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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
By now you must have heard that the National Marine Fisheries Service is looking to reduce the recreational and commercial effort on the cod fish stocks in the Gulf of
Maine. A little over a year ago I led an effort to disallow foreign vessels into our waters to harvest the Atlantic Herring. I wrote letters to every member on the New
England Fisheries Management Council and their advisors. The whole jist of the Joint venture was that our fishermen were not targeting Herring. Under the Magnuson
act if there is an allotted quota for a species and it is deemed that that quota will not be met by domestic fishermen then the fishery may be opened to foreign vessels
that apply to the government for the right to harvest the species. These foreign vessels are not restricted to size limits and other regulations that our domestic fleet has
imposed on them. The framework was to allow foreign vessels to take a certain quota, of this quota a percentage was to be supplied to the foreign fleet by some of our
vessels (obviously well connected politically) fishing under what is called a joint fishing venture (JV). The selling point to NMFS was that these boats, that had filed for
joint venture, were hurt by the reduction in groundfishing. The JV was to give these boats income to help ease the their lack of income. My contention was that we
should not be allowing any foreign vessels back into our waters. If their was a market for these fish then why weren't the boats fishing them anyway? NMFS believes
there to be an abundance of Herring in our offshore waters. Unfortunately the inshore situation is not the same. I stated that if the fish were left unharvested what harm
would come of that. Most of the species that NMFS says are depleted eat the Herring. I figure if you have more food to eat then your species would have a better
chance of recovery. I guess I'm wrong because the JV has been going on all summer. Last I heard a Russian processing vessel had asked if they could anchor within 15
miles of shore to operate through the rough seas of winter. Back to the Cod fish issue. Before I start let me say that there is no way a rod and reel fishery commercial
or recreational could deplete any fishery. So for NMFS and NEFMC to suggest that they need to reduce the recreational sectors effort is absurd. We are subjected to a
higher length limit, rod and reel with no more than two hooks per line and one line per angler for gear, and for private boats a 10 fish limit in combination of cod and
haddock. Fish caught in the closed zones are not to be sold, nor can any fish be sold by a boat fishing with a letter of consent allowing you to fish the closed areas. We
are seeing an increase in groundfish stocks due to the closed areas. This is true. I made a comment to the North East Captains Assoc. last spring about the "advertising"
going on with some charter boats. They are really talking up the ground fishing to generate more business and that while the fishing was better it certainly didn't warrant
some of the reports I saw. I asked that everyone be somewhat realistic in their reports so as to not bring any unnecessary attention from the commercial sector. I still
read every week in ************* magazine how certain boats out of Gloucester and south, fishing Stellwagon bank and hammering the groundfish every trip, best in
years. While that most likely boosted their charter business it also got the attention of the commercial sector. What they did at last years NEFMC meetings was to use
these reports to claim the rebound of the fishery and if they had further reductions then so should the rec.'s. NEFMC then recommended to NMFS the following
framework that address's the recreational sector. Now I may not be completely accurate as I have heard several versions. I can not find anything on either the NEFMC
or NMFS web page yet as to the exact measures being suggested. This is what I have heard so far

1. Ten fish bag limit for Charter and party boats

2. Increase to 22" or 24" length limit

3. No fishing any closed waters for charter and party boats

4. No fishing closed waters for any boats

5. No fishing closed waters from October to March

6. No fishing closed waters from November to April

I believe that that's all of them. Like I said they may not be accurate. There is a meeting in Danvers Mass. next month. You can get the location off the NEFMC web
site. I believe a strong recreational showing is needed at this meeting. If you can't be their then at least write a letter or e-mail to the members on the NEFMC
groundfish committee and NMFS groundfish committee members. If we are restricted out of the closed areas it would be the end of the good cod fishing in the waters I
fish anyway. As most of my charters know we generally travel 25-30 miles offshore to fish the closed areas. When we fish the open water there is an unbelievable
difference in the quality of fishing. That is just the facts. Nothing sugar coated here. I wont tell you we catch 800lbs of fish every trip. We don't. I won't tell you it like
the old days, never been better. It isn't. When we can catch cod on the inshore humps again without having to run to Jeffries ledge, then I'll tell you we're back to the old
days. When we see plenty of bait for the fish to eat, then I'll tell you. Until then we need to stand up for the right to fish the waters we did not help deplete, while taking
realistic conservation measures.

Sorry I was so long winded. I was just reading in ************* how this has all of a sudden became a big issue with them, when it has been brewing for some time now.
It will most likely be to little to late as with the herring issue. But I'll be able to sleep knowing I at least tried to stop it.

