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Commercials are taking all the flounder ? period!

28137 Views 84 Replies 44 Participants Last post by  strip
I have read a lot recently on the condition and fate of winter flounder in our waters, and I agree with most of it. But no one will ever convince me that this is a recreational problem or that we should be the ones to take the brunt of severe measures to bring them back. Especially when you consider that we are currently fishing at about 26.5% of what we were back in 1990, while the commercial are about 50% over what they were the same year.

In 1990 recreational anglers in NY State took, 1,106,590 ? pounds of winter flounder while at the same time the commercial fishery took just 640,445 ? pounds, basically giving us about 65% of the catch. It is actually higher than that if you average from 1980-1990, but I didn?t want to go back too far and make this seem like ancient history.

Then just 10-years later in the year 2000 things made quite a turnaround! Commercials took 960,122 ? pounds while recreational anglers took a mere 293,472 pounds! That?s right we?re fishing at 26.5% of what we were in 1990 and the commercials are fishing at 150% of what they had in 1990. And people want to know where all the flounder are going? It?s not the cormorants or the seals or the bass, it?s the inshore and offshore draggers. They?ve gotten so good at what they do that they are now catching the flounder we use to catch before they even get in the bay. And those that they miss, they get them when the flounder head out to sea in the fall.

The numbers don?t lye and they speak for themselves, the problem with this fishery is the commercials and unless we do something to address it they will be the only ones catching them. I?d be the first one to say close it down for everybody, but the fact is we aren?t putting a nick in this fishery.

The series of events that led to this commercialization of the winter flounder have been played out over and over again. We need a commercial moratorium, just like we did when we needed to bring back the bass, but the truth is we will never see one. Do you know why? It?s simple, because the commercials are catching more today than they were before, so to them there really isn?t a problem.

Think about it, ? in those ten years we took recreational anglers from no-bag limit and no season ? I can still remember fishing on some January and February days for flounder ? to what is now essentially a 4- month season with minimum sizes and bag limits. While at the same time doing nothing to curtail the commercial catch.

So please folk?s don?t let anyone fool you, if you took every single recreational angler out of this fishery it would do nothing more than allow for more fish to be caught in the commercial fishery. Just as it has over the past decade.

Hook and Line Only!
George R. Scocca
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The Real reason no flounder

The reason the Flounder are not here is because the water is so warm the Stripers never left the bays or they are in earlier then
normal. In turn this means the Stripers love to eat flounder. I think that is why you don't see them in the bays this year.
I know my commercial friends are getting them very good on the ocean side. Yet none in the bays. Myself and other commercial
guys have been saying the Bass have been hurting the flounder for years, but everyone says no? Now you see it first hand! we need
to fish for smaller stripers, the limit should be from 28" to 36" to many people are killing the big bass leaving all the school to
medium size fish to grow and grow in population and over powering the food chain.
You may think I am nuts but I'm doing this for 30 yrs. and have stopped fishing commercially after he GE waste spill.
Now that the bass have come back its time to regulate them again?
It all!!!!

you are wrong

Listen to your remark Sunnyday?
You say that commercials are to blame yet the catch for commercial fishermen has gone up?
Gee if there to blame why is there catch increasing? If they were hurting the species wouldn?t there catch quota go down? The reason is there are offshore fisheries that produce most of the Flounder caught commercially. The draggers DONT come into the bays!!! Getting back to the Stripers you have an Eating machine that eats every type of fish from Crabs, to sea robins and clams. Virginia has been blaming the strippers for there lack of crabs in the bays. Seals forget about them. There is 1 seal to every 1 million bass. Now that bass are protected there are no regulations to limit them in anyway, and being such an aggressive fish they will over time do more and more damage if not regulated!!
How could these stocks rebound even if they are protected having all those bass chasing them? Global warming has made our weather rise to all time highs about 10% warmer each year. You know what that means the Striper?s are not all migrating. I know people who have been catching stripers all year round for the past 2 or 3 years. Not just schoolies like the past but teen and up fish. So that means when all the bait leaves the bay and the water gets cold. The Flounder and herring move in. Well Mr. Sunny what would you prefer a pizza or a prime rib? I guess the bass would choose FLOUNDER!! That?s right. Yes over fishing hurts! yes commercial guys are sometimes close to the beach (no names). But this bass problem is something which will hurt other species and not just flounder. When?s the last time you caught a nice big pergal inshore? Must be a couple of years? Know why? Because stripers love them too. I?m sure by now a lot of you have discovered the striper reef fishing. Besides the clams what do you think there eating? Pergals, and the occasional sea bass. And don?t come back with that people want porgals more then black fish now which is true. Remember by us regulating bass we intervened with nature. I know we are trying to make it right but sometimes the right thing turns out bad? So the answer is to regulate Bay flounder, Stop draggers from the 3mile limit, Increase the bass limit. Also the size on bass. Because our bigger fish are the ones mostly being kept by anglers. And get some Politicians in office that have a clue as to Regulations. That is the biggest problem you got A___hole?s that don?t have a clue. You need a experienced person that knows and understands the fisheries, and not some money man just wanting votes. If you could prove me wrong then DO IT! Give me facts not opinions.
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to diffrent stocks

