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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday, February 26, 2019: Today’s bayside blowout tides were all-time low; Barnegat Inlet to give up sand.

Imagine fishing this like a striper bloodworm -- but for sharks. 

Even bad-ass bikers occasionally camp out ...

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Forget the grandma entrapment, check out those cool pants!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019: Today’s bayside blowout tides were all-time low. I base that on literally dozens of folks, many old-timers, saying it was easiest the lowest they had ever seen.

And it might very well be the lowest tide ever, since Barnegat Bay has never been so shallow – due to fill from Sandy and the steady accruing of summer algal bloom fallout material. It has never been easier for 50 mph winds to blow bay water out to sea, through the inlets, during outgoing tides. Astronomically, we’re only at a moderate tidal swing phase. That doesn’t matter a jot when winds blow as long and hard as they have. Even today there was still a decent honk going.

Very fortunately, it won’t be bitter cold tonight. Buried clams and crabs suddenly out of water should be able take night temps in the 20s. If the blowout tides had come with zero-degree temps, it would have been a die-off debacle.

I should mention the large number of folks mentioning the oysters they’re seeing exposed on their docks and such. That’s always a good bay-health sign.

Below: Patty Springstead 

Today's Holgate blown-sand shots ... 

Not a snake head just a bay bottom accretion off on its own ...  

Planet Holgate shots ...

Dead duck gives rise to bone spirit ... 

BARNEGAT INLET HAPPENINGS: With so much south end jetty emphasis in past months/years, I need to aim some sand love toward the north end, an area that seldom suffers from beach vanishings. In fact, there might be too much sand thereabouts, making it a potential sand-grab site. I’m speaking specifically about the bottom sands of Barnegat Inlet.

Last year, the federal government launched a pilot program under its Water Resources Development Act of 2016. It required the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to recommend ten projects, nationwide, to study for the possible beneficial use of dredged material. After using a Federal Register Notice to solicit candidates, 95 “Pick us!” requests rushed in.

When the requests were meticulously researched, little old Barnegat Inlet was a chosen one --along with the likes of Restoring San Francisco Bay's Natural Infrastructure, Haleiwa (Hawaii) Small Boat Harbor Maintenance Dredging and Beach Restoration and enhancing habitat at the Crab Bank (South Carolina) Seabird Sanctuary.

Philly ACE is now tasked with devising “Beneficial Use Placement Opportunities in the State of New Jersey Using Navigation Channel Sediments,” per the chosen application.

As we know, the once-notorious, easily-shoaled Barnegat Inlet is now regularly – and somewhat successfully – deepened, via hopper dredgers. Of course, the dredging is done to keep a narrow channel open. The bottom material between the North Jetty and South Jetty is monumental.

 “Barnegat Inlet is one of the most dangerous inlets on the East Coast from a navigation standpoint. The District typically dredges the inlet twice a year with the USACE-owned dredge Currituck or Murden,” explains the ACE (nap.usace.army.mil). “However, a large amount of sediment remains shoaled in the state and federal navigation channels with limited funds and places to put the material.”

Now, it seemingly comes down to how much sand to suck from the bottom of the inlet and where it can be placed to best serve the public.

The beachline from south Barnegat light through Loveladies all but jumps out.  

Speaking of that area in recent-history terms, Loveladies received a pumped-in beach replenishment long before it became commonplace for rest of the Island. When the New South Jetty was being built, huge pipes carried removed sand from the inlet, destined for deposition on the Loveladies beachfront. I remember since I was right there metal detecting for any goodies that came down the pipe. I found sinkers galore, but not much else of import, i.e. no gold escudos or silver cobs.

Loveladies also got a short-lived sand assist when the Currituck tried offloading its hoppered inlet sand a couple hundred yards off the beach of that section of Long Beach Township. It was quickly recognized that such a distant transport of sand – and the time it took to maneuver for an offload -- was far from cost effective. However, such a nearshore dumping method is as good a way to replenish shorelines as the current beach and dune building technique. It adds sand onto the near-beach underwater contour system (bottom profile). That sand eventually moves onto the beach to build post-storm berms.

