Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Tired of increases in Waste Management fees, the town came up with an ingenious win/win solution to trash collecting.
Asian carp invasion reaches a whole other level of national security concern.
Finally passing out from untenable G-forces, little Lou awoke with a mild headache and a blinding fear of all amusement parks.
Quick write-up. Ignore typos. I'll get to them tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017: In the midst of putting out the largest SandPaper of the year (July 4th issue) … and it’s gonna be a winner, if I do say so myself. It’s gonna be so fat that the street boxes might empty quickly, so feel free to use the free https://thesandpaper.villagesoup.com. Go down to columns for the week’s “Fish Story.” By going on-line it helps my numbers, showing how many folks read it electronically … not that I overly care, truly. Often, a drop in on-line hits often means folks are making it to the region to pick up live copies. By the same token, it sure helps if you pass on-line columns and SP stories to folks who might not know about the publication. Keeps both me and the paper going strong. And I can always use some keep-goingness.
Had some fluke fillets dropped off by some fine column-reading folks … heading back home after an extended week vacation. The fish were caught “near Little Egg Inlet,” whatever that location might mean in this day and age, though I’ve heard of no diabolical boating problems there, so far.
Yes, plans are still in-play for a LEI channel-building come fall. Right now, even if the OK were given tomorrow, there is absolutely no heavy-dredging equipment -- with beach-pumping ability -- anywhere near available.
I’ll go out there a bit, suggesting the scheduled fall-time beach replenishment might offer the best, most practical and cheapest way to dredge a LEI channel. That’s just me, mind you.
Crabbing remains remarkable, via a neighbor. Though I seldom indulge in anything but softies, I just might grab a bushel for an outdoor backyard BBQ I have coming up. It’s just me – and some newbie ravens, Henry and Henrietta (two herring gulls I’ve owned for at least 15 years now) and a couple rabblerousing summer-only laughing gulls. They get hotdogs – and maybe some salmon skins if I feel generous.
It might just be me but it seems surfcasting is a bit out of fashion so far this year. Based mainly on HC, SC and SB, I see very few folks angling the suds. Of course, after my sunrise rip-current-risk call-in to the National Weather Service, I don’t get a beachly look-see until after 10, i.e. post lifeguard arrival.
It’s off to the bridges for me after work tonight, circa midnight. I don’t fish up-top with that stupid cross pipe right below the drop zone on the north side of the Hochstrasser bridge. I’ve yet do night fishing off the borough’s fishing pier, though it’s a relatively easy cast to channel waters. The problem is forage around the bridges is so plentiful that not many gamefish drift as far away as the pier. I’ll give it a throw tonight, when magnetting.
(Below is yet another reasons I guarantee we'll be seeing a huge showing of sharks, very soon ... if not sooner.)
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Virginian-Pilot] By Jeff Hampton - June 26, 2017
OREGON INLET, N.C.: Sharks are chomping the catch of the day.
Fishing off the Outer Banks has been great this year, especially with big hauls of tuna. But boat captains are losing up to 20 fish a day to the opportunistic predators.
Able to smell, hear or sense the struggling fish from miles away, sharks come like a pack of wolves. In some cases, anglers are reeling in nothing but the head.
“You can’t even get a fish to the boat,” said Jack Graham, first mate on the Fintastic, a charter boat based at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center. “You get a bite and look back and there’s just a big cloud of blood.”
Sharks are taking the catch along with thousands of dollars in fishing gear, he said.
Captains could bring in their boats with the tuna limit by midmorning if not for sharks gobbling the catch, said Carey Foster, mate on the Smoker, also docked at the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center.
“The last couple of weeks, they’ve been horrible,” he said.
State fishing summaries include reports of sharks preying almost exclusively on tuna catches.
“This is the highest bite rate I’ve seen in 27 years,” said Brian Melott, a port agent for the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. “These bites ain’t small either.”
Melott surveys anglers and collects catch measurements and other data as part of an ongoing fisheries census.
The two primary species attacking are dusky and sandbar sharks, Graham said. Dusky sharks grow up to 14 feet long and are known for their powerful jaws. Sandbar sharks can reach about 8 feet.
Sharks have well-developed senses of smell and hearing, said Charles Bangley, a scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
“They are smarter than people give them credit for,” he said.
