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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

(NING blog only) Wednesday, September 08, 2010: The wind was kickin’ it all day and won’t be blowing out of town any time soon. That has past-season anglers thinking small – but fun – thoughts. Kin…

(NING blog only)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010:

The wind was kickin’ it all day and won’t be blowing out of town any time soon. That has past-season anglers thinking small – but fun – thoughts. Kingfish are showing all along the beachfront. A couple folks finding them said that bloodworms were the ticket. They did switch to fake-o worms but didn’t have nearly the luck. I should note that the bay bottom has shown a lot of young-of-year kingfish. They were sighted by folks using bright spotlights at night.

The Double Creek crew is finding some nice schools of blowfish inside Barnegat Bay. They didn’t have any luck with kingfish, which they were after at first.

The rest of this week will have a fall feel, mainly night and early a.m. The small stripers already being found near inlets and along some beachfronts will increase rapidly in number. They’ll also be more inclined to chase faster artificials, like poppers, deep divers, high-jumping jigs and vibrators including Rat L Traps.

Bluefishing is slow, though they do show here and there. Snappers (very small) are bayside.

There are decent-sized pompano in the shorebreak areas. Some are almost 3 inches long. I think well be nabbing some of them as cast netting bycatch. Right now, they’re just in small schools, zipping in and out of white water washing across the beach. They’re eating tiny sand crabs. About 15 years back, I was netting them by the dozens – a couple nets containing nearly 100 -- including some large enough to dine upon. That showing is rare. It just seems like one of those summers that might have spiked what little exotic fish action we get annually.

Off the wires:

An Anchor Point fisherman who troopers say launched logs, trees and other debris down the Anchor River in hopes of sabotaging a state Fish and Game Department weir has been charged with felony assault with a 'dangerous instrument.'

Christopher Vigue said he's fished the Anchor for years and is convinced the weir, which regulators use each year to count fish along the popular river north of Homer, is ruining king salmon runs.

One day in June he decided to do something about it.

As Fish and Game and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees waded into the rocky stream to install the weir, troopers say Vigue hiked upriver and began floating debris toward the work site.

Vigue admits trying to delay the project. He says he wasn't trying to sabotage it and that most of the debris never reached the weir.

'I tried to send some longer stuff down there, but none of it made it,' he said. 'My whole intention was just to hinder their progress of constructing a complete dam, (which) is what they do. They completely dam it up.'

Troopers this month charged Vigue, 46, with felony assault, seven counts of reckless endangerment, fourth-degree assault and criminal mischief.

Authorities say Vigue's attack on the weir -- essentially a fence that funnels fish into small openings -- put workers in danger.

'They're all sitting there doing their job, working on the weir, and all the sudden all these trees start floating down the river,' said trooper Mike Henry, who investigated the case.

A former logger who moved to Anchor Point about 10 years ago, Vigue said he wasn't trying to hurt anybody. He disputes certain details of the troopers account and plans to plead not guilty.

The charges are 'completely ridiculous,' he said in a brief phone interview. 'I'm trying to retain an attorney. I've been out of work for a couple months and I don't know how this is going to go for me.'

Troopers say no one was injured -- though one man was nearly struck by a log.

Fish and Game started using the weir in conjunction with sonar to better count kings on the river in 2004, a department biologist wrote this summer in the Homer News.

The Anchor has indeed lost fish in recent years. About 3,500 kings made it upstream last year -- down from more than 11,000 kings in 2005. (This year more than 4,400 kings returned, though that still falls short of regulators goals.)

Fish and Game officials said Tuesday that the cause of the king salmon declines are unknown but that the weir is not to blame for any 'significant' impact to fish passage, spawning or returns.

Vigue said he and other Anchor Point fishermen don't buy it.

A friend tipped him off when Fish and Game and Fish and Wildlife Service workers began installing the weir for the season on June 8, Vigue said.

'I drove up the old Sterling and hiked in there a couple miles up river,' Vigue said. His friend sat in a lawn chair and watched the weir.

As many as 15 people were working in the area, though fewer were actually in the water, said Henry, the trooper. At least one man was in a dry suit, working on equipment under water, he said.

Some workers suspected something was fishy when an unusual amount of debris began to arrive even as the water level dropped. Freshly cut trees appeared, six to eight inches in diameter, Henry said.

Vigue says he didn't cut any trees and only pushed debris from the edge of the river bank into the swift water. He said he checked with his friend on the lawn chair to see how things were going: About 99 percent of what Vigue was launching downriver wasn't actually making it to the weir, he said.

A day or two later, Vigue said he was on his way to go fishing when he spotted a Fish and Game employee crossing the road. Vigue stopped his pickup.

