Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday 5, 2015: Now that was one hideous storm … and it wasn’t really a storm, per se. I rate that whatever-it-was as one of the nastiest nor’easters I’ve dealt with -- in terms of duration.  Whi…

Monday 5, 2015: Now that was one hideous storm … and it wasn’t really a storm, per se.

I rate that whatever-it-was as one of the nastiest nor’easters I’ve dealt with -- in terms of duration.

 While it didn’t even remotely match-up, damage-wise, with the notorious, five-high-tides (three-day period) Great March Storm of 1962, it surpassed it in total tides. In fact, I lost count of the tides.

Below: Overall, this weather map depicting the March Storm seems fairly innocent -- with much of the action seemingly out at sea. What cannot be seen as easily is the stalled status of the storm and also the swell conveyance from one low pressure to the next .. and then directly onshore. Look closely and connect the three lows ... to see what can drive 20 foot plus waves straight onshore.  

When taken in that historical context, we should be thankful for the lack of serious damage from this blow – still lingering as I write this. 

Sympathies to the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, which lost its prime fundraiser to the blow. I don’t know the dollars-and-cents damage but that fine business-promoting organization is reeling like it was hit by a tsunami.

Below: Better times -- meteorologically, financially and artistically speaking.  

I have more than a few emails asking about the sand cleanup. The blown around sand is insane. Entryways to the beach have been mounded over. Some walkways have five-foot high humps of sand. Any removal will take either delicate machined work or truly nasty manual digging. You’re not going to believe this but just one cubic foot of beach sand weighs 135 pounds. Maybe sand-struck towns should coax in weightlifters – tell them they’ll get a free “killer workout” by shoveling walkways. Then public works guys like George G. can sit on a nearby bench yelling “Come on, you sissy Marys! No pain no gain!”

 You likely noticed my recent lack of buggy talk. I was asked not to encourage folks to drive the beaches during the storm. Made total sense. As thing slowly calm, I’ll return to regular beach buggying updates. For now, maybe steer clear.

1 p.m. today ... Ed McAllen at Holgate Beach.
Great job by the Township! Holgate ramp is fixed. Still closed, but looks good. Attached are the before and after pictures.
Ed McAllen's photo.
Hard to believe but some nice bass were taken during the blow, though only a handful of savvy striperists dared to try. One photo sent to me was a solid 30-pounder, caught and released. It was caught on a large custom-made plug. No details on where it came ashore but it was taken surfside on LBI. It was the only hookup of three “solid hits.” I do not see a serious cleanup (quiet down) until a cold front finally pushes through on Wednesday. That should also invite in some sunshine. It’s tough to picture what steady (and mild) sunshine might look like.  
 Well, there's not too much to report this week other than wind and rain.  I pulled the boat over the week to do some routine maintenance, but we are back in the water during this week to be ready for the fall Striper run.  This season we are outfitted with the top of the line E6X G. Loomis rods and Quantum BOCA reels, in addition I'm aim to film most of our future Striped Bass trips with our "new" Go Pro camera.  Check out the weekly report on On The Water as I'm the South Jersey online fishing reports writer and report on fishing from Brielle to Cape May - Striper season is definitely in the air.
This coming Friday I will be hosting a Fall Striped Bass seminar for the Village Harbor Fishing Club in Manahawkin, and during the weekend will be out on charters as long as the weather cooperates.
The area's docks and piers have had many blackfish and stripers via night to offer, so now is the time to get out and try.  A big thanks to Hogy Lures to accepting us a Pro Staff and we aim to use Hogy soft plastics for most of our Striped Bass trips.
Since I'm teaching, and weekends are the mainstay regarding charters.   I will have a rare week of weekday charters available from November 2nd through 6th wide OPEN, and I"m planning on running 2 charters per day for that week.  I will be running weekends from October through December for Striped Bass and as always only use the highest quality tackle and gear.  All fish-cleaning, ice, live-bait, etc is provided (no extra fees), and we always use trolling as a last resort tactic.  If interested, please either book through the website (
www.reelreactioncharters.com), or call my cell 609-290-7709.  
Capt. Brett Taylor 
Reel Reaction Sportfishing LLC
cell: 609-290-7709

