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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Wednesday, March 15, 2017: Storm a bomb ... insider talk about the Little Egg Inlet project; minor update on Double Creek dredge

Below: Just funny weird. This is all on the Jumbotron. Check the look on the face of the girl in front of the kisser as she sees things play out.  

Below: And they try to say that athletes are just little kids refusing to grow up ... Ha. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017: I’m gonna call that storm a bomb -- only because I was hyped for something to write home about. Wait a minute, I am home. Well, you still get my drift. Just for the needless-data books, we did get a quick touch of white at the start of the start of the storm, middle of night. The rain followed in nothing flat.

The beaches took the expected cut, though there also it wasn’t much of a showing. Nonetheless, I have no doubt this will add steam to the Little Egg Inlet sand-to-beach thinking.

LEI Semi-update: Right now, the Army Corps is looking over the state’s plans/thinking to see if it is consistent with the big Barnegat Inlet to Little Egg Inlet Coastal Storm Risk Management project. Permits cannot be issued until the DEP comes into exact alignment with that 50-year plan. I think it’s highly likely that it can. ACE actually plays very nice with others. 

Not much has been said about the absolute need for the project-makers to assure the dredging will not adversely affect the bottom biosystem.  I cannot see such a guarantee being made – and neither can most anglers. The spring migratory place-changing between winter flounder for summer flounder will be in full swing during the currently suggested (April/May) timeframe for the dredging. It could come to how much damage might be incurred during the digging of a couple/few hundred yard long, 15-foot (or so) wide channel.  

On this eco-point, I must get a tad morose.

Despite the use of screens and filters during the dredging process, I have to think the sand material arriving on the BH/Holgate beaches will have an infinitely higher portion of organic material than anything seen coming from the current ocean borrow sites. Epifauna and infauna will be hard hit.

(Epifauna

Epifauna live attached to hard surfaces such as rocks, shells and pilings or directly on the surface of the Bay’s bottom. Epifauna include oysters, sponges, sea squirts, sea stars and barnacles. An oyster reef is an example of an epifaunal benthic community.

Infauna

Infauna burrow into bottom sediments. Worms, clams and other infauna form their own communities that are connected to the water by tubes and tunnels. A healthy infaunal community contains many different species.)

A typical healthy benthic community

Bivalves (assorted types of clams) should easily weather being sucked up and falling back to the bay bottom after being filtered out. Crustaceans, especially crabs in a shed phase and sand/grass shrimp, won’t fare so well. Worms, of which there are a myriad of species, will likely do decently well, especially those that can break apart and still survive. Beloved terrapins should do absolutely fine due to their high mobility and a very keen avoidance sense; they are masters at steering clear of troubled waters up ahead.

Revisiting flatfish, they are simply not that mobile. They have this penchant to flee just a short distance ahead of trouble -- and bury themselves. That is too slow a process to escape approaching suction pipes. In fact, the impacts on winter flounder is going to be a possible choke-point for this project.

I’ve already been consulted by authorities I didn’t realize read this blog/column. My rating of the eco-impact of this project -- should I get asked -- is “low” when compared to the entire biomass size.

Important: I am gung-ho for LEI becoming a borrow zone – but NOT where they’ll be dredging for this channel. The outer shoals, at the far east end of the channel, are what I see as an astounding renewable source for the purest sand possible, with an absolutely low organic content. It’s too dynamic out there for bottom marine life to prosper. In fact, the sand on those shoals is former LBI beachfront sand that has been tumbled maybe 20 miles. It is clean and white, perfect for beach placement. However, once inside the inlet, migrating LBI sand quickly settles, becoming nutrient rich and akin to a fertilized field, open to countless forms of marine life.  That said, this channel will impact an absolutely minimal portion of the inlet’s benthically-rich bottom areas. 

Below: Massive buildup of sand at the east end of LEI. It actually needs culling. 

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Now to the other end of LBI and an inlet that makes LEI look minimally used: Barnegat Inlet (BI). 

There is also an insider dredge crisis thereabouts, primarily within Double Creek Channel, a prime artery onto BI. It extends to the waterways just west of town.

Yes, Double Creek has been on the brink of a dredging for seemingly forever. Hang-ups at the permitting level have delayed the effort something awful.  

But, for BL Borough Councilman Ed Wellington, chairman of the town's Docks and Harbors committee, hope springs eternal ... more exactly, it springs to this fall, also known as "fall of 2017."  He’s confident this time it’s for real. He has worked heartily to make it happen.

So, that's the latest word on the big suck-up of infernal sand shallowing many a BI-related channel, especially since Sandy. 

Heavily impacted by the shallowing -- and I can fully attest to this -- is the modest north/south channel at the 10th street boat launch. Its south end, very close to the heavily-used launch ramp, is just about sticking out of the water at low. While this same channel is decently deep to the north, it's too long a putt-putt for anxious boaters -- needing to go crawl-slow past occupied boat berths and bulkheads fronting livery boat rental businesses. For us hyperactive types, that 100-yard northward stretch of channel looks more like a mile.