Bangley earned his doctorate at East Carolina University tagging and studying sharks off the Outer Banks. They can smell the slightest bit of blood or fish oil in the water and can hear struggling prey from miles away, he said. They also have a “lateral line” of hair cells that can sense movement in the water.
A tuna caught on a fishing line alerts all three of those senses, Bangley said. “It’s like ringing a dinner bell.”
Despite sharks’ apparent abundance, state and federal agencies still classify larger species such as dusky and sandbar sharks as overfished.
Dusky sharks cannot be harvested and sandbar shark catches are limited to a small number for research, said Holly White, a biologist with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries.
Regulating agencies encouraged fishermen to harvest sharks in the 1980s, according to a history by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. The predator declined drastically until the 1990s, when the National Marine Fisheries Service came up with strict management plans.
Sharks do not reproduce rapidly and still need recovery time, said Sara Mirabilio, fisheries specialist for the North Carolina Sea Grant program. The large number seen by anglers is encouraging.
“Even though it’s a hassle for fishermen, it’s actually a good sign for the populations of these two shark species, both of which crashed hard in the ’80s and ’90s,” she said.
So charter boats continue to catch a large number of tuna – and sharks continue to take their share.
“The fishing is really good, some of the best I’ve seen,” Graham said. “But it’s hard getting them to the boat.”
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Wall Street Journal Online] by Rob Taylor -June 26, 2017
Poaching causes commercial losses of up to $23 billion a year world-wide
CANBERRA, Australia—Researchers in Australia and the U.S., backed by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul G. Allen, are using satellites to fight illegal fishing—which causes billions of dollars a year in commercial losses and depletes stocks.
With the world's third-largest fishery zone covering 3.5 million square miles, Australia is at the forefront of efforts to combat poaching. Its patrol ships have chased illegal trawlers almost as far as South Africa, a distance of 4,600 miles, to stop the plunder of prized Patagonian toothfish—sold in the U.S. as Chilean sea bass.
Australian government scientists and Vulcan Inc., Mr. Allen's private company, have developed a notification system that alerts authorities when suspected pirate vessels from West Africa arrive at ports on remote Pacific islands and South America.
The system, announced Sunday U.S. time, relies on anticollision transponders installed on nearly all oceangoing craft as a requirement under maritime law. These devices are detectable by satellite.
A statistical model helps identify vessels whose transponders have been intentionally shut off. Other data identifies fishing boats that are loitering in risk areas, such as near national maritime boundaries.
"We can shine a spotlight on vessels acting suspiciously based on factors including the vessel's history, movement and whether its transmitter has been intentionally disabled," said Chris Wilcox, who helped develop the system for Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
"On one hand you can't see them [if their transponder is switched off], but on the other it means they've just flagged themselves as avoiding surveillance, and as a risk indicator, that's at the top of the list," he said.
Illegal fishing is estimated to account for 11% to 19% of the global catch, according to Australia's government and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. And a third of all fish sold in the U.S. is believed to be caught illegally.
Seafood consumption in wealthy nations has soared in recent decades, increasing reliance on imports. Between 1980 and 2014, U.S. seafood consumption rose 60%, with imports now meeting 90% of the demand, according to Global Fishing Watch and the World Wildlife Fund.
Illegal fishing can be highly lucrative because violators don't pay duties or taxes on their illegal catches. And it is nearly impossible to detect illegally caught products when they enter the global seafood market, Dr. Wilcox said.
Poachers ignore catch quotas intended to protect species from overfishing and use outlawed equipment, including nets stretching 15 miles or more that scoop up everything in their path. Illegal fishing causes commercial losses of up to $23 billion a year world-wide, according to the U.N.
Nearly half the world's population relies on seafood as their primary source of protein, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization says, and demand is expected to grow. Fish exports were valued at about $148 billion in 2014, U.N. statistics show.
The researchers' satellite-based tracking tool will begin operating in October and will be free to access. It was set up in response to a treaty aimed at eradicating illegal fishing that came into force last June. The Agreement on Port State Measures had agreement from 29 countries, including African nations previously linked to illegal fishing.
"Countries that use this new tool will now be able to reverse the tide of illegal fishing and help rebuild depleted fish stocks," said Mark Powell, illegal fishing program officer for Vulcan.
