbers — a rare move.
Because the association requested a limit of 200 sea cucumbers per person per trip, that's the limit Recks recommended to wildlife commissioners.
"We're taking the advice of the industry here because we don't have anything better," she said during a meeting in Tampa this month.
To Eric Lee, a limit that small would be a disaster: "I would definitely be out of business."
Lee spent nine years working in the oil and coal industries in China, leaving because the pollution got too bad. He now runs Florida's only sea cucumber processing plant on Ramrod Key.
Lee said he spent a year and a half getting the plant started, including obtaining permits from the state and federal governments, with an eye toward selling Florida sea cucumbers to the Asian market.
At first, all went well. In communist China, sea cucumber is often handed out in expensive gift boxes to family, friends or — nudge nudge, wink wink — to government officials who might be inclined to do favors. That was a major part of Lee's expected market.
But then the Chinese government cracked down on government corruption "and now government officials are terrified to take gifts," Lee said.
Thus Lee is now concentrating on the retail market, he said. But to make it work he needs the wildlife commission to set a higher limit — say 500 to 800 sea cucumbers per person per trip.
For the wildlife commission meeting, Lee brought along a bag of dried sea cucumbers and handed them around to the commissioners.
"I guess the question is whether the commissioners should view them or eat them," quipped commission chairman Richard Corbett, a Tampa mall developer.
The commissioners initially voted to limit the take to 200, but then reconsidered and said they would give their staff time to work out a compromise prior to their next meeting, which is in April in Tallahassee.
Until then, it's still open season on sea cucumbers in the Keys — although it seems unlikely they will show up on any Florida seafood menus. One diner quoted by the Independent, a British newspaper, described their taste as "slightly lower than phlegm, the texture of which it closely resembles."


Global Fish biomass may be 10 times higher than thought says acoustic survey
According to a paper produced by Carlos Duarte for the Spanish National Research Council, fish biomass in the ocean is 10 times higher than estimated. The 6 million euro project consisted of a series of acoustic transects that detected mesopelagic species like lantern fish. These fish are generally found in the open ocean between 200 and 1000 meters, and the rise to the shallower depth at night, and retreat deeper during the day. They also detect nets and can flee from trawls.
Mesopelagic fishes, are fish such as lantern fishes (Myctophidae) and cyclothonids (Gonostomatidae), who live in the twilight zone of the ocean, between 200 and 1,000 meters deep. They are the most numerous vertebrates of the biosphere, but also the great unknowns of the open ocean, since there are gaps in the knowledge of their biology, ecology, adaptation and global biomass.

With a stock estimated at 1,000 million tons so far, mesopelagic fish dominate the total biomass of fish in the ocean.

However, a team of researchers with the participation of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) has found that their abundance could be at least 10 times higher. The results, published in Nature Communications journal, are based on the acoustic observations conducted during the circumnavigation of the Malaspina Expedition.

During the 32,000 nautical miles traveled during the circumnavigation, the researchers of the Malaspina Expedition (a project led by CSIC researcher Carlos Duarte) took measurements between 40°N and 40°S, from 200 to 1,000 meters deep, during the day.

Duarte states: "Malaspina has provided us the unique opportunity to assess the stock of mesopelagic fish in the ocean. Until now we only had the data provided by trawling. It has recently been discovered that these fishes are able to detect the nets and run, which turns trawling into a biased tool when it comes to count its biomass".

Transport of organic carbon

Xabier Irigoien, researcher from AZTI-Tecnalia and KAUST (Saudi Arabia) and head of this research, states: "The fact that the biomass of mesopelagic fish (and therefore also the total biomass of fishes) is at least 10 times higher than previously thought, has significant implications in the understanding of carbon fluxes in the ocean and the operation of which, so far, we considered ocean deserts".

Mesopelagic fish come up at night to the upper layers of the ocean to feed, whereas they go back down during the day in order to avoid being detected by their predators. This behaviour speeds up the transport of organic matter into the ocean, the engine of the biological pump that removes CO2 from the atmosphere, because instead of slowly sinking from the surface, it is rapidly transported to 500 and 700 meters deep and released in the form of feces.

Irigoien adds: "Mesopelagic fish accelerate the flux for actively transporting organic matter from the upper layers of the water column, where most of the organic carbon coming from the flow of sedimentary particles is lost. Their role in the biogeochemical cycles of ocean ecosystems and global ocean has to be reconsidered, as it is likely that they are breathing between 1% and 10% of the primary production in deep waters".

According to researchers, the excretion of material from the surface could partly explain the unexpected microbial respiration registered in these deep layers of the ocean. Mesopelagic fishes would act therefore as a link between plankton and top predators, and they would have a key role in reducing the oxygen from the depths of the open ocean.