Back to now, the repurposed Barnegat Inlet sand might go to fortify the east side of Barnegat Light State Park, where erosion has been pretty brisk in recent years. It’s sure a close enough drop-off point for inlet material. 

Another guess goes north, as in the north side of the inlet. The southwest end of Island Beach is pretty desperate for sand support. There have already been efforts to buttress that area, using geotextile bags and such, to little avail. A downside to placing it there is how quickly the sand will migrate back into the inlet. Most likely, it will fan out onto the tidal flood plain just inside the inlet. Soon, the essential navigation channels near the plain would surely suffer from rapid shoaling, including waterways leading into Viking Village and over toward Double and Oyster creeks.  

Soon, I should find out more on what the Corps suggested plans might be. Whatever they are, I can’t see it not looming very well for navigating the inlet. Again, it could entail removing far more material than the regular hopper dredging.

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Weird winter sight via 

Turkey vultures on the beach today dining on a seagull.

Jersey Shore Outdoors: LBI Fishing Update by Jim Hutchinson Sr.

STAFFORD - We still have a long way to go before spring arrives and we can get into some decent
fishing. However, there are a couple of fishing options coming up soon that have local anglers getting anxious.

First, March 1 marks the official opening of the New Jersey striped bass season for inshore waters. This means that anglers may then target striped bass in the waters inside the inlets. Traditionally, stripers have wintered up our local rivers and begin to make their way toward the ocean as the waters start to warm.

One of the very first areas in New Jersey to pick off some of these bass is Graveling Point down in Little Egg Township at the very end of Radio Road. Initially, the fish are small and throwback sized, but the keepers eventually arrive with the date depending pretty much on the water temperature. The overwhelming bait of choice here is live bloodworm with fresh clam coming in second. These fish are too sluggish to go after artificials.

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The best place to get information on the happenings at Graveling Point is Scott’s Bait and Tackle on Radio Road on the way to the Point. It is no coincidence that Scott and Mo will be opening for the season on March 1 after their winter vacation. They will have the bait, gear, and advice to get you on the fish. In addition, they award a $100 gift certificate to the angler catching the first keeper bass of the year from the Point. Stop by for all the details and tell them I said hi.

Another possible source of action right now is white perch. I have been hearing of a few catches made in some of the lagoons and creeks of Southern Ocean County such as Beach Haven West. The Mullica River has also been producing some of these tasty little fish. I have found the best bait for perch is live grass shrimp followed by live minnows and bloodworm pieces. Use small baits and small hooks.

At one time in the past, I would also be suggesting trying for some winter flounder. However, that fishery has fallen off dramatically in our area, and I am not sure if it is worth the effort. I will let you know in future columns if I hear anything positive.

In my last column I gave an update on the tentative status of the fishing regulations for black sea bass. I have been hearing pretty much the same for summer flounder as that of sea bass. It does not look like our yearly quota will be reduced this year, and our allowed take will be pretty much the same as last year. It will be up to our state regulators if our rules will remain exactly the same. I am sure there can be some tweaks in the dates of the season, but the minimum size and daily catch quotas will probably remain the same.

Finally, striped bass. It appears that we have been overfishing striped bass over the past couple of years, and the stocks have gone down. It looks like this year the regulations will remain the same as last year, but you can expect some drastic changes for the year 2020. I expect the keeper size to change and probably a drop in the daily bag limit to one fish. I guess the news could be worse such as a complete shutdown in
the entire fishery.

If you should have any questions on local fishing or have fishing reports of your own to share, I would love to hear from you at jamesghutch1@aol.com.

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This is a baby Blue Marlin. They can grow up to be 14 feet in length and weigh more than 1,985 pounds.

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The Jersey Coast Anglers Association is seeking new member clubs as well as associate (individual) members. For the first time ever, JCAA is opening its a general membership meeting to those who may be interested in joining or learning more about how JCAA operates. The meeting will be held at 7:30 PM on 2/26/19 at the Jersey Coast Shark Anglers Club located at 385 Herbertsville Rd., Brick, NJ. Annual dues for club membership are $50 while associate memberships cost $25. Light refreshments will be served beginning at 7 PM. Seating is limited and we also want to order the appropriate amount of food so please contact our membership secretary, Paul Haertel at 973-943-8201 or anglerpmh@aol.com if you plan on attending.  

