Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Friday Nov.; 13, 09 -- Back on the scene

Friday, November 13, 2009: Waves: Huge. Beach erosion: Horrific.

Special duties called me off the Island for a couple days. I had no email access/permission. I was monitoring the storm via various folks close to the action. I got word about Beach Haven’s ravaged beachfront. I know what Holgate will look like at the bird’s nest area. Here’s an example of many emails:

Hey Jay,

I'm wondering if you could post an update on the site (or just respond to me). How are the streets on LBI for travel? Passable? We will be arriving this evening.



(Again, sorry but duty called.)


I’ll further touch on a couple of the 80-some emails I found when I returned.

Hey Jay - Brian from garbagefish.com here. My gustometer is on the fritz and I was curious what your weather station tracked as the heaviest gust so far. Much appreciated.

Brian Lodge
(I heard of 50 mph plus. I know that’s ambiguous but the reports were unofficial at this time. Including a 59.)

In that vein: Public information statement...

...Powerful storm set's record wave height at NOAA buoy 44009...

The powerful East Coast storm continues to generate large waves
along the coast and across the lower Delaware Bay. The NOAA buoy
44009...Delaware Bay buoy located 26 miles southeast of Cape
May...recorded a height of 26.7 ft. This is the highest wave
height recorded since the buoy was deployed in 1984. The second
highest height was 25,4 ft in a 2003 winter storm.

The momentum and energy from these large waves moving toward the
Mainland are largely responsible for the waters unable to drain from
the back bays.


“Jay, Where are you? In view of what might be the worst storm since 1992, you have been strangely silent. As a year around resident, I look for hearing from you to let us know what's happening in addition to fishing on the island. My observation is that its pretty bad up on the beach here in North Beach. Maybe its bad enough to get the easements signed or maybe it won't even be necessary. I was here in 1962 and I don't recall any requirement for easements to do an emergency replenishment. Chris.”

Sorry I wasn’t here but glad so many folks monitor CBI via this column. I had that same thought about easement holdouts, not so much they’ll change their self-serving minds but the potential for pressure being exerted by others who now clearly see that everyone is in this together and those who won’t be team players put everyone at risk. Ironically, you know as well as me that the holdouts will be the first to scream for sand if their homes are at risk.

By the by, the 1962 storm repair was under an extreme state of emergency, much the way Louisiana was after Katrina. There was no protesting – or even heavy thinking. Many of the repairs, including the eventual jetties, was fully counter to long-term repairing. This latest storm is nowhere near big-time levels, i.e. Halloween Perfect storm swells, December 1992 one-day easterly storm, Hurricane 1944 and the biggest biggy, March ’62. What’s troubling is the way this current storm combined with numerous storms now going back a year and a half points to us entering another prolonged stretch of brutal beach erosion, similar to the late 1980s through mid-1990s. I hate to say it but I sometimes relate nasty little storms stretches to tremors prior to a major earthquake. That’s totally lacking in science, per se. However, the concept of peaks in any sort of natural cataclysmic activity is very common.

There has to be an odd uneasiness on the part of the Weeks folks about to begin the beach replenishment in Harvey Cedars. Obviously, the town will need it more than ever now. Whether this is the worst winter in decades to try such a fix remains to be seen.


Important article passed on to me:

Long Island Fishing License Comes With a Colonial Catch

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. -- Stuart Vorpahl has waged a lonely battle since 1984 against the state of New York over his right to fish. For refusing to obtain a commercial fishing license, he has been arrested at least four times, once on a dock after a police officer seized 490 pounds of fluke and two lobsters from his 40-foot trawler.

Mutiny on the East EndView Slideshow
Christopher Rhoads/The Wall Street Journal Striped bass caught off Long Island's East End took their last breaths.
.More photos and interactive graphics .
Now, others here on Long Island's East End are joining the 69-year-old Mr. Vorpahl's cause. And they are supporting his argument, based on a 313-year-old colonial-era document, called the Dongan Patent, that conferred responsibility for town land and waterways on locally elected trustees.

"I keep telling everyone, 'Your right to go fishing is right here!'" he shouts, holding up a copy of the document in his kitchen cluttered with files and books on the subject. "But the courts don't want to open this can of worms."

All of his cases over the years were dismissed or ended in mistrials, largely without the judges considering the merits of the Dongan Patent. In one instance, the court was unable to form a jury because Mr. Vorpahl is too well-known. His family has lived for centuries pulling striped bass from these waters.