China is the world's largest seafood producer, followed by Indonesia, the U.S. and Russia. The most critical area for poaching is off the coast of West Africa, where illegal, unauthorized and unregulated fishing accounts an estimated 40% of fish caught, according to the World Ocean Review. Other areas of concern include the western and southern Pacific and the southwest Atlantic. Illegal trawlers contribute to overfishing that threatens marine ecosystems and food security in some of the poorest countries.
Last year, Argentina's coast guard opened fire on and sank a Chinese trawler that was fishing illegally in its waters. South Korea's coast guard fired on Chinese poachers several months later.
Australian authorities have said geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea, a rich fishing ground, may be driving more illegal fishing vessels into the South Pacific from China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
(Below: There are now more seals in the Western Atlantic than logic would seemingly see fit. The shooting of this just one is a non egregious hit to the burgeoning biomass. However, it's the old, very-real reality that ignoring a violation of federal management mandates looses the kill-all hounds that led to the reasons we now need strict conservation laws and standards. j-mann)
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Press Herald] By Dennis Hoey - June 27, 20127
A Knox County man will serve time in jail and be required to pay a fine after pleading guilty to shooting a seal off the coast of Acadia National Park. The seal apparently died.
Joseph A. Martin, 54, of Warren pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in Bangor to the misdemeanor charge of taking a federally protected marine mammal.
Magistrate Judge John C. Nivison sentenced Martin to serve three days in jail and to pay a $1,000 fine.
Acting United States Attorney Richard W. Murphy issued a statement Monday describing the circumstances behind the killing of the seal.
Murphy said Martin was acting as a captain of a fishing vessel on Oct. 10, 2016, when “multiple protected seals began to approach” the vessel, which was off the coast of Acadia National Park at the time. Court records do not specify the exact location.
“The defendant retrieved his rifle and began to shoot at the seals in the ocean,” Murphy said in the statement. “After the shooting took place, one seal could be seen floating in the water with a dark liquid surrounding its body.”
Court records indicate that the seal that Martin fired his rifle at was either a harbor seal or a gray seal.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew McCormack, who would have prosecuted the case if it had gone to trial, said in court documents that the government was prepared to prove through witness testimony and video evidence – specifically, footage from a video camera that was mounted on Martin’s fishing vessel, the FV Sunlight – that Martin used his rifle to shoot at a group of seals that approached his boat.
"The FV Sunlight had been fishing for Atlantic herring and was returning to Maine from Massachusetts,” McCormack said.
The investigation was conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Law Enforcement.
James Landon, director of that office, said federal law protects seals and other marine mammals from being harmed.
He said NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement “is dedicated to enforcing those laws and seeing that those who violate them are held accountable for their illegal actions.”
Fish Monger II Tues 6/27 Fluke Full Boat Limit (10 man) to 10lbs!!!! NO KILLIES NO SPEARING!!!! What a beautiful day and way to start our oceanside fluke season. First one was a good one esp for the end of june... After crushing Seabass ling n winter flounder for weeks today was the flukes turn. Picked Away at quality fish all day long including Darren Summerdoormat at 30 inches n breaking the double digit mark!!!! Well deserved... Most fish were 19.5 inches n up...boxed up a full 10 man boat limit of 30 keepers n released a couple lucky ones for another day! hh was Eddie Willard who had 9 keepers (orl). Stayed away from the big fleet and had fish all to ourselves ... all fish on jigs n gulp as usual. Thanks guys
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [NPR.ORG] by Colin Dwyer - June 26, 2017
Live Asian carp — an invasive fish so threatening to local U.S. ecosystems that officials have struggled to keep it out of the Great Lakes — has been caught 9 miles from Lake Michigan, beyond a system of underwater electric barriers.
The silver carp, one of several species of the invasive fish, was captured below the T.J. O'Brien Lock and Dam on Thursday morning "with a gill net by a contracted commercial fisher," the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee said in a statement Friday. "The silver carp was 28 inches in length and weighed approximately 8 pounds."
Kevin Irons, an official with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, tells NPR that tests of the fish and its surrounding waters are now underway and further information will be released soon.
"There are seven species of carps native to Asia that have been introduced to the United States," explains the ACRCC, a group composed of federal and local agencies, "but only four types that are considered a threat to the Great Lakes: bighead, silver, black and grass."