BAD BIRD DAYS ... OR NOT?: I have a writer looking into the possible bad-ass effects of this insanely long northeast blow and migrating birds. Many a small shorebird is on the move and must drastically fatten up for the immense journey south. With 20 of the last 26 days showing honking north winds, accompanied by severe beach erosion, those little birds are up against it. In fact, even the larger migratory birds, which are just now beginning their flights, may have been blown into the Midwest by now.

It’s a good year to double up on outside feeders. I know that’ll just double the number of squirrels but enough food makes it into beaks before the paws arrive. One way to somewhat exclusively feed birds it to use pure or plain suet. If there are seeds and nuts in the suet, the squirrels -- which actually have a bit of an aversion to beef fat (suet) -- will gnaw suet bone to the bare bones, so to speak.


Further north ...
Great mission to the state that's known for having no fish did well on 
Mike DiSanto custom plugs and thanks again 
Nic Okun
Striperted Mackenzie's photo.
Striperted Mackenzie's photo.
Striperted Mackenzie's photo.
Striperted Mackenzie's photo.

James Mckeough to ‎Weekapaug SurfCasters (Rhode Island)

10/5/2015 Latest standings Weekapaug Surfcasters.
Men's Striped Bass
Ken Adams -------------- 24.15 lbs. ------ 40 in.
Bud Holland ------------- 21.9 lbs. --------39.5 in.
Alan Clay ---------------- 21.12 lbs. ------ 41 in.
Men's Bluefish
Ken Adams ------------ 13.7 lbs. -------- 35 in.
Mike Geary ---------------13.6 lbs. ------- 33.5 in.
Shawn Brady ------------ 12.8 lbs ------- 35.5 in.
Women's Striped Bass
Doreen Brady ---------------- 17.12 lbs. ---- 40 in.
Women's Bluefish
Johanna Adams -----------------10.1 lbs. ------30.5 in.
Nadine Davidson -------------- 9.16 lbs. ------- 31 in.


Scientists Challenge WWF Claim that Global Tuna and Mackerel Stocks are down by 74%

SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by John Sackton October 5, 2015

