Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday, December 08, 2014: Creating a flood scale for this winter. No Cat-Fives, please.

Monday, December 08, 2014: It continues. And once again I feel no pain at work as there’s nothing to do outside, as the day dishes out rain showers here on the Island and a layer of snow on the mainland, places like West Creek. 

The north winds are not all they were knocked up to be but the multiday northerly wind flow is going to provoke some serious baywater flooding onto the Boulevard, up to Category Two flooding, based on my way of rating flood zones.

MID-ISLAND FLOOD RATINGS: Category One flooding includes the filling of all the usual low spots; those roadway areas that see sewer backups at the drop of hat. Right lane driving is often iffy in the well-known flood-prone zones. Water recedes fairly quickly, with drain-off or tide drop.  It still makes for red barrels being placed by road departments.

Category Two further opens the floodgates onto easily-flooded sites. Things deepen. There is full right-lane ponding along much of southbound Central Avenue in Ship Bottom and in southern-most Surf City. Police sometimes place barrier to prevent turning onto Central at Wawa. Trucks can make it down Central fairly easily. Many cars can’t. North end of Barnegat Avenue in Surf City has significant flood water.

Category Three includes significant flooding on portions of Barnegat Avenue in Ship Bottom and Surf City. Northern part of Barnegat Avenue in Surf City is impassable and blocked off by PD. Central Avenue floods over in Ship Bottom (north to LBI Library), with right and left lane hookups of flood water; barely passable, even for trucks and such. PD always place barriers to prevent turning right onto Central at Wawa. The Boulevard from south Ship Bottom southbound has numerous right lane closures with those waters advancing into the left lanes. The northbound right lanes of the Boulevard (Beach Haven to Ship Bottom) show significant flooding at low spots.

Category Four means big mid-Island problems. Both Central and Barnegat avenues, through Ship Bottom and as far north at the LBI Library in Surf City, become heavily flooded, with nearly all of Central is fully impassable, even for trucks and raised vehicles.

Areas of the Boulevard become close to impassable, with east- and west-side road flooding hooking up in the turning lane. This is the first of the critically serious flooding categories since emergency vehicles from Surf City southward must contend with greatly increased response times and flooding delays. This is often the sneakiest of flood categories since it can essentially creep in under forecasted Category Three flooding. What was forecast to be stayable flooding suddenly turns critical, especially when enhanced by tidal flooding. The December Flood of 1992 was just such a surprise Cat-Four flood. It was forecasted to barely reach Cat-Three status.

Category Five invokes full-blown evacuation conditions. However, getting on and off the Island is neigh impossible, primarily due to deep road flooding, including Eight and Ninth streets (Causeway), between Barnegat and Central Avenues in Ship Bottom . The Boulevard is pretty much impassible from Surf City all the way to Holgate. While the Ocean Road near the ocean in LBT remains passable, the water is far too deep to transit when the Ocean Road ends at 31st Street in Ship Bottom and motorist are forced to turn back toward the Boulevard. Note: I don’t like using the exact name of Ocean Road, which is technically Ocean Boulevard, for obvious confusion reasons.

Is there even a higher flood category? Absolutely. But, it needs no focal points. It’s off the charts. While Sandy was close to going off the charts, it remained a Category Five flood. It’s foolhardy to think she can’t be beaten.  

I offer this to personal flood-rating system (which I might tweak) primarily to folks who will be looking in here over the winter, wanting to get a read on spooky weather events. I purposely didn’t go specific regarding far north (Barnegat Light) or south (Beach Haven). My rationale is simple: Mid-Island is the escape point, so to speak. If trying to get off the Island – or even back on – you gotta know what’s awaiting in Ship bottom and surrounding flood zones. Beach Haven itself surely has its own multi-tiered flood categories. Having lived there for years, I saw the wide array of flooding degrees it goes through.  

Evacuation note: As a very general rule – and not one to live by – it is usually significantly easier getting off the Island from the north end than the south end – until we get into Cat Four and higher in Ship Bottom. Flood escape rides on the shoulders of Ship Bottom.

As noted above, there are times when every inch of the Boulevard from Beach Haven to Ship Bottom is under water with just a Category-Four flood. Even at Category Three, escape efforts can stall out for folks in low-riding cars.  

I refuse to try and forecast flooding but I’ll be on-scene to rate what’s what, water-wise, when we get hit this winter.


Contract awarded for beach-fix. 



Leslee Ganss, today


Below: This is so astounding ... and utterly important for our fishing. 

Huge bycatch reductions achieved in Oregon shrimp trawls with radical use of lights

SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker Dec 8, 2014

The Oregon shrimp industry has found a way to reduce bycatch of eulachon by 90% using lights commonly used in the swordfish fishery.   The breakthrough in by-catch reduction using lights on the trawl may have implications for other shrimp fisheries with by-catch issues, especially in Norway and the Gulf of Mexico.
Eulachon (also known as smelt, hooligan, or candlefish) was listed as  “threatened” in 2010 under the Endangered Species Act.