Anyway, I hear the town is looking into maybe deepening just the low points of that highly-profitable section of waterway. ... Here, here. 

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Climate Models Predict El Nino Conditions May Return by July

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Bangkok Post] by Bloomberg News - March 15, 2017

Hong Kong/Kuala Lumpur - El Nino may develop by July as forecasters worldwide predict the pattern that can disrupt global weather is set to return this year.

Six of eight climate models predict El Nino thresholds may be reached by July, with all showing steady warming in the central tropical Pacific Ocean over the next six months, the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website on Tuesday. The bureau maintained a "watch" for the weather pattern, indicating a 50% chance of it forming this year.

Less than a year after the end of one of the strongest El Ninos on record, forecasters around the world are predicting it may make a comeback. The previous event dried up rice fields across Southeast Asia, hurt cocoa crops in Ghana and sugar cane in Thailand. Should El Nino return, it will be the first time the Pacific has swung from warm to cool and back again over a three-year span since the early 1960s.

The central Pacific is predicted to continue to warm, with neutral conditions likely for the southern hemisphere autumn, Australia's weather bureau said. From June onward, this warming is forecast to approach or surpass El Nino thresholds, it said.

Models have lower accuracy when forecasting through the southern hemisphere autumn than at other times of the year, according to the bureau.

El Nino may cause drier-than-normal conditions in Southeast Asia to develop around July to August and last through the end of the year, according to Kyle Tapley, senior agricultural meteorologist at MDA Weather Services. Areas that may be driest will be Sumatra and Malaysia, he said.

"With it being only a weak El Nino, it looks like at this point it wouldn't lead to extreme dryness," he said in an interview in Singapore on Tuesday. "But some slightly below normal rainfall will be expected during the second half of the year."

There's a 53% chance El Nino will emerge between October and December, up from 50% last month, the US Climate Prediction Center said last week. Japan sees a 40% chance of the pattern forming from spring through summer.

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Researchers in Delaware Say Sunscreen May be Harming Reproduction of Horseshoe Crabs

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The News Journal] by Molly Murray - March 15, 2017

Sunscreen is a big part of the Delaware beach experience. We slather it on, spray it and then hit the surf.

But here, in the epicenter of horseshoe crab reproduction, the lotion could be stunting baby horseshoe crabs before they ever emerge from their eggs.

And unexposed baby crabs that hatch, once exposed to small doses of seawater mixed with sunscreen, don't thrive.

The research, at the University of Delaware, has only been tested in the lab but sunscreen may be the latest contaminant linked to ecosystem problems in Delaware.

Upriver, scientists have been coping with legacy pollution for more than two decades.

The horseshoe crab work, by Danielle Dixson, an assistant professor at the University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and the Environment, was one of several research projects outlined Monday at a symposium on emerging contaminants, chemicals that are beginning to show up as sampling equipment grows more sophisticated.

Scientists from the region talked about their work including research into micro plastic pollution, contaminant exposure in ospreys and the impacts on water. The pollutants range from pharmaceuticals and flame retardants to metals, like mercury, and legacy pollutants, such as pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls.

Dixson said she decided to take a look at the impact some sunscreens have on horseshoe crabs after looking at research done on coral reefs. Hawaii officials are considering a ban on some sunscreens and in Mexico, some are already banned in critical marine habitats.

The previous work points to a potential problem with sunscreens that contain oxybenzone.

Dixson, who also studies coral reefs, said it has already been linked to DNA alterations in coral reefs and as an endocrine disrupter.

Some manufacturers are replacing oxybenzone with avobenzone, she said.

"We don't really know if it is better," she said.

The other options are sunscreens made with zinc or titanium dioxide, she said. Those, too, are little studied in the marine environment.

Last year, Dixson decided to see if the chemical could have an impact on horseshoe crabs.

She said she was especially interested in the impact on the species because the crabs are part of a mass spawning and play a critical role in shorebird migration each spring. In addition, adults spawn near the water's edge, the very same place that swimmers enter the water.

"With the new trend in spray sunscreens. . .  Imagine how much ends up on the sand," she said.

For the research project, she and her team collected three clutches of horseshoe crab eggs, brought them back to the lab and placed then in a sea water solution with a small amount of sunscreen added. They used three doses of sunscreen and also kept one group free of sunscreen.

Then she waited and watched to see how the eggs developed.

"The survivorship was severely impacted by the sunscreen," she said. "They never actually hatched out of the eggs."

Dixson focuses on marine animal responses to chemical cues so she took some of the surviving crab larvae -- tiny animals that look just like a mature horseshoe crab -- and added them to a seawater-sunscreen solution. She wanted to see whether the chemical would affect their behavior.

They became sluggish and barely moved while the crabs in regular sea water were much more active.

An estimated 1.8 million people visit Cape Henlopen State Park every year and as many as 80 percent of them are using the beaches. The park overlooks the Carl N. Shuster Jr. Horseshoe Crab Sanctuary, an area off Delaware Bay where fishing for horseshoe crabs is banned.

