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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday, February 28, 2011: Pretty junky out there, especially after yesterday’s ultras-fineness. It seems we’re well out of harm’s way when it comes to frozen materials from above. Still, the winds o…

Monday, February 28, 2011: Pretty junky out there, especially after yesterday’s ultras-fineness. It seems we’re well out of harm’s way when it comes to frozen materials from above. Still, the winds of winter are going to continue popping up for the coming week.

 

FREE REGISTRY RULES: I know this is politically heavy banter but please give it a read through -- since it’s easily the largest fishing issue of the year.

 

Firstly, I am still fairly astounded that the state has assumed the costs of implementing the federally-mandated angler registry. I embrace it with both arms – while looking away thinking, “Let‘s just hope this lasts.”

It’s uncertain how much the registry will actually cost NJ – if anything.

 

The organization behind the free-state effort, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, is rallying to cleverly/insightfully pay for the registry by using funding the state will get for having just such a registry in place. (Think that through real fast and it comes clear.)

I’ve heard – from RA’s Jim Hutchison, Jr., -- that it’s a fully allowable move to cycle back federal funds to the state’s advantage. Some federal folks told me it’s not even remotely kosher. I side with RFA.

The whole intent of the registry is to count and question anglers. Hell’s bells, we’ll soon be doing just that. Advantageously, anglers won’t have to pay to play in NJ. (Read that through moderately fast to here the poetrics.)

So, who cares if the money to cover the state’s costs comes from anglers or, instead, federal funding sources that first require participation in the registry? (That one you wanna read through slowly. Take notes along the way.) 

Not to worry, the feds won’t figure this move out.

Just kidding, D.C.! That’s all I need is an IRS audit demanding I explain how I deducted a $5,000 split bamboo fly road as a traveling expense. Hey, it came from Europe. There had to be some sort of traveling thrown in there, somewhere.

Anyway, in the wake of RFA’s registry razzle-dazzle, New York is making overtures to match the successful effort of NJ to fish free and prosper – proper from the million$ added to the state’s revenues via anglers.

Here’s a blurb from an RFA release: “New York State Sen. Lee M. Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced plans to repeal the state's controversial saltwater fishing license fee. Newsday’ reported Sunday that Zeldin's speech at the Suffolk County Boat and Sport Fishing Show this past weekend highlighted the senator's plan to replace the tax with a free online registration compliant with federal regulations. …”

That’s is HUGE to me. I’ll go party-pooper here by saying one of the things I don’t like about Jersey’s freedom to saltwater fish is the way it could attract tons of out-of-state folks. I worry most about the Empire State and its many very mobile fluke-fishing aficionados – more than willing to trailer a boat to the Garden State, to tap the resource at no cost. Obviously, that’ll empty our newly enhanced fluke bag limit in a New York minute. Of course, New Yorkers would be able to fish here free if they have their NY license. However, more than a few NY’ers will say, “Screw this state. I’m going to do all my angling in free NJ.” Yes, the NJ shops will love it.

Importantly (!), overages will now be fully seen under a registry system. Gone are the days of going over allotted poundage without having to pay the following year. 

I’m actually way more understanding of Pennsylvania angler coming here to fish freely. We have a really good long-standing relationship with those fishing folks, who not only travel a costly distance to get here but buy heavily during their angling stays. 

 

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Biologist says it's time to find out if grey seals are a major factor in holding down groundfish

SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Cape Breton Post] By Nancy King - February 28, 2011 - SYDNEY, A Cape Breton biologist says it's time for a large-scale experimental harvest of grey seals to determine whether they are playing a role in preventing the recovery of groundfish stocks.

 

Bruce Hatcher, chair in marine ecosystem research with Cape Breton University's Bras d'Or Institute, said the grey seal population, which has been reported to be upwards of 300,000, is as high as it's been in recorded history.

 

He said this season's quota of 1,900 animals for the Hay Island seal hunt was 'a small fraction' of what would be an ecologically sustainable harvest.

 

DFO sealing spokesperson Andrew Newbould said sealer Robert Courtney reported that about 100 of the mammals were harvested when sealers took to the island Thursday.

 

'At a recent meeting of more than 60 scientists, it was considered that on the order of 70,000 grey seals could be removed in the southern Gulf as part of an experiment to determine whether, as the evidence suggests, that grey seal predation has prevented the recovery of groundfish stocks in the region,' Hatcher said.

 

Hatcher said there is agreement among scientists that it's time to undertake a definitive experiment to determine whether seals preying on groundfish has been a significant factor in preventing their recovery since fisheries were reduced or closed almost 20 years ago.

 

'We're talking not just about the removal of pups but adult animals, which weigh hundreds of kilograms, so it would be a very substantial amount of biomass that would be removed,' he said.

 

The relatively small number of seals taken this season doesn't reflect on the health of the species, Newbould said, noting it's the sealers who decide how many to harvest. Weather also prevented sealers from making their way to Hay Island until late in the season.

 

'The seals mature and start heading back to water, so all indications are from a population level, that grey seals are doing very well,' Newbould said.

 

Recent information within the department indicates the grey seal population could be approaching 350,000, he said.

 

The quota is reviewed every year and the number of seals harvested in the previous season is one of the factors taken into consideration, Newbould said.

 

'We're talking not just about the removal of pups but adult animals, which weigh hundreds of kilograms, so it would be a very substantial amount of biomass that would be removed.' - Bruce Hatcher

 

Hatcher said he was sorry to hear so few seals were harvested. It was an important year for the Hay Island hunt after it didn't go ahead in 2010, which he called a low in the attempt to rejuvenate Cape Breton's sealing industry.

 

Fisheries Minister Gail Shea recently visited China to discuss opening that market to seal products. Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are also continuing to invest in new products and markets, Hatcher noted. Products could not just include pelts and meat, but would also involve making use of bones, blubber, oil and heart valves.

 

'All of those things and probably some other things that we have to speak to aboriginal people who hunted these animals for many generations to advise us about what can you do with seals that shows respect for the animal and makes as full use as is possible of all of the parts of the animal when you go and hunt them,' Hatcher said.

 

If the industry is going to develop, it needs to move away from a single targeted hunt, he said.

 

Newbould said grey seals tend to return to the same rookery, or breeding colony, where they were born or gave birth previously, although there have been situations where the entire rookery has moved elsewhere.

 

Hatcher said seals are highly adaptable to changes in their environment and there's evidence in variability in behaviour from seal to seal. If seals were to come find Hay Island an in hospitable place to be because of the hunt they could move elsewhere. He noted they are able to thrive in what can often be challenging conditions.

 

'Imagine the kind of animal you have to be to not only survive that but be wildly successful, to have had your population go from 30,000 to 300,000 animals in a few tens of years,' he said.

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