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association is a charitable non-profit 501(c)3 organization that was formed in 1981. The original objective of the JCAA, that continues today, was to combine a group of marine sportfishing clubs in order to form and promote a united consensus on issues relevant to saltwater anglers in New Jersey. Amongst the topics likely to be discussed at this meeting are the recently signed Modern Fishing Act, the proposed windmills off our coast, sand mining, the new striped bass stock assessment, forage species, youth education activities, and what our regulations might look like this year for fluke, sea bass, stripers and perhaps other species.

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How Beach Haven Inlet steered clear of breakwaters and jetties:

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California Could Be Held Liable for Whale Entanglements

Copyright © 2019 MediaNews Group, Inc.

By Ruth Schneider

The Center for Biological Diversity is hopeful its lawsuit filed over whale and sea turtle entanglements is nearing its conclusion after a federal judge suggested she may find the California Department of Fish and Wildlife liable for the entanglements, a center spokesman said.

“The judge said she was inclined to grant our motion and find the department liable for allowing these illegal whale entanglements,” spokesman Steve Jones said Friday after the hearing in United States District Court for the Northern District of California. “So the department’s lawyer asked her to delay that ruling for two weeks to see if our settlement talks can arrive at a remedy to the problem.”

The two parties have until March 13 to work out their differences and report back to the judge. If no settlement is reached, the judge will issue a finding.

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in October 2017, when the number of whale entanglements was skyrocketing. The peak came in 2016 when there were 71 confirmed whale entanglements.

Preliminary 2018 numbers show there were 45 confirmed whale entanglements, according to NOAA Fisheries. The numbers reflect through Nov. 28, 2018, and are not final. Among the 2018 reports was an August 2018 humpback whale who was reported entangled off the coast of Eureka.

According to Jones, it’s difficult to trace the lines back to a source, but “the majority of the gear that is identified is Dungeness crabbers in California.”

He said that since the lawsuit was filed, little has been done by the state agency. He said it comes down to a lot of talk and little action.

“They won a lot of credit for the working group and the collaboration and … that’s all well and good,” said Jones. “We obviously support a science-based solution, but we think they are long overdue in how the crab fishery is regulated.”

Kristen Monsell, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the lack of action threatens the survival of a species protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.

“When whales and sea turtles get tangled up in fishing gear, it causes an enormous amount of pain, it causes amputations, they can carry the gear hundreds of miles on migrations,” she said. “It’s a huge concern for the individual animals, but you are talking about some critically imperiled species.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife would not comment on the pending litigation, which is the agency’s policy.

“It’s important to note, however, what we’ve already said publicly on this…no one wants whale entanglements and that’s why in November we notified NOAA that we would develop and submit a conservation plan under the federal ESA to help avoid entanglements and get protections in place,” CDFW spokesman Jordan Traverso said in an email to the Times-Standard. “We think this is the first time a state has done something like this.”

Jones said one solution might be a change in fishing gear, which lies at the root of the entanglements.

“They are doing a pilot program for ropeless gear,” he said. “It’s essentially the rope stays furled up on the traps. It’s like a time-release buoy without that long vertical line for days or weeks on end. That’s a very promising technology. It’s being used elsewhere. It’s hopefully part of the solution.”

The Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations is a defendant-intervenor in the case and is not taking a position on the liability issue that will be decided in the coming weeks, but is a part of the ongoing talks.

“We are engaging on behalf of the fleet in other factual aspects of the case as they arise and in settlement discussions so we don’t lose any of the progress we’ve made, which has been substantial,” said Noah Oppenheim, executive director of the fishermen’s group. “Fishermen have been doing the hard work necessary to minimize entanglements and promote whale-safe fisheries through voluntary and regulatory measures.”

Oppenheim also said the working group has made significant strides, especially since the passage of a bill by North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire. Senate Bill 1309, also known as the Fisheries Omnibus Bill of 2018, “requires the (CDFW) to adopt a comprehensive set of new regulations to minimize the risk of commercial crab gear entangling marine life by 2020,” according to a June 2018 Center for Biological Diversity news release. “In the interim, it clarifies the department’s authority to close regions of the fishery or take other actions to prevent entanglements.”

