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

MAArcher

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I wonder if letting people, at least those fishing from shore, were allowed to keep a schoolie they would stop fishing sooner and ultimately kill less fish. The longer the limit the longer people will have to fish to get a keeper and the more they will accidentally kill, no?
 
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Brakeforhake

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a slot limit protects the breeders.... too many big fish being caught hurts the stock. It may not seem like it to some based on personal experience or area fished but the big ones school up together in certain places and become vulnerable to a slaughter. Everyone wants to keep big ones including myself but when you see certain fisheries like the canal when its good, or block island, or fishing the pogie (bunker) schools south of long island it makes you think. I do think guys fishing from shore excluding the canal should be able to keep a big fish due to the difficulty of actually catching one. As far as charter and party boats are concerned if a few extra fish keeps a business viable that does not bother me. Party and charter boats are important, they help the general public access the resource as well as their customers supporting restaurants, motels and other businesses.
 

MAArcher

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a slot limit protects the breeders.... too many big fish being caught hurts the stock. It may not seem like it to some based on personal experience or area fished but the big ones school up together in certain places and become vulnerable to a slaughter. Everyone wants to keep big ones including myself but when you see certain fisheries like the canal when its good, or block island, or fishing the pogie (bunker) schools south of long island it makes you think. I do think guys fishing from shore excluding the canal should be able to keep a big fish due to the difficulty of actually catching one. As far as charter and party boats are concerned if a few extra fish keeps a business viable that does not bother me. Party and charter boats are important, they help the general public access the resource as well as their customers supporting restaurants, motels and other businesses.
I thought that the 28" minimum we had in MA was set there so that fish could breed once before being taken?

I wonder if the best way to go about it would be to make everyone keep the first fish they hook, regardless of size, no catch and release, then everyone would start fishing with gear that would exclude small fish if they wanted to go home with a good fish. And if they didn't want a trophy, they at least couldn't spend all day killing small fish trying to catch and release with small j hooks and bait.
 

michael tero

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Does anyone remember the fishing back in the nineties early 2000's ? Phenomenal , the result of a one fish 36" limit. We wouldn't even talk about fish if it wasn't over 40" , And a lot of that was done from shore . It was world class fishing but of course we ruined that . Seems to me we've already seen the successful model .
 

Alast

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For stripers, I think it's silly to give the recreational public a slot limit and then let commerical guys (arguably better at catching fish) continue to take out the bigger breeders. If more fish of a certain size need to be preserved, it doesn't seem like this would accomplish that.

As already mentioned, when the rec guy catches their 40 plus pound fish of a lifetime, they need to throw it back?

What are other jurisdictions doing? Seems like coordination is needed to help the stock.
 

leaky

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I will say the commercial quota in MA is very small compared to the recreational catch, and it's very controlled. The recreational dead throwback actually exceed the commercial quota even.

So maybe the idea was there is enough stock available > 35 inches for the commercial quota but not enough to allow a rec fishery on that class.

I tend to think why not just let the commercial fishermen sell them in the 28 to 35 slot (which is more plentiful anyway) and allow everyone to keep fish over 42 inches or something.. if nothing else it would spread the commercial boats out (who usually congregate in particular areas lately)..

But there may be some reason for it, like something out of MA state control.
 

Snake8

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Does anyone remember the fishing back in the nineties early 2000's ? Phenomenal , the result of a one fish 36" limit. We wouldn't even talk about fish if it wasn't over 40" , And a lot of that was done from shore . It was world class fishing but of course we ruined that . Seems to me we've already seen the successful model .
I beleive - don't quote me here - that the ASFMC which is the striped bass regulatory body - is trying to get more conformity in rules so that for example Virginia can kill <28" Jersey is 28-32, RI is 32+ etc (Those are not the actual rules but not far from where we are) with the net result that by the time the migration is up and back you have the entire species being targeted across almost all ages.

FWIW - not sure about the other states with commercial bass fisheries, but MA only caught about 1/2 of our comm quota last year. That not becaus of lack of effort or a poor price, its because the fish were simply not there. Moving to Wed means those fish can go to market thursday which is usually the best auction of the week from a fisher's perspective as that when buyers buy for weekend orders. Friday is usually one of the lower $ days.

I also think the circle hook thing is fine. For anyone who fishes in FL, this is the way things are moving - every species seems to have their own hook and release rules. If you can't catch a striper on a circle hook you probably should find another sport.

And Mr Tero, I do recall those days. I also recall the decade before that when there were NO striped bass around at all and there was a moratorium on them before they opened it at 36". Those years of great fishing were the result of the moratorium not the 36". But you are correct those were they great years for big bass!