But this time looks different.

Six Long Island towns, including Southampton, Shelter Island and East Hampton, have joined in a lawsuit against the state's Department of Environmental Conservation, charging that it has no authority to require fishing licenses without their consent. At least three other towns may join.

The fracas began on Oct. 1, when New York, in response to new federal policies, required for the first time that recreational anglers have a license to fish in saltwater. The state has required a commercial license since 1984.

Long Island Fishermen vs. the State of New York3:26New York has passed a law requiring recreational fishermen to get a permit, which has Long Island anglers up in arms. WSJ's Christopher Rhoads reports.
Since there are many more recreational than there are commercial fishermen, the growing resistance has the feel of mutiny. Though the new recreational license costs just $10, some participants are hearing echoes of the current national debate over activist government.

"People want some control over their daily lives, including their right to fish," says Eric Shultz, a retired New York City Fire Department patrol officer and a member of Southampton's Board of Trustees. "This whole fee thing is absolutely ridiculous."

The state fishing license was prompted by a federal measure, passed in 2006, to more accurately measure fish populations. It requires recreational fishermen to register so they can be contacted and asked how many fish they catch. That goes into effect next year, unless states first implement their own licenses.

A handful of states, including New York, this year have done that. But only in New York are fishermen fighting the matter in the courts. Most states, including New York, for years have required freshwater-fishing licenses.

View Full Image
Christopher Rhoads/The Wall Street Journal Baymen on eastern Long Island have used dories and nets for centuries to make their living catching striped bass in the Atlantic surf.
"With Stuart, it wasn't like he had created a movement or anything, so the judges could just dismiss him as a crank," says Arnold Leo, secretary of the East Hampton Baymen's Association. "But now, you've got all these towns...so this becomes much more complicated."

The towns, like Mr. Vorpahl, are basing their case on the Dongan Patent.

In 1686, the British governor of the royal colony of New York, Thomas Dongan, granted the patent, a kind of town charter, putting responsibility for public land and waterways in several East End towns in the hands of locally elected trustees. The New York state constitution preserved that contract in 1777, amid the War for Independence from Britain. That means, according to the current trustees, the state has no authority to impose regulation on town property, which includes the bottom of town inlets and bays.

While similar patents existed throughout the colonies, the East End patent appears unique in having survived as a basis for government. It has lasted perhaps because many of the same families, called Bonackers for their original homesteads along Accabonac Creek, still live here and because it concerns fishing, their traditional livelihood.

The patent "is implanted on their craniums," says Richard Barons, executive director of the East Hampton Historical Society. "Without the Bonackers, no one would've known of it."

MoreThe Dec. 9, 1686, Dongan Patent, granted control over the lands and waters of East Hampton, N.Y., to a locally elected board of trustees.
Now Know Ye, that I, the said Thomas Dongan, … do grant, ratify, release and confirm unto Thomas James, Captain Josiah Hobart, Capt. Thomas Talmadge, Lieut. John Wheeler, Ensign Samuel Mulford, John Mulford, Thomas Chatfield, senior, Jeremiah Conklin, Stephen Hand, Robert Dayton, Mr. Thomas Baker, and Thomas Osborn, … all the aforesaid tracts and necks of lands within the limits and bounds aforesaid, together with all and singular the Houses, Messuages, Tenaments, Buildings, Mills, Mill-dams, Fences, Inclosures, Gardens, Orchards, Fields, Pastures, Woods, Underwoods, Trees, Timber, Fencings, Commons of Pastures, Meadows, marshes, swamps, Plains, Rivers, Rivulets, Waters, Lakes, Ponds, Brooks, Streams, Beaches, Quarries, Mines, Minerals, Creeks, Harbors, Highways, and Easements, Fishing, Hawking, Hunting and Fowling, Silver and Gold Mines Excepted… And that they and their successors, by the name of the Trustees of the Freeholders and commonality of the Town of East Hampton be and shall be forever in future times, persons able and capable in law, to have, perceive, and receive and possess not only all and singular the premises, but other messuages, lands, tenements, privileges, jurisdictions, franchises, hereditaments of whatsoever kind or species, they shall be to them and their successors…
The attorneys for the towns are going through a 337-page document on the subject compiled by Mr. Vorpahl after he holed up for several months during the winter of 1992 in the town library. The research cites numerous local cases won on the strength of the patent, ranging from overriding a state law prohibiting cattle herding on highways, in 1882, to placing eel pots in a local pond without a state fee, in 1952.