The Malaspina Expedition comprises about 50 research groups, including 27 Spanish research groups from CSIC, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), 16 Spanish universities, a museum, the research foundation AZTI-Tecnalia, and the Spanish Navy. The total funding, in which CSIC, IEO, BBVA Foundation, AZTI-Tecnalia (as well as several Spanish universities and public research organizations) have collaborated, is about 6 millions euros.


LSU researcher developing blue crab bait from shrimp waste as alternative to menhaden

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Houma Today] By Tobie Blanchard - February 20, 2014 - 

BATON ROUGE, A new gelatin-like bait using shrimp waste could improve the way blue crabs are caught along the coast of Louisiana and add value to the state’s shrimp processing industry, an LSU researcher says.

Julie Anderson, a crustacean specialist with the LSU AgCenter, is working on a crab bait that could replace Atlantic menhaden, the current bait used.

The menhaden, also known as pogy, is shipped from the East Coast, Anderson said, but stocks are declining. The Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission put a limit on how much menhaden can be caught. Anderson said this is driving up the price of Atlantic menhaden.

Menhaden also is caught in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is rarely used for bait.

“Gulf-caught menhaden is valuable as its own separate fishery,” she said. “There are some fishermen that used to sell it as bait, but it is more valuable to use as Omega-3 oils – fish oils – that it is just not worthwhile to sell as bait.”

Anderson worked on a project manufacturing baits at the University of Delaware. She was trying to find a replacement for horseshoe crabs used as bait in eel and whelk fishing.

She is applying the same techniques to develop a blue crab bait that can replace menhaden.

Anderson tried mixing commercial-grade gelatin with byproducts from oysters, shrimp and crabs – all things blue crabs eat. Tests showed that the crabs were most attracted to the baits with shrimp in them.

Anderson said about a third of a shrimp – such as the shell and the head – is waste, and shrimp processors typically have to pay to have the waste hauled away. Finding a use for the waste can cut down on costs while bringing in money.

“If we can create even just a very small value to this waste product, then some of those processors could make a little more money,” she said.

The researcher is testing different amounts of shrimp and gelatin to make a bait that would first attract the crabs and also hold up in the water as well as be easy to store and handle.

“Preliminary fields work had very similar catches between normal menhaden and our bait,” Anderson said.

She tested the baits and found that in waters with high salinity, smaller predators, such as minnows and small crabs, will feed on the bait and break it down faster. This was not a problem in fresher water.

Anderson says it appears the manufactured bait may last longer in the water than menhaden. With longer-lasting bait, fishermen wouldn’t have to go out as often to check their traps, which would cut down on fuel costs.

Baits manufactured in Louisiana also decrease shipping costs. While menhaden bait is kept frozen, this manufactured bait may not need to be frozen. Anderson said it would likely be less costly than using menhaden.

“Even if it is just a few cents cheaper per bait, it would definitely add up over the year,” she said.

Anderson has a graduate student working on the project during the next two years, and she hopes to have a product ready for the market at the end of that period.



Oceana wins $3 Million from Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation to support California drift gillnet ban

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SCOM]  February 20, 2014

Oceana, one of the large marine focused NGOs, announced a $3 million grant today from the Leonardo DiCaprio foundation.  The grant will support  protecting ocean habitat and sharks and is focused on  Oceana's work to ban California drift gillnets.

"The foundation and Leo's support for campaigns like our efforts to ban the drift gillnets in California will help Oceana win more protections for countless sharks and other marine animals and for ocean habitats in the Pacific and Arctic – which include some of the most productive ocean places in the world," said Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless. "The net impact will be a much more abundant and biodiverse ocean that has many millions more sharks and critical and amazing marine animals, wilder and more pristine ocean habitats and oceans that can feed over a billion people – many of them hungry – a healthy seafood meal each day."
"Protecting our planet's oceans and the marine species that call it home is one of the most pressing sustainability crises facing humanity today and a moral imperative that we must acknowledge," DiCaprio said. "It's my hope that this grant will help Oceana continue the tremendous work that they do daily on behalf of our oceans."
Spread over a three-year period, the $3 million from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is the first marine conservation grant made following the foundation's 11th Hour Charity Auction hosted at Christie's last year. The grant to Oceana will support the organization's work, from the south of Chile to the north of Alaska, to preserve ecologically important ocean areas and Oceana's campaigns, including the campaign to ban drift gillnets off California. 
Gillnets targeting swordfish and thresher sharks are set off of Southern California.  Oceana says they are   indiscriminate gear that kills large numbers of non-targeted marine animals including sperm whales, gray whales, dolphins, sharks, sea turtles, elephant seals, and sea lions. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Oceana recently received hundreds of photos of animals caught and killed by this destructive gear. 
"Christie's is proud to support both the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Oceana in their fundamental work to make our planet a better place," said Steven Murphy, Chief Executive Office of Christie's. "It was an honor for Christie's to host the Foundation's 11th Hour Charity Auction and, as we were delighted with the result achieved, so we are thrilled that it could facilitate this grant to Oceana, funding such important endeavors to preserve our oceans."

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