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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019: The temperature yo-yo-ing continues. Thinking Christmas already? Temps near 50. Sorry, kiddies.

Wait until he reaches the shark aisle. 
Last Thursday, the Holgate sunset got all crossed up ... 

Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019: The temperature yo-yo-ing continues. Look for a couple bits of milder air, then a possible nasty cold-downs. Thinking Christmas already? Temps near 50. Sorry, kiddies.

There’s apparently a snowy in town. For peace of mind -- and to avoid asinine conflict -- I won’t be doing much finger pointing to where it can be found, though I’m sure not taking myself out of the photo loop. Of course, if you’ve seen one snowy you’ve seen them all – he says while frantically cleaning lenses and rip-roarin’ ready to get a gander at what looks to be a large male. We’ve tended to entertain female snowies in the past. A large male had been spotted weeks ago up in New York state. The arriving one might be the same bird.

Photo by Kim S.R.: 

CIRCLE THE WAGONS ... AND THE HOOKS:

Circle hooks should be the easy part the upcoming modifications/addendum to striped bass management. Much easier to swallow than the 18 percent reduction that must be in place very soon.

While the official date for mandatory circle hook usage, nationwide,e is Jan. 1, 2021, it’s well worth it to begin now, if not sooner. Huh? It’s little known that there is already a mandatory circle hook requirement in NJ, for those fishing the state’s limited bass spawning waters in the spring.

Circle hooks are the lifeblood of efficient catch-and-release. They save lives by most often hooking fish in the side of the mouth, instead of deeper darker places down the gullet.  

Speaking of C&R, there continues to be some absurd estimates of dead discards, possibly being up near 50 – as those fighting for a big bass-backoff profess. Fortunately,  experts advising fishery management are holding to a more sensible 8 to 9 percent bass death rate after release. That’s about right … in summer. That DAR (dead after release) percentage can be halved in fall when water and air temps are lower – more rejuvenating for released fish. It’s proven that even bass that have suffered some nasty unhooking damage from poor unhooking practices have a fighting chance in fall. I stick with my mantra that stripers are tough as nails, easily among the most durable of all gamefish species, possibly leading the keep-on-tickin’ pack.

Back to the circle hooks, there is a spot of education that must accompany the purchasing circle hooks. Simply put: They cannot be offset, meaning the curve and barb of the hook angled outward. A legal circle hook for stripering, when placed on a flat surface, will lay perfectly flat. The offset type—which is not a circle hook -- is lousy for C&R. They can be swallowed easier than true circle hooks and once down the gullet are in for the duration.

Having used circle hooks for going on ten years now, I’ve never had one go gut. Every hookup – which is down without a hook-setting jerk action on the part of the angler – has been in the side of the mouth.

CIRCLE HOOK PONDERING: I’m wondering if there’s any regulatory goodie points gained if NJ goes with mandatory non offset circles hooks for 2020, a year early. Might that fish-saving action allow some leeway as NJ formulates how to achieve that federally-mandated 18 percent bass-take reduction before April 1, 2020 – the latest states can wait before presenting their equivalency offering.  

While I try to wish it away – Say it ain’t so, NJ – right now the most apparent regulation for 2020 is 1 fish bag limit at a 28”-35” recreational slot. If there’s any way to get the higher end heightened – 40 inches would be nice, albeit highly unlikely – that would greatly help bass-centric fishing contests. However, I’m told a hike toward a 40-inch maximum would come at the expense of the low end; 28-inch minimum could inch up to 32 inches. That would create an ocean of bad blood between competitive bassers and charter and headboat captains. And I see their point. When fares can’t take home a fish, they’re not coming back any time soon. It’s also a gerund point that the closer to 28 inches a keepable fish is the safer it is to eat. For me, it’s damned if I do and … etc.

Obviously, there's more (small print) to the upcoming changes. I'm running with what is coming my way ... some of it off the record. 

Here's a segment fro JCAA's stance, which can be read at https://jcaa.org/JCNL1909/1909AddendumbVI.htm

... There are various sub-options. These include options with a minimum size as well as several in which only slot sized fish could be harvested. While it is fine to comment on any of them, it is likely that the ASMFC will approve all or most of them. What this means is that these options would be pre-approved if any state chose to enact one of them. However, the addendum allows for conservation equivalency which means that each state will be allowed to develop its own regulation provided it results in the mandated reduction. For instance, a state might choose to have a 28” minimum but meet the required reduction by reducing the length of their seasons. Something like that might work as the season could be closed while the fish are spawning or during the summer when the water temperatures are elevated causing the catch and release mortality to increase. However, any such proposed regulations would first have to be submitted to the ASMFC’s technical committee. Once reviewed and approved the state could then enact it.