While the towns regard the patent as a bulwark against outsiders meddling in their affairs, it paradoxically owes its existence to state, or colonial, intervention.

From the moment settlers first arrived here in the 1640s, the fledgling towns struggled to stay out of the clutches of the royal colony of New York in favor of Connecticut, where they had closer economic, cultural and religious ties. Most of the original settlers to the area came from New England.

Tensions with New York heightened after 1674, when the British drove the Dutch out of the colony and began imposing a more centralized form of government.

But the eastern Long Islanders also realized the need to secure their titles to land under the expanding British administration. That was achieved in the 1686 patent granted by Gov. Dongan. While it empowered local government, it also had the effect of legitimizing British rule on the East End, by making land titles dependent on the royal colony, according to Peter Christoph, an editor of New York colonial-era manuscripts. It also made it easier to collect and increase property taxes.

Still, eastern Long Islanders continued to resist in other ways, presaging the Revolutionary War, not to mention Mr. Vorpahl's current struggle.

Stuart Vorpahl
.More than one judge has asked Mr. Vorpahl, he says, whether he sees himself as a modern-day version of Samuel Mulford, an East Hampton whaler active in town affairs. Nicknamed "Old Fishhook," Mr. Mulford fought for years in the early-18th century against a royal whaling license. He traveled twice to London to protest the measure directly to the king, despite repeated arrests. Mr. Vorpahl notes that the whaling license was repealed only in 1730, five years after Mr. Mulford's death.

Though others have rallied to his cause, Mr. Vorpahl says nothing is a sure thing. A New York state court justice recently postponed a hearing on the matter until Nov. 19, after Sen. Charles Schumer called for the state to delay implementation of the license during the difficult economy. Last month, New York state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office backed out of defending the state against the suit, citing confusion over how the license is distributed and enforced. On Monday, a state assemblyman introduced legislation to replace the license with a registry program, without a fee, effective next July 1.

With the matter attracting so much attention now from state officials, Mr. Vorpahl remains hopeful for some sort of ruling.

"I was a lone eagle on this," he says, over the crowing of a rooster in his yard. "But I'm finally getting heard."

Write to Christopher Rhoads at christopher.rhoads@wsj.com

Panel backs no-fishing zones off Southern California coast
At an emotional meeting, a state panel imposes the landmark restrictions to help restore species, catches of which have dropped up to 95%. The plan was forged out of contentious negotiations.
By Louis Sahagun
November 11, 2009
A state blue-ribbon panel unanimously approved landmark fishing restrictions Tuesday for Southern California, creating a patchwork of havens for marine life designed to replenish the seas while leaving some waters open for anglers.

The plan, approved 5 to 0 during a meeting at which emotions boiled over briefly into shouting and shoving, was a compromise intended to sustain the 250-mile coastline's environmental as well as economic health -- forged during a year of contentious negotiations between conservationists and fishing interests.

In recent decades, the catches of many species, including rockfish and cod, have fallen by as much as 95%. Populations of lobster, sea urchin, squid, sea bass, yellowtail and swordfish have all been in sharp decline. Fisheries experts have argued that some of those species could disappear entirely if steps were not taken to create no-fishing zones where breeding stocks could be replenished.

But any move to close waters to fishermen has been strongly resisted by both the fishing industry and recreational boaters. On Tuesday, representatives of both groups, many of them wearing black T-shirts, turned out at the panel's meeting and predicted job losses and business closures.

Environmentalists countered that stiff curbs were necessary to preserve and replenish fading stocks of marine life. They said that some panel members were allowing economic concerns to outweigh scientific guidelines designed to ensure the long-term health of the ocean.


Below is a link to the Federal Registry Notice on setting the
specifications for summer flounder, scup and sea bass. This was
posted on November 4th and I only became aware of it today. The
cutoff date is listed as November 19th. I find it interesting we
don't get even a 30 day comment period. I guess NMFS is trying to
sneak another one through. We have until next Wednesday to send in
comments. JCAA will prepare comments and hopefully send via email
ASAP. Please forward any comments to JCAA. You really need to
comment on the black sea bass quota. I have attached the Federal
registry notice.


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