'I told them they need to leave the fish alone and that they were parasites on our fish,' he recalled.

The employee took note of Vigue's license plate, and troopers had their man.

Vigue told Henry, the investigating trooper, he thought Fish and Game was breaking federal law by blocking salmon and admitted to sending debris down the river at the weir, Henry said.

At one point the fisherman said 'he planned to get zip ties and pepper spray and go down and make some citizen's arrests,' Henry said.

A summons for Vigue to face 11 criminal counts was issued Friday, troopers say.

Vigue said he fishes the river for subsistence and sport.

'It's a great way to stay out of trouble,' he said.

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University of Maine] Sept 8, 2010 - Decades of whaling and fishing for the largest species have altered the ability of oceans to store and sequester carbon, according to a team of marine researchers from the University of Maine, the University of British Columbia and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI).

An individual whale contains a huge amount of carbon, an amount only exceeded by the largest trees, says Andrew Pershing, a research scientist with a joint appointment at UMaine and GMRI who led the team. A century of whaling equates to burning more than 70 million acres of temperate forest or 28,000 SUVs driving for 100 years, he says.

'We tend to think of carbon storage in peat bogs, trees and grasslands, not in animals,' Pershing says. 'By removing whales, sharks and large fish, we've reduced the amount of carbon stored in these populations.' Conserving larger marine vertebrate species and the largest individuals in the species should be a top conservation priority, according to the researchers, whose findings on the impact of whaling on the ocean carbon cycle were published last week (week of Aug. 30) by the international Public Library of Science (PLoS).

Carbon credits could provide additional incentive to rebuild fish and whale populations, Pershing says.

Ocean iron fertilization is the most widely discussed idea for sequestering carbon in the ocean. But calculations by Pershing and the other researchers - Line Christensen at the University of British Columbia; Nicholas Record and Peter Stetson from UMaine and GMRI; and Graham Sherwood from GMRI -suggest that rebuilding whale and large fish populations would be even more efficient means of storing carbon.

'The big surprise was in our calculations comparing carbon exported by sinking whale carcasses to the carbon exported by iron fertilization,' says Pershing, whose research was supported by NASA and the National Science Foundation. 'If we had all the whales we used to have, they would remove the same amount of carbon in a year as 200 of the most efficient iron fertilization events. What that tells me is that we can get significant carbon savings by conserving resources in the ocean, protecting whales, larger fish and sharks.'

Dead, sinking phytoplankton cells are the primary means of removing carbon from the ocean's euphotic zone near the surface. Marine vertebrates play a much smaller role in the movement and storage of inorganic and organic carbon in the ocean ecosystem. However, their contributions cannot be underestimated, considering the inherent metabolic efficiency of the large animals.

A blue whale has a biomass of 90 tons, with 9 tons of carbon stored in its tissues. Only a large tree has more carbon, Pershing says.

Compared to phytoplankton that have life spans measured in days, whales and large fish live for decades. Carbon accumulated in their bodies is sequestered Ñ out of the atmosphere Ñ for the life of the animal. Because of their potential to store carbon for years, marine vertebrates such as whales are comparable to trees.

And because of their size and few predators, whales and other big marine vertebrates can efficiently export carbon from the surface waters to the deep sea. Those that die natural deaths transport their carbon to the ocean depths, away from the atmosphere.

To study the consequences of removing these large animals on the ocean's ability to store carbon, the researchers looked at populations of whale species, reconstructing their pre-whaling and modern abundances. Those species include blue whales in the Southern Ocean, whose numbers have been reduced by more than 99 percent.

The researchers estimate that 100 years of whaling removed 23 million tons of carbon from marine ecosystems. Populations of large baleen whales now store only 15 percent of the carbon they had before whaling.

In those ecosystems heavily impacted by whaling, the populations of smaller species increased. But such a shift toward smaller animals could decrease the total community biomass by 30 percent or more, according to the researchers. The larger animals require less food per unit mass, more efficiently storing carbon than smaller animals.

Compared to smaller animals, bigger species require less food (carbon) per day to support each gram of tissue. The same amount of food can support a greater tonnage of whales than penguins, Pershing says. 'In many ways bigger is better,' Pershing says. 'Larger organisms are more efficient, requiring less food per unit in their bodies.'

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[Fairbanks Daily News-Miner] Sept. 7, 2010 - by Cinthia Richie -

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - When Evan Toloff dressed for his shift at Captain Jack's Seafood Locker, he had no idea that the clothes he pulled on, the two heavy sweat shirts and rain gear, would end up protecting him from anything more than water and cold. Perhaps they even saved his life.

Toloff, 19, is a commercial fisherman who works at Captain Jack's during the off-season, vacuum-packing, sealing and freezing fish.