The WWF claimed in a new report called 'The Living Planet Index'  that tuna and mackerel populations have declined by 74% between 1970 and 2012.
Louise Heaps, chief advisor on marine policy at WWF UK, said: “This is catastrophic. We are destroying vital food sources, and the ecology of our oceans.”  She also said there were solutions. “It’s not all doom-and-gloom. There are choices we can make. But it is urgent.”
Unfortunately, it is the doom and gloom headlines that drive money and interest for the WWF.
Among the CFOOD group of scientists responding to false fishery claims, several have made substantive comments about this WWF claim, and found it wrong. (Their full arguments 
can be found here.)  Their criticisms do not mean that there should not be more effective tuna management in the Pacific, but rather, WWF should not support such efforts with scientifically questionable claims.
Victor Restrepo, chair of the scientific advisory committee of the ISSF, said "A new publication, the Living Blue Planet Report, states that the populations of tunas and their mackerel and bonito relatives (i.e., the family Scombridae) declined 74% between 1970 and 2010. This certainly caught my attention because I am familiar with the stock assessments of tunas conducted by the scientific bodies of the Tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (TRFMOs) and their combined status does not seem to support that magnitude of decline. "
"In a meta-analysis of global population trajectories of tunas and their relatives, Juan-Jordá et al. used published stock assessment results (from the TRFMOs and other agencies) and found that the adult biomass of 26 populations of tunas, mackerels and Spanish mackerels declined by 52% between 1954 and 2006."
The majority of the time series used in the WWF report are of two types: (1) The stock size trends in the stock-recruitment database that Ram Myers began to compile in the early 2000s (which is based on stock assessment results), and (2) time series of catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE). 
The Myers database time series used in the LPI are not up to date. The last year of data in the series used in the LPI ranges from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s. Most of these series can still be found in the original Ransom Myers’ Stock-Recruitment database website which was last updated in August, 2004. 
That database is no longer being updated and has been superseded by the RAM Legacy Stock Assessment Database, a compilation of stock assessment results for commercially exploited marine populations from around the world.
The CPUE time series used in the LPI are, in most cases, “nominal” data. That is, catch divided by some nominal measure of fishing effort, without taking into account any factors that can bias CPUE as an index of relative population size (e.g., vessel effects, spatial effects, etc.). Without some form of appropriate standardization to take such factors into account, raw CPUE cannot be expected to measure abundance. 
In short, the majority of the data used as the basis for the Living Blue Planet Report, as far as scombrids are concerned, are either outdated or potentially biased.
Ray Hillborn also made comments. Hilborn is a professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Science at the University of Washington:
Hilborn's key concerns were:
-The Living Blue Planet Report and associated press coverage describing trends in fish stock abundance do a discredit to ZSL and WWF by using data that are biased and inaccurate, and not using anything approximating best scientific information. The results were clearly not reviewed by anyone who knows the specific fisheries well.
-The trends for the most sensational claim of collapse of scombrids are wrong.
-Many of the declines that have been observed are part of a normal pattern of fishery development that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s where stocks were intentionally fished down to the level that produces long term maximum sustainable yields, and those declines are certainly not a problem," Hilborn said. "These declines do not constitute a 'threat' to the populations."
Hilborn then goes on to explain in detail the problems with the data set.  He says "Looking through the data sets in the LPI it is clear that no care or knowledge was used in assembling the data. In the assessments contained in the [newer] Ram Legacy Database  [not used by the WWF] extensive effort is made to evaluate the trends in abundance by scientific teams. In contrast, the WWF data sets appear to use any source that appears to provide an index of abundance, with many different indices often for the same stock, and using the totally discredited longline CPUE  [data] appearing frequently. We are concerned that the failure to use the most up to date stock assessments and the lack of scientific peer review of the results has lead WWF and ZSL to publish incorrect results on the decline of scombrids."
Two other scientists Maria José Juan-Jordá, a  Postdoctoral Fellow in the Earth to Ocean Research Group at Simon Fraser University, Canada and  Iago Mosqueira,  a fisheries scientist at the European Commission Joint Research Center, Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen, Italy raised similar concerns.
"Not only were CPUE selected unmethodically, it is also well known that CPUEs are notoriously problematic when used as a proxy of abundance since they do not reflect changes in abundance. Therefore, their use as the main source of information to calculate the LPI may explain such big declines compared with the most current evidence of the global status of tuna stocks. While we do not argue that composite indices such as the LPI are valuable to track changes in the status for groups of species globally, we would argue that it is extremely important to estimate such indices using the best data available at hand to provide the most accurate picture of global status."


