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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Striped bass news -- and other stuff

March 22, 2012

Commercial fishermen from Cape Cod and chefs from Boston are united in their support of yesterday's decision by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture to not move forward with a proposal to ban the harvest and sale of striped bass in Massachusetts.

With yesterday's announcement, the committee is effectively taking the bills off the table for any kind of legislative action this year.

Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) opposed the bill, stating "There was no reason, based either in science or economic impact, to adopt the proposed legislation. The recreational and commercial sectors share a common interest in the health of this fishery. We should all work together to engage in meaningful work to ensure the ongoing viability of this very important fish."

Cape and Islands Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich), a member of the Joint Committee, thanked his colleagues for joining him in opposition to these bills.

"Fisheries management is complicated and serious business," Wolf said. "It should build off credible science, and also try to forge consensus among all of those who fish, and care about fish. These bills did neither."

"We are very grateful that our state legislators have left the job of managing striped bass to fishery managers," declared Darren Saletta, co-founder of the Massachusetts Commercial Striped Bass Association. "This culturally significant and sustainable fishery will continue for years to come. We encourage people to support Massachusetts fishing communities by asking for local stripers at restaurants and markets this summer."

"The committee recognized that our oceans and the fish in them belong to the community as a whole, not solely to the recreational fishermen," said Chefs Collaborative chairman Michael Leviton, chef/owner of Lumiere and chef/partner of Area 4. "The majority of the Massachusetts population that eats striped bass does so because a commercial fishery exists. Allocating a well managed fishery to just recreational fishermen would be unfair."

"I think the committee got it right," stated commercial fisherman Leo Maher from Chatham, Mass. "The striped bass fishery can and should be managed for all sectors of the public, and that's got to include both commercial and recreational fishermen. The committee's decision means that future generations can fish commercially for stripers."

"I'd like to think that in making their decision to put the bill to study our legislators were considering how delicious striped bass are," stated Jasper White, owner and chef of Jasper White's Summer Shack restaurants. "There is no sense in taking away this fish from the majority of the public, when really all people should have access to it."

"The committee made the right call," said Alex Carlson, a commercial striped bass fisherman from Brewster, Mass. "To ensure the continued success of the fishery, we need to look at other factors that are impacting the health of striped bass and band together to put accountability on the industrial herring fleet. We know that the herring population is way down, and a lack of herring for stripers to eat will have a detrimental effect on future populations."

"I was proud to stand in support of local commercial fishermen at the hearing," said Peter Davis, executive chef of Henrietta's Table at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass. and a member of Chefs Collaborative. "We need home-grown fishing businesses to thrive because these fishermen have great knowledge about sustainable fishing practices, and if we lose them, we lose that expertise and a way of life for good."

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[WBOC] - March 22, 2012 - 

ANNAPOLIS, Md., Last year tons of rockfish were pulled from the Chesapeake Bay with illegal gill nets. That has led to a bill before the legislature that would ban those type of nets. The Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association is behind the bill, and says if approved it will help save the fish population in the bay. 

"What this will do is once we get the nets out of the water, this will improve and enhance our fisheries for recreational anglers, commercial anglers and anybody who is making a living off of the resource," said MSSA Executive Director Dave Smith. 

The MSSA sees this bill as a positive for all, but some commercial watermen worry that without gill nets they are the ones who will be left caught up. Several watermen showed up in Annapolis on Tuesday to voice their displeasure with the bill. Gibby Dean said watermen will like him suffer if they cannot use gill nets. 

"We're opposing this bill because we have taken several steps to help combat illegal fishing as has DNR," said Dean. "We don't think the other 99 percent of our honest hard working watermen should have to pay the price for this."

Elijay Wilson also traveled to Annapolis to oppose this bill. He said that if the bill passes, a lot of people could be out of a job.

"With the economic times and the stuff we have now, we need all the jobs we can get," said Wilson. "If this bill passes it will put a lot of people out of business."

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[Voice of America] - March 22, 2012 - 

Jellyfish are lovely creatures to behold underwater, as their gelatinous, tentacled bodies undulate in the currents. They are also a nuisance and a hazard. They can sting swimmers and clog fishing nets.