On Aug. 26, he was working the line. It was a typical shift, until around 10 p. m. when co-worker mentioned that police were outside with shotguns, ready to shoot a bear. The line stopped and employees surged toward the door, gathering in the parking lot by the Subway shop.

'Sure enough we saw a bear coming from across the street and the cops were chasing it around the building,' Toloff said.

When they realized that the officers had guns and that they might be in the way, everyone except for one co-worker made their way back toward Captain Jack's.

'As we were walking back, the officer yelled, 'Get back inside the restaurant,' and every just ran,' Toloff said.

He ended up in the doorframe of Captain Jack's, where he watched as the bear headed toward the officer. A moment later he heard two shots.

'The first one made the bear wobble a little bit and the second one, I saw the bear go down.'

He immediately felt a sharp pain in his stomach.

'It knocked me backward and I curled on the floor,' he said. 'It really knocked the wind out of me.'

He stumbled outside to catch his breath, and a supervisor handed him a metal shotgun slug found in the doorway of the fish plant.

'I couldn't believe it,' he said. 'It was a solid chunk of lead.'

The bullet had grazed him in the abdomen but hadn't penetrated through his thick layers of clothing.

He was transported to Seward Providence Medical Center, checked for signs of internal bleeding and later released with instructions to go home and take ibuprofen.

'I was so shaken up by it, and then it started to dawn on me that I got very, very lucky,' he said.

Bear problems

According to a statement issued by the Seward Police Department, a wildlife call involving a bear was received late Thursday evening and two officers were dispatched to the Small Boat Harbor around 10 p. m.

After attempting unsuccessfully to drive the bear away from the populated harbor area, the officers opted to euthanize it with two shotgun slug rounds for the good of public safety, the statement said.

The bear problem is much worse this year, Police Chief Tom Clemons said.

The department is responsible for responding to bear calls within the city. There is no Fish & Game division located in Seward.

According to Clemons, officers typically attempt to scare bothersome bears back toward the mountains with firecrackers and other loud noises.

If that doesn't work and the bear is creating a public danger, they have no choice but to kill it, Clemons said.

'There is no one else to take care of it,' he said. 'It's really up to us.'

Still, Toloff is angry. He believes the officers acted irresponsibly by firing live ammunition around the harbor.

'I feel it was out of line and we both got really lucky,' he said.

'If he hadn't been wearing his work gear ...' his father, Peter Toloff said, and then he paused for a moment. 'We are all, his whole family, glad the bullet didn't hit him in the head or eye.'

Yet as bad as the scenario was, Toloff realizes it could have been much worse.

'I think I'll look back and this and feel very fortunate, and very, very thankful that it worked out the way it did,' he said.

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[Gloucester Daily Times] by Richard Gaines - Sept 7, 2010 -

Don't believe the Discovery Channel show, 'Deadliest Catch.'

The most dangerous fishing is done off New England and the Mid-Atlantic states for groundfish and scallops, not in Alaska's Bering Sea for crabs, according to a report by the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

'Of those fisheries for which average annual fatality rates could be calculated,' two DCD researchers reported earlier this summer, 'the Northeast multispecies groundfishery had the highest rate, 600 deaths per 100,000 full-time employees, followed by the Atlantic scallop fleet, including the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, 425 deaths per 100,000 full-time employees.

The Bering Sea Aleutian Island crabfishery over the same period had a death rate of 260 per 100,000 full-time employees.

The figures covered the period 2000 to 2009. During that time, 504 commercial fishermen were killed at work, the CDC reported. Those deaths include three out of Gloucester Ñ the loss of Capt. Matteo Russo and his father-in-law, John Orlando, aboard the fishing vessel Patriot in January 2009, and the October 2009 death of lobsterman Jaime Ortiz.

The fatality rate has been declining since 1992, wrote the authors, J. Lincoln and D. Lucas from the Alaska Pacific Regional Office of the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The institute developed the commercial fishing incident database in 2007.

It is true, the authors reported, that Alaska Ñ where the popular reality show, 'Deadliest Catch,' is set Ñ had the highest number of fishing deaths in the 10-year study period, but the death rate was higher in this region than Alaska.

'During 2000-2009,' Lincoln and Lucas reported, '504 commercial fishing deaths occurred in the United States. The Alaska region had the highest number of deaths, 133 or 26 percent, followed by the Northeast, 124 or 25 percent, the Gulf of Mexico, 116 or 23 percent, West Coast, 83 or 16 percent, and the Mid- and South Atlantic, 41 or 8 percent.

Of those lost at sea, the CDC reported, 491 Ñ or 97 percent Ñ were male; the mean age of those lost was 41.

Nationally, an average of 58 commercial fishermen a year died in occupational accidents over the 10-year period.