Horseshoe crab populations are considered stable by most fishery managers but intensive overfishing in the 1990s depleted the population. The population is still well below levels in the 1980s. The animals, which predate dinosaurs on earth, are used as bait in the conch and eel fisheries. In addition, their blood is extracted and used in biomedical research.

The crabs, which are more closely related to spiders, play a key role in the migration of shorebirds each spring. The birds arrive each May from South and Central America and feast on the crab eggs before heading to their Arctic Breeding Grounds. The migration draws thousands of visitors to the Delaware Bay shore every year.

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All, 

Trying to start this note with a smile on your face and hoping that you are not too snowed in wherever you are upon reading this! 

Thank you for your interest in Mid-Atlantic ocean planning. I’m following up by way of this communication with several people I either heard from or spoke with directly in response to our previous e-mail suggesting a conference call with rec fishing community members. I encourage you to please share this invitation with others you feel I might have missed but you believe would like to be offered this opportunity. (i.e. fishing charter boat interests) 

The Society will host an informal meeting for recreational fishing group/club representatives at our Toms River office.  Below is a meeting poll link to find out what date and time works best for most – I will send a final date selection based on responses and ask that you then RSVP with your availability. 

Feel free to send this link to anyone you wish to invite http://doodle.com/poll/qdfrbbn55c5zqw5v 

This meeting is intended to be an informal discussion (perhaps only a handful of people) about the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Plan, increasing stakeholder participation/sharing of information and, more specifically, the potential ways we may be able to work together to develop additional recreational fishing information for the ocean data portal

Thank you very much! 

Kind regards, 

Helen

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Photo: Chinese chefs prepare Boston lobsters at the Auspicious Garden restaurant in the Pangu Seven Star Hotel ..

China's Taste for Lobster is Keeping Maine Fishermen Flush with Cash

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Quartz Media] by Gwynn Guilford - March 15, 2017

Seafood is a classic luxury item in China. But until recently, people there weren’t big on lobster. The iconic, bright-red crustaceans were known as the “Boston lobster,” and were a rarity compared to other fancy oceanic eats like sea cucumbers or geoduck clams.

But the economic boom in China has given the country’s swelling ranks of rich people a chance to expand their culinary horizons. For Maine’s lobster industry, the crustacean craze couldn’t have come at a better time.

In 2016, Maine’s lobstermen landed more lobsters than ever in recorded history: 130 million pounds (59,000 tonnes), a haul that weighs as much as three Statues of Liberty.

But record catches aren’t necessarily great for lobstermen. In 2012, Maine caught 126 million pounds of lobsters, which at the time was off the charts. Prices promptly plunged. The luxury crustacean that typically retails for around $18 a pound was suddenly “cheaper than deli meats.” So desperate were lobstermen to offload their supply that lobster were selling for as little as $1.25 a pound—even though the break-even point is roughly $4 per pound. That was more than a little worrisome, given that the lobster industry contributes an estimated $1.7 billion to the Maine economy—roughly 3% of the state’s GDP.

Last year, Maine lobstermen landed around the same volume they had during the catastrophic glut of 2012. This time, however, prices per pound were comfortably above the break-even mark. The total haul brought in a record-breaking $533 million to the state’s lobster industry—nearly 50% more than the average of the previous 10 years, even after adjusting for inflation.

So how can Maine’s docks be crawling with lobsters without dragging down prices? It’s (mostly) thanks to China.

Back in 2010, China accounted for about 1% of US exports of American lobsters, by value. By last year, that figure had leapt to 15%. (Granted, not all of these were necessarily from Maine—about 17% of total US lobster landings come from elsewhere in New England.)

China is now the US’s second-biggest American destination for lobster exports, after Canada. One reason for surging demand from the Far East is that Australia, China’s chief source of lobsters in the past, has seen its lobster population shrivel by almost half, due to falling numbers of baby lobsters.

But the far bigger factors here are growing consumer awareness—and availability. Getting Maine lobsters on the luxury map in China was particularly tricky given that they’re not as easy to export as lobsters from Canada—Maine’s, er, main competitor. In late spring and summer, lobsters head to warmer waters to shed their shells and let their bodies grow. Since this also happens to be lobstering season in Maine, these “shedders,” as lobstermen call them, have softer exteriors than lobsters caught in chilly Canadian waters. Also known as “mush monsters” or “jelly rolls,” the softer lobsters present a bit of a challenge when it comes to shipping—though Mainers maintain they taste better.

However, the 2012 price crash had one big upside. In the rush to unload soft-shell lobsters before they spoiled, lobstermen and dealers began shipping them live to China. Once the new trade channels had been established, live lobster shipments to China continued to climb, nearly tripling in value last year.

As demand has picked up, a slew of vendors have taken to selling Maine lobsters via online platforms, such as Tmall, Alibaba’s Amazon-like retail site. Tellingly, they’re selling them under the moniker “Maine big lobster,” not Boston. Chinese consumers may be half a world away, but now they know where the good stuff comes from—and how to get it.

 

 

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