In recent years Oregon shrimpers have noticed a big increase in their incidental catches of eulachon. Eulachon, like sardines and anchovies, are cyclically abundant as ocean conditions vary over time.

Shrimp trawls already had a bycatch reduction device (BRD) that was a vertically barred grate that led larger fish up and out an escape panel if they were caught in the trawl. 
Bob Hannah, Oregon state biologist working out of Newport, describes the department’s initial thinking about using that BRD to guide eulachon to the escape panel.
“Our first hypothesis was that if we added some light in the area of the rigid grate BRD, more eulachon and other residual bycatch fishes would get excluded out of the net. Better avoidance of the grate because they could see it more clearly. We tried this and the opposite happened: bycatch of eulachon doubled!”
Apparently, adding the light caused the eulachon to more readily swim through the ¾-inch space between the vertical bars and be caught. 
“So, we stopped testing that and moved 10 of the lights to the fishing line of one of the nets,” Hannah explains.  Another Oregon fishermen put it more colorfully.  "They had 10 days on the charter and after two days the bycatch increase was a disaster.  So just for the hell of it, they decided to try and move the lights around."
They put the lights on the fishing line, which is the rope that the bottom of the netting is connected to at the front of the net. In the Newport Mud Trawl used in the Oregon shrimp fishery, it generally runs about 15-24 inches above the seafloor. 
The results were surprising and immediate. 

Photo: Nick Edwards holds a swordfish light of the type used to reduce bycatch in the Oregon Shrimp Industry.  The light works on a pressure switch, and activates at a depth of 20 feet or so. 
“Adding the lights to the fishing line reduced the residual bycatch of eulachon by 90%!” Hannah wrote in an email to SeafoodNews. 
“It reduced the residual bycatch of slender sole and juvenile rockfish by 70% as an added bonus. It was quite consistent and frankly, astonishing,” said Hannah. “Pretty much the most amazing result of field research I have experienced in my 30-plus years as a fisheries biologist.”
ODF&W’s research was presented by Nick Edwards, a shrimp fisherman who works closely with fisheries managers and policy makers, at the International Coldwater Prawn Forum in Paris last month. 
“I showed these lights to the harvester's meeting at the ICWPF in Paris over a week ago,” Edwards said. “Royal Greenland representatives, fisherman from Newfoundland and biologists from Norway are all very interested in trying these to eliminate bycatch. 
“Most every fishery in the world has an issue with bycatch,” Edwards wrote in an email recently. “A simple fix to a never ending problem, there is light at the end of the tunnel after all.”
The lights used to guide eulachon out of the shrimp net are called Lindgren-Pitman Electralume LEDs and are used mostly to attract swordfish. Hannah first heard of it when he called a colleague at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, who asked if he’d tried the Lindgren-Pitman lights. 
The trials using the lights took place in late July 2014. On August 11, Hannah and Steve Jones, ODFW biologist, issued a special newsletter for the shrimp fleet titled “Big Breakthrough for Eulachon Smelt Reduction!” explaining how the lights worked and where to buy them.
In a recent state survey of the fleet, Hannah found that “between about August 1 and the end of this season (Oct 31), virtually the entire Oregon shrimp fleet started using LED lights on their fishing lines to reduce bycatch,” Hannah said. “Possibly the fastest adoption of bycatch reduction technology in the history of fishing.”
In addition to Hannah and Jones, Mark Lomeli of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission was a principal investigator on the project. Funding for the program was NOAA's Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.
The lights appear to work by getting the euchalon and other fish to dive between the foot rope and the groundline.  So obviously the height of the net off the seafloor, as well as fish behavior, may impact the success of this technique in other shrimp fisheries
Parker Boats's photo.
Parker Boats's photo.
Parker Boats's photo.

Mexico's Vaquita porpoises heading for extinction without major action by shrimpers, seabass fishers

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Washington Post] - December 8, 2014 - 

Little is known about the shy vaquita porpoises that spend long periods feeding under muddy coastal waters off Mexico, but this much is certain: They are the world's smallest porpoise - cute as a button - and they could soon disappear forever if they keep turning up dead in fishing nets.

The latest stock assessment by a panel of international scientists showed that there are fewer than 100 left and that they are declining at a rate of nearly 20 percent a year. U.S. officials have pressed Mexico to close their habitat in the upper Gulf of California to all fishing, and they expressed exasperation recently when the Mexican government did not announce stricter regulations as expected.

If vaquitas vanish, they would be the first known cetacea in North America to do so and the first in the world since the Chinese river dolphin was declared extinct in 2006.

