Please attend or send comments - MA changes to Striper, Bluefish, Other species regs.

leaky

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Hi,

The below is an excerpt copied out of the .pdf I got via email today. In short there are hearings below or you can send comments via the following. In the next post I will add my thoughts on some of it..

Public Comment Instructions

The Division of Marine Fisheries will also accept written public comment through 5PM on Monday, March 16, 2020. Please address all written comments to Acting Director Daniel McKiernan and submit to DMF by e-mail at [email protected] or by post to 251 Causeway Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02114.


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Under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 30A and pursuant to the authority found at M.G.L. c. 130 §§ 2, 17A, 80 and 104, the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is proposing the draft regulatory amendments to 322 CMR §§6.00, 7.00 and 9.00 listed below.


1. Recreational Striped Bass (322 CMR 6.07). DMF is proposing several measures affecting the recreational harvest of striped bass. These measures are designed to conform state regulations to Addendum VI to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and reduce recreational discard mortality. The proposals are to:

a. Adopt a slot limit of at least 28” to less than 35” total length for the recreational retention of striped bass. This slot limit will replace the current 28” minimum size.

b. For 2021, expand the state’s existing circle hook rule to potentially require all anglers whether fishing from shore, a private vessel or a for-hire vessel to use circle hooks when fishing with whole or cut natural baits and eliminate existing exemptions for certain terminal tackle configurations (e.g., tube and worm, snag and drop).

c. Prohibit recreational anglers from removing striped bass from the water with any device other than a non-lethal device. Non-lethal devices will be defined as a device that does not pierce, puncture, or otherwise cause invasive damage to the fish that may result in mortality.


2. Recreational Bluefish (322 CMR 6.18). The ASMFC has approved new coastwide measures to restrict recreational harvest in 2020. These include a 3-fish per day limit for anglers fishing from shore or a private vessel and a 5-fish per day limit for anglers fishing aboard a for-hire vessel. The possession limit in Massachusetts is currently 10 fish per day for all anglers. DMF is proposing to adopt state limits consistent with this coastwide mandate.


3. Commercial Striped Bass (322 CMR 6.07). Beginning in 2020, the ASMFC has reduced the states’ coastal commercial quotas for striped bass by 18% to end overfishing. At our existing 34” minimum size limit, Massachusetts’ quota is expected to be approximately 713,000 pounds. To best utilize this quota, DMF is proposing several adjustments to the state’s commercial striped bass management regulations:

a. Move the start of the commercial fishery from June 23 to as early as June 1.

b. Adjust the open commercial fishing days from Mondays and Thursdays to Mondays and Wednesdays.

c. Increase the minimum size from 34” to 35”. This will result in there being no overlap between lawfully sized commercial fish and lawfully sized recreational fish. If this change is adopted, DMF will also rescind: 1) the requirement that commercial anglers fishing recreationally for striped bass clip the right pectoral fin of any striped bass measuring at least 34” and 2) the allowance for dual


commercial and for-hire permit holders to sell any commercially conforming striped bass caught by their clients.

d. Maintain existing daily landing limits.



4. Commercial Summer Flounder (322 CMR 6.22). In response to recent fishery performance and expectations that the quota will remain at elevated levels through at least 2021, DMF is proposing to:

a. Increase trawler trip limits from 300 pounds to 400 pounds and hook and line trip limits from 200 pounds to 250 pounds during the period of June 10 through October 31. No changes are being proposed to the existing Sunday – Thursday open fishing day schedule.

b. Renew the pilot program that allows trawlers to retain and land two consecutive daily limits of summer flounder with prescribed segregation of catches and tagged containers for the June 10 start of the directed fishery.

c. During the period of November 1–December 31, increase trip limits for all gear types to 1,000 pounds provided 5% of the annual quota remains available, or 500 pounds if less than 5% of the annual quota remains available.


5. Commercial Black Sea Bass (322 CMR 6.28). In response to recent fishery performance and a near 60% increase in the commercial quota for 2020, DMF is proposing to:

a. Adjust fishing limits for the summertime directed fishery. DMF’s preference is to maintain the existing season and Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday open fishing day schedule, but increase directed fishery trip limits from 300 pounds to 400 pounds for pot fishermen and 150 pounds to 200 pounds for hook and line fishermen. DMF will also take comment on maintaining the existing season but moving to a two-day per week open fishing day schedule (e.g., Tuesdays/Thursdays) while increasing trip limits to 450 pounds for pot fishermen and 225 pounds for hook and line fishermen.

b. Increase the seasonal weir set-aside from 15,000 pounds to 24,000 pounds commensurate with the increase in the annual quota. Quota set-aside for the weir fishery will roll back into the general quota for the summertime fishery, as weirs are typically removed from the water by the late spring.

c. Establish a 100 pound incidental catch limits for trawlers to maximize the retention of saleable fish while minimizing regulatory discarding. During the April 23 – June 9 small mesh trawl squid fishery, aggregate black sea bass landings will be capped at 50,000 pounds, and retention and landing will be allowed seven days per week. During the June 10 – October 31 large mesh trawl fishery, aggregate landings will not be capped, and retention and landing will be allowed during open summer flounder fishing days (Sundays – Thursdays).


