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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Sunday feb. 7, 10 -- Snow aftermath ; news stories

Sunday, February 07, 2010:

Aftermath: That was one helluva snow, all things considered. I did some driving about this a.m. and though there was no flooding problems and only the expected beach erosion, I give the storm a solid 20 to even 22-inch rating.

As for driving LBI today, the Boulevard is totally snow covered, virtually no road surface showing. It’s all packed down hard-like but large melt patches are breaking up under the bright sun. Those stretches get chunks of slosh flying all around the place, when driven over. Oddly, the LBI side streets are way better off, most of them showing mainly macadam.

I saw a lot of 4WD vehicles hitting regular non-snow speeds on the Boulevard but I still don’t think most of them realize the limitations of even 4WD in an emergency icy stop situation.

I can assure there is going to be one brutal refreeze after dark today. PLEASE (!!!!!) be very aware of that as you head home from Super Bowl parties, possibly a bit spirited.

In the news:

February 3, 2010 - KEY WEST, Fla., Two South Florida men have been sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to illegally harvesting lobsters off the Florida Keys.

John Buckheim and Nick Demauro were sentenced Monday in federal court, where the men apologized to the judge, their friends, family and wildlife officers.

Prosecutors say Buckheim and Demauro harvested lobsters by diving on illegal artificial habitats. Records state the men sold the lobsters to a seafood company for a total of $45,974.

Both men pleaded guilty in October as part of an agreement in which prosecutors dropped additional charges.

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Feb 5, 2010 - The spiny dogfish population represents one of the largest spawning stock biomass groups on the East Coast. Yet it is being proposed for appendix II CITES listing based on declines in other parts of the world, particularly in Europe.

In the U.S., the The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Spiny Dogfish committee approved a 15 million pound quota with a maximum possession limit of 3,000 pounds for the 2010/2011 fishing year (May 1 Ð April 30). Under Addendum II, the quota will be allocated with 58 percent to states from Maine through Connecticut, 26 percent to New York through Virginia, and 16 percent to North Carolina.

The 2009 Northeast Fisheries Science Center assessment update indicates that the spiny dogfish are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring. The 2009 spawning stock biomass is estimated to be 360 million pounds, which is 2.7 percent below the target biomass of 370 million pounds and well above the threshold of 184 million pounds. Total removals in 2008 were approximately 23.9 million pounds corresponding to an F estimate of 0.117, well below the overfishing threshold of F = 0.39 and essentially equivalent to Frebuild = 0.11. Among the sources of removals, U.S. commercial landings comprised 9.1 million pounds, Canadian commercial landings were 3.5 million pounds, and total (US and Canadian) dead discards were 10.9 million pounds, of which recreational dead discards were 228,000 pounds.

While the stock is considered rebuilt, the assessment update contains a number of caveats. These caveats include a size frequency of the female population that is concentrated between 75 and 95 cm with very few fish above 100 cm or below 70 cm; low numbers of juvenile male and female dogfish that imply that the population will fluctuate over time decreasing around 2017; a continued skewed sex ratio; and the use of assumptions about pup survivorship and selectivity of gear. After reviewing the assessment update, the Technical Committee recommended that the Board take a precautionary approach and set a quota based on Frebuild of 0.11 = 10.7 million pounds.

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New York Times] by CHRISTINE MUHLKE - Feb 5, 2010

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company. All Rights Reserved.

Grouper has been a fixture of South Carolina eating for what seems like centuries, but right now it's harder to source than Iranian caviar.

When I had the locally caught grouper at McCrady's in Charleston in December, I knew that it was relatively rare: much of the ''local'' fish served in the port city is frozen or trucked in from the Gulf of Mexico, even Mexico. But I didn't know I'd be eating one of the last groupers to be caught in Southeastern waters for some time.

