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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Saturday, August 07, 2010: The ocean is quite small today despite the likely arrival of at least a small swell from TS Collin. Winds are also starting off very light, was less than drift-producing. …

Saturday, August 07, 2010:

The ocean is quite small today despite the likely arrival of at least a small swell from TS Collin. Winds are also starting off very light, was less than drift-producing. Obviously, things will turn up a bit throughout the day as we cycle from north to south but stay fairly light. Heat stays.

Fluking remains fast furious and, often, futile. I do like the way many anglers seem pretty contented when they get just a couple take-homes. I have to wonder how this massive nonstop fishing pressure is interpreted by management. I doubt very much anyone would pull the plug early on NJ fluking 20120. Tradition has it that overages are allowed but brought up in the following year’s quota. Remains to be seen but if management tabulates mortality rate as high as management likes to, there could be some wild poundage numbers come the end of this year’s fluke season. Still I can’t imagine 2011 not being a lot kinder to recreational fluke fishermen – though we know all too well the tricks that can be pulled when it’s time to divvy out poundages.

Here’s an email I got from Tom Fote, JCAA’s Legislative Chairman, it included the upcoming schedule (not included here):

“Here is the summary report for the (upcoming) August ASMFC meeting that the Commission just sent out. I will be writing comprehensive comments on this later. In the meantime, I have learned new definitions for words at this last meeting. A moratorium means maybe you're allowed a bycatch. A hundred pound bycatch limit means up to 1,000 pounds. Look forward to my comments. Look carefully at the weakfish vote. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island last year supported a moratorium on weakfish since that is what they heard at the their public hearings from their constitutions . Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and the NMFS all voted to raise the allowed bycatch for North Carolina to be up to a thousand pounds. If three of them voted the other way the motion would have failed and it would have stayed at a hundred pounds. Virginia and other states will probably coming to the next weakfish meeting asking for the same thing.”

Comment: Weakfishing is dying. I’m always inclined to at least partially blame shrimping, though things have been going down hill for weakies even when shrimping off the Carolinas all but came to a number of years back. I get all but gutted when I notice the exact correlation between the nursing of striped bass stocks and the collapse of weakfish. I could also point out we had locally amazing weakfishing not that many years back until we over nursed fluke stocks. Both stripers and fluke annihilate young (and even spike) weakfish. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also point out that, unlike bass and fluke, weakfish can’t tolerate huge nitrogen swings in spawn and nursery waters. Barnegat Bay is becoming nitrogen headquarters because of over-use of fertilizers. My guess is the weakie problem is a bit of everything. A moratorium won’t help a bit if I’m even partially right. Still catching them won’t help either.

Here’s a snippet from the ASMFC, regarding shrimp bycatch as related to croakers. I’m putting this in for discerning readers who see through the utterly conflicting comments within. Is it a problem or isn’t it? You tell me. Or is the ASMFC simply posturing to OK shrimping bycatch to go on while the famed and deadly “more research” is being done?

“Because of the high degree of uncertainty in the amount of shrimp trawl discards, the estimated values of stock size and

fishing mortality are not considered reliable. However, the estimated trends showing increasing biomass and decreasing fishing

mortality were very similar whether estimates of shrimp trawl discards were included in the model or not. A series of sensitivity runs conducted over a range of plausible values of shrimp trawl mortality all indicated that overfishing was not occurring, thus the Review Panel and the Management Board agreed that Atlantic croaker are not subject to overfishing. Estimates of SSB based on the same range were less stable; therefore a biomass determination could not be made. The Review Panel stressed the importance of developing valid estimates of shrimp trawl discards to improve the certainty of future stock assessment

results.”

News wires:

The horseshoe crab fishery - used for bait and medicinal products, has become controversial due to concerns that populations of migratory birds such as the the red knot are declining due to inability to forage on crab eggs.

In recent years compromises have been worked out in the Mid-Atlantic that allow the bait fishery to take place in restricted circumstances. The ASMFC has now extended this program through 2013.

The measures, called Addendum VI, include a delayed, male-only harvest in New Jersey and Delaware, prohibit the harvest and landing of male and female horseshoe crabs from January 1 through June 7 in the Delaware Bay, and restrict the annual harvest to 100,000 males per state from June 8 through December 31.

