Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Tuesday, March 31, 2020: I haven’t been remiss in getting blogs in here, I’ve been somewhat reluctant to seemingly break homeboundness by writing that I’ve been doing massive chunks of time in the outback. I have yet to test the beachline for walkabouts. The Pines seem to be looking back at me, as this west Bass River burl indicates.
I’m torn between letting it grow or cutting it off and bringing it home, as if this poor tree hasn’t had things hard enough in life.
Now to the ongoing crisis and near-idiocy within some – but not all! – aspects of this stay-home quarantine. Just now, the county has closed its parks and walking paths since “too many people have been gathering.” That’s nonsense! I was checking out the Rail Trail and due-distancing was being practiced. Besides, how can a few folks talking outside be worse than folks lined up in liquor stores or grocery lines?! What’s more, that literally and unnecessarily aims more folks toward LBI’s beaches. I know I support beach usages, but I’ll be the first to admit that spreading outdoor venues keeps things calm and distancy. On an uglier note, the county says it will have municipal police patrolling the park, along with park guards. I just got done chatting with one of those and wished him good luck trying to calmly and sympathetically letting folks know they can’t use their parks – including dog parks. Please tell me how dog park chats offer contagion dangers beyond Shop-rite and such. I fear this countywide shutdown is based on Lakewood, which has become an insufferable quarantine-busting community, based on a rigid Hasidic belief system regarding gathering for prayer.
Now, you see why I’m hesitant to even blog poetic in here. No sooner do I think nobody even reads this blog than I write something chancy and everybody and their brothers bring it up. Yes, I fully expect wide-reaching reactions from my less abrasive weekly SandPaper columns. In fact, with so many folks sequestered, our online “cloud” edition has taken hits (views) approaching 50,000. That’s insane if I do say so myself. Nonetheless, please “share” SandPaper Facebook posts and such.
Working on train of thought: The state has announced trout season will open 10 days early – in an effort to get folks outside. Again with the one hand not knowing what the other hand is washing.
I’ve lost touch with spring striped bass anglers, due mainly to crappy weather -- combining with this new antagonism toward seemingly anyone not local coming onto the Island. There’s something wrong there. In fact, Island property owners who usually begin coming down this time of year are suddenly suspect?! There’s just bad-ass karma going around. This is going to come back to bite us. Not that I can change a thing. I, like most, can only hope this COVID crap -- both the pandemic and the diseased social attitude – ends soon. Personally, I’m targeting the July 4th weekend as end times … in a good happy-days way.
But, lo, I’m not done bearing what-ifs. As you know, the Lighthouse State Park is open, with Barney closed. Should we get a hot run of bluefish, I fear the potential conflicts should locals begin openly displaying prejudices toward those folks arriving in vehicles with out-of-state tags. Just as menacing, local fishing folks using undersized fish observations to loose lip on fellow anglers of an out-of-state/area ilk. Lest you think fishing is outlawed, remember that the state is backing trout fishing. That hardly sounds like a quarantine-ish condemnation of the sport.
Here’s a SandPaper Striper Shootout story by Eric Englund:
"Uncertain how the COVID-19 pandemic will be affecting the area in three months, the High Point (Harvey Cedars) Volunteer Fire Co. has canceled its striper shootout for Saturday, June 13.
Craig Coddington, fire company lieutenant and vice president, said it was a painful decision since it is the first of two fundraisers scheduled, the second one being the Dog Day Race on Sunday, Aug. 16.
“A lot of planning goes into the shootout,” said Coddington. “Around this time we’d start looking for sponsors, and with so many businesses hurting because of the pandemic, we’re not sure what kind of commitment we can get. It’s better to cancel now rather than start the process and then find we’re not able to do it.”
The shootout, besides being a fishing tournament, would feature a community fish fry with live entertainment beginning late in the afternoon.
“It was a great, fun-filled day,” he said. “We really hated to lose it.”
Coddington said the shootout debuted in 2007. In 2013, it was canceled due to Superstorm Sandy at a time when many participants whose boats either had been lost or needed major repairs.
He said no decision has been made regarding the Dog Day Race.
“We had to dip into our savings to have new garage doors put in for our firehouse,” said Coddington. “That was a pretty costly project. We also bought two decontamination units for our fire trucks. We really hope we don’t lose another fundraiser.” —E.E.
Effective April 1, 2020, ( Tonight 12:01 AM) New Jersey recreational striped bass regulations in all state waters will be as follows:
One fish 28" to less than 38"
Please pass this on to Captains, Tackle Stores, and anyone else that makes their living from the Recreational fishing Industry or cares about it. I was on a call with Russell Dunn taking about the impacts COVID-19 on the recreational fishing and the industry that depends on it. He sent this email to me to get it out the information to the public to gather information on impacts. Again please pass this on and go to the web page and share your pain. We are looking to get a better outcome than we did on effects of Hurricane Sandy on the Recreational Community. Stay safe.
I hope this email finds you and your families well.
I am writing to let you know that NOAA Fisheries is working diligently to assess the impacts of the COVID-19 virus and identify mitigating actions.
This newly established website is your best source of up-to-date information. It includes an email address (email@example.com) through which the public can share information regarding the effects of COVID-19 on your business as well as share your priorities, needs, and ideas to bolster recovery.
NOAA Fisheries has established a COVID-19 strategy team, within which recreational fisheries are well represented. Agency staff are soliciting information from and working with stakeholders, state and federal agencies, and the Congress in formulating a response to help sustain the fishing industry and fishing communities through these unprecedented times.