But, along the coast of the southern U.S. state of Georgia, jellyfish are a valuable export, which end up on dining tables across Asia.

Early on this chilly February morning, most everyone in the tiny coastal town of Darien is still asleep, but on the docks of Marco Seafood, along the Darien River, there's plenty of activity. The shrimp trawler, Kim C. King, has just moored, and nearly 100 workers are ready to start processing last night's catch of jellyfish, which the locals call jellyballs. 

"Basically jellyballs have been a nuisance to fisherman for 100 years," says Thornell King.

TK, as everyone calls him, owns three shrimp boats, but each winter, when shrimp season is over, he sets his nets for jellyballs. That's just his part time job.

"Actually other than catching jellyballs, I"d much rather catch criminals," he says. "I"m a Georgia State Trooper."VOA - P. GraitcerCannonball jellyfish wash up on the beaches of St. Simons Island, Georgia.TK has been jellyballing for 14 years. Jellyballs - they're actually cannonball jellyfish - are found in the warm coastal waters of the southeastern United States. They're seasonal - starting to appear in late winter and continue to be seen through the beginning of shrimping season in June and July

According to Georgia state marine biologist Jim Page, they're very common. "We always kind of laugh but, when they're abundant, you could just about walk on water with them, you could walk from one to the next."

They look like big floating mushrooms.

"They have a pretty solid core, a fairly rigid core, on the underside of a dome shaped cap," Page says. "The cap is real soft. It is clear typically, usually has a maroon coloration around the outer edge of that cap, the soft dome that's on top."

Their tentacles are shorter than those of other jellyfish, and cannonballs don't sting. Most are about the size of grapefruits, although some can be as big as basketballs.VOA - P. GraitcerGeorgia jellyfish are dried, preserved and packaged before being sold to a seafood distributor that ships them to Japan, China and Thailand.

During shrimping season, they often get trapped in nets, so shrimpers have installed special devices - called jellyball shooters - in their nets to clear them out. 

Darien became a jellyfish hub two decades ago, when a man named George Tai started catching them and exporting them to Asia. When he left Darien, he sold the processing plant and his fishing equipment to TK and his partner. Today, Marco Seafood is the area's only jellyfish processor and exporter, even though the creatures can be found all along the southeastern coast, from North Carolina to Florida.

The jellyfish are dried, preserved and packaged before being sold to a seafood distributor that ships them to Japan, China, and Thailand.

There, dried jellyfish are a delicacy, used in soups and salads. 

TK says they're crunchy. "Actually they taste a little like the gristle of a chicken bone. It's got that crunchy taste and that's what the people in Japan and China, they like that crunch."

Marine biologist Page has tried them, too. He's not a fan. "One time and that was gracious plenty for me. They were more salty than anything. It was not my favorite, but fortunately there's others out there that found it to be a favorite."

Jellyball fishing is Georgia's third largest commercial fishery - after shrimp and crabs - but only five boats are permitted to catch them. That's because Marco Seafood can handle only about 22,000 thousand kilos of jellyfish - one boat load - at a time, and there are no other processors. 

So for now, although there's an almost unlimited supply of jellyballs, and TK thinks demand for his dried jellyfish will only increase, Asian gourmands will have to be satisfied with a limited supply of Georgia jellyfish.
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BOSTON. A Gloucester fisherman has been sentenced to two months in prison for assaulting and sexually harassing a federal female fisheries monitor during a fishing trip. 

The Gloucester Daily Times reports that John Cusick was also sentenced last week to a year of probation and ordered to have no contact with the woman. 

Cusick was indicted in February 2011 by a federal grand jury for allegedly harassing and sexually assaulting the female at-sea monitor. 

Prosecutors say that in July 2010 Cusick engaged in "hugging her without her consent, and inserting his tongue in her ear" during a weeklong trip. 

The federal workers monitor fishing activities and collect data onboard commercial vessels under the terms of the nation's fisheries law. 

Cusick could not be reached for comment.

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