Wednesday, December 30, 2009:
Yesterday was as bitter as it gets. Let’s hope that a freeze-ass start to winter means the good times are coming in the form of an Indian Spring. Yep,an Indian Spring. Hell, if we can have an Indian Summer, where the mild weather hangs around smoking a peace pipe right up until Indian Christmas, why can’t we have an Indian Spring, where the mild spring weather sneaks in before winter know what hit it? Sure works for me.
Anyway, that warm-up is sure not on the immediate icicle-fanged horizon so we have to get down to some somber fireplace-based studying, beginning with your immediate(!) reading of a deadly important “final statement” from the increasingly anti-recreational fishing National Marine Fisheries Service.
First of all, if you have even the remotest desire to fish for the rest of your days – or pass angling on to your kids or grandkids -- you must not only read but utterly digest the grizzly guts of this report. Even you vegetarians.
Realize from the get-go that anything you read within this document has been written in a meticulous manner by NMFS. By that I mean that the wording of this document has been painstakingly gone over and over with a legal fine-tooth comb. Some of the implications are so severe that you’ll be inclined to pray that NMFS isn’t saying what you think it’s saying.
By the by, this document is written to be understood. The reason it is easy to read is because NMFS wants the average fishermen (angler or commercial) to get the full intent of where fishing in America is soon going.
All that said, below is the portion regarding anglers, i.e. recreational fishermen. It is of beyond-must-read import. However, the entire document is well within the must-read realm. To take it all in go to
I must aim your attention to the abysmal implication in the document's statement, “By 2020, continued growth in recreational angling will require that anglers focus more on the fishing experience and less on the number of fish landed.”
That writing is on the wall, so to speak. The effort for the next decade will be essentially to make angling a catch-and-release pastime, clearing the way for an outright harvesting takeover by commercial fishermen.
You’ll see the above concept made uglier in the Nostradamus-like prediction written further down in the document: “It is conceivable that the cumulative total of post-release mortality (by anglers) could increase to levels equal to the total allowable mortality for a fishery.”
Yes, that means that even recreational fishing could be verboten if the perceived post-release mortality is thought to exceed allowable catch. Obviously, that’s an insane contradiction of the first statement to make angling fully catch-and-release. The implication: even catch-and-release might be unacceptable. What measure lies beyond catch-and-release?
You tell me if I’m misreading this “easy to read” document.
For those of you who feared that the angler registry was secretly up to no good, take the above statement and align with the very next statement in the document: “As the number of recreational fishermen continues to increase, improved monitoring will be necessary to assess the fishing effort and catch. A national saltwater angler’s registry under development will be
a necessary tool to collect data.”
How can you not make the connection between the registry and NMFS’s stated belief that post catch-and-release mortality might mean any form of angling is too dangerous to allow? The registry, by definition, is meant to ascertain whether too many fish are dying after release!
A bit further down, NMFS tastefully backs off a bit by reiterating, “By 2020, angler satisfaction is derived from the recreational fishing experience rather than the take or ‘kill’ fish.”
Hell, the commercial industry has to be licking its chops over this portion of the report.
Enough of my ranting. Please read the following document. I’ll surely entertain notions (and emails) that I’m overreacting. One thing I think you’ll surely agree: This is a pivotal point in the history of angling in America – and the fine thanks we get for all our conservation efforts, eh?
APPENDIX IV: RECREATIONAL FISHING
Issue Statement 1: Growth in populations and coastal tourism are resulting in
increasing numbers of recreational fishermen. Therefore, the impact these fishermen
are having on fish stocks is increasing. As this demand for recreational fishing
continues to increase, recreational fishermen will request increases in fish allocated to
the recreational sector.
Background: According to a NOAA report21, an estimated 153 million people lived in
coastal counties in 2003. This population represents an increase of 33 million people or
28 percent from 1980. In addition, a review of NOAA sponsored Marine Recreational
Fisheries Statistical Survey data from the years 1981 to 2005 shows a near doubling
nationally of marine recreational anglers from 6.9 million to 11.2 million or a growth rate
of approximately 3 percent per year. The value of recreational fishing as an economic
engine for coastal communities should be recognized and exploited to a greater degree.
The recreational fishing experience could rival or exceed recreational fishing catch as a
prime motivator for recreational fishing.
Current Situation: The current rate of increase in the angling population creates new
management concerns. If the rate of recreational fishermen continues to increase at 3
percent per annum, by 2020 the number of recreational fishermen will increase by 7.3
million to a projected level of 18.5 million. This change will result in a significant
increase of fishing effort and catch (i.e., mortality), all else equal. By 2020 continued
growth in recreational angling will require that anglers focus more on the fishing
experience and less on the number of fish landed. However, while post-release mortality
in catch and release fisheries is usually low (often 2-5 percent), as fishing effort
increases, post-release mortality will become an increasing proportion of total mortality.
It is conceivable that the cumulative total of post-release mortality could increase to
levels equal to the total allowable mortality for a fishery. As the number of recreational
fishermen continues to increase, improved monitoring will be necessary to assess the
fishing effort and catch. A national saltwater angler’s registry under development will be
a necessary tool to collect data.
Preferred State in 2020: Many recreational species have limited population growth rates
and are too valuable to be caught only once. By 2020, catch and release fishing is
emphasized and accounted for in specific species assessments. The proper techniques for
release are refined and disseminated to lower post release mortality. For other fisheries,
minimum size limits and reduced daily bag limits are sufficient management measures to
maintain healthy standing stocks. Additional seasonal closures are considered to
eliminate or redirect effort. By 2020, angler satisfaction is derived from the recreational
fishing experience rather than the take or “kill” fish. To achieve optimum yield, adaptive
management measures such as a temporary reallocation of quota is available to managers.
For example, if commercial quota is not harvested, managers are able to temporarily
21 “Population Trends along the Coastal United States: 1980-2008”, 2005 NOAA report,
reassign the under harvested quota to provide additional recreational opportunity, and
Proposed Actions to Accomplish Preferred State:
(a) Improve collection of recreational catch, release, and harvest data,
(b) Create and use the recreational angler registry.
(c) Continue to promote catch and release fisheries,
(d) Reduce daily bag limits and implement minimum or maximum size limits when
necessary for those fish stocks where resorting to total catch and release is not necessary,
(e) Promote research to accurately quantify and minimize post release mortality,
(f) Increase the length of seasonal closures when necessary and encourage the
recreational community to maximize the profitability of open seasons,
(g) Amend fishery management plans to allow for timely conversion of unused
commercial allocation to the recreational sector and vice versa;
(h) Implement a variety of programs and incentives to enhance the conservation ethic of
Proposed Entity(s) to Promote Actions:
(a) The leadership of the recreational fishing community should promote the total
recreational fishing experience, instill a conservation ethic, and de-emphasize landings.
(b) Industry and NOAA Fisheries should continue to support research and technology
designed to reduce post release mortality.
(c) Management (councils, commissions, NOAA Fisheries) should consider extending
closed seasons to reduce mortality.
(d) Management, (councils, commissions, NOAA Fisheries), should amend fishery
management plans to allow, when appropriate, the conversion of commercial quota onto
recreational quota and vice versa.