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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday, February 21, 2011:  Truly raw and frigid out there this evening. Even though some flakes might fly, there’s nothing alarming short of a couple more subfreezing nights.   I’m getting together …

Monday, February 21, 2011:  Truly raw and frigid out there this evening. Even though some flakes might fly, there’s nothing alarming short of a couple more subfreezing nights.

 

I’m getting together my weekly blog so below are some prime fishery issues. Note the first one in today Asbury. I know the fellow who’s in trouble. That translation thing is a bit bogus. I had said all along all they have to do is hit a violator with a fine per violation instead of an overall hand-slap punishment. Still, there is so much money in live tog (and even bergall) that nothing short of our local LBTPD cops stopping to check daily, will keep the abuse in check.

 

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[Asbury Park Press] By Kirk Moore - February 21, 2011 - With the Asian restaurant marketplace paying $10 to $18 a pound for live blackfish, proposals to limit possession of live fish will do little to rein in the trade of illegally caught and undersized fish without much more enforcement and tougher fines, recreational and commercial fishermen say.

'If there's no additional enforcement, it doesn't matter what rules you put on,'' Captain Tom Gordon of the Brielle charter boat, 2nd Home, told representatives of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission during a hearing last week in Toms River.

The commission is talking tough, but not doing enough about an amok, coastwide poaching culture, said Patrick Donnelly, a member of the state Marine Fisheries Council, who brought the blackfish issue up to the Atlantic States commission back in August 2010.

'They had their heads in the sand on illegal fishing,'' Donnelly recalled, and the discussion then 'morphed into.‚.‚. concern about our level of fishing mortality.

'Meanwhile, New Jersey conservation officers are staking out stone jetties and catching anglers with illegal blackfish almost every time, according to Capt. Mark Chicketano of the state marine patrol. Fishermen and law enforcement experts say the demand is centered in the Asian restaurant industry of Philadelphia and New York Chinatowns, and some violators are caught with dozens of fish, mostly undersized.

In Barnegat Light's municipal court on Jan. 3, Lee Wang of Philadelphia found out how much his tickets would cost: 23 fish under the 14-inch minimum size, and 24 fish over the limit, at $30 per violation, came out to $1,410.

'I didn't know I violated the law.‚.‚.and I don't have the money to pay the fine,'' Wang told Judge Frank Salzer through an interpeter of the Chinese Fuzhou dialect. 'How could I know I have to pay such a severe fine? I'm not working.''

But borough Prosecutor Laura Benson said Wang was no stranger to blackfish regulations, because he was ticketed earlier in December 2009 for four short fish.
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Straits Times] - February 21, 2011 - WASHINGTON - Global warming could spur the growth of toxic algae and bacteria in the world's seas and lakes, with an impact that could be felt in 10 years, US scientists said on Saturday.

Studies have shown that shifts brought about by climate change make ocean and freshwater environments more susceptible to toxic algae blooms and allow harmful microbes and bacteria to proliferate, according to researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In one study, NOAA scientists modeled future ocean and weather patterns to predict the effect on blooms of Alexandrium catenella, or the toxic 'red tide,' which can accumulate in shellfish and cause severe symptoms, including paralysis, in humans who eat the contaminated seafood.

'Our projections indicate that by the end of the 21st century, blooms may begin up to two months earlier in the year and persist for one month later compared to the present-day time period of July to October,' said Stephanie Moore, one of the scientists who worked on the study.

But the impact could be felt well before the end of this century - as early as 2040, she said at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

'Changes in the harmful algal bloom season appear to be imminent. We expect a significant increase in Puget Sound (off the coast of Washington state where the study was conducted) and similar at-risk environments within 30 years, possibly by the next decade,' said Ms Moore.
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February 21, 2011 - PORTLAND, Maine, Preliminary figures show Maine fishermen caught a record 93.4 million pounds of lobster in 2010 valued at more than $308 million.

The Department of Marine Resources said the harvest of Maine's signature seafood broke the previous record of 81.2 million pounds, set in 2009.

The value of the catch was the third-highest on record. The top year was 2005, when the harvest was worth $317.9 to lobstermen.

Lobstermen averaged $3.31 a pound for their catch, representing a 14 percent increase from a year earlier.

Officials said the overall harvest of all seafood in Maine last year totaled 245.3 million pounds, valued at $448.7 million. The catch was up 14 million pounds from 2009, while the value of the catch increased about $120 million.

 

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[Washington Post] By Marc Kaufman - February 21, 2011 - Over the past 100 years, some two-thirds of the large predator fish in the ocean have been caught and consumed by humans, and in the decades ahead, the rest are likely to perish, too.

In their place, small fish such as sardines and anchovies are flourishing in the absence of the tuna, grouper and cod that traditionally feed on them, creating an ecological imbalance that experts say will forever change the oceans.

'Think of it like the Serengeti, with lions and the antelopes they feed on,' said Villy Christensen of University of British Columbia's Fisheries Centre. 'When all the lions are gone, there will be antelopes everywhere. Our oceans are losing their lions and pretty soon will have nothing but antelopes.'

This grim reckoning was presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting Friday during a panel that asked the question: '2050: Will there be fish in the ocean?'