BASS ARE FAR FROM A DYING BREED: How many poor little bass are still out there?  A ton times a millions. Anglers themselves have proven that. Annual catch-and-releases have been averaging 26 million fish from 2007-2017. An estimated 38 million fish were caught and released in 2017. New number will be coming out soon.

Keep in mind those millionful numbers are based on actual hookups and landings. So what percent of the biomass never hit the deck or beach? I’ll bet the bass barn that far fewer that 20 percent of all the bass out there have been landed. By C&R numbers alone, it’s not inconceivable to estimate there are hundreds of millions of bass out there – with smaller ones, under 18 inches, comprising the lion’s share.  

Even with bass numbers looking just fine in a biosystem sense, there’s no fighting the frenzied trend to keep stripers at some ecosystem unhealthy heights – an ecological impact that dooms (to possible extinction) weakfish and winter flounder, which bass scarf down like candy.

Who knows what other species will bite the dust so trophy anglers and bassaholics can get their jollies. Of course, I say that even after I’ve been out there day after day happily plugging for bass. I never said they weren’t a quite-cool fish. I simply think a balanced marine ecosystem is the way to got when it comes to true scientific fishery management. Believe me, holistic managing will win in the end. It only takes fishery management to get hit with the reality hammer – and a ringing, “We’re doing it all wrong!”

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Check out my weekly column: https://www.thesandpaper.net/p/finding-deep-down-blame-for-global-w...

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Jumbo alert from a few days back!!! Fishing new prototype Jigging world Rod. First blackfish on it was a good one. Prob 13-14 lbs boga was bouncing between 14-16 but was sporty. Released to get big this fish has the Genes to be monster very broad and squared off. Hopefully my son catches here in 15 years. David Moores
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Snow Bass Today
No photo description available.
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Africa is set to get its first vertical forest


Vertical forests have already been welcomed in China's polluted cities.
Image: REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

Italian architect and urban planner Stefano Boeri has unveiled designs for three buildings covered with pollution-absorbing trees and plants in Egypt's New Administrative Capital, which is under construction in the desert east of Cairo.

Boeri’s Milan-based practice, Stefano Boeri Architetti, has designed vertical forests for cities around the world - but the Egyptian project will be the first of its kind for Africa.

He is collaborating with Egyptian designer Shimaa Shalash and Italian landscape architect Laura Gatti on the trio of cube-shaped, seven-storey buildings that will comprise the development in the nascent city.



The planted terraces will provide shade and habitats for wildlife.
Image: Stefano Boeri Architetti


The buildings will have planted terraces containing 350 trees and 14,000 shrubs of more than 100 different species. One of the three buildings will be a hotel, while the other two will house apartment units.

The planned new capital will eventually host ministries, embassies, residential neighbourhoods and a financial district. It will replace the current capital, Cairo, which suffers from severe overcrowding, traffic congestion and air pollution.

Why do they matter?

Vertical forests pack thousands of square metres of greenery into just a few hundred square metres of urban space, providing shade and creating habitats for birds and insects, according to Boeri.

The trees, shrubs and plants absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen and filter dust from the air.

The concept took off in 2014, with Milan’s Bosco Verticale, a pair of residential 110- and 76 meter tower blocks, designed by Boeri, with around 900 trees and more than 20,000 smaller plants and shrubs.

In recent years, large-scale green architecture projects have been taking root in major cities, from Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay to Sydney’s One Central Park.



An architectural rendering of the Nanjing Green Towers.
Image: Stefano Boeri Architetti


Meanwhile, Liuzhou Forest City - another Boeri project- is under construction in the southern Chinese province of Guangxi. It will have more than 40,000 trees and 1 million plants covering its buildings.

The trees and plants in Liuzhou Forest City are expected to annually absorb 10,000 tonnes of CO2 and 57 tonnes of pollutants, while producing about 900 tonnes of oxygen.

In the Netherlands, Boeri has also designed the 19-story Trudo Vertical Forest, which will house 125 affordable units targeting low-income families.

In addition to tackling pollution, vertical forests also help to prevent sprawl and provide more housing – a growing issue as the world continues to urbanize at a rapid pace. By 2050, 68% of the global population will be living in towns and cities, compared to 55% today, according to the UN.

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CRAB MASSACRE 

World’s plastic crisis revealed in chilling pics of half a million hermit crabs dying trapped inside plastic rubbish

Scientists conducted surveys on the Indian Ocean's Cocos Islands - and recorded 508,000 trapped crabs.


