Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

How to say 2010;
Forced Catch-and –Release

We’re back. The SandPaper is back up and running after a holiday hiatus.
As I plop back into my editor’s chair, there is so much happening on political side of angling I’m going to have to pace myself in this column, as to not cause your brains to explode. Sufficed to say, virtually every issue, from the angler registry to the Magnuson Act, will shape fishing this very year.
Down below is a frightening “Final” report from NMFS indicating anglers should only fish to release. By next week, Ill touch on an upcoming “Million Angler March on D.C.” That’s just my frolicsome expression for a caravan of angler-loaded buses about to zip to the national Capitol to give them a piece of our gathered minds. See related story in this week’s SandPaper. But first …
2010, ANYWWAY YOU SAY IT: A critical study/survey was funded to determine how Americans would handle the year 2010. (This tale is actually a tad true). The fairly wide-ranging manually taken survey was to determine whether USA-ites (“Americans” is way too overused) would favor referring to 2010 as “Two-thousand-ten” or “Twenty-ten.”
Now there’s an indispensable study, eh? And I thought I was over-testing Obama’s stimulus package when I sought approximately $100,000 in funding to determine if the term “linesider” should be forever banned when writing about striped bass. All I got back was a form letter saying “Nice try, amigo.” I wasn’t sure what that “amigo” part was all about but I had my suspicions.
Failing to get “Linesider” funding, I then scrambled to get in with the “twenty-ten/two-thousand-ten” survey corps but was beaten to the final jobs by foreign nationals who had just finished special training courses on how to properly pronounce “ten.” I did try my hardest.
“Hey, sir, what about me? I can say ‘ten,’ too. Listen. Ten, ten, ten. Testing, testing. Ten, ten, ten. Is this thing on?”
“Sound too much like you’re saying “tin” buddy. Hit the road.”
“It does sound like I’m saying ‘tin, doesn’t it? That frickin weird.” As I walk off trying different ways of pronouncing “ten.”
Anyway, I did get word that the study had some odd twists and turns. Locally, a history professor emeritus at Princeton University told a surveyor he was going to repeatedly refer to 2010 as “MMX.” Et tu, Emeritus. He then chuckled to himself, realizing this was likely the funniest thing he had ever said in his life. However, the surveyor, one Donatus Gediminase, a Lithuanian student on a work visa, was mortified. He wasn’t sure if he then had to add an entirely new “MMX” column to the survey sheet or risk being deported back to Lithuania in utter disgrace. He was later found slumped on the steps of Nassau Hall, mumbling something about wanting to go home in 2010. Taking Donatus into protective custody, the campus police were duly impressed over how well the disturbed Lithuanian pronounced the word “ten.”
I also fouled up the surveying system when I assured a surveyor that I would be referring to 2010 as “Two-thousand nine” through all of January and likely well in February, particularly on checks -- which would be returned, causing me to be fined $39.00 per check, so bailed out banks can pay for idiotic investment decisions they made only to have their criminal CEOs awarded billions of dollars in frickin’ bonuses for being total numbnuts with private jets and courtesans spread all over the Caribbean while I’m forced to eat canned tuna while looking at the inked message on the back of my hand, “It’s 2010, you moron!!”
(Calm the hell down, Jay. This is the first column of the year and already you’re not actin’ right.)
END OF THE ANGLING WORLD: Speaking of not acting right, one of the weirdest and scariest fishing-based reports I’ve ever read recently came out of the unhallowed halls of the National Marine Fisheries Service. It can be found at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ocs/documents/Vision_2020_FINAL-1.pdf. First, scroll down to the section on “Recreational fishing.” Read in growing disbelief. Eventually, read the whole shebang. You must not only read but also utterly digest the grizzly guts of this report -- even you vegetarians.
In a nutcase shell, this “Final” report candidly states that NMFS is intent on phasing out angling, as in all the way out the backdoor.
I then defy you to not agree with me that NMFS clearly foresees not-too-distant days when recreational fishing becomes purely catch-and-release -- followed by something akin to mere fish watching. It seems our only angling hope is to mimic Clumsy Carp, the B.C. caveman character, who keeps his head underwater to gaze at fish going by.
Realize from the get-go that anything you read within this document has been written in a meticulous manner by NMFS. I say that because 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.
I must aim your attention to the abysmal implication in the document's early-on 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.”
I swear that Budweiser paid to have that wording put in.