In the eight years the group has monitored the Chicago Area Waterway system, it says this is only the second time a threatening species of Asian carp has been caught beyond the barriers. The first was a bighead carp caught in Lake Calumet in 2010.
For many onlookers, Thursday's catch presents cause for alarm. As Fisheries and Oceans Canada notes, the fish have significantly outcompeted native species in the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and they threaten to have the same ecological impact in the Great Lakes.
"They are voracious eaters, able to consume 5 to 20 percent of their body weight each day, leaving far less of the microscopic plant and animal life (phytoplankton and zooplankton) to support native fishes," the agency says.
And that threat has been taken so seriously, millions of dollars have been spent on underwater barriers to keep them in check, according to public radio consortium Great Lakes Today.
"The news of an Asian carp found within nine miles of the Great Lakes is cause for serious concern," Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman said in a statement. "The fishing industry in the Great Lakes is a $7 billion a year economic engine and it would be severely threatened if Asian Carp are allowed into the Great Lakes."
Portman called on the Trump administration to release its plan to prevent the problem — and to recommit funding to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a $300 million-per-year program that "helps states with environmental projects, like cleaning up toxic sludge from tributary rivers and keeping invasive Asian carp out of the lakes," Karen Schaefer explained on All Things Considered earlier this year.
The White House has proposed deep cuts to the program, and the funding for one of its studies, which would focus partly on Asian carp, remains in doubt.
"Asian carp are a very serious threat to our Great Lakes economy," Portman's colleague from across the aisle, Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, tweeted Friday. "The Trump Admin must immediately release the study they have been blocking so we can permanently stop the Asian carp!"
For now, the ACRCC cautions: "It is important to note that this preliminary finding does not confirm that a reproducing population of Asian carp currently exists above the electric dispersal barriers or within the Great Lakes."
That said, the group notes it is launching "two additional weeks of intensive sampling in the area."
Below: Leapin' money.
I just wanted to share with you an incredibly lucky catch that I had yesterday.
This snook was holding so close to shore that a cast to it was actually possible from our 3rd-floor balcony.
So I slung a soft plastic jerk bait from the edge of the balcony as far as I could cast, and it somehow landed within striking distance of the snook while dodging a tree that was in the way:)
Best of all, Joe captured it all on film with from his cell phone...
Here's a link to see the full that shows the entire catch (including the strike and when I had to throw the rod off of the balcony):
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Bay Weekly] By Dennis Doyle - June 27, 2017
After almost three decades of effort, Maryland’s treasured Chesapeake Bay crustacean, the blue crab, has achieved a major scientific benchmark. The number of spawning females has at last reached the minimum target level for optimum species viability: 215 million sooks.
The 2017 Winter Dredge Survey put the female population at well over the minimum, 254 million, an impressive 31 percent increase from the prior year. This is an important moment, as just four years ago (and five years prior to that), the female crab population had been driven to dangerous, even population-collapse, levels.
Only relatively recently has the female blue crab population been recognized as key to maintaining sustainable levels of our beautiful (and delicious) swimmers. Females were once assumed (by regulators and scientists) to spawn only once in their lives. Hence, when mature, they could be harvested without consequence. That assumption proved false.
The one hiccup in this year’s accomplishment was the accompanying news that juvenile crabs had inexplicably nosedived by 54 percent. The blue crab is known for fluctuating numbers and varying spawning successes, so this is not a necessarily alarming happenstance. However, these early low numbers will have a definite impact on commercial crabbers later this year, and most certainly the next, when these crabs reach harvest size.
To protect overall numbers, the Maryland, Virginia and Potomac River Fisheries Commission has proposed shortening the crabbing season and imposing stricter bushel limits on female crabs. No changes to male crab limits were proposed.
Both Maryland and Virginia will have to decide this month on actions and restrictions to protect and stabilize the general crab population. The very real danger is the possibility that Maryland may once again expand the currently limited female harvest to cover the shortfall of males for commercial watermen. (Recreational harvest of females has been outlawed.)
The legal season for harvesting blue crabs can run into December, but Maryland Department of Natural Resources has ended the season early upon reaching its targeted harvest levels. Last year’s season ended Nov. 30. The year before, Nov. 19. Each year almost 50 percent of all blue crabs in the Bay are harvested.
