Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thursday Feb 14, 08: Seals and Horseshoe crabs

Thursday, February 14, 2008:
The last few days have seen a number of seal strandings and sightings along the LBI beachfront. A couple of the seals seemed to be a sick. There were also reports of seals likely just basking.

Per usual, don’t mess with beached seals, be they stranded or just pulling out for a breather. It’s against federal law to harass marine mammals.

I read they’ll be doing the annual seal hunt up in Canada. Since we perpetually hear the grim side of this fierce harvesting (culling) technique, here’s a partial read by those closer to the actual harvesting:
“It's that time of year again when certain groups begin distributing misinformation about Canada's harp seal hunt, which tarnishes the reputation of Aboriginal and Atlantic sealers. As Canada's Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, I want to make sure the facts are clear.
“Canada's commercial seal hunts are humane, sustainable and economically important, based on sound conservation principles and regulations that are carefully monitored and enforced. Our quota levels ensure the continued health and abundance of seal herds, and with more than 5.5 million harp seals just off Canada's shores it's wrong for anyone to suggest that their population is at risk. This number is triple what it was in the 1970s….”
OUR TO-DO: We’re in the midst of less bloody but no less combative and controversial harvest, that of the horseshoe crab.
As you know, the NJMFC voted to lift the moratorium on horseshow crab harvesting, despite overwhelming public support for the continuation of the moratorium -- in an effort to help save the shorebird called the red knot.
I’ve been holding my tongue on this since the governor may (likely will) intervene and re-close the fishery, which will lead to the issue going before the courts -- where (my guess is) it will go back in favor of the harvesters.
I’ve warned in the past that this entire issue is one for recreational anglers to steer clear of. Or, if that’s not possible, to side with conservationists, i.e. bird people fanatically supporting the moratorium.
Supporting the moratorium is exactly what the recreational members of the council did – smartly. The rationale there is not what you might think. It mainly equates to discretion being the better part of valor. And way better for public relations.
Only a day before the NJMFC vote, the nation watched the cable program: “Crash: A Tale of Two Species” (see http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/crash/) on the Nature Channel. The show was about the vital interrelationship between the knots and the horseshoe crabs (actually a member of the spider family). It was one of the most watched shows on that channel in many moons.
The vote by the commercial members of the NJMFC to lift the moratorium was a total black eye for conservationism in NJ. It was back to New Joisey in one felled swoop. It’s maddening since I know for a fact that the great majority of Jerseyans are staunch conservationists; even Jerseyans living in large, when questioned about preserving wildlife, are overwhelmingly for it.
But for baymen and commercial fishermen, much more goes along with this vote. I often say with total seriousness: Don’t mess with those bird people. They are as dedicated to their realm as any group in the country. Not only do they have massive political clout – and solidarity when it comes to voting against any politico who run contrary to their conservational beliefs – but they have memories that just won’t quit. The animosity they now feel toward those baymen and commercialites will carry over to issues where the baymen will need support they might have gotten from the birders.
By the by, there are compelling reason why the likes of Joe Rizzo (shellfishermen rep from Stafford)) and Fran Puskas (BL commercial fishermen) voted to lift the moratorium but those reasons simply can’t outweigh the negative publicity for the groups they represent.
As you know, we as anglers are served by the eel fishermen who use horseshow crab bait. But, firstly, there are other baits and, secondly, we have seen the advantages of having the bird people either remaining neutral or even coming to our assistance when we have much larger management fish to fry.
I’m getting more tales of insane stripering to our south. I had two folks ask not to publish their emails because they’re worried there might be negative feedback because they’re down there fishing. Absurd! You guys have every right in the world to be cashing in on those bass. Best of luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Here’s an email:
“Here's a website of one of the guys I fish with out of NC. Last 2 winters, he fished out of VA Beach because the stripers never made it down to Oregon Inlet. If you page down to recent reports, you'll see 60-100 stripers caught in a morning or afternoon session by 3-4 people in the last week or so. I had one day like that on a 70 degree New Years Eve about 4-5 years ago out of Oregon Inlet. Wish I could make it down there again now. http://beachbumfishing.com/”

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