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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday, September 05, 2017: Here’s where I get to shed the better-them-than-us selfishness and openly worry for the folks ...

Tuesday, September 05, 2017: Here’s where I get to shed the better-them-than-us selfishness and openly worry for the folks about to be clobbered – maybe close to annihilated – by Catty-5 Irma.

Here’s hoping the mountains of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and – last resort – Cuba knock Irma down to a more survivable size -- though Irma seems to be steering slightly north of those islands. 

OK, I guess even that’s sorta US-centric. But, I absolutely and sincerely fear for folks on those always hurricane-vulnerable Caribbean islands. Many people thereupon are destitute. It’s unfair that they’re so put-upon. But all the hope and unfairness anger won’t drop Irma's MPHness one iota -- the mountains need to do that. All we can do is stand at the ready to help with the aftermath.

Now on to Florida … and, afterwards, the need to bring up an ugly reality for coastal home owners here on LBI.

The Sunshine State sure looks to be in the angry path of Irma, likely to be victimized, possibly big time.

Overlooked by many: We're in a full moon cycle, meaning enhanced high tides in hurricane zones. 

I’ll note here that my long-standing fear Irma might reach the Gulf remains in play, now up to a 50-50 chance. Should Irma get over Gulf waters, there could be utter hell to pay for the Florida panhandle.

That Gulf probability at least mentioned, I think we all see awful things ahead for the Keys and northward to well above Miami.

Of import: The Everglades are already overflowing from record rains in recent months. Adjacent Broward County recently broke an all-time summer rain total, as have areas along the western side of Florida.

Even if the winds recede within Irma, landfall will surely mean insane rainfall amounts -- though NOT in the 50-inch, Houston-ish category.

I bring up the Everglades since its overflow can actually impact adjacent areas, as far away as Miami, in an odd way, via a dangerous creature overflow. Huge rattlesnakes, child-eating pythons, alligators out the kazoo, black bears, panthers, disease-ish bugs -- even a skunk ape or two. 

IMPORTANT: Now on to an ugly and potentially pocket-painful combined impact from Harvey, Irma and any ‘canes yet to come.

If you think we’re paying horribly high amounts for flood insurance now, just wait until the water clears and tens of thousands of “full-replacement” costs totally eat away at the federal flood insurance (NFIP) coffers.

I don’t think this is my fear alone. A fellow wiser than me on the subject suggests the subject of federal flood insurance could get crazy in Congress … and reach the desk of a cut-cost dude named Trump -- though they might lynch him up in Texas if he tries any of that-there funny business right about now. 

Since many folks, myself included, have mortgages requiring constant flood insurance, there’s nowhere to run and hide from what could be a doubling, even tripling of rates. Again, I’m being paranoid, though duly so, per experts. 

Some of you might know that reneging on a flood insurance policy allows the bank holding one’s mortgage to legally power-purchase flood insurance … at the policy holder’s expense. For those running with foreclosure snapping at their heels, any added IOU could be the kiss of home-ownership death.

I’ll herein share the exact legal language of one mortgage company: “Because flood insurance is required on the property, we plan to buy insurance for the property. We must be reimbursed …”

Now, for the killer: “The (flood) insurance we buy may be significantly more expensive than independently obtained insurance.”

If you’ve ever seen the discrepancy in flood insurance prices, you know that a random, i.e. easily obtained policy can by as much as three times that of a shopped policy. In my case, high end is $4,500 annually -- for what I now have pared down to $1500.

Here's a quick insight from www.bostonglobe.com:

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is set to expire Sept. 30, and even before Harvey, Congress was struggling to right a program that was already more than $24 billion in debt — and had little additional capacity to cover the losses on the scale expected from Harvey.

An analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence estimated the NFIP had $105 billion in insurance-in-force, or the value of policies in place, in the Harvey-affected regions of Texas.

I have to think this news might even put a damper on what has been a home-buying spree on LBI. 

I know this throws cold water on a beautiful day but it’s post-season and we need to talk of such things, as in now, i.e. while on Irma and Harvey time.

"My flood insurance went up how much!!!"