6. Commercial Horseshoe Crab Trawl Limits (322 CMR 6.34). In response to recent fishery performance, DMF is proposing to establish an open access incidental limit of 75 crabs for trawlers who do not hold a limited entry horseshoe crab permit. This will replace the issuance of Letters of Authorization that accommodate the retention and landing of horseshoe crabs by those trawlers who do not hold commercial horseshoe crab permits.



7. Commercial Menhaden (322 CMR 6.43, 7.01, 7.04 and 7.06). In response to recent fishery performance, DMF is proposing to:

a. Rescind the 95% quota trigger that reduces the limited access fishery’s trip limit to 6,000 pounds, thereby allowing the fishery to remain open at the 25,000 pound trip limit until 100% of the quota is taken.

b. Replace the 1,000 pound bycatch allowance with a 6,000 pound incidental catch and small scale fishery allowance for harvest after the quota is filled, as authorized by the ASMFC’s Menhaden FMP.

c. Adopt new regulations that would allow Massachusetts to potentially opt into the episodic event quota set-aside afforded to states from ME to NY by the ASMFC’s Menhaden FMP.


d. Establish a May 1, 2020 control date for the limited entry menhaden permit that may be used in the future to address latent effort and further reduce access to the fishery.

e. Require that all limited entry menhaden fishery permit endorsements be owner/operator.



8. Sand Lance (322 CMR 6.42). DMF is proposing to adopt a 200 pound possession and landing limit for sand lance to prevent the proliferation of an industrial fishery while allowing traditional bait harvest activity to continue to occur.



9. Housekeeping (322 CMR 6.19, 6.44, 7.01, 7.03, 7.07 and 9.00). DMF is proposing several regulatory refinements and corrections to:

a. Streamline its herring management regulations for Area 1A and update herring spawning protection language to better conform to current practices and the ASMFC’s FMP;

b. Consolidate Cancer crab and blue crab regulations into a single regulatory section for edible crabs.

c. Define edible crabs to exclude non-native species, thereby allowing the harvest and sale of non- native crab species without a commercial lobster permit.

d. Clarify those circumstances whereby performance criteria may be waived when transferring a Coastal Lobster Permit.

e. Revise lobster trap allocation transfer rules for areas subject to effort controls to better complement relevant federal regulations.

f. Make explicit that the initial sale of fish by a commercial fisherman must be to a dealer authorized as a primary buyer.

g. Clarify those activities covered under the authority of a recreational for-hire permit.
 

leaky

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The rest of the document, with schedule for hearings & additional info..



Public Hearing Schedule
The Division of Marine Fisheries has scheduled three public hearing to take comment on these proposals:




March 10, 2020

6 PM

Coolidge Middle School 89 Birch Meadow Drive Reading, MA 01867

March 12, 2020

9:30 AM

Tisbury Town Hall Katharine Cornell Theater 51 Spring Street

Vineyard Haven, MA 02568

March 12, 2020

6 PM

MA Maritime Academy Admiral’s Hall

101 Academy Drive Buzzards Bay, MA



Public Comment Instructions
The Division of Marine Fisheries will also accept written public comment through 5PM on Monday, March 16, 2020. Please address all written comments to Acting Director Daniel McKiernan and submit to DMF by e-mail at [email protected] or by post to 251 Causeway Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02114.


A copy of the strikethrough regulatory text and more detailed memoranda to the Marine Fisheries Advisory Commission may be found on DMF’s website or may be acquired by contacting Jared Silva ([email protected]; 617-626-1534).
 

leaky

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I don't pay a whole lot of attention to much of these species but if you fish for them you should take note & send comments.

Comments are extremely important in these sorts of things, BTW the previous limited entry thing just about has a nail in the coffin, most of the public comment received (which was not a huge number of comments, I want to say I read about 50) was against the idea - it makes a huge difference when they count the yay & nay and find the public is against it..

I need to think about some of this a bit more, but here's what I think at the moment..

