Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
(Highly) Domesticated sparrows
For a pee-wee league goalie, it's good when your dad is also the ref ...
"I tell you, cats are easily as intelligent as dogs!"
Hey, it just might be the fishing is excellent exactly thereabouts ...
Sign up for the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic and help maintain an Island tradition ...
Friday, September 28, 2018: Welcome to the Chowderfest and Merchants’ Mart weekend on LBI. The weather should be amazingly cooperative, though the batting accuracy of forecasting has been abysmal this month.
Shops are loaded with fresh mullet, so buy 'em up. Best bluefish bait known. Don't forget to steel leader anywhere a hook hangs. I like blood-red leader, though it probably doesn't matter since fish are colorblind, in other words, you don't have to sell the fish on it ... just the fishermen.
Buggy alert: Mucho people in the beach this week, including Holgate, so either avoid driving buggy-open beaches of go double slow.
Above: In ten Holgate minutes I got the makings of a fine bluefish jerky batch. I caught them on a battered saltwater Zara Spook -- until not one but both trebles got ripped clean out if it. And these weren't big blues. That is one powerful fish species.
I had lost a school-bus yellow Bomber to an earlier larger blue -- and was pissed. Then, I'm cleaning the blues and there it is floating right next to the beach. Alright!
Message: John Mury Jay had some unusually small kingfish today( 7-9 inches , I’ve had decent sizes in the past)the surf was rough but clean . A few short fluke , and I believe a nice one that spit the hook in the wash . As we know had to go back anyway . And 2-4 pound blues
Lots of small LBI news items.
HOLGATE MEGA-GROIN UPDATE: The US Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to (only) the "repair" of "Wooden Jetty," providing all work stays within the existing groin footprint, i.e. no mega-groin. I'm guessing (only guessing!) the "repair" could include the placing of steel buttressing sheets, removal of existing pilings and even new rocks.
I need to point out that the washover area about 3,000 feet south of the parking lot is worse than ever. The ocean and bay meet with even astronomical high tides. I’ll re-repeat that this is totally unique erosion, unlike the insta-inlets that have formed before, on rare occasions.
This erosion looks to be long-lasting – and seemingly uninfluenced by all the sand migrating south from replenishments.
Of note, just to the west of the worst washover area – across a small channel of water -- is a sedge island. There’s no guessing if or how that small land mass will impact the Holgate end as it moves westward.
If I had to guess, this crossover zone will, relatively soon, see ocean/bay hookups with every high tide -- no inlet, just a watery high-tide expanse, easily capable of curtailing any buggy or pedestrian crossing.
Almost counterintuitively – unless you think in geological terms – the very end of Holgate continues to gather sand like a whiz. It is now for-sure the widest point on LBI. Not only is it fattening to the west but it’s also moving south. I now get a three-mile odometer reading from parking lot to west peninsula – technically the furthest point south. That means LBI is now 21 miles long. I’m serious. Any of you cartological experts, use satellites images to take exacting measurements.
ON THE BLINK: It looks like the traffic signal at 28th Street in Ship Bottom will go on the blink … intentionally. That’s the one at Faria’s. The county road department says it’s not essential that the light remain on-cycle all winter, the way it has for ages.
Through a Ship Bottom borough council vote so close – as in tied – that the mayor had to be the deciding “Yes,” the motion passed to allow the light to go blinky -- like all traffic signals to its south, right through Beach Haven.
I’m not sure if the signal will go a-blink with the so-called “turning off” of the lights this Monday. To stay accurate, all the signals that get “turned off” for winter actually stay on, just blinkingly on.
The impacts of the light change could be varied. Firstly, it will not change the fact that Ship Bottom is a slow-down speed zone, with reduced speed limits. Might the blinkiness lead to a load of revenue for the town, as on-the-move winter traffic tries to plow through, thinking mainly south to north? Possibly, but it’s amazing how quickly word gets out that a town is tensed and citation-ready for speeders. My guess is the losers will be mainly non-local drivers and work vehicles.
The 28th Street signal de-cycling might also channel some traffic off Central Avenue, as folks coming onto the Island see a straight shot along the Boulevard route.