The panel predicted that while there would be fish decades from now, they will be primarily the smaller varieties currently used as fish oil, fish meal for farmed fish and only infrequently as fish for humans. People, the experts said, will have to develop a taste for anchovies, capelins and other smaller species.

That the oceans are being overfished has been documented before, and the collapse of species such as cod and Atlantic salmon is also well-known. The new research attempts to quantify the overall decline in larger fish, based on data from more than 200 ecological systems studied since 1880. Those results were then modeled across the globe.

One startling conclusion: More than 54 percent of the decrease in large predator fish has taken place over the past 40 years.

'It's a question of how many people are fishing, how they are fishing, and where they are fishing,' Christensen said. A majority of the catch, and now of the decline, involves East Asia, which has witnessed dramatic overall economic growth.

In describing the likely explosion of small fish, Christensen's team differed with a 2006 report in the journal Science that warned of an ocean without fish for humans by mid-century.

But they say that absent predators, the fisheries will be out of balance and more subject to mass die-offs from disease and from boom-and-bust cycles that, over time, can lead to algae or bacteria blooms that take the oxygen out of the waters and make them uninhabitable.

Jacqueline Alder from the U.N. Environment Program suggested that the number of fishing boats and days they fish have to be restricted.

'If we can do this immediately, we will see a decline in fish catches. However, that will give an opportunity for the fish stocks to rebuild and expand their populations,' she said.

In an effort to stabilize some fish populations, national and international organizations and governments have placed quotas on the yearly catches of some species and have banned the taking of endangered fish entirely in some areas. Some regulations have also been placed on the kind of netting and trawling that can be used in sensitive areas.

But the fishing fleets are growing in size and sophistication, said University of Tasmania scientist Reg Watson. 'Humans have always fished,' he said. 'We are just much much better at it now.'

Examining 2006 catch results, his team found that 76 million tons of commercial seafood were hauled in - which he said equates to 7 trillion individual fish.

Watson said fishing activity has been growing quickly over the past several decades, with increasingly more energy and effort exerted to bring in equal or smaller catches. Nations also are paying substantial subsidies to their fishermen, he said, especially in East Asia.

'It looks like we are fishing harder for the same or less result, and this has to tell us something about the oceans' health,' he said. 'We may, in fact, have hit peak fish at the same time we are hitting peak oil.'

Yet demand is growing fast, again most dramatically in East Asia. According to International Food Policy Research Institute research fellow Siwa Msangi, the rise in demand is largely being driven by China. Almost 50 percent of the increase in the world's fish consumption for food comes from Eastern Asia, and '42 percent of that increase is coming from China itself,' he said.

'China is a driver of both the demand and the supply side. That is really why the management issue becomes so important,' Msangi said. 'Projections about future fish populations decline further, however, when coupled with forecasts about the impact of climate change,' which is expected to warm the oceans considerably.

'Our study indicates indeed we may get a double whammy from climate change,' said Christensen. 'Higher water temperatures are going to mean fewer fish in the ocean and less plant life for them. This will be especially true in the tropical areas.'

Oceans, he said, are increasingly being treated like farms, but the effort cannot be successful on a large scale. Intensive farming on land requires antibiotic treatments and pesticides to make up for the loss of a balanced ecosystem. In aquaculture, the same is true, and raising salmon or tilapia also requires importing tons of fish meal and fish oil from smaller species.

Christensen gave an example of the kind of dynamics he expects to see more and more in the oceans. Some years ago, a huge sardine fishery off Namibia in southern Africa crashed because of overfishing and a related drop in oxygen in the waters. When the sardines are depleted, he said, generally anchovies move in. Both can be consumed, but sardines bring a much higher price and so are preferred.

With so many anchovies and so few sardines, fishing fleets decided to work toward greatly reducing the anchovy population in the expectation that the sardines would come back. But instead of sardines, the fish that moved into the niche was the bearded goby - which is inedible for humans and eats up the ocean food that might one day again have supported sardines or anchovies.

'Nobody,' Christensen said, 'can control the ocean.'

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[seafoodnews.com] - February 21, 2011 - Updated scientific data on red snapper populations in the South Atlantic show that the planned area closure for all snapper and grouper species off southern Georgia and northern Florida is no longer needed.

As a result, NMFS is seeking public comment on a proposal to repeal the previously approved area closure that is set to go into effect on June 1.

“The latest science suggests that the planned area closure is not necessary for the red snapper population to continue to improve, sparing South Atlantic fishermen and their families from additional economic hardship,,” said Roy Crabtree, southeast regional administrator for NOAA's Fisheries Service. “By using up-to-date science to manage these valuable fisheries, we will be able to keep this area open to fishing for other snappers and groupers.”

Fisheries managers originally approved the closed area in late 2010, based on 2008 stock assessment information, to reduce bycatch, of red snapper.

The area closure was purposely delayed until June 1 to allow time for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to consider the results of the October 2010 red snapper scientific assessment, and to determine if changes to the closure area were warranted. The assessment showed that though the red snapper population is still too low and fish are still being removed too quickly, the species is in better condition than the earlier assessment indicated.

Eliminating the planned area closure would not alter the existing prohibition on directed commercial and recreational catch and possession of red snapper in federal waters of the South Atlantic. Repealing the area closure would allow for the continued harvest of 72 species of fish other than red snapper in this area, in accordance with existing regulations. 

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