As of Jan. 1, commercial and recreational fishing for most species of shallow-water grouper, as well as black sea bass, red porgy and red snapper, is closed in North Carolina, South Carolina, eastern Florida and Georgia for four to six months, after which strict catch limits will be imposed. According to the government, these species are in danger of disappearing entirely.

If this means that chefs like Sean Brock at McCrady's and those at other Charleston restaurants who make a point of serving local seafood have to get even more creative as they steer snapper-loving diners out of their comfort zone, it also means that one of their purveyors, Mark Marhefka of Abundant Seafood, has to get more creative still to keep his small company afloat. As the 30-year veteran of the sea will tell you, he is caught in the perfect storm of nature, business and government.

''This whole next couple years is gonna be weird,'' Marhefka said between bites of triggerfish. His dish was notable, and not just because he caught it. Until recently, such ''trash fish'' wouldn't be served at fine restaurants. But Marhefka has introduced chefs to more sustainable species.

For now. ''If I don't make Abundant Seafood work, I won't be able to survive being a commercial fisherman anymore,'' Marhefka said.

The second-generation fisherman has toiled in all aspects of the business. For the last two decades, he has also been active in fishery management, working with scientists and leading advisory panels to protect the populations that provide his livelihood. In 2007, Marhefka realized that he and the fish were in the same sinking boat. How do you make more money from fewer fish? Make people value it. Abundant Seafood was born.

''What was missing in Charleston restaurants was in the fish neck of the woods,'' said Marhefka, a solid, ruddy man with a D.J.'s baritone. ''Everybody else might go and deal with the chicken leg from Keegan-Filion Farm or Caw Caw Creek pork,'' he said, mentioning favored local meat purveyors. But ask your waiter if the fish was caught by a Charleston fisherman and ''see what kind of deer-in-the-headlights look they get,'' Marhefka said. Even if it is caught locally, he added, it's often trucked to a warehouse across state lines -- sometimes as far as New York -- before it's delivered a few miles from where it first docked. The local fisherman unloading the day's catch is largely a myth. Or it would be if Marhefka hadn't adapted his ways.

Now Marhefka is his own distributor. The South Carolina Aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Initiative connected him with chefs from restaurants like the Boathouse, Carolina's, Red Drum and Fish, which are sometimes willing to pay 25 to 55 cents more per pound for his pole-caught fish. He gets their orders while still at sea and delivers in his scale-strewn pickup truck as early as the next morning. (He also buys some species from select boats.)

Closing the loop tighter, last month Abundant Seafood started a community-sponsored fishery. Home cooks pay a share to receive 2 to 10 pounds of fish a month, and the company receives full retail price. Marhefka said he would use the direct relationship to teach the 60-plus members about the future of fish and its true value. ''It's their resource, not mine,'' he said.

''He's really been a pioneer among local fishermen in terms of his willingness to embrace sustainability,'' says Kevin Mills, the president and chief executive of the South Carolina Aquarium. ''He gets it. He knows it's not only good for the environment, it's good for business.''

''This isn't a get-rich-quick scheme,'' said Marhefka, who now sends out a junior captain for every other trip so he can work on marketing and sales. ''It was a stay-at-home-and-see-the-children scheme,'' his wife, Kerry O'Malley Marhefka, quipped. The couple met when she was a fisheries biologist for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. ''It got to the point where it was a sleeping-with-the-enemy kind of thing,'' he said with a chuckle. ''Eventually it was too much for her to understand everything that's going on behind the scenes and then come home and see how it tears me apart.''

He has been steadily disheartened by the decisions of fishery management, even though he agrees that the fish need to be saved -- and the only way to do that is to stop fishing. ''I want this to last just like anybody else does,'' he said. ''But does it have to be draconian to the point of decimating our industry?'' He says that some of the closures are based on poor scientific data. ''Even fishery managers will tell you that,'' he said.