Bluefish - what irks me about this is that they are creating different (more generous) regulations for a Private and Party/Charter boats. At the last RAP meeting when someone suggested something similar for groundfish I basically said, the Party & Charter boats are a product of having a recreational quota for these fish and not the reason for it - which I think sums it up fairly well. Such proposals have been voted down again and again for groundfish, because it's a hot button topic and there is a lack of support (which is somewhat amazing because when votes come on these sorts of things, with mostly those in the Party/Charter business involved, it's the proverbial 3 wolf & a sheep voting for what to have for dinner, yet it still doesn't pass)..

Anyway - bottom line, a recreational fisherman shouldn't be able to keep more fish just because they get on another boat, even if that boat is a business trying to make money, it's just not fair to the private-boat-owning public, who also spend huge $$ to have boats (they just spend it at the boatyard, the tackle shop, Diesel Jerry :) etc... etc..). The corrupt idea that Party/Charter boats should have higher bag limits per angler doesn't pass the straight face test, it's not fair, period.

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Striped bass - I certainly agree with not gaffing stripers you are going to release (durr).. but as far as mandating circle hooks for any use of bait, I don't think it's going to help much, and I think there are exceptions - for instance trolling live macks is not a time when you gut hook fish but from the sounds of what I'm reading we would need to be trolling with circle hooks, which doesn't work very well..

Commercial striped bass - I don't get why we they want it to be Mon & Weds now versus Mon & Thurs as it was before, and they can't just make it 2 days in a row, ie Mon & Tues maybe. It kills those of us who fish at night - your options are for instance, start Sunday night after midnight until sun-up.. or on Monday night you are supposed to be off the water with your fish offloaded by midnight (everyone I know who does this basically breaks the law somehow by starting early or holding fish past when they are supposed to - a product of stupid regulation)..

As far as the new size limit proposal - I need to talk to more people about it, but talking w/ a scientist a month ago he was under the impression the thing that made the most sense would be to institute the recreational size limits for the commercial fishery. Instead what they are doing is recreational anglers can keep fish 28 to 35 inches, and commercial fishermen can only keep them over 35 inches - if they are trying to protect the big stripers this makes no sense, I don't know what the point of this is other than attempting to make it so the fish you catch recreationally can't be slipped into the commercial market (which was never a huge problem since a recreational bag limit as always much smaller than commercial, and would be more laws created to try to prevent people from breaking laws, stupid legislation)..

That's my take, maybe more to come after I talk to some a bit about these commercial proposals.
 

Brakeforhake

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Party and Charter boat anglers should be allowed to keep more fish... Passengers of party and charter boats often depend on bringing home some fish in order to justify the cost of the trip... these people are generally of a lower income level than private boat owners. If you can afford a boat, you can also afford to keep less fish. Supporting the party and charter boat industry is important because their customers also patronize many local businesses.
 

leaky

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Party and Charter boat anglers should be allowed to keep more fish... Passengers of party and charter boats often depend on bringing home some fish in order to justify the cost of the trip... these people are generally of a lower income level than private boat owners. If you can afford a boat, you can also afford to keep less fish. Supporting the party and charter boat industry is important because their customers also patronize many local businesses.
If you can afford the $$ to charter a boat you can afford to keep less fish too.

Some of these rich boat owners you envision are running 1982 tri hulls they have to scrape up the cash to perform minor repairs on and fuel up. They deserve their 5 bluefish as much as someone who steps onto a party boat.

If party and charter boats can't operate under environmentally sound regulations, ie what the rest of the public needs to abide by, I say then ( and it is unfortunate) their business model just has a problem.
 

CCtuna

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Yeah that was a relatively ignorant statement saying all boat owners have money to spare because I definitely do not. I have to fish my boat pretty hard to be able to afford the costs associated with boat ownership. But going boatless isn’t an option
 

Brakeforhake

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you have to fish your boat hard to be able to afford it? then you must be a commercial fisherman. This is about weather a private boat recreational fisherman deserves to be able to keep the same as a party or charter boat recreational fisherman.... saying that being able to afford to go on a charter boat or a party boat is the same as being able to afford your own private vessel is pure ignorance...
 