“To date, to my knowledge, there have been zero entanglements in the Dungeness crab fishery in 2018, the period since major regulatory changes were enacted via state law,” Oppenheim added. “This is a big deal because it indicates that the working group and its risk assessment and mitigation program is working. Throughout this whole process, we can’t lose sight of the fact that fishermen, scientists, and environmentalists came together and put together the most progressive science-based progress of its kind in the country. It would be a shame if we lose our momentum, or worse, were forced to throw all of this progress out the window because of the lawsuit.”

McGuire’s office did not respond to a request for comment or questions as to whether McGuire planned to introduce any legislation in 2019 on the issue of whale entanglement, something he said he was “focused on” at the meeting just a few months ago. The deadline to introduce legislation was Friday.

New Controls in Maine to Prevent Poaching of Valuable Eels

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press
February 25, 2019

Maine's lucrative baby eel industry will likely face tighter controls this year designed to thwart poaching, as officials consider requiring state law enforcement officers to oversee the packing and shipping of the wriggling critters.

Baby eels, called elvers, are an important part of the worldwide supply chain for Japanese food. Maine fishermen harvest them from rivers and streams every spring, and they are typically worth more than $1,000 per pound (half-kilogram). No other U.S. state has a significant elver fishery.

But poaching has dogged the industry. Last year's season was shut down by state regulators two weeks early after investigators unearthed concerns about illegal sales.

This year, the Maine Department of Marine Resources is looking to add a requirement that elver exporters in the state must notify the Maine Marine Patrol 48 hours before preparing to pack and ship the eels. The officer will witness the weighing and packing of the elvers and then mark the package with a seal that must remain intact and untampered with until the eels reach their destination.

"That is a way to secure the shipment and ensure that the package is not tampered with and elvers illegally harvested will not end up in those shipments," said Jeff Nichols, a spokesman for the marine resources department.

The state's elver fishery is already tracked using a swipe-card system, and that system will stay in place, Nichols said. The swipe card system is designed to record the weight and value of every sale so the state can make sure no one exceeds quota.

The fishery also has a tight quota of 9,688 pounds (4,394 kilograms) for all of the fishermen who participate.

Interstate regulators shot down a proposal to increase that amount by about 20 percent several months ago. Darrell Young, a Maine elver harvester and the co-director of the Maine Elver Fishermen Association, said he thinks the trouble with poaching played a big role in the decision not to raise the quota.

"If everybody plays by the rules, they might consider giving us more quota. But it's not going to happen until they start behaving themselves," he said. "Some new rules are going to happen."

The new rules are subject to approval by an advisory committee that is scheduled to meet on March 6. Elver fishing season begins on March 22 and typically runs until early June. The volume of the catch can depend on environmental factors, such as whether rivers in Maine melt enough by early spring to ensure a large haul.

Elvers are typically sold to Asian aquaculture companies, so they can be raised to maturity and used as food, such as in kabayaki, a Japanese eel dish.

FDA Releases New Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food

February 26, 2019

According to the FDA, approximately 55% of fresh fruit, 32% of vegetables and 94% of seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported from other countries. So, how does the government agency ensure that these food items being imported into the country are safe to consume?

The FDA works to ensure that the U.S. food supply remains among the safety in the world, and on Monday the agency took another step forward by releasing the new “FDA Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food.”

According to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas, the new strategy was created to advance the FDA’s food safety mission and modernize oversight of imported food. The strategy was designed to meet four goals:

-Preventing food safety problems in the foreign supply chain prior to entry into the U.S.
-Effectively detecting and refusing entry of unsafe foods at U.S. borders
-Responding quickly when the FDA learns of unsafe imported foods
-And measuring our progress to ensure that our imported food safety program remains effective and efficient.

“To achieve our first goal of preventing imported safety problems prior to entry into the U.S., we’ll take new steps to continue to ensure that food offered for import meets the same standards as domestically produced food,” Gottlieb and Yiannas wrote in a statement. “One of our tools to achieve this goal is onsite inspections of foreign food facilities. These valuable inspections are resource-intensive, so our strategy will involve a more modern focus on tools for risk-informed prioritization of firms for inspection. Our decisions will be informed by an increasing amount of data and information from other oversight activities and partners.”