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Scientists found 508,000 trapped crabs on the Indian Ocean's Cocos IslandsCredit: Solent News


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The critters are dying because they mistake rubbish for empty shellsCredit: Viral Press

The number of crabs getting trapped by debris is the equivalent of two crabs per square metre of beach.

The study was led by the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) at the University of Tasmania and included researchers from London's Natural History Museum and the Two Hands Project community science organisation.

Researchers have previously revealed that Cocos and Henderson Islands are littered with millions of pieces of discarded plastic.

But the new study found that the scale of pollution creates both a physical barrier for the crabs and a series of deadly traps.



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The rubbish starts a 'gruesome chain reaction' as crabs take each other's 'shells'Credit: Solent News

The new study found that the scale of pollution creates both a physical barrier for the crabs and a series of deadly trapsCredit: Andrew Fidler/IMAS
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The Blood Pipe Is Still Spewing Blood After Nearly Two Years

Newly-obtained footage shows the underwater fish farm pipe in British Columbia is still churning out virus-infected blood and guts.

By Samantha Cole
TAVISH CAMPBELL DIVING NEXT TO THE PIPE. PHOTO COURTESY CAMPBELL

Remember Blood Pipe, the pipe that spews blood? Well, new footage shows it's still spewing, nearly two years later.

In the fall of 2017, photographer Tavish Campbell followed a hunch and dove to the bottom of the Discovery Passage channel, off Vancouver Island in British Columbia. He suspected that the nearby Atlantic salmon processing plant, Brown's Bay Packing, was directing its effluent pipe—a wastewater system common to the fish farming industry—into the waters of the channel, where wild sockeye salmon swim.

PHOTO COURTESY TAVISH CAMPBELL

What he found was not normal. The pipe was churning a stream of gore and scales into the water. When he sent a sample to be analyzed by the Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island, lab scientists found that it contained intestinal worms as well as Piscine Reovirus.

After Campbell made his initial videos and reports public in 2017, Dominic LeBlanc, the federal fisheries minister at the time, said that the Fisheries and Oceans “must do more” to protect wild salmon, including making aquaculture companies undergo mandatory tests for PRV, according to CTV News. It seemed like things might change.

So when Campbell dove in the same spot more than a year later, four times throughout late October and November, seeing the pipe still gushing blood after all this time was disheartening—and disgusting.

"It was a sinking feeling to see the blood still pouring out," Campbell told Motherboard. "The disappointment was quickly replaced with fear for the health of our wild salmon and by extension, the whole British Columbia coast."

2019 saw the worst sockeye salmon return on record for British Columbia, according to a report earlier this year from federal fisheries experts. Earlier projection for this year's return were around five million—but were updated in this report to slightly more than 600,000.

Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said in an August press conference that there is "no question" climate change is to blame for the decline, which impacts not only the environment but the economy. But instances like this pipe, which is barfing gallons of infected fish blood into waters that wild salmon pass through, certainly aren't helping. Some studies show that this virus is highly contagious, and harms fish populations.

Brown’s Bay Packing managing partner David Stover told CTV News that the company is in the final stages of commissioning a $1.5-million water treatment system. “The disinfection component of the system which is the final stage of the process is designed to disinfect the effluent,” he said. “Although we don’t test for PRV, we are confident the disinfection process kills bacteria and virus.”

Campbell said that because the processing plant has been operating continuously, and based on his observations, it's at least spewing when workers are there running the plant, gutting and cleaning the fish.

"2019 was the worst sockeye salmon return in Canadian history," Campbell said. "This is what extinction looks like and it's happening right under our noses."

TAGGED:
BRITISH COLUMBIA
SALMON
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Creating a Winter Opossum Shelter

Catherine Tudish & Opossum Awareness & Advocacy

Natives of southern climes, opossums are not particularly well equipped for life in the cold, and yet they have been migrating north in increasing numbers over the last decades. Unlike other fur-bearing mammals in the region, opossums have relatively thin coats, and their ears, tails, and feet are virtually hairless. 

Besides lacking the proper outerwear, opossums do not hibernate. Except for denning up for short periods during the very coldest weather, they must be out and about all winter searching for food, which makes them extremely vulnerable to hypothermia and frostbite. In fact, wildlife biologists use signs of frostbite to judge an opossum’s age; a frostbitten tail and ears show that the animal has lived through at least one winter. 

When provided with adequate winter shelter, opossums can survive the cold northern winters. Although there is virtually no information online about how to build winter opossum shelters, there is an abundance of information on how to create winter shelters for stray cats.  Luckily for us, opossums and stray cats have very similar shelter needs. 