Truth be told, that “fishing experience and less on the number of fish landed” is the proverbial writing on the wall. The effort for the next decade will be essentially to make angling a catch-and-release pastime, clearing the way for an outright harvesting monopoly 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.”
Ponder that, please. Yes, it clearly means that even recreational catch-and-release fishing could be verboten if the perceived post-release mortality is thought to exceed the allowable catch. Obviously, that’s an insane contradiction of the first statement to make angling fully catch-and-release. What measure lies beyond catch-and-release? Move over, Clumsy, we’ll all be with you soon.
Now, follow me here. For those of you who feared that the upcoming and thoroughly unavoidable angler registry reflected the feds secretly being up to no good, I bow to your advanced insight. Right after the NMFS’s report’s statement that angling could be stopped if catch-and-release mortality exceeds allowable quotas, it is written, “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 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.” It’s almost as if they cleverly touched on the concept of no angling at all to make the “no kill” catch-and-release aspect seem all but wonderful. It’s a good think we anglers are too dumb to pick up on that end-around.
Face it, this final report is more of a final solution to those aggravating people called anglers. It’s the end of the angling world as we know it – and I don’t feel so fine.
BELOVED TUNA: Lest ye think the crazed demand for bluefin tuna has slipped on a piece of sashimi and has broken its absurdly unconservational neck, a giant bluefin tuna sold at auction for $177,000 this week in Tokyo’s infamous Tsukiji fish market.
Tsukiji is the largest seafood clearinghouse in the world and home to fish prices so insanely high that it single-handedly keeps the entire planet abusing fisheries just to tap into the gush of sushi-ized yen gone wild.
That six-figure tuna weighed in at 513 pounds. It was won – as is the proper terminology for an auction -- by three unrelated sushi restaurants, two in Tokyo and one in Hong Kong. By that very same evening, the trimmed tuna was being downed as sushi and sashimi at ten-bucks a tiny piece. It is estimated the precious bluefin will make the buyers a combined $1.5 million. That’s just plain wrong.
GROUPER GROUPIES: To the credit of Sunshine State sensible thinkers, the upcoming ban of grouper is now being embraced on many fronts – obviously not by commercial fishermen.
The hideous condition of Florida grouper has apparently struck home with many anglers and even unlikely user groups, including many restaurant owners – who have made a living on serving grouper in every form known to chef-dom.
The grouper fishery biomass in the South is now down to 3 percent of its former glory, i.e. historical average. Hell, that can’t simply be called a collapse; it’s annihilation. How could that happen with fishery management overseeing the stocks? I know it’s inappropriate but just think if the human population of America declined by 97 percent in nothing flat. I’m thinkin’ someone at some point might alert the media or something along those lines.
Back to grouper, had state and federal authorities simply toed the conservational line years ago, it wouldn’t have come to yet another ban of an entire fishery for Sunshine State anglers and commercialites. Not long ago red snapper was put on life support -- off-limits to fishermen during the species’ spawning season. Maybe we can convince Japanese diners that fishery conservation people sushi-up incredibly well.
TOG IN LIEU GROUPER: The Deep South grouper ban could hit ever so close to us. I’ve been told that the closest menu fill-in for grouper is our very own tog, often pawned off as this-or-that type grouper.
When it comes to seafood, I have some finely tuned taste buds -- I keep them in D-major. I sure don’t see many similarities between blackfish and grouper, be it taste, texture or price per ounce -- grouper often going for $20-plus a pound. However, an industry expert – familiar with seafood both here and in Florida – warns that demand for tog will go ballistic with the grouper ban. He also assures (dare I say, from his personal experiences) that an already-established underground method for clandestinely transporting tog southward will keep the flow of NJ-taken blackfish under the radar, conservationally speaking.
This is all real bad news for a fishery that hasn’t been able to even catch its breath after being strangled for years by overfishing -- and is now being deprived of recovery due to predation of its young-of-year, likely eaten by disproportionate increases in fluke and stripers populations.
I’m trying to get some insight into the routes and times of covert tog transports to the south. Oddly, no one’s coming forth with info. I think we need Monkfish to investigate.

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Comment by Sea Antsy on January 5, 2010 at 5:38pm
? Is there a "FISHING CZAR" in this administration... or the NMFS.. this HOPE & CHANGE will eliminate the rec fishing business US wide.


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