Brakeforhake

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if keeping a few extra blues or scup keeps an industry viable then i think thats reasonable... I don't think your going to find anyone who is selling their recreational pleasure boat because they can only keep 3 blues instead of 5 or a few less scup in their bucket. This has nothing to do with commercial fisherman.
 

leaky

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you have to fish your boat hard to be able to afford it? then you must be a commercial fisherman. This is about weather a private boat recreational fisherman deserves to be able to keep the same as a party or charter boat recreational fisherman.... saying that being able to afford to go on a charter boat or a party boat is the same as being able to afford your own private vessel is pure ignorance...
What's ignorant is your assumption about the other fisherman. This applies to shore fishermen too btw.. there are a number of boats out there that cost their owners about the same as a day on a charter boat, and bluefish is a species they target (ie your little beat up aluminum skiffs, your 40 year old tri hull bow riders).. I see these $1000 trailer boats outside the mouth of the merrimack all season, no not rich people.
 

leaky

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if keeping a few extra blues or scup keeps an industry viable then i think thats reasonable... I don't think your going to find anyone who is selling their recreational pleasure boat because they can only keep 3 blues instead of 5 or a few less scup in their bucket. This has nothing to do with commercial fisherman.
No it's not reasonable because it is at the expense of the public's access. It should be equal, that is fair and the law should be fair..

For years I have heard charter boat operators tell us if they do not get special privileges to the resource then they will be selling their boats too, same crowd is still here :).. so yes absolutely nobody is selling their boats but I don't think anyone will go out of business either, at least not anyone who had a profitable business prior..

Regardless, fair is the same bag limit all around and it is not the government's place to be involved in such judgements.
 

Brakeforhake

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Usually 6 people split the cost of a charter... Have not seen many 1 man charters. I also think that the cost of boat ownership exceeds the price of a charter. sounds like someone has a problem with the for hire industry in general
 

leaky

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Usually 6 people split the cost of a charter... Have not seen many 1 man charters. I also think that the cost of boat ownership exceeds the price of a charter. sounds like someone has a problem with the for hire industry in general
I have no problem with the for hire industry, most of those I fish with are all in the business and those I know from fisheries meetings all shake my hand. I'm not the enemy.

What I have a problem with are regulations giving special privileges/access. I would not support regulations giving private boat fishermen a larger bag limit either and would be equally as combative about the idea.
 

Brakeforhake

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you speak of fairness and privilege/access. These are my concerns as well. If party and charter boats are put out of business the general population will not have access. Only the people who can afford private vessels will have the privilege of fishing. That does not sound fair. A few extra fish for party and charter boats to keep them in business makes sense. There is no such thing as fair.
 

leaky

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you speak of fairness and privilege/access. These are my concerns as well. If party and charter boats are put out of business the general population will not have access. Only the people who can afford private vessels will have the privilege of fishing. That does not sound fair. A few extra fish for party and charter boats to keep them in business makes sense. There is no such thing as fair.
#1 you make it a given that equal regulations will put all the boats out of business - history shows it won't. It may put the nail in the coffin for some, but others will survive. And still there will be no less impact to the private boat industry who make the same evaluations about whether it's worth it to go fishing.

Fair means the same opportunity. What about the poor folks who can't even afford a trip on a party boat? We aren't trying to fix it because that's life. The opportunity to catch such fish would still be there for everyone even if there wasn't a for-hire boat left just potentially less people could afford it (although arguably you can fish for these things from shore)..

What we do in groundfish is we find a compromise that suits all anglers the best it can - ie maybe 5 for everyone but cutting 2 weeks out of the bluefish season would be a conservationally equivalent measure. Then everyone is impacted equally but the party boats can still make trips profitable.. it's just an option but that's my experience with how we make it work fairly.
 

Brakeforhake

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you will have the last word.. but in the age of draconian regulations I think its ridiculous for party and charter business to fish under the exact same regulations as private pleasure boats. In these times special considerations should be given to fishing businesses that have been around for generations and the average everyday patrons that support them. I think that would be more than "fair"
 

leaky

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you will have the last word.. but in the age of draconian regulations I think its ridiculous for party and charter business to fish under the exact same regulations as private pleasure boats. In these times special considerations should be given to fishing businesses that have been around for generations and the average everyday patrons that support them. I think that would be more than "fair"
The average every day patrons are not entitled to any more (or any less for that matter) than any other recreational fishermen.

I've got lots of respect for those running these operations, but I don't think they are special when it comes to dividing a public resource.
 

Brakeforhake

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I guess they can just go out and buy boats... after all owning a boat is about the same cost as going on a charter o_O
 

reelup

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Usually 6 people split the cost of a charter... Have not seen many 1 man charters. I also think that the cost of boat ownership exceeds the price of a charter. sounds like someone has a problem with the for hire industry in general
so you think it's fair for a charter boat that fishes 2 trips a day to be able to give the capt. and mates catch on both trips , because that's what happens
 

reelup

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Why a slot limit? I've never caught a trophy striper and would hate to through one back.
they think the slot limit is going to help the stocks . but if you keep targeting one class of fish seeing that the comm. fisherman will most likiey fish the same size you can take out that whole class of fish pretty quick. one fish at 35 or over will let them spawn atleast once
 
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