Capt Spike

Mermaid Charters

New Hampshire
 

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CaptSpike,

I agree with you 200%. One thing I like to point out in addition is Framework 36 is an attempt to reduce bycatch and overages (dead cod tossed back from the nets). Every time I am aboard a partyboat, charter or my own boat I see most of the small cod safely sent back for another day. We are not to blame for the waste nor the disaster with the cod stocks. In the days long ago there was only handlines, there was always pleanty of fish to go around.

Another point is that if they plan any further restrictions on cod, it's time to seperate haddock from cod with regard to the ten fish limit and any size limits. Haddock are coming back and the cod and haddock should not be lumped under the same restrictions. As a matter of fact I would like to see the size limit for haddock dropped to match the commercial (19") limit provide that the haddock spawned 2x before that size or rais ethe commercial limit to 21" also.

All this is going to be pretty messy at the next meetings. I plan on being there and the other meeting for sure in Portsmouth. I will have to remember to bring my camera for any good action shots.

And to close jefferies and stellwagen to recreationals. That's pure jealosy. A jig bouncing on the bottom is far less distructive then a trawler. The commercial closure I thought was t give the bottom life a chance to recover. So where do they expect us to fish? Down tide from the gillnets? If we try uptide then we snag the net. Downtide and the net has all the fish!

Save a seat for me!

Capt Marc
Portsmouth NH



This message was edited by Capt. Marc on 11-30-01 @ 5:18 PM
 

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If Party/Charter boats are resticted to 10 fish per person then its only fair that every vessel; gillnetters, draggers, longliners etc. should also be restricted to 10 fish per person. Also the legnth should be the same for everyone. 36 inch sound good, eh?

Anything else would be unequitable and unamerican!

Capt Walt
NEWE ENGLAND CHARTERS
SACO, MAINE
 

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Capt. Walt.

Sure why not if they won't let us fish where they can't drag then we all should have the same limits.

A little extream but if they are tossing c--p at us then at least we can return the volley.

See you at the portsmouth meeting?

Capt. Marc
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Very Important!
The next meeting on the 19th of Dec. is the only remaining meeting that will be discussing the codfish regs. They will be finalized in March in Conn. The meeting in Portsmouth will not entail groundfish regs. Please plan on attending the meeting on the 19th to be heard as a rec. fisherman. The meeting is in Danvers at the Sheraton Ferncroft. More info on the meeting available at "www.nefmc.org" look under meetings and schedules.
We need every body we can get there.
Capt. Spike
 

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All,

Framework 36 was voted to be scraped. Now NMFS will be making the short term regulations. There will be a lot of politics involved with this, not to say Framework 36 didn't.

We can only hope for the best until something is put out for public comment again from NMFS.

Thanks to those who submitted letters voicing the concerns of Rec fisherman. There were far more written letters from Rec anglers then commercial available at the meeting.

V/R
Capt. Marc
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I second that motion. What a fiasco yesterday. Many more rec.s there though and that was good however with the scraping of the framework we had no bone to pick. I don't agree with the scraping of the amendment but under the proposals and the flawed information used to get to these proposals it was most likely the best thing. Now NMFS will take it upon there shoulders and come up with what ever they feel will work. This could be bad but there is a public comment period. So stay tuned. The way I see it is the stocks have been recovering under current reg.s, Maybe not as quick as they would like but they are recovering. So status quo isn't so bad considering the economy and all. In the 700 page deis they stated that recreational fisherman were fishing state waters (3miles) and charters were not fishing closed areas so closing the areas would not impact us. I brought this to the attention of the gentleman that submitted the documents. He said he had to check into that that he thought it was not typed correctly. It was full of qualitive not quantitive information and thus that was the basis for caning framework 36. I'm sorry they couldn't have come up with something in between. Pat Kurkel (nmfs) indicvated that even if the NEFMC submitted a plan that didn't meet the objective (67% reduction) then they would have added what they needed to achive that. Very confusing. A lot of things to consider when changing the rules, from both sides. I'm not even sure they have a clue where the happy medium is when they get there, or how to sustain it.
Get ready round 2 coming up.

Capt. Spike
 

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Hi Capt. Spike. You wrote that they stated:
"In the 700 page deis they stated that recreational fisherman were fishing state waters (3miles) and charters were not fishing closed areas so closing the areas would not impact us."

They are incorrect. Almost all my cod fishing after May is done in the commercially closed area east of Stellwagen. There are recreational, and charter boats cod fishing there. I see them all the time. Not a lot, but they are there. More each year.