New Jersey Wants Another Year to Settle Oyster Research Flap

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Associated Press] By WAYNE PARRY- October 5, 2015 
New Jersey wants another year to decide one of its most intractable environmental issues: whether to allow experimental oyster colonies in polluted areas to see if they can help clean the waterways.
The research is designed to see if re-establishing oysters in areas like the Raritan Bay can help improve water quality by using their natural filtering techniques.
But what's been holding up the research, which the state abruptly halted in 2010, is how to make sure poachers don't sneak in and grab the oysters, selling them and potentially sickening consumers. The bad publicity from an outbreak of oyster-related illness could devastate New Jersey's $800 million shellfish industry.
The state Senate passed a bill last week that would give the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection another year to issue regulations for experimental oyster plots. It also would require the permit holders to certify that the shellfish beds are not visible or easily accessible to the public.
DEP spokesman Bob Considine said the department plans in the next few months to confer with both sides on the issue before issuing new regulations, which could be ready early next year.
"Our goal is to provide clearer standards for the shellfish industry to keep it vibrant while also ensuring health and safety are protected," he said.
At a state Senate hearing in May, the Garden State Seafood Association said having someone get sick from eating a tainted oyster "would have a real impact on the seafood industry."
The oysters included in the research programs are solely for the purpose of improving water quality. Unlike oysters grown commercially in unpolluted parts of the New Jersey coast, they cannot be sold or eaten.
Debbie Mans, head of the NY/NJ Baykeeper environmental group, said she has seen a proposed draft of the new regulations, and her group cannot support them.
"It is very, very restrictive, including a requirement that the permittee have the power to arrest people they think are messing around with the reef," she said.
Environmentalists and scientists began planting oyster colonies in polluted areas including Raritan Bay in the early 2000s, hoping to re-establish a species that was once so plentiful that maritime charts listed piles of oysters as threats to navigation.
But the research hit a major roadblock in 2010, when the DEP made the Baykeeper group rip out its oyster colonies from the bay in Keyport. The state said it acted because it couldn't guarantee that poachers would not steal the oysters, potentially introducing tainted seafood into New Jersey's highly regarded shellfish industry.
In the interim, groups including Baykeeper and Rutgers University got permission to set up oyster colonies at the Earle Naval Weapons Station in Middletown, whose pier juts out into the Raritan Bay. Preliminary results showed that the oysters were able to grow and thrive in the contaminated waters of the bay until Superstorm Sandy wrecked them in October 2012. The state allowed that research because the oysters were protected by gun-toting sailors, and boaters are prohibited from getting near the pier.
Researchers now want to expand the oyster colonies to other parts of the bay and to other waterways in the state to finally determine if the shellfish can improve water quality.

Global Fisheries Scientists set up 'Truth Squad' to Counter Inaccurate Scientific Claims in Media

SEAFOODNEWS.COM  [SeafoodNews.com]  October 5, 2015

Too often false statements about fisheries go unchallenged in the media.  Many NGOs trumpet their conclusions about fisheries crisises, but don't always explain how they get their 'facts.'
Their media partners lap up stories of doom and collapse, often uncritically.  For that reason, a group of  International experts in fisheries management have come together as part of a new initiative, called CFOOD (Collaborative for Food from Our Oceans Data.) The coalition will gather data from around the world and maintain fisheries databases while ensuring seafood sustainability discussions in the media reflect ground-truth science.  
The scientists behind the project have long pushed for accurate and clean data sources on the world's fisheries.  
The CFOOD project, headquartered at the University of Washington’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS), is made up of a network of scientists whose mission stemmed from a frustration with erroneous and agenda-driven stories about fisheries sustainability in the media. The CFOOD project will maintain a website and social media channels that provide a forum for immediate feedback on new seafood sustainability reports and studies.
“The CFOOD website allows us to offer independent scientific commentary to debunk false claims, support responsible science, or introduce new issues based on recent research,” said Dr. Ray Hilborn, Professor at University of Washington’s SAFS and founder of the CFOOD initiative.
“The ocean is a remarkably abundant source of healthy protein,” said Hilborn. “And while sustainability challenges exist, particularly in areas lacking sufficient fishery management infrastructure, many fisheries around the world are well-managed and sustainable. The message doesn’t always seem to resonate with consumers because of misinformation they continue to hear in the media.”
By reviewing and providing scientific analysis on relevant studies, papers, and media reports the CFOOD network hopes to use science to set the record straight for consumers, so they can have confidence the seafood they purchase is harvested in an environmentally responsible fashion.
Other scientists on the editorial board for CFOOD include Robert Arlinghaus, Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries and Humboldt at Universität zu Berlin; Kevern Cochrane, FAO Retired, Cape Town, South Africa; Stephen Hall, World Fish Center, Penang, Malaysia; Olaf Jensen, Rutgers University; Michel Kaiser, Bangor University, UK; Ana Parma, CONICET Puerto Madryn, Argentina; Tony Smith, Hobart, Australia; Nobuyuki Yagi, Tokyo University.
“Exaggerated claims of impending ecological disaster might grab attention, but they risk distorting effort and resources away from more critical issues.  I hope this initiative will help provide the balance we need,” said Dr. Stephen Hall, Director General, World Fish Center, based in Malaysia.
The first set of comments on the CFOOD website debunks a WWF paper claiming a 74% decline in global mackerel and tuna species.  The scientists point out that the data used to support that conclusion is out of date, having not been updated since 2004, and that more robust data sources, such as the actual stock assessments of tuna and mackerel stocks around the world were not used by the WWF in creating their estimate.  We explore the comments in depth in our related story.