Copyright © 2020 Los Angeles Times Communications
By Susanne Rust and Rosanna Xia
March 31, 2020
As gray whales began their northern migration along the Pacific coast, earlier this month — after a year of unusually heavy die-offs — scientists were poised to watch, ready to collect information that could help them learn what was killing them.
The coronavirus outbreak, however, has largely upended that field work — and that of incalculable other ecological studies nationwide.
A large network of marine biologists and volunteers in California normally spend this time of year keeping an eye on gray whales, documenting their numbers and counting strandings as the leviathans swim from Mexico to the Arctic.
Scott Mercer, who started Point Arena's Mendonoma Whale and Seal Study seven years ago, said the watch was called off Wednesday, as he and his wife were told by a local sheriff to disperse and go home.
"I guess two people are now considered a public gathering," he said, with a wry chuckle.
In Los Angeles, Alisa Schulman-Janiger said she had to shut her survey down March 20, meaning this will be the first time in 37 years that data on the northern migration will not be complete.
"We had to," said Schulman-Janiger, director of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Cetacean Society. "We couldn't hazard anybody's health."
Up and down the West Coast and beyond, field research on a variety of endangered, threatened and migrating species has ground to a halt. Plovers? Abalone? They are on their own now, as scientists are forced to stay at home.
Schulman-Janiger said that before her work was called off, she had noticed an unusually early migration, with several skinny whales.
Even more alarming, she said, were observations of moms with very small calves — baby whales that, to her eye, looked too small to be making a 5,000-mile trip north.
"They looked like newborns," she said. "Like what you'd typically see in December or January. Not calves who'd just spent months nursing in the lagoons, getting stronger and bigger."
Last year, 215 gray whales were stranded on North America's Pacific coast as they migrated north, sparking a federal investigation into this unusual die-off event.
This year, 49 have been stranded, so far, in Mexico.
As local authorities close a growing number of parks and beaches, notifications and alerts about whale strandings and sightings will become increasingly erratic, she said, making it harder for researchers to know what is happening.
"Field teams may or may not respond to strandings and entanglements depending on the location and personnel availability," said Michael Milstein, spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, adding that the agency is advising its partners "to follow the guidance provided by local, state, and federal authorities."
It's not just whales.
Hundreds of environmental and ecological monitoring projects are now on pause, creating marked data holes in several long-term analyses. And in some cases, there's been a halt in the protection and vigilance of some endangered species, including the snowy plover.
The timing couldn't be worse.
"It's springtime," said Andrea Jones, Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon California, noting this is when many birds nest and migrate. Research teams are stuck indoors, as are thousands of volunteers who take part in Audubon Society bird counts, vital for judging the health of annual bird migrations.
Elsewhere, in research labs and aquariums across California, scientists are scrambling to adjust their projects and conservation efforts — many of which are time sensitive to the seasons.
Plans to cull an ambitious number of purple sea urchins — aggressive creatures that have devoured the kelp forests in Northern California and crowded out most all other life on the seafloor — for instance, is in limbo pending stay-at-home restrictions.
Every University of California campus has closed its labs, and California's coast and ocean research efforts have largely been suspended. Coastal officials have also lost critical assistance from numerous universities and colleges in monitoring the state’s fisheries and marine protected areas.
“The lack of data impacts everything from fisheries management to assessing the effectiveness of our marine protected area network,” said Mark Gold, executive director of the state’s Ocean Protection Council.
“The biggest challenge we're facing is the planning for the unknown. So many 'what ifs' need to be considered,” Heather Burdick, director of marine operations at the Bay Foundation, said Wednesday.
The Bay Foundation, a research nonprofit, is usually out on the water several times weekly to restore kelp and feed the endangered species that scientists have been trying to reintroduce into the ocean. “Our team … call today was focused on contingency plans for contingency plans,” she said.
Copyright © 2020 FreightWaves
By Nate Tabak
March 27, 2020
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed back at the prospect of the Trump administration deploying U.S. troops near the border with Canada in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it would be bad for both countries.
“Canada and the United States have the longest un-militarized border in the world and it is very much in both of our interests for it to remain that way,” Trudeau said during a news conference in Ottawa.
Officials in the Trump administration are considering the deployment to prevent irregular border crossings as the COVID-19 pandemic worsens, Global News reported. Trudeau confirmed that Canadians and U.S. officials were discussing the proposal.
“It’s benefited our two countries, our two economies tremendously [to have an un-militarized border]. We feel that it needs to remain that way.”
But even as Trudeau made his opposition to the proposal clear, he also faced increasing pressure from within Canada to place further restrictions on border crossings in response to the worsening spread of COVID-19 in the U.S.
Trudeau left open the prospect of further restrictions at the border, but stressed the importance of leaving supply chains open for essential goods and medicine.
“We continue to look for ways to keep Canadians safe while getting the goods they need,” he said.
Cross-border freight has continued to move freely between the two countries since they locked down their shared border to non-essential travel. Trucks continue to move vital loads, including food, toilet paper and medical supplies between the countries even as large industries shut down.
Trucking companies and their drivers have nervously watched developments at the border. Truckers remain exempt from the restrictions as well as 14-day isolation periods mandated by Canada for travelers.
While no U.S. or Canadian official has publicly floated the idea of shutting down the border for freight, some truckers are worried about it happening.
“I wouldn’t put it past them to close the border,” Canadian trucker Ron McCallum told FreightWaves from Washington State where he was hauling a load of woodchips from British Columbia to a farm in Oklahoma.
Under normal circumstances, more than C$2 billion in goods and services cross the U.S.-Canadian border daily.
McCallum, a driver for Sharp Transportation in Ontario, said both countries would suffer from a full border closure.
“So much crosses the border each day. I don’t know what would happen to the economies,” he said.