I will add that striped bass are much like salmon in that one year class can have an amazing breeding conditions and the next can suck. In Alaska they set the catch based on the returns of fish. Biologists know pretty well when we have a successful SB year class about to come of age. The slot and size classifications should be dynamic on an annual basis.

Lastly, on the charter/party issue, I think its a bit of a red herring to say charters should get special rules or they will go out of business. I know lots of charter guys that actively support catch and release - its a good long term business strategy. When I moved back here from the west coast before i had my own boat, and the cod fishing was good I would go out on a party boat which at the time did not have to comply with the then 10 fish at I think 22" of the rec fleet. The boat I went on was basically guys filling giant coolers to sell black market in NYC. No joke walking off the boat with three or four giant igloo coolers packed with filets. It was pretty lucrative according to the guys I talked to. Now I am not saying ANYTHING about any of you that run charters,its a hard business and every single one of the guys I know can fish circles around me but fishing for meat on a charter is never going to be profitable. If the limit is two fish in a slot and you have six on board that is plenty of fish. Again, just my experience but most six pack charters do not go out to load coolers, they are more likely to leave fish with the capt/crew once they see how much meat comes off a 36" bass.
 

michael tero

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How long was the moratorium ? And a follow up question, do you think we would have seen the same results had we left the one fish at 36" law ?
My feelings are that striped bass should be managed for everyone. With limited resources and some determination the average person has the potential to catch a true trophy fish, And while i'm not opposed to a well regulated commercial season, it is well known that the economic benefits from rec fishing far and away beat out commercial revenue. This is one fishery that should be managed for maximum bio mass , not maximum sustainable harvest. Everyone does better when there are more fish.
 

Snake8

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How long was the moratorium ? And a follow up question, do you think we would have seen the same results had we left the one fish at 36" law ?
Everyone does better when there are more fish.
I dont recall the details of the moratorium. If you really want to know I can dig around a bit, but I think it was around 5-10 years. I was living on the west coast for part of that time so Im not 100% sure.

I think the commercial/recreational dialectic is a bit of a false construct that is the result of management rather than the conservation of species. As you note everyone does better when there are more fish. Historically the commercial sector vastly outvalued the rec sector and management of fisheries has yet to adapt to the new reality which is why there is bias toward commercial fisheries in management. Look at who sits on the FMC's!

Im not going to argue that comm or rec deserve more or less. There are plenty of big industries that provide a big economic impact but in now way should we manage for their benefit over others just because they are bigger. Its pretty easy to game the system, and if you want to talk fisheries management I can go on for hours and hours about the failures, and maybe spend ten minutes on the successes. Striped Bass was a brief success that is now veering back into the failure zone. It is mostly a history of failure.

Anyone interested in this topic, I would suggest getting a copy of The Mortal Sea by Jeffrey Bolster. He covers the history of commercial fishing from the advent of beam trawls in England almost up to our current situation locally. A couple big takeaways for me are the historical abundance in our local waters and that overfishing is a feature not a bug.

Should we be outraged that our Atlantic salmon fishery is essentially extinct when there used to be huge runs of salmon in many of our coastal rivers? Should we be outraged that Eastern Maine has become devoid of cod and haddock when historically it was a huge fishery?

My feeling is we should manage for abundance, run away from single species management which only results in boom and bust fisheries (cod/haddock, striped bass, lobster, herring...). And we should throw away our current "baselines" which are mostly from the 60's. (In other words current fisheries management is striving to get to the amount of fish we had in the 60's - largely because they argue there is no good data prior to that, which is absolute bullshit we have catch records going back hundreds of years - it just suits some of the bigger commercial operations goal's; one of whom is in jail at the moment, another who just sold his boats and permits (the largest fleet in Maine) to an international equity firm - something that would not have been allowed before these same weasels enacted catch shares which essentially turned a "commons" into private assets which could then be sold like stocks. Very frankly these scumbags stole a fishery that was a public common for hundreds of years and made it private so they could profit.

I should shut up but the effort to privatize fisheries is ongoing. There has been a recent effort to privatize shellfish leases - in other words allow people to own ocean bottom rather than lease it. Once one person owns ocean bottom whats to stop oil companies from buying up tracts and drilling in the GOM? (I know this may sound like Im some kind of conspiracy nut but, if you ever watch Deadliest Catch, the exact same thing happened there - this is a concerted long term effort by some very smart people to convert public resources into private holdings in the name on convservation - its not just fisheries with the argument that private ownership promotes an innate conservation which is empricially false and has ZERO data to back it up, yet Catch Shares are still promoted as a conservation tool despite no evidence it works.
 

leaky

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On the commercial striped bass fishery, again, keep in mind it's very small - quota is less than the dead throwbacks from the recreational fishery in MA. Its managed as a recreational fish with a small commercial fishery as an exception, versus the other way around as it is in most fisheries we talk about.
 
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