Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Diamond heist in progress ... Yep, that's a real diamond; atop a diamondaire's desk ...
"Look, I'm a gazelle!"
What they do with clueless tourists down Texas way ... "Just crawl on the ground and that-there cow won't hurt ya."
Important terminal jetty note: Please make careful note of what I have placed in bold from ACE’s wording in CENAP-OP-R-2018-0587-24: “Construction activities would be limited to between September 1 and February 28, inclusive, of any year. The project is scheduled to begin in September 2018, and would require approximately six months to stage and construct.”
That subtle “of any year” wording allows for the project to be done next year if need be – or even in following years. “Scheduled to begin,” as it applies to this notice, also allows for a continuance to next September, etc.
While I’ve heard nothing beyond this ACE notice, I can’t be the only one wondering how they can possibly get this fairly complex build underway by next month. As to years hence, in the same allowable time frame? That’s a whole different – and more doable -- matter.
FYI: The applicant has stated the following as their position with regard to (a) avoidance and minimization of impacts to aquatic resources ...
"Although the project cannot be avoided entirely because it is, by its nature, a water dependent activity, the applicant proposes to avoid/minimize impacts to the aquatic environment by incorporating engineering/construction procedures into the process to substantially reduce impacts to aquatic resources."
Tuesday, August 21, 2018: Fluking in the ocean has seen some very up drifts, at least in number of flatties caught. Per usual, the shorts seem faster to the bait than keepers. Looking over a load of pro reports, there seems to be a marked tendency for big jigs to win over the hearts and mouths of doormats. That same concept shows in bottom-based videos showing how bigger fluke are more selective as they sit in wait. It’s that economy of effort thing reemerging.
While bigger fish can’t perform caloric number crunching, per se, they got to be large by knowing when to hang and conserve energy and when to attack whole hog.
I’ve written about studies showing fluke just shutting down, feeding-wise, as researchers watched anglers drifting by, biteless, even with monitored big fluke lurking right below. While bite shutdowns surely have to do with subtle water chemistry changes and water temperature swings, another factor could also be the bait presentations of anglers. Subtle baits, even squid and minnies, might not cut it when the fluke are adjusting to water fluctuations. But, throw in something big and chunky and it could be just enough of a dining invite to make the exertion worthwhile to sluggish fish.
Surfside, fluking remains small time in take-homes, though there are spurts of decent hooking rates. A north end late-day jig-tosser had half a dozen fish right before dark. Water at the time was acrylic clear. “I could see a cloud of sand as the fluke went after my jig. They were sitting in real close.” He was using a pink one-ounce jig with “long” squid strips. A white teaser nabbed one tiny flattie. “I missed a couple more on the teaser.’
Mullet are making their ways into the east bay, i.e. toward LBI. They are running finger-sized but still have weeks to grow, which they do all too fast, leading to a run of jumbos – which are a pain to net, count and bag for us bait-getters.
Peanut bunker are showing their usual bayside presence, some bigger schools appear as dark patches at least 20 feet across (Harvey Cedars bayside).
I’m getting reports of large schools of bayside snapper blues, as in real tiny blues. We haven’t really had an old-fashioned showing of these small fries in many years, not to where everyone anywhere in the bay could nab them on ultralight gear – or with small baits. It’s nowhere near that level yet, but bulkhead anglers are starting to see them aplenty. As fine a fluke bait as swims.
Above: Surfland Bait and Tackle
A blowfish chaser managed 11 tails using chum, somewhere in the west bay. No exact locations. He’s likely going to be mad I even mentioned that he nabbed a few … somewhere in Jersey. He won’t mind me saying he still uses classic chum logs, which he froze up last spring, using minced squid, mussels, clams and “cheap canned salmon.”
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Virginia Pilot] - August 21, 2018
MANTEO, N.C.- William Hall, a retired marine scientist, is scheduled for cataract surgery soon, and a horseshoe crab will play a crucial role .
The blood of horseshoe crabs contains an agent that clots when exposed to gram-negative bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella. Since the 1980s, the blood has been used to detect toxins in medical procedures, including inoculations, intravenous drugs and even rabies shots for pets.
Decades ago, scientists conducted less accurate toxin tests on rabbits. If the injected rabbit got a fever, the sample was contaminated.