I should note that a couple of the “No” votes in town hall rightfully worried about pedestrians trying to cross the street -- and even local traffic trying to pull onto the boulevard. That problem arises anyway when the lights get turned off in the rest of the town.
Being a Ship Bottomer for 60 years, I want to advise that just because it’s off-season does not mean the stop-for-pedestrian law is any less applicable. In fact, I’m betting the SBPD will be highly sensitive to any failures to stop for street-crossers with the town’s south-end traffic signal on the blink.
More utility pole headaches in Ship Bottom today ...
Jim Hutchinson Sr.
Fall officially arrived this week, and recent cooler temperatures have the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association starting to think about the arrival of the area’s greatest inshore sport fish, the striped bass.
Just like “snowbirds” heading down to Florida when winter arrives, the striped bass on their way south for the winter stop by local waters looking for food. When they find abundant food, they have been known to remain for quite some time. Right now with a good supply of mullet and bunker, they will be sure to stop in to fill their bellies.
To commemorate the presence of striped bass in the fall, there are several local striped bass tournaments, most for boats only. To mention a few-the Sea Shell Club, the Maximilian Foundation, the Stafford Township PBA, and the Red Men Lodge in Tuckerton all have e vents set for this fall. Most of these are for charitable causes and come with cash prizes, calcuttas, and various parties replete with good food.
Fishermen do not have to own a boat or be an expert to be competitive in one or more of these tournaments. Some of the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are available to take anglers out to compete in these events. A good boat and expert captain can make a difference in coming home with fish or empty handed.
To see how fishing with one of these experts might be accomplished, go the association’s website at www.BHCFA.net and get in touch with one or more of the captains to see what can be worked out.
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Globe and Mail] by Ivan Semeniuk - September 26, 2018
In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, environmental change is bringing North Atlantic right whales into a danger zone of shipping and fishing. A massive research project has given the experts a better picture than ever of what's going on down below
When he saw the flight track of the U.S. survey plane over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Hansen Johnson knew the plan was working.
Watching on his computer, he could see that the plane had veered off from its search pattern of evenly spaced parallel lines into a spaghetti-like tangle of loops and tight circles.
“That's when I started getting excited," said Mr. Johnson, a PhD student in marine bioacoustics at Dalhousie University. “I knew that meant that they were photographing right whales."
That was July 31, as Mr. Johnson and his colleagues were on a twoday data-gathering blitz to find out what North Atlantic right whales were doing in areas where they have only recently been spotted in significant numbers.
All told, Canadian and U.S. expert observers identified about 30 to 40 whales from plane and survey boat, while two autonomous gliders were underwater recording whale calls. Overhead, a passing satellite simultaneously measured ocean conditions. Finally, and most crucially, were the 32 sonobuoys – sensitive underwater microphones that are designed to hunt for submarines – which the Canadian air force deployed in the same location from a C-140 maritime patrol aircraft.
Together, the academic, government and military contributions added up to an unprecedented snapshot of right-whale activity across 1,500 square kilometres of open ocean.
Waiting for news of the results “was like holding my breath for eight hours," said Mr. Johnson, who remained in Halifax to play a co-ordinating role during the joint exercise.
The point of all this effort goes beyond scientific curiosity.
North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered of all marine mammals, numbering fewer than 500 individuals. They are well known in the Gulf of Maine and the Bay of Fundy, where protocols to protect them from collisions with passing ships have been in place for years. More recently, right whales have been observed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where it's thought they have been driven in pursuit of a shifting food supply.
The new habitat comes with new risks. After a period of steady recovery in the early 2000s, rightwhale population numbers are in decline once again. Last year marked a devastating turning point, when a dozen dead right whales turned up all around the gulf – many of them victims of collisions, others more likely killed by entanglement in fishing gear. As a result, the Canadian government imposed an emergency response to try to stem the carnage. The new measures, which include slowing down shipping traffic and curtailing crab fishing across a swath of the New Brunswick coast where the whales are now found, continue to be enforced.
