Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Dec. 28/29 ... Birders by the flockful ... other stuff

Snow bunting (see below).


The showing of birders on Saturday was easily on par with the eruption of snowy owls that has attracted them to the far south end. It was Grand Central Owl Station. And much like that famed NYC transit system locale, there were all types of birding folks afoot in Holgate.

I talked with a ton of binocular/scope/camera-toting folks and this might sound like a stretch for many anglers, but, for me, seeing those birdwatchers focusing in on snowy owls was damn near as exciting as traveling the beach and seeing anglers hooked up. Quite cool.

On a mildly, to-be-expected down side, I caught some disparaging words and a few of those tell-tale glares (from mainly gals) insinuating “You shouldn’t be driving out here.”

Never mind the fact that if it weren’t for us local Holgate-ites few folks would even know the owls were there. Furthermore, they wouldn’t even be visiting LBI if it weren’t for the owls. But, to those whiners, we’re suddenly not supposed to be on principal alone. I didn’t say a word back at them, still being in a holiday (vacation) state of relaxed mind.

In retrospect, I have a feeling wherever those glare-y folks go – and whatever they’re doing – they’re going to find something to be all pissy and bitchy about. That must be a sad way to live, indeed.

But lest I leave on the pissamonious note, 95 percent of the bird people were really great – and a goodly number thanked me and others for updating them about the owl showing, via Facebook and this blog. I also got some excellent bird photography tips.

Refuge enforcement (Chris) did have to shoo a few folks off refuge land. I think verbal warning was enough to get word back to anyone else thinking about impinging on the wilderness area.

On a more technical birding note, some fine flocks of snow buntings are flitting about around Holgate. If sanderlings are a favorite snack of snowy owls, snow buntings are the perfect finger food. Virtually all smaller raptors covet buntings.


BUGGY BANTER: A quick bit of technical off-roading talk.

I was contacted by a college grad (congrats, Lou!) who got a 4WD truck as a combo graduation/birthday/Christmas present.  He asked a damn decent question for a newbie.

“My truck (GMC) has an “auto” four-wheel drive and a four-wheel drive high. The dealer said it’s fine to drive onto the beach in “auto.”

No disrespect to the dealer – and congrats on that sale – but that’s a buncha crap.

When it comes to hitting the beach, “auto” can cause your truck to have what might be called an instant of uncertainty, as it tries to figure out why things just went from smooth and easy (road) to insanely sinky. By the time it throws the transmission into 4WD, you better hope you haven’t come on the beach at a bad place, i.e. virtually any and every access point. The worst sand is almost always at access/exit areas. The last place you want even a microsecond of 4WD engagement uncertainty is at that point.

Before going onto a beach, stop the vehicle and turn the nob onto 4WDH, then proceed.

When driving the roadways, especially around LBI, drive in “auto.”

Actually, I never use the 2WD option. It might serve up better gas mileage but I’ll take a slight hit to my mpg for the sake of having a computer covering my ass should the road suddenly go psycho.   


Fun watch:



How to jettison a squirrel. Hopefully no living creature was hurt in this redneck move ... 



The man is a fishing machine and he was on FIRE this morning ( just like the background). Here's @[1504891552:2048:Al Ristori] with one of many fish. :-)
The man is a fishing machine and he was on FIRE this morning ( just like the background). Here's Al Ristori with one of many fish.
Whoa... Melt a stick of #butter in the pan. Slice one #lemon and layer it on top of the butter. Put down fresh #shrimp, then sprinkle one pack of dried #Italian seasoning. Put in the oven and bake at 350 for 15 min. Best Shrimp you will EVER taste :)
Whoa... Melt a stick of ‪#‎butter‬ in the pan. Slice one ‪#‎lemon‬ and layer it on top of the butter. Put down fresh ‪#‎shrimp‬, then sprinkle one pack of dried‪#‎Italian‬ seasoning. Put in the oven and bake at 350 for 15 min. Best Shrimp you will EVER taste 
Spanish Mackeral, yum

Maryland's commercial rockfish industry will have catch shares as of Jan 1st

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Baltimore Sun] by Timothy B. Wheeler - December 26, 2013

Sharing is often considered a good thing. But ask fishermen to share their catch, especially of Maryland's state fish, and things can get testy - with seafood consumers on the hook for how it plays out. [Our prediction is better prices for harvesters, plus better availability for buyers - kind of a win/win as has happened numerous times with other specific fisheries- JS]

Maryland is changing the way striped bass are caught for sale, ending decades of regulating the popular Chesapeake Bay fish by limiting the times when it can be harvested. Starting Jan. 1, commercial fishermen will have individual quotas of striped bass they can catch almost any time, not just in the relative handful of days permitted this year.

State officials say the change to catch shares, as the quotas are known, should help fishermen make a better living while improving oversight of harvests of the much-sought-after fish with distinctive black stripes — known popularly as rockfish.

Some of the state's watermen welcome the flexibility of being allowed to fish when it suits them, rather than compete in all kinds of weather in one- or two-day fishing "derbies."