Now, they use the blood of hundreds of thousands of horseshoe crabs. But blood extraction stresses the creatures. Fishermen under contract collect them from their habitat and haul them to a lab, where technicians extract their blood before they are carried back to the ocean and released. About 15 percent die from the process.
Thanks in part to funding from North Carolina Sea Grant, a Greensboro-based life sciences company plans to establish natural salt- water ponds where horseshoe crabs can rest and eat after having their blood extracted.
“It would be a recovery center," said Anthony Dellinger, president of Kepley BioSystems.
The crabs would be better monitored in the ponds than when released into the wild, he said. The company also plans to raise horseshoe crabs there, reducing the need to take them from the ocean. The project could take a year to complete, he said.
The salt ponds could help relieve pressure on the species, which has been around since the prehistoric age.
The slow-moving creature has 10 legs and 10 eyes and is more closely related to spiders and scorpions than to crabs. Their blood is blue from the copper it contains.
Outer Banks beachcombers can find their shells – which look like brown army helmets – discarded along the beaches after molting. More rarely, the crabs might be seen during the spring mating season under a full moon along the sounds, said Terri Kirby Hathaway, marine education specialist for North Carolina Sea Grant.
Hall, retired from Delaware Sea Grant, conducts counts of the horseshoe crabs that come ashore to breed on 25 beaches along the Delaware Bay. It is the largest collection of the species in the world. May and June are the primary months.
“They will come there by the thousands," he said.
The larger female crawls into wet sand with a primary male attached. She digs a hole and lays thousands of eggs and repeats that a number of times. Several other males also contribute to fertilizing the same female's eggs.
Shorebirds thrive on thousands of horseshoe crab eggs laid on the beach.
The medical industry collected and extracted the blue blood from 426,195 horseshoe crabs in 2016 along the east coast, mostly from the Delaware Bay region, according to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. One liter of horseshoe crab blood is worth $15,000 to $17,000, Hall said.
Nearly 800,000 crabs were harvested in 2016 for use as bait in the eel and conch fisheries, the commission reported.
The harvest was well below quotas set by law.
The crab's status is not well known, but its numbers appear to be increasing in the southeast, including in North Carolina, while remaining stable from Virginia to Delaware. Numbers are decreasing in the northeast.
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Christian Science Monitor] By Eva Botkin-Kowacki - August 21, 2018
Low clouds hang over the pier as fishing boats line up to drop off their catch for the day. Fishermen in orange suspendered waders and rugged boots perch on the edges of their boats. The fishermen, with weathered faces and hands toughened by their work, ignore the tourists gawking and snapping photos from a viewing platform overhead.
Then, the fog descends, giving the scene a sense of timelessness. But this scene has changed from decades past. For 400 years, fishermen across Cape Cod caught boatloads of, well, cod. The fish was so plentiful and valuable that fishermen bought houses and new boats off cod profits alone. But today, there’s a different fish filling the piers: spiny dogfish.
Cape Cod has nearly lost its namesake fish, due to overfishing and climate change. So fishermen have switched to dogfish, skates, and other more plentiful options. This move could help revive the Massachusetts fishing industry, and might even help the cod rebound, researchers say. But getting Americans to bite may not be as easy.
“This is the fish we could feed the United States with,” says Chatham fisherman Doug Feeney. “We have people that are hungry. We have prison systems. We have vets. We have homeless people. There’s just so much that can be done with this product.”
For a long time, fishermen saw dogfish as an annoyance. They were a “trash fish” with little value that often ended up clogging their nets. The large spines on their fins especially made them a pain to throw back, and they eat pretty much everything smaller than them – including juvenile codfish.
“They’re just a giant menace in the ocean,” Chatham fisherman Tim Linnell says. “You’ve got to get a lot of these out.”
Dogfish aren’t new to the area, but as cod populations have dwindled in recent decades, dogfish have flourished in their absence. So when cod could no longer pay the bills and became highly restricted to fish, fishermen turned to the thing that was already filling their nets.
“There’s no way around it,” says Mr. Feeney. “The dogs have taken over.”
A dog’s tale
Spiny dogfish are actually small sharks that reach just about 4 feet long. Thousands swim together in packs (like dogs), making them easy for fishermen to catch.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, as the cod population crashed, dogfish seemed like a great option for Cape Cod fishermen. Dogfish practically jumped into their boats and were unregulated, so fishermen could catch as many as they could fit on their boats. But by the turn of the century, the dogfish population up and down the East Coast had plummeted. Regulators sharply curtailed dogfishing in 2000. Processors stopped working with dogfish.