So far this year, no right-whale deaths have been reported. But even with emergency measures in place, that's been something of a lucky break, said Mr. Johnson, who last month witnessed a right whale narrowly escape with its life as it struggled to disentangle itself from fishing gear over a twohour period.
“It is absolutely gut-wrenching to see an animal in distress like that," he said.
And as the community comes to grips with how to manage whales in the gulf, a longer-term question is coming into focus: How can right whales and humans co-exist in one of the busiest coastal waterways on the planet?
The answer, scientists say, hinges on better data, innovative technology and hand-in-glove cooperation between researchers, governments and industry to ensure that everyone knows what they need to know to avoid a repeat of last year.
“No one wants to come home with a dead whale on their bow," said Christopher Taggart, an oceanographer who leads Dalhousie's Whale, Particle and Fish Lab. “The big problem is how can you get the information to the people who can use it."
While many types of whales face serious threats, the ecology and behavior of right whales seem to make them uniquely vulnerable to human activity at sea.
Known as “the urban whales," they are rarely found in deep ocean water, preferring instead to hug the continental shelf of eastern North America, where they migrate up the coast every year to New England and the Maritimes.
Lacking a pronounced dorsal fin, they have a low profile at the surface that increases their likelihood of being struck by ships.
More than most whale species, they are also strongly dependent on a single food source. These are the small crustaceans known as copepods, vast numbers of which go dormant in the later part of the year and sit suspended in frigid, salty water near the sea floor like tiny blisters of pure fat.
In previous years, right whales have congregated into two Canadian locations, one in the Bay of Fundy and another south of Nova Scotia called the Roseway Basin.
Starting in the early 2000s, shipping practices were altered in an effort to reduce whale strikes in these areas.
But more recently, scientists have found that the copepods are moving, likely in response to altered ocean conditions that are related to climate change. This has presented right whales with a serious survival challenge.
“They show up and the restaurant is closed," Dr. Taggart said.
The Dalhousie team has been at the forefront of trying to understand where the whales are going in search of food. Increasingly, the evidence has led them to a fingerlike depression between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island called the Orpheline Trough.
There, conditions are nearly identical to the best right-whale habitat in the Gulf of Maine, including the presence of copepods.
Whether right whales have always used the trough is not known. What is clear is that it has now become crucial to their survival.
“Within a single year, we've documented more than onequarter of the population using that area," said Kim Davies, a research associate at Dalhousie who has been studying the whales' shifting habits.
Over the past three years, Dr.Davies has championed the use of underwater gliders to identify where right whales are located by picking up their distinctive whoops, or “up calls" that they use to signal each other. The technology, first developed at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, has proved ideal for Canadian waters where fog and poor weather conditions often interfere with efforts to spot whales from the surface or the air.
The gliders are also far cheaper than aerial flights, but the information they can provide is limited. For example, it's not entirely clear from what distance they can pick up whale sounds. It was researchers' desire to get more out of the technology and use it to help prevent whale deaths in a new setting that led to this past summer's data blitz.
‘A BONA FIDE CRISIS'
The idea was cooked up at a campus pub night last fall, when Mr.Johnson found himself discussing the right-whale challenge with fellow PhD student Dugald Thomson, a major with Defense Research and Development Canada – the research arm of the Canadian forces – and a specialist in marine acoustics.
Together, they realized that the sonobuoys the military uses to listen for submarines could be used to calibrate the gliders' performance if both methods were used on the same whales at the same time. As the conservation continued over the following months, the idea became more ambitious. Perhaps all the ways of recording whales, both visually and acoustically, could be attempted at the same time in a coordinated way so that scientists could compare their observations and get more out of the data.
With Major Thomson's help, the military was on board. The plight of the right whale, he said, is “a bona fide crisis" of the type the department of national defense would respond to.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada also joined the project, as did other groups already involved in whale surveys in the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, including the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the New England Aquarium in Boston and the Canadian Whale Institute, a not-forprofit organization based in New Brunswick.
By the time the operation was under way, it was the largest and most multilayered data-gathering effort ever attempted with right whales.
