Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Friday, December 31, 2010:
Well, it’s almost time for that stupid apple to fall in NYC. For me, the sound of shotguns air-blasting and contraband ashcans (large
firecrackers) rattling the clouds above the Pines is how to best usher in the
New Year. There were years an M16 or two joined the blasting tradition, still
carried on by a few gun clubs tucked deep in the Outback.
My most vivid year-end memories went way back. My grandma – and a bevy of other grandmas in her close-knit ethnically sundry neighborhood –
used to make New Year noise in their own domesticated manner. They would go out
onto their front yards, wielding large clambake-sized pots and metal ladles. At
midnight, they commenced to banging
those pots to beat the band. What a bizarre racket, as the kitchen implements
rang out – soon accompanied by men hootin’ and hollerin’ from all corners of
New Year’s was the only night of the year we younguns could stay up past 10. Not that any of us came even close to making it to midnight. Hell, I ended up falling asleep even
earlier than I usually did – the pressure of staying up quickly catching up to
Not that I ever missed the hoopla. I was dutifully awakened by my parents, right as the cacophony began. Personally, in the thick cotton warmth
of my bed, I had fully lost any and all interest in a frigid New Year midnight celebration,
but my folks and relatives, with that odd smell on their breaths, all but
dragged me out – depositing me on the front stoop, shivering in my flannel
cowboy jammies, feigning amusement over the clangin’, hootin’, and hollerin’. I
wasn’t sure just how freaky things could get if I refused to fully celebrate
this odd non-church occasion.
“Jay, My wife and I got a real kick from reading your raccoon story. We had an almost identical thing happen to us last winter. We also
had a huge mama coon and a younger one come through our pet door. It happened
shortly after I built a special insulated entryway for our two cats. It was in
the wall beside the backdoor.
The difference in our case was the raccoons were coming in to eat from the bowls of cat food we left near the refrigerator. My wife first found
the two coons eating early in the morning . Our two cats were lying by not
giving the invasion a thought. My wife’s scream sent the coons fleeing outside
but the next week they were back and without the scream they were slower to
When I first saw the mama coon I was stunned. I’ve been a city boy my whole life and didn’t know they got that big. It was a little spooky.
My wife was the one who coaxed them on by placing extra bowls of food out. We never saw the coons and cats eating side by side but it was a distinct possibility.
Eventually it was just the smaller coon who was coming to eat. I think something bad might have happened to the mama. I drove around the
area looking for her in the road. No sign of that. I really didn’t want to find
Unfortunately, the littler coon who was getting bigger by the day got to be too pesky and all our friends warned about rabies so we had him humanely trapped.
My wife was so vehement about it being humanely released she made the exterminator write out a note that he was taking it to a safe place to
be released alive. He even offered to let her come with him to release it but
she felt he was being honest. The exterminator said he had never trapped a
raccoon that was so calm in the cage.
For weeks afterwards my wife kept wondering if we should have kept him. I’ll even come in and find her on youtube watching videos of people
who keep coons. I’m a little worried that another one might show up. It’s when
she names him I’ll get worried.
Keep up the great winter blogs. I need them. McC.”
(I’ll hook you up with a pal who has a raccoon as a pet in Florida. I’m pretty sure it is illegal to keep a wild-caught raccoon in Jersey. Fish and game would know. J-mann)
The following commercial fishing owing news story out of Argentina could have huge worldwide impacts on the industry. The use of tamper-proof
monitoring cameras aboard commercial fishing vessels? Odds are it will become a
norm in coming years – worldwide. Fishermen hate it but it’s not that much
different than the current “Big Brother” aspect of having onboard human
A video monitoring system will begin operating Jan. 1 on fishing vessels in the South Atlantic in a bid to halt
the collapse of the Argentine hake population in one of the world's largest
fisheries supplying the white fish market.
'Argentina is the first country to implement this measure and make it compulsory. Those
who do not comply will face sanctions,' Norberto Yauhar, deputy secretary of
fishing and agriculture, told IPS.
The cameras are tamper-proof, much like the black boxes on aircraft, and will provide information considered crucial for halting the
decline of the hake: whether or not the boats use selective fishing techniques
that let young fish escape, the size of the fish caught, and how much fish is
discarded at sea.
The device includes a location system that shows if the fishing vessel enters a zone where Argentine hake (Merluccius hubbsi) fishing is banned, an area of 180,000 square kilometres.
Approximately 40 larger boats will be part of the pilot test that is to begin in the New Year. After 90 days, the system will be extended to the rest of the fleet. Only artisanal fishing boats are exempt.
Not surprisingly, fishing companies oppose the policy. But groups promoting sustainable fishing are also cautious about the measure,
because in some cases they doubt that it is truly part of a broad strategy to
halt over- exploitation of marine resources.
Some entities, like the non-governmental Argentine Wildlife Foundation, have been warning for the past two years that fishing profits could
plummet if the fish populations continued to shrink -- a situation resulting
from overfishing and lack of regulations.
The Foundation reported that hake -- Argentina's leading fish export -- had seen its population fall 80 percent in the last two decades, and that fishing companies had turned to catching younger hake.
In mid-2010, more than 60 percent of the hake catch was juvenile fish, a trend that will hurt the reproduction of the species if allowed to continue, according to the Wildlife Foundation.
In response to these criticisms, the Undersecretariat of Fishing adopted new monitoring measures, including the requirement to use
selective fishing techniques that allow juvenile fish to escape. But not all of
the fishing companies agreed to them.
Given this panorama, the latest requirement -- to allow cameras on board -- could improve controls and lead to fines for violations.
The owners of the vessels will be responsible for ensuring that the cameras are
operating, and if recording is interrupted they must return to port.
But the camera requirement is not enough for the environmental organisations that are fighting for sustainable fishing -- and
for more fish processing in Argentina
as a means to create jobs. As it stands, 90 percent of the Argentine hake is exported,
and most of it is shipped without processing.
'Obviously it will be an advance as a regulatory mechanism,' Guillermo Cañete, coordinator of the Wildlife Foundation's marine programme,
told IPS, referring to the cameras. 'But then something has to be done with the
recorded images,' he said.
According to deputy secretary Yauhar, monitoring the videos will not be too complicated because only the key moments will be reviewed, such
as when the nets are brought in, determining which species have been caught and
their size, and what is discarded.
But Cañete is not convinced. 'The problem is not this tool. We can have the best camera system, but if there is no comprehensive
sustainable fishing policy, what the cameras are going to document is how we achieve
the collapse of the fisheries.'
His scepticism is based on the maximum allowed catch for this year, just less than for 2009, despite the warning bells. The upper limit, set at 300,000 tonnes for 2009, is 290,000 tonnes for 2010.
According to Yauhar, this year 230,000 tonnes were caught, which is less than the maximum. The decline, he said, is due to the quota
system, in which a maximum catch is established, and distributed among the
fishing fleet -- and not everyone fishes to their limit. …