As with all Commission plans, states can implement more conservative management measures. In the case of New Jersey, it currently maintains a moratorium on the harvest and landing of horseshoe crab.

The Addendum also requires a delayed harvest in Maryland, prohibiting horseshoe crab harvest and landings from January 1 through June 7 and prohibits landing of horseshoe crabs in Virginia from waters outside the Bay from January 1 through June 7. No more than forty percent of Virginia's quota may be landed from ocean waters and those landings must be comprised of a minimum male to female ratio of 2:1. Like New Jersey, Maryland has also implemented more conservative measures in 2009 to include a minimum male to female ratio of 2:1.

'I am pleased with the action taken by the Board,' stated Tom O'Connell, Board Chair and Maryland DNR Fisheries Service Director. 'We chose to adopt provisions that are closely aligned with the optimal harvest package produced by the ARM models. The ARM Framework has the potential to be a valuable tool for the Board once it is further refined, funding is secured to support a biological survey to provide needed abundance estimates for the Delaware Bay horseshoe crab population, and a methodology is developed to allocate the sustainable harvest among the effected states (NJ, DE, MD, and VA). The Board also agreed today to pursue strategies to secure this needed funding.'

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[Nikkei Report] August 6, 2010

© Copyright 2010. Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc. All rights reserved.

TOKYO (Nikkei)--The bluefin tuna business in Japan, which rode an investment wave several years ago, is now facing strong headwinds. Shrinking smelt stocks prompted the government to impose a limit on catches starting next fiscal year.

Compared with the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, where a proposed export ban made headlines earlier this year, bluefin tuna fishing in the Pacific Ocean has had relatively smooth sailing. But the tide is turning.

Research conducted by Tottori Prefecture's fisheries testing facility gives a sign of the shift. Bluefin tuna born in the same year used to be caught for at least five years. But since 2004, that figure has dropped to three years, meaning that the fish caught recently are younger than in years past.

Last year, the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC) warned that if heavy fishing of immature and young tunas continues, marine resources will be further depleted: Fish 1 year old and younger now account for over 90% of the total population. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) has begun reducing catch quotas in response. The target of the restrictions is purse seine fishing, which uses giant nets to snare massive amounts of fish.

As the world's biggest tuna consumer, Japan promised to step up its conservation efforts and in May, the Fisheries Agency unveiled a plan to help restore bluefin tuna in the Pacific Ocean. The measures, which focus on midsize and large deep-sea purse seine fishing vessels, include assigning quotas to individual fishing boats and imposing temporary moratoriums.

Fishermen who use other methods welcome the move, but those who use purse seine nets have expressed serious concern about the new rules, seeing them as a matter of life and death.

'Management of fish catches requires thorough research on marine resources,' said an executive at Taiyo A&F Co., a unit of Maruha Nichiro Holdings Inc. (1334). Because of falling catches, the company has increased its bluefin tuna farming operations to about 1,000 tons annually.

Fish or cut bait

On July 22, the Fisheries Agency met with representatives from the purse seine fishing industry. Kyowa Fishery Co., a subsidiary of Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd. (1332), was the only company that supported setting quotas on fishing boats. Its parent kept silent on the matter, as it plans to make its purse seine vessels more fuel-efficient with help from the government.

Meanwhile, the fish farming business seems to have hit rough waters too. Dohsui Co., based in Hokkaido, halted its bluefin tuna farming operation in Suzu, Ishikawa Prefecture, this year. It had just started last year, but its smelt buying from purse seine fishermen operating in the Noto Peninsula did not go as planned. With a slow market recovery and dismal profit outlook, the firm decided to wait a year.

Once quotas are imposed, it will be difficult for fishing boats to catch young fish and artificial breeding may take off. For example, in Fukuejima in Nagasaki Prefecture, a midsize trading company is preparing to open a facility to raise smelt born on fish farms.

Companies are making large investments in the bluefin tuna business. Farmed fish totaled an estimated 4,500 tons in fiscal 2008 and production capacity is now pegged at 10,000 tons. However, due to the financial crisis in the fall of 2008, high-end fish sales became sluggish and many fish farms fell into the red. With competition heating up, some cash-strapped firms may be forced to pull out of the business.

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