If they keep everyone out of the closed areas it will have a bigger impact than they think. Including of course a pure recreational angler who is not going to sell fish and just wants to catch some nice cod and haddock for home consumption. -Tom

http://newenglandsharks.com
 

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Very curious to see how this works out. A little background on me--all recreational and I'll go on the head boats from time to time. Fished for cod 20+ times last year, mostly from Weymouth and Scituate. Three miles out we all know is a joke. Even in my 17' bowrider I was on Stellwagon a dozen times. Excuse my ignorance of the commerical rules and way of fishing, is probably a good way to start. "On a clear day you can see forever." Since those are the days that I'm out there due to the size of my boat, I've been able to notice the wall of nets that arises about two miles or so on the west side of Stellwagon. When I say "wall" it does seem to run uninterrupted as far as the eye can see north-south. I think a powerful image from the eye of the recreational fisherman making an argument would be an arial shot showing exactly where the nets were being placed. Then, a biologist's report showing the prevailing currents and basic topographical structures of Cape Cod Bay. Also, I'd love to see what happens each time the nets are pulled in. Many of you know better than I how many fish are actually caught vs. actually kept (ok, and kept vs. actually reported, but that's another issue for another day, let's keep the IRS out of this.) I was out there either the first or second day of dragging season this spring and watched the parade of draggers just north of P-town. I would think it wonderful a time-lapse photography session showing the patterns that these boats take. As to what the new rules will be, I really haven't heard anything that seems to make any sense. Limiting party boats to 10/person will wipe them out, especially the 6-packs. Raising the size limits across the board may help, perhaps, but then people will just target the breeders and that's a no-win situation. Assuming commercial fishermen are allowed to make a living, has there been any talk of hook-and-line for commerical fishing with increased quotas, but limited dragging/gillnets? In my limited opinion, of course, it seems like expensive large draggers/gillnet boats would not be needed and there would be less overhead for the fishermen. Another last topic as to how many commerical fishermen (boat owner-operators) are we talking about? Is there a place where I can find that out? Cod, isn't the daily limit like 400 pounds? Or am I misled? In a normal day of catching 400#'s of cod, what else does a boat typically return with? That's another thing that the average recreational person is in the dark about---what is a typical day for a fisherman entail? What's a good payday? Bad day? Average? A major part of this whole debate about managing the resource does come down to money, right?
Rich Antonino
 

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Hi Rich. This groundfish situation is made so complex by patch work regulations that it is almost incomprehensible.

Commercial cod fishermen fishing below 42deg. on the outside of Cape Cod can take thousands of pounds of cod /day. 42 deg is a few miles south of Highland light.
Above 42 deg. you are restriced to 400 lbs / day.

So lets say Rich, you are a Scituate commercial, and fishing above 42 deg. You are allowed 88 days at sea and have used up 45 Days at sea. So you have 43days left.
You call in to the Feds and say you are going out fishing and using up 1 more day at sea. You figure a 3 net set will get you 400 lbs. of cod. You pick up the nets and have 100 lbs of cod. No profit in that trip.
The next day you call in for another day at sea and decide to set 12 nets based on yesterday's experience. You haul back 2,000 lbs. of cod. You will come in with 400 lbs, and 1600 lbs. go overboard dead or alive.

But wait!Wait a minute. Hold it! You don't want to waste 1600 pounds of cod fish. Your on your 47th day at sea out of 88 so you call in and say I have 2,000 pounds of cod onboard and will take a 5 day at sea penalty. (5 days at sea x 400 lbs = 2,000 pounds) Sorry you can't run the clock ahead. Dump them.

If you had called in and said you were going to be fishing for the next 5 days you could have brought all 2,000 pounds in on that first day and not fished the next 4 days. The total for your 5 day trip would be 2,000 lbs no matter what days you caught them. But you figured you would be fishing for 1 day since a storm was coming the following day.

So a lot of commercials went to dogfishing and that is now shut down. They fish for flounder and monk fish and whatever the rules allow.

As to the number of boats in the Gulf of Maine fisheries I believe 1,600 is about the number. maybe less now.

The groundfish permits go with the boat so if you want to fish more than 88 days, you need more than one boat.

The charter and Headboat situation is another bone of contention.
A federal judge has stepped in now because the fishery commities can't or won't follow the mandate to rebuild the stocks on schedule.

There is some good news. The cod are making a great comeback but not fast enough for the Federal judiciary. Any more restrictions will help the fish.
As to the fishermen (commercial ,Recreational,Charter, headboat)some or all are going to get hurt. -Tom

http://newenglandsharks.com
 
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