Dolphins differ from porpoises in their noses, namely that blunt-faced porpoises do not have much of a snout. But the vaquita overcomes that shortcoming with a starlet's beauty. "It's got the goth look going on, the black lipstick and heavy mascara around the eyes," said Barbara Taylor, a conservation biologist for the Southwest Fisheries Science Center, run by the U.S. Commerce Department in San Diego.

Timid and elusive, vaquitas - Spanish for "little cows" - are four to five feet long and weigh up to about 120 pounds. They get caught in the gill nets of Mexican fishermen casting for large blue shrimp, a delicacy American restaurant-goers crave.

They also drown in the nets of poachers in pursuit of the endangered totoaba, a large sea bass prized for its bladder, which is cherished by the Chinese as an alternative medicine. A pair of totoaba bladders can fetch $8,500 in China, officials with the National Marine Fisheries Service said. In recent weeks, 385 bladders were confiscated in Mexico City.

To rescue vaquitas, international scientists are hoping for a collaboration between the United States, where the shrimp is consumed; China, where the bladders are boiled into a soup; and Mexico, where fishermen are trying to feed families.

Mexico passed laws that would gradually replace mesh gill nets that snare the animals with a baglike trawl made of lightweight material, but U.S. officials said that the three-year transition could be fatal for an animal predicted to disappear altogether in four years.

"Saving the vaquita is a priority for the Mexican government," Mario Aguilar, head of Mexico's National Commission of Aquaculture and Fishing, told U-T San Diego in August.

Aguilar said then that the government had recently received a report from an international panel that estimated the vaquita population at 95 and listed its prospects as dire.

Taylor and scientists at the federal Marine Mammal Commission said paying fishermen to stop using gill nets is one option, and Aguilar said Mexico was exploring the idea of buying trawls that cost between $1,000 and $5,000.

"We've got to recognize that this is an issue that is going to require some resources," Aguilar told U-T. "Don't forget that there are 30,000 families that are going to have to find a different way of life."

U.S. officials expected an announcement that never came in late November, and they say they are desperate to find a solution before it's too late.

"Lack of enforcement of existing [Mexican] laws is a very serious issue," Taylor said. "The type of net used to catch totoaba is illegal. Boats out there don't have permits. The fishermen themselves are vocal about the need for enforcement. Not only have we not seen any approvement, things have gotten worse - significantly worse."

"Of course there's this reality of losing an animal forever," said Frances Gulland, a commissioner of the Marine Mammal Commission. "It's not a sea cucumber. It's a charismatic, cute animal that anyone who sees it can identify with."

Solutions such as closing parts of the gulf or eliminating gill nets do "impact fishermen in the area and the community," Gulland said, but they should not be so hard to implement. "We have this ability to be creative and go to the moon, but we can't solve this difficult problem."

The upper Gulf of California near the Colorado River delta is the endangered vaquita's only habitat. There's a theory of how it got there: The vaquita's closest relative is the Burmeister's porpoise, thousands of miles south in Peru. A group of Burmeister's porpoises might have swum to the gulf thousands of years ago and were somehow isolated and could not return. Stranded along two muddy coasts, they used echolocation to fish for squid, octopuses, crustaceans and croaker.

Scientists did not know the vaquita porpoise existed until a few skulls were discovered in the early 1950s. About 25 years later, they were classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said Randall Reeves, who chairs the scientific advisers committee for the Marine Mammal Commission.

In 1985, they were placed on the U.S. Endangered Species List. Five years later, they were entered on the international union's red list of endangered animals, and a year later, the species was bumped up to a critically endangered declaration.

The plight of vaquitas mirrors that of the totoaba. In a frenzy of fishing in 1942, Mexicans caught more than 2,000 tons of the fish, also probably pulling up drowned vaquitas in nets that lingered in the water.

When the totoaba fishery produced only 59 tons in 1975, strict regulations were put in place. Two years later, vaquitas were listed as threatened. A quick recovery for the remaining 100 is not likely, biologists say. They mature at 3 to 6 years of age, and females give birth to a single calf every other year.

To grasp "how big a shocker" their extinction would be, Taylor said, think about the vast slaughter of whales in the 19th and 20th centuries. "Despite all that effort, humans didn't drive any of them to extinction. Most of those species are recovering.

"But the ones really in danger are these small dolphins and porpoises that live only where humans live. And if we don't solve this, we're going to lose species after species."

Views: 735

Comment by Dave Nederostek on December 8, 2014 at 10:21pm

Two, to perhaps three feet over the average bulkhead in BH West in 2012. My in-laws have a cottage over there. Since '63. Abandoned now.Never breached the bulkhead. Came damm close though in '92 I was told. Perhaps it did. Someone else should know. Sandy will not be beaten, 3 days of pileup back there, how are you going to top that ? In 1992 the highway was close to being inundated. I was on it at the last light.


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