You can check out the “FDA Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food...

Amanda Buckle

Weird Meat Allergy Caused by Ticks May Be Easier to Catch Than We T...



A female Lone Star tick, or Amblyomma americanum.
Image: Amanda Loftis, William Nicholson, Will Reeves, Chris Paddock (CDC)

One of the strangest side-effects of a tick bite—a new allergy to red meat—could be even easier to get than previously thought. New research out this weekend suggests that bites from certain ticks can cause the allergy no matter what they’ve recently bitten. The finding could overturn a commonly held theory that ticks need to have recently gorged on the blood of other mammals before they can spread a meat allergy to humans.

The allergy is caused by an immune response to a sugar molecule called alpha-gal. Most mammals have alpha-gal in their muscles, but not humans and other primates. For some reason, the bite from certain ticks can sometimes spark a sustained hypersensitivity to things that contain alpha-gal, most notably red meat, which includes beef, pork, and even sometimes dairy.

This hypersensitivity acts almost exactly like a typical food allergy, with symptoms like hives, trouble breathing, or even a life-threatening anaphylactic shock. But it’s the only known food allergy to a sugar, rather than a protein, and its symptoms take hours to appear after exposure. Sometimes, the allergy only seems to kick in years after the initial bite.

We’ve known about alpha-gal syndrome, as it’s called, for a long time. In fact, it’s one of the major reasons why major organ transplants from non-human animals like pigs are a challenge to pull off. But it took decades after the first tickborne alpha-gal cases were documented in the late 1980s for scientists to officially trace them to tick bites. And there’s still so much we don’t understand about the condition.

One of those mysteries is why exactly ticks can cause the syndrome. The lead author of the new research, Scott Commins, an associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, was one of the first doctors to report cases of red meat allergy a decade ago. One common theory he and others have had is that ticks “pick up” the alpha-gal from a previous blood meal, such as a dog, deer, or mice. Their saliva, now filled with alpha-gal, then sensitizes the person they bite.

To test this theory out, Commins and his team conducted a simple experiment. First, they took samples of human blood and filtered out their native immunoglobulin E (IgE), the antibodies that guard against certain types of foreign invaders and also cause an allergic reaction to an allergen. Then they dosed the blood with donated plasma (filled with IgE antibodies) from people with and without the syndrome. Lastly, they introduced saliva from four species of tick, the Lone Star, deer, Gulf Coast and American dog tick; the saliva samples were from ticks that had and hadn’t fed on blood containing alpha-gal.

So far, the tick most associated with red meat allergy in the U.S. has been the Lone Star tick. And not unexpectedly, saliva from this tick was able to cause an immune reaction (based on the level of a certain white blood cell called a basophil) 40 times greater than normal in blood sensitized to alpha-gal. But saliva from the deer tick, the primary vector of Lyme disease and other tickborne diseases in the U.S., also caused a reaction. Most worrying was that unfed tick saliva from both species also caused a reaction in sensitized blood.

The findings, which were presented this past weekend at the annual conference of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), are preliminary (and not yet published in a peer-reviewed journal). But they provide evidence for another prominent theory that argues the tick itself, not its last meal, is causing the syndrome.

“These new data suggest the latter [theory] may be correct: something is in the saliva innately,” Commins told Gizmodo. “All humans make an existing response to alpha-gal and these data would be consistent with a model where tick bites simply redirect the existing immune response to shift to an allergic one.”

It’s almost certain, Commins said, that the odds of any single tick bite from a Lone Star or other tick causing the allergy are pretty low. But we don’t know how low that risk is right now (according to an earlier estimate by Commins, there might be 5,000 sufferers in the U.S. alone). And if ticks are the root cause, regardless of their diet, then the window of opportunity for an allergy-causing bite will obviously be higher.

Red meat allergy is just one of the nightmare health problems caused by ticks—problems that, in the U.S. at least, are likely to intensify as the climate warms. There were nearly 60,000 reported cases of Lyme disease in 2017, for instance, up from 22,000 in 2004. But the true annual number of Lyme cases, according to the CDC, is actually somewhere around 300,000.

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