By the by, this in no way suggests we shouldn't give till it hurt when helping folks in hurricane-ravaged places. Those donations are between us friends, so to speak. 

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(Eat scallops with a clean green conscience ...)

Kevin Stokesbury’s SMAST Scallop Survey Covers Entire East Coast; Projects Good Biomass

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [South Coast Today] By Don Cuddy - September 5, 2017

It’s been a long and busy summer for Kevin Stokesbury and his team of scallop researchers at UMass Dartmouth’s School for Marine Science and Technology. But a lot of sea time, following many months of preparation, has paid off in a big way. “We surveyed the entire footprint of the scallop resource from Virginia all the way up to the Hague Line,” Kevin told me. “That’s 70,000 kilometers square, a huge area. We’re all really jazzed.”

The data was gathered using the system developed by Kevin in the 90′s, dropping underwater cameras mounted on a steel pyramid to the sea bed from the deck of a commercial scalloper. The work began at the end of April and finished in mid-July.

“We sampled over three thousand stations and you can multiply that by four drops at each location. Then multiply that by three because there are three cameras. So that’s a huge amount of information.”

As any fisherman can tell you, SMAST has been doing groundbreaking industry-based research for more than two decades. The drop-camera was pioneered to count scallops on Georges Bank in 1999 and proved a game changer that rescued what was then an ailing industry.

The resulting pictures provided independent evidence that what fishermen had been saying was correct. There were plenty of scallops out there awaiting harvest in spite of what the government survey would have everyone believe.

Barney Frank showed Kevin’s pictures to Bill Daley, Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton at the time. Daley was persuaded and he allowed the fishermen to go out and harvest them. New Bedford has been the top fishing port in the country ever since.

Kevin did that first survey bare-bones, using a TV set from Walmart and some coaxial cable. He and his students are a little better equipped these days. With the help of a Mattapoisett company called Electromechanica they have made the leap to fiber optics and high resolution imagery — that’s .29 millimeters per pixel for you cognoscenti. Also, with help from some colleagues in Iceland, they have found a way to load the data on to Google Earth. This will provide open access to anyone who wants to view the photos.

“They will be able to go online, look at the whole survey footprint, put their cursor on any location and see an actual image of the sea floor,” Stokesbury said.

I imagine there will be some boat owners and captains who might find this of more than passing interest.

The respect accorded to Stokesbury and SMAST by the industry is evidenced by the fact that the first three captains who took the drop camera out on their boats in 1999 were still out there with him this summer — Dan Eilertsen on the Liberty, Chris Wright on the Huntress and Gabe Miranda, then on the Friendship, now on the Resolution. A total of nine industry boats were used, all contributing their time and crews. “The industry stepped up in a big way both with financial support and the donation of boats and expertise.” Stokesbury said.

So what does this mountain of data reveal about the condition of the resource you may ask? The news is encouraging. “In 2012 there was a big recruitment on Georges and in 2015 there was another one in the mid-Atlantic,” Kevin explained. “These happen every several years and that’s what really drives the scallop population.” For the ten years from 2004 to 2014 there were roughly 8 billion scallops in the resource. “Now with these recruitment events the population now is closer to 30 billion. That’s more scallops than we’ve ever seen before,” he said.” That’s not beyond all proportion or belief but it’s very strong.” In metric tons that’s 337,000 which translates to 745 million pounds.

That means the exploitable biomass, scallops which can be caught with a four-inch ring or larger, is about 352 million pounds. That the resource is in good shape is attributable in some measure to sound management but in large part because of good science. “It’s a real advantage to being able to see where the recruitment occur and then watching these populations grow,” Stokesbury said.

And also to have several independent surveys to compare the results, he pointed out. This summer the Virginia Institute of Marine Science did a dredge survey and the National Marine Fisheries Service also completed a “habcam” survey using a camera that’s towed behind a boat to film habitat. “There are a lot of people working on this and I think that is one of the reasons the resource is doing so well,” Stokesbury said.

That’s a typically modest and self-effacing assessment from the professor. The resource is also doing so well because SMAST, its students and the scallop industry have been fortunate enough to benefit from the vision, leadership and common sense of this man from Nova Scotia.

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