To connect with the scientists, you can use twitter, facebook, or their website.


WASHINGTON (Menhaden Fisheries Coalition) -- October 5, 2015 -- The following was released by the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition:

NOAA Fisheries' Chesapeake Bay Office has updated its 
"Menhaden Facts" webpage
, confirming the sustainability of the Atlantic menhaden fishery, and stating clearly that Atlantic menhaden is neither overfished nor experiencing overfishing. The update is based upon the most current menhaden benchmark stock assessment, released in early 2015.
The Menhaden Fisheries Coalition credits the stock's natural resilience for these positive indicators. Years of diligent work by state and federal scientists produced the 2015 Atlantic menhaden stock assessment, considered the most thorough and accurate in the history of the fishery. Its results differ sharply from the prior update assessment, released in 2012, which was broadly criticized for mathematical flaws that underestimated the species' health.
The results of the 2012 assessment were used as justification for a sweeping 20 percent coastwide harvest cut. As it did then, and now with the support of the 2015 stock assessment, the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition questions the legitimacy of this harvest cut.
Fisheries managers have now affirmed what the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition has long maintained. In January, the latest menhaden stock assessment found that menhaden were in fact being harvested sustainably, with positive indicators such as record low levels of fishing mortality and near-record levels of stock fecundity. In June, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) acted on this news and increased harvests by 10 percent, partially reversing the 2012 cut. And last month, NOAA updated its official menhaden page to reflect these changes.
Both agencies-NOAA and the ASMFC-have now officially declared the species to be sustainably harvested and managed. The Menhaden Fisheries Coalition is committed to continuing that sustainability into the future.
About the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition

The Menhaden Fisheries Coalition is a collective of menhaden fisherman, related businesses, and supporting industries. Comprised of over 30 businesses along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition conducts media and public outreach on behalf of the menhaden industry to ensure that members of the public, media, and government are informed of important issues, events, and facts about the fishery.

View a PDF of the release from the Menhaden Fisheries Coalition
Dante Soriente
There's a man who knows what he wants!! Had a customer send me a msg this weekend that there is no better Bucktail than the MagicTail and ordered this lot!!! Thanks for your business we greatly appreciate it!!
Dante Soriente's photo.

Editor's View: NGO Push to Globally Restrict Bottom Trawling Coming on Several Fronts

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Editor's View / Opinon] by John Sackton - Oct. 2, 2015