Click here to be taken to a Neighborhoodcats.org article that has examples of inexpensive, do-it-yourself shelters that can be built in a matter of hours or less. All designs are well-insulated, have minimal air space and are waterproof.  Further down on the page, you will find information on flap doors, extra protection for extreme cold and insulating materials to place inside your opossum/cat shelters.  

Plastic bin insulated shelter
Painted wooden winter shelter
Feralvilla Winter Shelter
Plastic storage bin winter shelter
(Most of the information in this blog post was from taken from a northernwoodlands.org article by Catherin Tudish ("Opossums Find Cold Comfort in New England's Winters") and NEIGHBORHOODCATS.ORG)
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Greta Thunberg is Time's 2019 Person of the Year

The 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden is the magazine's youngest choice to be named Person of the Year.

By Safia Samee Ali and Elizabeth Chuck

Greta Thunberg, the soft-spoken Swedish teenager who became a global conscience for climate change and environmental activism, has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019.

The magazine announced the 16-year-old as its choice Wednesday exclusively on the "TODAY" show.

"She became the biggest voice on the biggest issue facing the planet this year, coming from essentially nowhere to lead a worldwide movement," Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal told the show, adding that Thunberg is the magazine's youngest choice ever to be named Person of the Year.


Greta Thunberg is TIME's 2019 Person of the Year.TIME

Thunberg quickly bloomed into one of the world's most notable climate change activists, sparking a collective movement to fight the issue after protesting alone outside the Swedish Parliament during school hours on Fridays when she was 15. The teen held up a now universally recognized hand-painted sign that read “skolstrejk för klimatet,” which translates to “School strike for the climate.”

Her initiative to strike galvanized students to protest against climate change throughout Europe and that momentum quickly fanned across the globe, becoming the “Fridays For Future" movement.

Her solo protest, Fensenthal noted, eventually prompted millions of people in 150 countries "to act on behalf of the planet."

He also said that Thunberg "represents a broader generational shift in the culture" — with youth standing up for what they believe in — from Hong Kong to Chile.

"Young people are demanding change, and urgently," Felsenthal said. "She embodies youth activism."

Thunberg's signature no-nonsense blunt style of speaking made her a force that could not be ignored by world leaders and she was asked to speak in front of several high-profile entities, including the United Nations and the U.S. Congress.



Thunberg, who has Asperger’s syndrome, first learned about climate change at 8 years old and said she became instantly concerned to the point that she plunged into depression over it.

How teen Greta Thunberg went from solitary climate change protester...

“I remember thinking that it was very strange that humans that are an animal species, among others, could be capable of changing the Earth’s climate,” she said during a 2018 Ted Talk.

She gave up eating meat and traveling via airplane, among other things, to reduce her carbon footprint.



In October, Thunberg was the recipient of another honor — an environmental award at a Stockholm ceremony held by the Nordic Council. But she declined it, explaining in an Instagram post, "The climate movement does not need any more awards."

"What we need is for our politicians and the people in power start to listen to the current, best available science," she wrote.

When asked what he thought Thunberg's response would be after learning that she is Time's Person of the Year, Felsenthal said, "I don't know, but I think what she has done, her rise in influence, has been really extraordinary."

The young activist sailed for just over two weeks on a zero-emission boat with her father in August to New York City.

When she appeared before Congress in September, Thunberg refused to read prepared remarks and instead submitted a 2018 United Nations global warming report to lawmakers, telling them, “I don't want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists, and I want you to unite behind the science."

One of her most notable appearances occurred at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in September when she excoriated global leaders, including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres by telling them they had “stolen her dreams and childhood” with their “empty words.”

"People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing," she said. "We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!"



The “how dare you!” sentiment reverberated universally, emboldening climate change activists while making politicians uncomfortable.

Her fiery words drew ire and sarcastic responses from several detractors, including President Donald Trump.

“She seems like a very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!” Trump commented after retweeting a video of Thunberg's speech.

Despite being a frequent target of criticism, Thunberg has trudged forward on her quest for environmental justice.

Earlier this year, Thunberg, along with 15 other young climate activists, filed a legal complaint with the United Nations against five countries under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child alleging the nations are not doing enough to combat climate change and that their inaction is affecting their right to thrive.

Her efforts also earned her a nomination for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. While the teen lost the award to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, she remains one of the youngest nominees for the illustrious prize.

The other 2019 finalists for Time's Person of the Year were Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Donald Trump, the Hong Kong protesters, and the anonymous whistleblower whose memo on Trump's dealings with Ukraine triggered the impeachment inquiry.