Reached by phone eight days after the fishery closure, Marhefka was figuring out what to do with 1,200 pounds of vermilion snapper -- one of the few permitted fish besides triggerfish, king mackerel and amberjack. Triggerfish is the easiest sell to restaurants, which prefer larger fish that are easier to clean and require less skill to cook.

Educating chefs about the new reality is crucial. ''I don't think anybody has quite understood what the implications of this are going to be like,'' he said. ''What we do will affect the local community.'' Most clients are onboard. ''Basically if Mark brings it in the door, we'll cook it,'' Sean Brock said. ''It's the trust thing.''

Although his business could disappear ''with the swipe of a pen,'' Marhefka is prepared to weather the unpredictable challenges. ''I've done things in the ocean that people would pay good money to do,'' he said. ''I feel like I've lived my retirement prior to, and now it's time for me to go to work.''

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February 4, 2010 - BRAMPTON, ON, The fresh seafood counters at select Loblaw Companies Limited (Loblaw) stores look a little different today as the company takes steps to meet its goal to source all fish and seafood sold in its stores from sustainable sources by the end of 2013.

Starting today, at select corporate stores across the country, customers will notice empty trays at the seafood counter, where fish the Company has identified as 'at risk' were once displayed. The goal is to create a visual message to help educate customers about sustainable seafood choices.

Once a viable sustainable product can be found the trays will be filled.

'As Canada's largest buyer and seller of seafood, Loblaw has taken a hard look at the challenges facing the world's oceans and what it means to us,' said Paul Uys, Vice-President, Fresh Foods, Loblaw Companies Limited. 'We believe it's critical that Canadians understand this important issue, and the changes at our fresh seafood counters are among the first steps we have taken to educate customers as to why Loblaw is committed to sourcing all seafood sold in our stores from sustainable sources.'

Loblaw is working with partners such as WWF-Canada and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as well as marine scientists, conservation experts and fisheries to meet its commitment.

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[The Canadian Press] Feb 4, 2010 -

(c) 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

HALIFAX _ The federal Fisheries Department is poised to open a grey seal hunt on Nova Scotia's Hay Island, a protected wilderness area that has become a battleground for sealers and anti-hunt activists.

Andrew Newbould, an adviser for the department, said Monday the start of the hunt could begin early next week.

Newbould expected the quota to be 2,220 seals in the eastern Nova Scotia region, which includes Hay Island, 7,927 in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, and 39,803 on Sable Island where sealers have not yet conducted a hunt.

Thirty-six sealers have expressed interest in a licence from the Fisheries Department, but they'd also need one from the Nova Scotia government to conduct a seal hunt in a wilderness area.

Hay Island is a rocky island that is part of the Scaterie Island wilderness area off Cape Breton.

Robert Courtney, president of the North of Smokey Fishermen's Association, said sealers hope to have a Hay Island hunt this year but first have to confirm there are buyers for the pelts.

Courtney said the sealers are looking at several possible buyers in Canada and other countries, including last year's buyer, NuTan Furs, a Corner Brook, N.L., processing company.

``If we can get the market, the animals are there,'' he said Monday.

Facing depressed markets last year, sealers only killed 256 seals overall, including 200 from Hay Island, from an overall quota of 50,000, said Courtney.

``Nobody was buying fur,'' he said. ``There was a lot of fur out there that wasn't moving but things have started to pick up a bit this year, so hopefully that will trickle back down to us.''

European Union countries gave final approval in July to ban imports of seal products in an effort to force Canada to end its annual seal hunt, although regulations enacting the ban are not expected to be in place for several months.

Last month, federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea and several Canadian sealing companies were in Beijing, China, trying to drum up new markets for pelts, seal oils and seal organs for medical uses.

Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society International said Monday the group will be on Hay Island to document any hunt.

``We are in daily contact with the DFO and we have advised all parties that we fully expected to be alerted to when the seal hunt does begin,'' he said.

She called the Hay Island seal hunt ``one of the cruellest in existence today.''

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