This is the first year since record keeping began that we have reached the minimum female target level for species viability. As blue crabs spawn from May through October, this will also be the first of record with an adequate female population providing for growth.
The commercial sector has been lobbying hard for changes that would increase their incomes, most notably keeping the legal size for jimmies at five inches instead of five and one-fourth inches. Will females be the next target?
The excessive harvest of female crabs is the odds-on suspect in the many crab population crises that have occurred cyclically throughout the history of crab management.
The blue crab deserves to be regulated for overall population health.
Then, in the same media breath :
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Daily Press] by Tamara Dietrich - June 27, 2017
A 54 percent drop in juvenile crab numbers over last year means Virginia watermen could soon see tighter harvest limits for the commercial fishery.
In a Blue Crab Advisory Report released Monday, the Chesapeake Bay Program is encouraging jurisdictions to take a "risk-averse" approach and consider scaling back the fall fishery so young crabs have a chance to grow and spawn next year.
The recommendation comes as the estimate for adult female crabs this year actually increased by 30 percent over last year, to 254 million. That's higher than the target of 215 million considered a healthy female population.
But plummeting juvenile numbers dragged down the overall blue crab population by almost 18 percent, from 553 million last year to 455 million this year.
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission could make a decision on the matter as early as Tuesday afternoon at a public hearing at its offices in Newport News. VMRC manages all commercial fisheries for the state except for Atlantic menhaden, which is managed by the General Assembly.
VMRC Commissioner John Bull wasn't available Monday for comment, but told the Bay Journal last month that the juvenile numbers are a "warning sign and a blinking light."
"That means we have to be cautious in how we handle the spring fishery," Bull said. "I'm not exactly sure what it will be, but we need to do the right thing in light of the low levels of juveniles, for the health of this fishery."
According to VMRC's website, the agenda for Tuesday's meeting shows the commission is proposing to close the 2016-17 crab pot harvest season on Nov. 30, and open the 2017-18 season on March 17.
This is actually a return to a more typical harvest season after extending it last season. Because crab numbers were so good last year, VMRC had ended it on Dec. 15 and opened it March 1 this year.
The commission also is proposing a change in bushel and vessel limits for crab pot license categories.
And it could decide whether to continue to ban the winter crab dredge fishery. That fishery has been closed since 2008.
According to the advisory report, blue crabs are not being overfished, and the stock isn't depleted. The population is considered highly variable and can fluctuate from year to year from weather conditions, predation and other factors.
About 60 million pounds of blue crabs were harvested from the bay and its tributaries in the 2016 season by commercial crabbers, or about 20 percent more than in 2015, the report shows.
About 16 percent of the bay's female blue crabs were harvested, well below the "healthy" target of 25.5 percent.
J.C. Hudgins, president of the Virginia Watermen's Association, said in a phone interview Monday that commercial fishermen believe the crab population is actually "pretty healthy."
"We had a little low number on the juvenile crab count, but that could be an anomaly," Hudgins said. "It could very well level out next year."
The exploitation rate for females is low at 16 percent, he said, when experts says 28 percent to 30 percent is sustainable.
And reining in the commercial harvest now could hurt an industry that's already hurting, he said.
"We made a lot of sacrifices - all the watermen have - since 2008," said Hudgins. "I mean, 15 percent reduction in our crab pot count, and 15 percent reduction in our crab bushel count."
Meanwhile, he said, expenses and overhead continue to rise, squeezing many watermen out of the industry entirely.
About 15 years ago, there were some 2,800 watermen, he said. That has dropped to less than 800 today, with perhaps 600 of them active crabbers.
The annual Blue Crab Advisory Report is intended to provide expert analysis of data from the winter dredge survey in the bay along with harvest estimates to better inform resource management decisions. It's developed by the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee and approved by the CBP's Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team.
VMRC's meeting is set to begin at 1 p.m. at 2600 Washington Ave. in Newport News.
Dietrich can be reached by phone at 757-247-7892.
Blue crabs by the number
*Adult female crabs increased by 30 percent over last year, to 254M, higher than the target of 215M considered a healthy female population.
*Juvenile crabs are down 54 percent over last year.
*Total crab population is down 18 percent over last year, from 553M to 455M.