Nearly a decade later, the population of dogfish had risen significantly again, and regulations have relaxed. The fishery is now certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council, and commercial fishermen are allowed catch up to 6,000 pounds worth of dogfish on a given fishing trip – and they do. Sometimes they even have to throw some back when too many end up in their nets.
But the catch isn’t so sustainable for the fishermen themselves. Dogfish doesn’t pay the bills like cod once did. Cod can fetch dollars on the pound, while a pound of dogfish is typically worth around 25 cents.
So what would it take to make dogfishing economically sustainable for fishermen?
Mr. Linnell is among those who say the catch limit for each trip should be increased. “If you get 10,000 pounds with the current prices, you’re able to support your boat, your business,” he says. Others point out that with the current trip limits, fishermen along the East Coast bring in less than half of the total yearly quota for the entire coast.
But Feeney cautions that expanding trip limits may not be good for all fishermen. Small boat fishermen would start to go out of business with a 10,000 pound trip limit, he says, as their boats can’t carry that much. Instead, he says, the focus should be on increasing prices.
“It’s just the classic supply-demand situation where they don’t yet get paid much more per pound,” says Jen Levin, manager of the Sustainable Seafood Program at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, who has done research on the marketability of dogfish in New England. “So it’s a long-term solution around building up markets, building up demand with a higher quality product. And it really is going to take a long time to do that before that price per pound goes up.”
Today the majority of dogfish is sent to Europe where it’s commonly used for fish and chips. About 2.6 million pounds of dogfish is currently exported from Massachusetts. Some, like Feeney, have been working to expand a market in Asia, too, offering a sustainable source of shark fins.
But there isn’t really a market in the US for dogfish. In fact, in Chatham, where 6 million pounds of dogfish are caught each year, this reporter called 15 restaurants looking for a place to try the local seafood and none had it on their menu.
There are a few projects pushing to build a market in the US for dogfish. Last year, as part of their “Pier to Plate” project, the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance gave away more than 4,000 pounds of dogfish to local restaurants and events to promote locally caught fish. Separately, Feeney has worked with other fishermen to form the Chatham Harvesters Cooperative. They are working to cultivate a market for value-added products from dogfish like fish burgers, fish sticks, and breaded fish. Feeney and others are also marketing dogfish to universities and other large institutions with an eye toward volume.
The idea, says Steven Costas, a salesman for Marder Trawling Inc. in New Bedford, Mass., is to lay the groundwork. Once a market is established for dogfish as an inexpensive fish, demand will rise and so will price.
But it will take time, says Ms. Levin. For one thing, “the idea of replacing other seafood sales with dogfish is probably not as realistic,” she says. Diners accustomed to the light, flaky texture of cod, for instance, are likely to be disappointed by dogfish's firm and slightly oily meat. Dogfish needs its own place in the market.
“If we are able to grow overall seafood sales,” she adds, “then I think that there’s a lot of potential for dogfish.”
One challenge is the name. Dogfish is often thought of as a lower quality fish, or is unknown entirely. Some have toyed with the idea of renaming it “cape shark,” for example; foodservice distributor US Foods launched “Cape Shark Tenders” in 2017. In England, they call dogfish “rock salmon.”
But others say a name is just a name. “I think that the more people experience dogfish, the more they hear about it, the more they understand what it is, the more normal dogfish will be. We eat catfish. I don’t know why we wouldn’t eat dogfish,” says Levin. “Giving people those experiences is where we should focus our efforts.”
That’s the approach the University of Massachusetts Amherst is taking in using dogfish in the dining halls. Ken Toong, the executive director of auxiliary enterprises at UMass, was looking for more locally sourced seafood to feed students. Dogfish provided that opportunity, but he and his staff also discussed calling the fish something else, perhaps cape shark or something generic like whitefish. Ultimately, he says, they decided to just call it dogfish and use it as an opportunity to tell the story of the edible shark and where it came from. So far, Mr. Toong says, students have given dogfish good reviews.
Schools may be a good way to get Americans tasting dogfish. Chefs in dining halls can experiment with fish tacos, fish and chips, and even more creative cooking. And students are developing their habits for adulthood. Toong says: “I think we have lots of influence on our students’ dining habits now, and in the future.”