The environmental defense funds EDF's Kate Bonzon suggested that the new catch share system may help to decrease fatalities in New England. In Alaska, the move to crab IFQ's dramatically improved the safety of the fleet.

'[fishing] can be made more dangerous due to restrictive fishery management policies that try to limit fishermen's catch by severely limiting fishing seasons and/or days-at-sea,' she said, referring to the old system used by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in New England. 'When faced with such restrictions, fishermen attempt to maximize their catch in these short windows of time by going out or staying out regardless of weather, working longer shifts and overloading their boats with equipment.'

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Boston Globe] By Beth Daley - September 7, 2010 - As New Englanders learned to savor the sweet taste of mussels over the last generation, an odd fact remains: While the shellfish are as common as sand on some local beaches, the vast majority of fresh mussels for consumption come from Prince Edward Island.

But now, researchers at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory, other biologists, and local fishermen are trying to make southern New England blue mussels as popular as their Canadian counterparts by growing them offshore.

The aquaculture experiment's first harvest has proven so successful that mussels from four experimental sites off Martha's Vineyard, Block Island, and Sakonnet Point are selling briskly in fish stores and restaurants.

“The ‘Block Island blues' are very good - everybody loves them,'' said Elizabeth Carlson, manager of Finn's Seafood Restaurant on Block Island. The restaurant received a portion of the harvest several days ago. “It's great to have something local, like we have oysters, to sell. It would be nice if we could get them again.''

Once, the bluish-black mussels were the bane of New England fishermen, a despised trash species that gummed up fishing nets and were good for little other than bait. By the mid-20th century, however, the mollusk underwent a reputation renaissance and now is a staple in seafood stews and as a savory appetizer in white wine.

Maine has some mussel farms and a small wild fishery lies off the coast of southern New England. But predation, overfishing, and other problems have plagued the wild fishery, contributing to the unpredictable nature of mussel beds that can appear one year and disappear the next. Pests such as the pea crab also infested some southern New England populations, lowering their market value.

As a result, as shellfish farms became more common off Massachusetts and Rhode Island, mussels were largely overlooked. In Canada, however, Prince Edward Island fishermen began a booming business.

In the island's protected bays, tiny “seed'' mussels are placed in mesh stockings hanging from horizontal rope just below the water surface. As the mussels grow, they migrate through the mesh and attach themselves with tiny threads. Today, the vast majority of fresh mussels in the United States come from Atlantic Canada. Many aquaculture mussels also come from New Zealand.

By the late 1990s, Richard Langan, director of the Atlantic Marine Aquaculture Center at the University of New Hampshire, began experimenting with sinking the lines deeper in the water - and farther offshore - to develop a New England fishery.

“Near-shore areas are busy with other activities and there are high-priced coastal properties [that may not want to see mussel farms], so we began looking at this vast area in the ocean,'' said Langan. After several years, his group succeeded in growing offshore mussels faster than those that grow off Canada.

Interest waned locally until a group of fishermen in Martha's Vineyard - worried that the lack of wild fish would mean the end of their livelihood - invited Langan down several years ago.

Scott Lindell, director of the Marine Biological Laboratory's Scientific Aquaculture Program, became involved and received a $214,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By last year, after a long permitting process, four pilot sites within 3 miles of shore were seeded with mussels, contributed by American Mussel Harvesters in Rhode Island.

The mussel lines, about 30 feet below the water surface, were harvested in the last few weeks and are for sale at Finn's and the Hotel Manisses on Block Island, Providence Oyster Bar, and the Matunuck Oyster Bar. Mussels were harvested at other sites earlier and are no longer available.

“There is great consumer demand for fresh local sustainable seafood,'' said Lindell. “The other side of the coin is about the jobs and fishermen who need new resources.'' He said mussels can grow to market size within a year while oysters and clams take two or more years.

While the pilot project was successful, he said, the scientists and fishermen faced many hurdles. At one site off Martha's Vineyard, one of the anchors holding the fishing rope gave way for unknown reasons. There are also challenges in getting floatation devices just right; as mussels grow, they get heavier, so the lines must be adjusted so they don't sink to the bottom or float too close to the water surface where waves or storms can damage them.

The team is also looking for ways to lower costs for equipment so fishermen can recover investment dollars quicker.

Still for some fishermen, particularly ones that see little future in fishing traditional species, the mussels hold promise.

“For most aquaculture, it's a huge investment and lag time in profits. . . . With something like this we can start fairly small and pay for our investment in the first years,'' said Greg Mataronas, a lobsterman in Little Compton, R.I. who took part in the experiment.

Rick Karney, director of the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group, which aided the project, said optimism is running high.

“The guys involved are hot to trot on expanding,'' he said.

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