Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday, April 04, 2011:


How about these frickin’ winds? Despite the weather folks saying winds will be 25 mph with higher gusts, I’m already showing (at 10 pm) a steady 35 mph with gusts pushing 50 mph – and the approaching front, ushering in the wind, is still half a day away, meaning gusts will only get worse as the front approaches. I wouldn’t be surprised to see widespread minor damage if the winds get much worse overnight.

The bad side for LBI is the beach erosion. Being a treasure hunter who really knows what winds mean eaten beaches, I guarantee – from decades of experience -- that our worst erosion comes on the shoulders of honking southerlies. Not only do southerlies scarf up the sands but also their damage isn’t quickly repaired by natural forces. The vulnerable beaches of southern Beach Haven could get worked if the winds hold out of the SE and don’t shift slightly southwest, which could also happen, somewhat reducing the erosion.

Below is a write-up of the upcoming selection of a fluke plan. I’m staying out of it. I think the fluke fishery is being unilaterally nursed to the detriment of other gamefish that must survive in bayside nurseries, then somehow work their way out to sea in the fall, facing a bottom covered with insatiable fluke. Way in the future, scientists will marvel over the moronic single-species management programs used in our day and age -- saving a few popular species to the utter doom of numerous other fish. Doomed species: tog, seabass, winter flounder, weakfish, drumfish, kingfish, croakers, and more.  



SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Asbury Park Press] By Kirk Moore, April 4, 2011


GALLOWAY — Shore anglers could catch something this summer they have not seen for a long time - a minimum legal size below 18 inches for summer flounder. 

There's a good chance 18 inches will still be the minimum for 2011, but 17.5 inches is one option when the state Marine Fisheries Council meets April 7 to consider a menu of rules options for the coming season. 

Still better are the long-term prospects for summer flounder. Biologists expect a big year class of new flounder that showed up as small fish last year will be back in force, and New Jersey's allowable share of the catch is up 33 percent this year to 1.33 million fish, said Brandon Muffley, chief of the state's Bureau of Marine Fisheries. 

Muffley offered a briefing on summer flounder options Thursday at an outdoor writers conference hosted by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife. The fisheries bureau has prepared four options for the council when it meets at 4 p. m. April 7 at the Atlantic County Library in Galloway: 

An 18-inch minimum size and eight-fish daily catch limit per fisherman, and a season that starts May 14 and ends Sept. 18. 

An 18-inch minimum size and eight-fish daily catch limit, with a season from May 7 to Sept. 25. 

A split minimum size, to give anglers an opportunity to keep a smaller fish; one fish at 17.5 inches, and up to five fish at 18 inches, from May 21 to Sept. 5. 

One fish at 17.5 inches and up to five fish at 18 inches, from May 28 to Aug. 28. 

Muffley said the season under those options could range from 93 to 128 days, and by the biologists' estimates it will still keep New Jersey well within its limit for the year. 

Even with stepping up from last year's 18-inch/six fish limit, the proposed numbers are still conservative enough to avoid overshooting the quota share. 

State officials and fishermen are anxious to avoid overages, because new federal rules on accountability would demand that any excess catch be paid back out of the 2012 quota. 

'There are a lot of summer flounder moving into the fishery this year,' Muffley said. 

On paper, the catch limit could be liberalized by up to 124 percent, but the options would widen it only by 62 percent to 81 percent, he said. 


NEW ORLEANS, Starting May 5, commercial fishermen using longlines that stretch for miles in the Gulf of Mexico must use hooks designed to straighten when grabbed by bluefin tuna, releasing the fish.

Three years of tests have shown that these 'weak hooks' will hold most yellowfin tuna, swordfish, and other commercial species while cutting the accidental bluefin catch by 56 percent, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday.

That could cut the number of bluefin caught from an average of 285 a year to 124 bluefin caught this year, it said. Although fish still alive when they reach the deck are released, many die from the stress of being caught and hauled to the boat, according to NOAA. The lines are 10 to 20 miles long, NMFS fishery management specialist Randy Blankinship said.

Requiring weak hooks is a good step but not enough, said Catherine Kilduff, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. The center asked NMFS last May to declare bluefin endangered, saying the Gulf of Mexico oil spill had depleted their numbers. The agency must decide that question by May 24.

'That's where we're putting most of our energy,' Kilduff said.

It's important to get the hooks in use this spring because bluefin spawned in 2003 will soon be old enough to spawn, Blankinship said. He said data indicate this is the largest 'year's class' since 1974, and numbers born since have been quite low, so protecting these fish can help long-term rebuilding.

Fishermen who haven't already adopted the hooks - NOAA quoted Capt. Mike Carden of Panama City, who participated in its research, as saying he and several fishermen he knows already have done so - will have to change them all by May 5. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is offering vouchers to help pay for the new hooks, Blankinship said.

It's illegal to fish for bluefin tuna in the Gulf of Mexico, the only known spawning area for western Atlantic bluefin. But part of an internationally set U.S. quota is used to cover bluefin caught accidentally by commercial boats trying to catch other kinds of fish.

Kilduff said that should be made a hard quota that ends the longline commercial season once it's reached.

The new hooks are the size and shape required since 2004 to protect sea turtles, but made out of slightly narrower wire.

NOAA said yellowfin tuna caught in the Gulf average 86 pounds, while the accidentally caught bluefin average 485. But even bluefin the same size as fish the boats are targeting might be able to get free of the hooks, Blankinship said: 'It's not weight - it's how hard the fish is swimming and the power and force it exerts.'

Or, as Kilduff put it, 'Bluefin tuna are just machines. They're built for power and speed. So they say - though they haven't done a lot of research on weak hooks - that bluefin tuna have a burst of energy that might allow them to get off the weak hook.'

Bluefin begin spawning in the northern Gulf of Mexico in April - the month BP PLC's undersea well began spewing millions of gallons of oil last year - and continue through June. By that time last year, more than one-third of federal waters were closed to fishing because of oil. The only other place bluefin are believed to spawn is the Mediterranean Sea.

The European Space Agency and nonprofit Ocean Foundation, comparing bluefin spawning areas to satellite photographs of the spill, estimated in October that the spill killed one-fifth of the eggs and larvae.

The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups say bluefin had been headed for extinction long before the rig operated by BP PLC exploded on April 20, 2010, largely because of the premium sushi market. On Jan. 5, a 754-pound tuna sold for nearly $396,000 at an auction in Tokyo. But other researchers say the species is in good shape.

Bluefin is an important fishery in New England, where people blame European overfishing for any declines.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas cut bluefin quotas in November, but rejected proposals to suspend fishing for bluefin entirely.

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