I have had several recent conversations on a series of efforts in different fisheries management venues to restrict bottom trawling.
At issue is the degree to which there is potential habitat destruction to slow growing deep sea corals and benthic communities from trawling.
As the North Pacific Council takes up the extensive report on Bering Sea Corals prepared by NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Center, there is likely to be continued debate about whether the Council should enact restrictions on trawling in the Pribilof and Zhemchug Canyons. These canyons have become a centerpiece in a Greenpeace campaign urging retailers to ‘protect Bering Sea Corals’.
The NOAA report found that the Bering Sea substrate was not suitable for coral, and as a result there was a very low abundance. Of all the coral documented, no corals were seen damaged by fishing gear. Part of the reason is that the sparse existing corals generally are not very high, averaging about 8 inches off the sea floor.
Some groups, such as the The Marine Conservation Alliance, which represents harvesters, processors, communities, and community development quota (CDQ) entities with interests in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, have recommended that the council continue studies, particularly with a three dimensional model, to determine if there is overlap with fishing practices and corals, despite the initial findings of no interactions.
But there are a number of ideas put forward in other management venues that may come up in Anchorage, and it seemed useful to categorize them, as they mostly revolve around setting a maximum depth limit for trawling.
First, the UN has been working towards binding protections for fishery and biological diversity for many years. There are provisions in the Law of the Sea Treaty, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Fish Stocks Agreement, and FAO Responsible fishing Guidelines that all relate to trawl management. In 2008 the FAO published voluntary international guidelines for management of deep sea fisheries in the high seas.
They guidelines call for identification and protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems, and defined those VME’s as ecosystems that would suffer long term damage from interactions with fishery or other activities. The focus of these areas were primarily deep sea cold water corals.
Many national jurisdictions and RFMO’s have adopted some types of protections. In the US, the Essential Fish Habitat designation has been widely used to protect sensitive habitat areas around the Aleutian Islands where deep sea corals are found.
NAFO (The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization) adopted a prohibition against trawling on Sea Mounts, and in September this year closed a loophole that had allowed ‘Exploratory” fishing to continue.
In Europe, the EU is considering setting a maximum depth for trawling of between 600 and 800 meters.
Recently this idea got support from the publication of a scientific paper based on sample trawls off Scotland. The paper, published in Current Biology, said researchers analyzed catches from experimental trawls conducted in the 240–1,500-meter zone of the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. They found that the volume of by-catch, increases markedly relative to the volume of target commercial species in the 600–800-meter zone. The increase was especially pronounced for sharks and rays, including some threatened species.
The EU Parliament adopted a restriction on trawling that has not been ratified by many member states, but some companies are already voluntarily agreeing not to trawl below 800 meters.
NGO’s including WWF, Oceana, Greenpeace and the NRDC have come together to call for an immediate moratorium on all High Seas Bottom Trawling until there are studies and management plans in place for potential deep water fishing grounds.
In the Marine Stewardship Council, some of the NGOs are pushing to add a depth standard to MSC certifications for bottom trawl fisheries. The most common limit suggested is 600 meters.
Because this is an easily encapsulated issue, it is likely to be used by NGO’s to spook retailers to support such a limit, without reference to the underlying science. We could easily see retailers sign on to a Greenpeace letter saying they will not purchase fish caught below 600 meters in depth.
But both the FAO guidelines and the UN resolutions call for stock and habitat assessment that supports sound fishery management.  They do not call for a specific one-size fits all management measure.
Where such strong management systems exist along with deep water trawling practices such as in Alaska and in New Zealand, the existing protections of habitat, bycatch reporting, stock assessments, monitoring, and enforcement all are strongly in place.  Adding a new layer of protection would be redundant.
Retailers, and NGOs, who want to support progress in protecting deep sea habitats from bottom trawling should focus on 1) eliminating unregulated high seas bottom trawling - which has not yet happened to any extent, and 2) treat violations of RFMO regulations as IUU fishing in the market place, to give these regulations teeth they often don't have on their own.  Implementing full traceability should also allow retailers to avoid purchasing fish caught in the high seas in unregulated environments.
None of these actions would apply to Alaska or New Zealand. Unfortunately because the US and New Zealand management systems are so accessible, we are more likely to see the NGOs try and use the coral protection campaign in precisely the areas where it is not needed.
Retailers who buy into this campaign may end up undercutting scientific fisheries management - the foundation of sustainability - rather than strengthening it.


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