But others complain that the quotas rob them of initiative by limiting the amount they can catch, in some cases well below what they've been landing lately. They warn that the cutback could drive them into oystering or other pursuits, making the tasty fish — a holiday staple for some — pricier and harder to come by in local restaurants and at seafood counters.

"Back in the old days — which wasn't really more than five or six years ago — we could fish five days a week and catch 1,200 pounds a day," said Don Marani, a commercial fisherman and proprietor of Don's Seafood in Fells Point. "Now we can catch in a year what we used to be able to catch in a day. … I mean, rockfish is a great fish, but you can buy red snapper cheaper."

At least one local chef, though, anticipates that the change will let his restaurant carry rockfish on the menu more frequently, and often at more reasonable prices.

"I think now it'll end up being more of a mainstay once it goes into effect, because I'll be able to get it a lot more regularly," said Chad Wells, executive chef at Alewife, a downtown restaurant. Wells predicted that prices, which have gyrated between $7 and $22 a pound, also should stabilize.

State fisheries officials say they're not trying to hurt watermen.

"Whenever you have a major change like this … you have winners and losers," said Tom O'Connell, state fisheries director. "It sorts itself out."

Catch shares are catching on worldwide, covering 15 major fisheries in the United States. Advocates, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, say shares help eliminate overfishing, produce more fish at lower costs to consumers and improve fishermen's safety and profits.

But individual quotas have drawn criticism from some commercial fishing organizations and even from some environmentalists, who argue that dividing up the catch can drive small fishermen out of business and harm traditional fishing communities.

This is Maryland's first major venture into catch shares, though they've been used in a few smaller fisheries.

The stakes are high with rockfish. They are Maryland's third-most-valuable seafood after blue crabs and oysters, with a dockside value of nearly $6 million.

Overfishing so depleted them in the 1980s, however, that the state imposed a five-year catch moratorium. With continuing concerns about their health and fishing pressure, they're tightly regulated.

In recent years, said Michael Luisi, director of estuarine and marine finfish, the total allowable catch has shrunk by 25 percent, reducing the season at the end of the year to a couple of days a week for a couple of weeks in November and December.

The final day for striped bass harvest this month was Dec. 18, when temperatures hovered around freezing and winds gusted to 25 miles per hour.

Frigid, even snowy weather often proves best for catching the fish, said Donald C. Pierce, 65, a veteran fisherman from Rock Hall. He and his two helpers were on the water from 2 a.m. until 9 p.m. on the final day, he said, but they netted nearly 1,000 pounds.

"This is not a 9-to-5 job," Pierce said, with no guarantee of catching the quota on any given day. "The fish hold the upper hand."

State officials say they were prompted to end the derby tradition after the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates near-shore fishing, decreed that all striped bass caught for sale be individually tagged. State regulators concluded it would be an administrative nightmare to continue the on-again, off-again season for those who harvest the bulk of the state's striped bass, Luisi said.

So, with a total of 1.9 million pounds of rockfish allowed to be caught for sale next year, state officials have divided the commercial harvest up among 1,100 fishermen. A third of the catch went to about 100 fishermen who use staked "pound nets" to catch their prey, while the rest was split among 958 fishermen who go after rockfish with gill nets or hook-and-line gear

Posted:   Friday, December 27, 2013

Magnuson draft proposal includes more management flexibility and replacing the term 'overfished'

Magnuson draft proposal includes more management flexibility and replacing the term 'overfished'
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Alaska Journal of Commerce] by Molly Dischner - December, 27, 2013
The act regulating America’s fisheries could see changes under the discussion draft proposed by the House Natural Resources Committee.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act, or MSA, was up for reauthorization this year but that process won’t be finalized until 2014.
The House Natural Resources Committee released draft legislation Dec. 19 with 30 pages of proposed MSA changes that address several major fisheries issues, including catch share programs, electronic monitoring, rebuilding plans and the term “overfished.”
The draft legislation would authorize the MSA through 2018, and also authorize appropriations for five more years at the current funding level.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., chairman of that committee, said the changes will help fisheries managers balance the biological needs of fish and the economic needs of fishermen.
“The purpose of this draft proposal is to gather public input and to see how to best improve and modernize this important law governing fisheries,” Hastings said in an official statement. “This proposal would give regional fishery managers increased flexibility to deal with the complexity of fishery issues and provide economic stability and certainty to fishermen and fishery dependent communities. It also would improve data collection and increase transparency so that management decisions are based on sound science and all who are impacted by this law can have an active role in the process.”
Several of the changes would provide fisheries managers with more flexibility, which is what stakeholders asked for during a series of hearings held about the act, according to the committee statement released with the draft.

One such change would allow regional fishery management councils — such as the North Pacific Fishery Management Council — to phase rebuilding plans in over a three-year period “to lessen economic harm to fishing communities.” That would apply in “highly dynamic fisheries.”
It would also change the time for rebuilding stocks. Currently, rebuilding plans are required to restore a stock’s status to a healthy state within 10 years. Under the draft language, rebuilding plans would need to rebuild the stock in the amount of time that it would take to rebuild without any fishing, plus the average lifecycle of the species.
The change would also allow certain exceptions — for instance, if that time frame threatened another stock or caused significant economic harm it would not necessarily apply. A council could also stop fishery changes under a rebuilding plan if a stock seemed to recover more quickly.
The legislation would also swap the term “overfished” out of the MSA, and use “depleted” instead.