Two months later, Mr. Johnson is still collating all the data, including the sonobuoy recordings that have only this week been declassified and made available to researchers at Dalhousie. While the first attempt on July 30 was hampered by poor weather, the number of whales seen during the second day gave Mr. Johnson and his colleagues plenty to work with.
“It's giving us greater context," Mr. Johnson said. “We can start to put together a picture with these different levels of information that we've never had access to before."
Moira Brown, a long-time right-whale scientist with the New England Aquarium and the Canadian Whale Institute who was not directly involved in the July operation, said the project illustrates why a co-ordinated approach is needed to better understand the behaviour of right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and enable measures that can allow them to co-exist with shipping and fishing in the long term.
“There's a huge value in learning about the area where the project was done," Dr. Brown said.
“Now we can perhaps more narrowly tailor the area where measures are in place."
But Dr. Brown added that the fate of right whales still hangs by a thread. “After four decades, we're still trying to save this species one whale at a time," she said.
Thanks to the protectionist trade policies of U.S. President Donald Trump, Canada’s lobster industry is “winning.”
As the United States has continued pressure China with increasing tariffs, China has responded by ceasing its purchases of lobster from the U.S., shifting instead towards purchasing from Canada.
Reports are trickling north across the border of China abandoning long-time supply sources and relationships with U.S.-based lobster companies.
“I have heard from colleagues in Maine that their business in China has dried up completely, but do not have any independent data to back that up,” Geoff Irvine, executive director of the Lobster Council of Canada, told SeafoodSource.
Exports of live lobsters to China from Maine plummeted in July, the same month China imposed 25 percent retaliatory tariffs against the United States in an escalating trade war between the two economic superpowers.
According to the Portland Press Herald, the value of live lobsters exported from Maine dropped 64 percent in July 2018 from July 2017. At least one company, The Lobster Co. of Arundel, Maine, has laid off a quarter of its staff in response to losing business in China, according to WGME.
Perhaps equally telling is the sudden rise in lobster shipments from the Canadian Maritimes. In the past 12 months, Halifax’s Stanfield International Airport has gone from having one to five weekly seafood air shipments to Asia. That represents a 63 percent rise in lobster shipments year-over-year.
Halifax has long had a weekly Air Korea 747 cargo flight servicing its airport. In 2017, Chinese cargo carrier Suparna Airlines began a second service to Halifax. And in August 2018, these services were supplemented with the addition of two weekly flights from Halifax to Changsha, Hunan Province, China. The new flights utilize 747-400 freighters operated by SkyLease Cargo, which service First Catch, a Chinese-owned seafood freight-forwarding company based at YHZ. Each 747 is capable of carrying 120 metric tons of seafood to China.
In addition to the dedicated cargo carriers, Kevin Mio, a communications manager with Air Canada, said his company operates a daily Airbus 330-300 flight from Halifax to Montreal capable of carrying more than 20,000 kilograms of seafood. Mio said Air Canada Cargo operates on belly capacity only – “Which can be significant,” he said.
“On a large airplane, 75 percent of the space in the belly is taken by cargo as opposed to baggage,” Mio said.
Mio said the U.S.-China trade war has created a “void” in lobster supply to the hungry Chinese market.
“The tariff wars between the United States and China have affected demand for American lobster,” he said. “As a result, Canadian lobster is trying to step in and fill this void. To get all of this seafood to market, we have seen an increase in freighter activities in the Maritimes – most of them going to China.”
The lobster largesse has extended to Greater Moncton’s Romeo LeBlanc International Airport in New Brunswick. While it has also forwarded some lobster on an irregular basis – primarily for the holiday season and other special periods – through airports in Montreal and Toronto using Cargojet, its service was boosted this August when Kalitta Air began flying a 747-400 directly from Moncton to Asia. This service operates on a short-lead monthly schedule and is flexible enough to allow the addition of extra flights as needed.
Moncton’s airport may see further growth in the future, if the trade war drags on. It is a short drive from the lobster grounds of the Northumberland Strait and upper Bay of Fundy, and across the Confederation Bridge for Island shippers. An additional amenity for shippers is a large cold-storage facility next to the airport.