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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Friday, January 20, 2012:

 

We’re about to see some flakes but don’t be throwing out your back maneuvering that plow onto your truck. Not only will any snow accumulation be small but I’m thinking a warm front could move through the area and actual hike temps way up through tomorrow.

 

What’s more, the 50s are once again in the near-forecast. Virtually the entire coming week will flirt with 50 on a daily basis, right through next weekend. There might even be one of those record-breaking days, near 60.

We’re now deep into January and these pulses of odd mild air continue to arrive with weekly regularity.

 

I truly can’t see anything keep this from being one of the mildest winters on records. Of course, saying that is like loosing the wrath of the CP monster. CP is Canadian-Polar air. You know what that can bring.

 

 

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I was chatting with Rick B. of ReClam Barnegat Bay eco-group and the lack of a killer winter freeze is not what the clam doctor wanted. The seed clams in the upweller growing systems the group uses are very sensitive to algal blooms and pathogen presences. It tales a bottoming out of bottom temps to really knock such deleterious microorganisms out of the system.

 

While I fully agree with that, I’ve personally noticed that another phenomenon can rinse the waters clean of these dangerous little creatures. Storms with loads of tidal flow can also purge the bay, so to speak. It’s the proverbial water exchange: in with the new, out with the old. Big tides mean big water exchanges, easily enough to expunge bad stuff.

 

Unfortunately, it’s a tad trickier than the bay simply being whacked by big costal storms. Seems the best way to storm-clean the bay is to take a heavy onshore wind hit, especially during times of astronomically high tides. And it doesn’t have to be for days on end. Logic would dictate that even a one- or two-day wind wallop is enough to complete an entire exchange.

 

The complexity comes with moisture. As we’ve built-out the region, the over-humanified land routinely gathers enough gunk to putrefy an entire bay system once it is washed into the water with one good gully-washer of a storm. We now actually need to adroitly get just the winds and tides but side-step the heavy rainfall.  

 

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The following is an important read for anyone into the politics of fishing’s future:

 

[Home News Tribune] by Raju Chebium - January 19, 2012

A long-simmering debate over federal fishing quotas and their economic impact on coastal states could reach a boiling point this year as Congress considers changes to a landmark marine conservation law.

The fishing industry is pressuring Congress to ease catch limits for summer flounder, red snapper and other rebounding species, saying quotas are squeezing commercial and recreational fishing businesses and depriving coastal communities of billions in revenue.

Critics also accuse the government of using outdated science to set the catch limits under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The Obama administration and environmentalists are pushing back, saying catch limits must remain in place to prevent overfishing of species that were decimated before Congress adopted the 1976 law and began to rebound only in the past 15 years or so.

The debate comes as the government expands its efforts to prevent overfishing and prepares to issue a host of new fishing quotas.

In the coming months, the Obama administration will finish issuing catch limits covering all 528 federally managed marine species living within 200 miles off U.S. coasts, something scientists say no other country has done. President George W. Bush signed the limits into law in 2006.

Eric Schwaab, an acting assistant commerce secretary, said lifting catch limits even temporarily could decimate many marine species that are slowly rebuilding. He dismissed criticisms that the administration is bowing to pressure from the environmental community with little regard for commercial or recreational fishermen.

"Addressing overfishing is as much about protecting the economic opportunities of current and future generations of fishermen as it is about protecting the integrity of ocean ecosystems," said Schwaab, who headed the National Marine Fisheries Service until recently. "Even though we have a lot more fish out there ... catch limits are necessary to ensure that we sustain that success."

The Magnuson-Stevens Act — named after the late Democratic Sen. Warren Magnuson of Washington state and the late Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska — was passed 35 years ago to keep foreign fishing boats out of U.S. waters.
Then U.S. fleets went on a fishing binge. Many fish populations plummeted, prompting Congress to amend the law in 1996 to focus on rebuilding fish stocks over a 10-year time frame in most cases.

In 2006, Congress required catch limits to prevent overfishing and further protect slowly rebounding species, according to Lee Crockett, an expert on federal fisheries policy at the Pew Environment Group.

Fishing quotas were instrumental in the spectacular rebound of nearly extinct species such as New England sea scallops, Schwaab said. Scallopers' revenue grew fivefold from 1998 to 2010 after declining to nearly nothing due to overfishing.

Similarly, careful management combined with catch limits allowed the summer flounder — a popular species among New Jersey recreational anglers — to rebound to levels few believed possible a few years ago, Schwaab said.

Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, said assessments from the National Marine Fisheries Service show summer flounder is no longer overfished. He said that proves it's safe to let fishermen catch more flounder and other rebounding fish stocks, such as red snapper in the South Atlantic.

Donofrio said administration officials won't allow larger catches because of lobbying by environmentalists. Federal scientists and academics gathering population data use outdated and imprecise methods of estimating fish counts and refuse to consider data reported by the fishing industry, he said.

Catch-limit proponents "have no dog in the fight other than they have an agenda to get us off the water," Donofrio said. "What we need now is a quick-fix amendment to allow access to rebuilt and rebuilding stocks. And I mean healthily rebuilding stocks, not stocks that are down at the bottom of the rebuilding scale."

More than 46,000 jobs in New Jersey are linked to fishing, according to Rep. Jon Runyan, R-N.J. He has introduced legislation requiring outside groups to review the science used to set catch limits and calling for flexibility in the 10-year stock-rebuilding timelines.

Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., D-N.J., a longtime friend of environmentalists, has introduced bills that would require the government to publicly explain how it sets catch limits and to disclose the economic impact of the quotas.

Crockett, of Pew, said catch limits are carefully crafted by regional fishery management councils — which include fishermen — to balance economic concerns with ecological ones.

Environmentalists aren't interested in driving anyone out of business, said Crockett, who described himself as an avid fisherman.

"If we don't have a limit and it's not based on good science and it doesn't prevent overfishing, we'll deplete our resources," Crockett said. "That has a negative impact on our nation's environment and on the men and women who make a living on the ocean."

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