Instead of doing runners-up this year, the magazine gave awards in different categories, including the U.S. women's soccer team as athlete of the year, Lizzo as entertainer of the year, and Disney CEO Bob Iger as businessperson of the year.

The magazine has selected a Person of the Year annually since the 1920s. Last year, Time chose "The Guardians and the War on Truth,” which included four journalists and one news organization who paid a hefty price, either with their lives or freedoms, to be journalists at time when the profession has been under attack on several fronts.

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I always like to let divergent viewpoints -- divergent from mine -- in here. 

  • Tim Johnson

Words of a Fisherman: Time to Let Stripers Be

Thirty-five years ago this January, 
 a five-year moratorium on the taking of striped bass went into effect in the state of Maryland. Other states, including Massachusetts, soon followed suit with regulations resulting in a near-total shutdown of fishing for the vaunted species across the 11 coastal states where it migrates.

There was no scientific consensus on what was causing the disastrous decline of stripers. Pollution on the Chesapeake Bay spawning grounds was surely a factor, but solving that problem would take years — and by then, it would be too late. The only realistic solution was to stop the fishing pressure from commercial and recreational anglers.

My family and I, longtime Vineyard fishermen, played an integral role in fighting for this to happen. And it worked, beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings. A striped bass population estimated to contain about 4.6 million fish in 1982 would reach a historic peak of an astounding 56.7 million fish in 2004. The resurgence of the striper was hailed by Scientific American Magazine as “the best example in the world of a species that was allowed to recoup through tough management and an intelligent rebuilding plan.”

Now in a painful déjà vu, another dire crisis is occurring. Once again, the reasons are unclear. New threats have arisen, including not enough available food due to overfishing of menhaden and the aquatic environment being detrimentally affected by climate change. So, once again, all we can do immediately is drastically reduce fishing mortality.

A recent study of female spawning stock biomass revealed a sudden drop of levels deemed strong enough to sustain the species. An overfishing threshold estimated at 202 million pounds in 2017 fell to 151 million pounds this year. In the realm of the fish, that’s a lot.

In response, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission mandated an 18 per cent cut in allowable harvest quotas for 2020. This includes an addendum that will hold sports fishermen to keeping one striper per day and require the release of any fish measuring less than 28 inches and more than 35 inches.

Obviously, the Vineyard derby’s prizes for the largest stripers, daily and overall, fly in the face of the new conservation measures. This past autumn, the derby weighed in 146 striped bass, the majority being precisely those females bearing the most eggs.

It’s time to take the bass out of the derby. A precedent already exists.

Back in 1985, and for the eight years that followed, derby officials removed endangered stripers from the competition and made it a bluefish derby.

The decision did not come easily. A full-page ad in the Gazette signed by more than 50 fishermen and conservationists, including seven former derby grand prize winners, had called for this to happen a year earlier. When the derby committee and the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce were not swayed, sponsors began to withdraw their support. Saltwater Sportsman Magazine led the way, followed by three leading fishing gear manufacturers including the world’s largest rod-and-reel maker, Zebco. The town of Chilmark formally declared it could no longer in good conscience support a bass derby.

On May 23, 1985, the derby committee reversed itself. Striped bass would be dropped from the tournament, not to be included again until the fishery recovered. With that, all the sponsors moved to renew their support. The bluefish-focused event continued to thrive, and the Vineyard assumed a role as a conservation leader.

We would do well to heed the lesson of history, seeking to ensure that despite the many obstacles in its path, this most majestic of inshore creatures will continue to survive if given a chance by their primary predator. Stronger protections will no doubt need to be put in place. Recreational fishermen must realize their role in the decline and utilize less damaging circle hooks while practicing catch and release.

It makes no sense that commercial fishermen in Massachusetts still be allowed to take 15 fish a day twice a week with a 34-inch minimum size limit, when the larger females are desperately needed to keep the population afloat. The fact that the allocated catch hasn’t even been reached for the past two years should be a sign that business as usual can’t continue.

In October, the annual survey tracking reproduction success for juvenile striped bass in Maryland fell to 3.4 fish per scientific haul, well below the 66-year average of 11.6. So it’s quite likely that the current quota cutbacks called for across the Atlantic coast and in the Chesapeake Bay do not go far enough. This was the case in the mid-1980s, when it became apparent that a 55 per cent reduction in fishing pressure wasn’t going to keep the bass off the Endangered Species List.

We must prepare for another complete moratorium. Until then, it is unconscionable to keep striped bass in the Vineyard derby.

Dick Russell is the author of Striper Wars: An American Fish Story.

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