According to the text of the bill, that change is meant to allow for a distinction between fisheries that are depleted because of fishing, and those that are depleted because of other factors.
The act also specifies that compliance with the MSA will fulfill National Environmental Policy Act requirements.
Pacific Seafood Processors Vice President Vince O’Shea wrote that the change is beneficial because it will streamline the management process.
The legislation also addresses data confidentiality and transparency.
O’Shea said harvesters and processors will also benefit from strengthened confidentiality provisions in the draft language.
The language also details that any information collected can be used for determinations in a catch share program.
The changes would also require the Secretary of Commerce to work with the regional councils to develop electronic monitoring regulations within six months of implementation, and would limit the use of electronic monitoring for law enforcement.
At the council level, the draft language calls for audio, video and a complete transcript of each council and Scientific and Statistical Committee meeting to be available within 30 days of the meeting.
Catch share programs also would be adjusted under the draft legislation.
The law would define catch share programs in regulation, and give processors a spot at the table as future programs are developed.
Catch share programs allocate shares of the total harvest to individual owners, typically based on catch history. Generally, the programs are intended to end the race for fish and give vessels a better way to minimize prohibited species catch.
The definition proposed by the House would allow for allocations to individuals, cooperatives, communities, sectors, processors and regional fishery organizations.
Previously, there was no blanket definition that included processors, although the Act enabled consideration of processors in determining community impacts, assessing community and regional association participation in quota programs, and allowed for processor quota in specific programs.
O’Shea wrote in an email that the change wouldn’t add anything new in the act because processors have been eligible for harvest shares previously, but this does redefine individual fishing quota systems to call them “catch shares.”
“Our hope would be that the final Bill will include broader authority for the Councils to incorporate processors in various rationalization programs, such as (American Fisheries Act) style cooperatives,” O’Shea wrote on behalf of the organization.
Processors have been included in past programs, with specific congressional authorization, but a 2009 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration legal opinion stated that processing was not fishing, and thus not eligible for a quota shares under the MSA for any programs created by a regional fishery management council.
In Alaska, the Bering Sea pollock and crab programs implemented in 2002 and 2005 include processors, but the Gulf of Alaska rockfish program, which was renewed for 10 years in 2012, does not. The original rockfish pilot program included linkages between fishermen and their historic processors for deliveries, but based on the 2009 legal opinion from NOAA, the North Pacific council severed those linkages when it renewed the program.
Kodiak processors sued in 2012 to attempt to reverse that action and revert to the pilot rockfish program rules, but were denied before the summary judgment phase of the case when a federal judge ruled that they could not sue under the National Environmental Policy Act alleging only economic harm under the new rules.
The Kodiak processors argued that not including them in quota allocations shifted all the benefits of rationalization to the fishermen and forced them to pay a higher price per pound to compete for deliveries.
Language that specifically allows processors to be allocated a share of the fishery, however, could change how the council crafts a future Gulf of Alaska rationalization program. It could also change the rockfish program, which could be revised when it sunsets.
The draft also changes the referendum program under which fishermen in certain regions must approve catch share plans.
Currently, the New England and Gulf of Mexico councils cannot create a individual fishing quota program unless two-thirds of fishermen eligible to participate vote in favor of it. Under the changed language, “a majority” must vote in favor of the program.
Now, the House committee is taking comment on the proposed changes at magnusonstevens@mail.house.gov. A hearing on the legislation is expected in January, according to a Dec. 12 statement from Hastings.
The Senate is also working on its own version of the legislation.
Rep. Don Young’s press secretary Matt Shuckerow wrote in an email that the law has a proven track record in the North Pacific.
“The draft legislation provides a strong basis to build a reauthorization through many widely supported improvements of a national scope, including providing Councils greater flexibility in managing their fisheries,” Shuckerow wrote.
Alaskans are encouraged to provide Alaska-specific suggestions directly to Young’s office, as well, according to Shucker



Views: 568

Comment by Chris Garrity on December 30, 2013 at 10:38am

Sorry to pick nits, Jay, but the word to describe what the owls are doing is irruption, not eruption. More info is here: http://www.birdsource.org/ibs/irruption.html

Comment by jaymann on December 30, 2013 at 4:59pm

Thanks, Chris! (Did you really just happen to know that? Be honest. lol) But now that word is out, I guess I can't play with the word "eruption" -- as in Vesuvius. Irruption it is then. 

Comment by Chris Garrity on December 30, 2013 at 6:22pm

I read it in the paper when the snowy owl thing started. 

Not that you asked, but every time I see "eruptions" I think of Volcanic Eruptions, a low-rent "gentlemen's club" in Egg Harbor Township. Like a gentleman would ever set foot in that place! 

Comment by jaymann on December 30, 2013 at 6:29pm

Get this: They wanted to build just such a men's club on Rte. 539 and the Parkway -- where the shooting range is now at. 


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