If you noticed in my statement. There are 2 diffrent stocks. Offshore and inshore including bays. It's the inshore stock that is in trouble. so lets keep the 2 sperate from each other.
The offshore stock is doing fine. I agree that the inshore stock is the one getting hit. these are the fish moving in and out of the bays. Between the Rec. angler commercial and the Stripers i agree there must be a regulation. But yowould see little increase due to the Rock. Also there is a new study saying that there was a certian type of grub worm flounders rely on for foood which because of global warming is depleted.
Hey we could go on forever and i'm sure it's a total combanation of things causing it. But my main gripe is it's not only flounder the bass have effected! When you regulate mother nature there's bound to be a down side.
Maybe this will answer your question George?

Hope this will explain the stock theroy.
The winter flounder, blackback, or lemon sole, Pseudopleuronectes
americanus, is distributed in the Northwest Atlantic from Labrador to
Georgia. Abundance is highest from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to
Chesapeake Bay. Winter flounder may attain sizes up to 64 cm (25 in.)
total length. The diet consists primarily of benthic invertebrates.
Movement patterns are generally localized. Winter flounder undertake
small-scale migrations into estuaries, embayments, and saltwater ponds
in winter to spawn, subsequently moving to deeper water during
summer. Winter flounder tend to return to the same spawning locations
in consecutive years. Restricted movement patterns, and differences in
growth, meristic, and morphometric characteristics suggest that
relatively discrete local groups exist.

Tagging and meristic studies indicate separate groups of winter flounder
north of Cape Cod, east and south of Cape Cod, and on Georges Bank.
Three groups are recognized for assessment purposes: Gulf of Maine,
Southern New England - Middle Atlantic, and Georges Bank.

Winter flounder are typically exploited in coastal locations, although
offshore shoal areas, particularly Georges Bank and Nantucket Shoals,
support important winter flounder fisheries. The principal commercial
fishing gear used is the otter trawl. Recreational catches are significant,
especially in the southern parts of the range. U.S. commercial and
recreational fisheries are managed under the New England Fishery
Management Council's Multispecies Fishery Management Plan (FMP)
and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Fishery
Management Plan for Inshore Stocks of Winter Flounder. Under the
Northeast Multispecies FMP winter flounder are included in a complex
of 15 groundfish species which has been managed by time/area
closures, gear restrictions, minimum size limits and, since 1994, direct
effort controls including a moratorium on permits and and days-at-sea
restrictions under Amendments 5 and 7 to the FMP. Amendment 9
established rebuilding targets, and defines control rules which specify
target fishing mortality rates and corresponding rebuilding time
horizons. The goal of the management program is to reduce fishing
mortality to levels which will allow stocks within the complex to
initially rebuild above minimum biomass thresholds, and ultimately to
remain at or near target biomass levels.

Total winter flounder landings in 1998 was 5,500 mt, among the lowest
on record.
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The big boys wont let it happen?

Read this!
Fish regulators say no thanks to N.J. trawling research
By JACK KASKEY Staff Writer, (609) 272-7213, E-Mail

Federal fishing regulators have rejected New Jersey-funded trawl research that suggested the government might
be under estimating fish populations.

Each spring and fall, the National Marine Fisheries Service trawls the ocean bottom for fish, using the catch to
estimate how many fish are in the sea. Those estimates are used to set regulations for commercial and
recreational fishers.

New Jersey fishermen have long suspected the government boats undercount some of their favorite fish, so last
year they raised about $150,000 in state and private money to research their theory.

The research plan, developed by Eric Powell, director of Rutgers University's Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory
in Bivalve, Cumberland County, involved trawling beside a government boat during the spring and fall surveys.

Powell's side-by-side trawls aboard the commercial boat Jason & Danielle landed far more fish than the regulators.

Last spring's catch of summer flounder, for instance, was 55 times what the NMFS boat caught. The porgy catch
also was multiple times larger.

But NMFS won't be using the data in its population estimates, said Michael P. Sissenwine, director of the NMFS
Northeast Fisheries Service Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass.

Sissenwine said the research was rushed and lacked all the "success factors" that are required for cooperative
research to be successful. One of those factors is a true collaboration between scientists and fishermen on the
study's objectives, planning, implementation and analysis.

"The hurry-up approach lacked proper planning for success," Sissenwine said Tuesday. "There have to be realistic
expectations about the feasible outcomes, about what the data means and what we are hoping to achieve."

There have never been clear, realistic and shared expectations, he said.

"The mere fact that a commercial vessel with a much bigger net catches more fish is not a surprise to anybody,"
Sissenwine said. "It's hard to assess the value of the data they've gathered so far."

Rutgers researchers had hoped to replicate last year's side-by-side trawls this year, but they didn't present their
proposal until March, when the NMFS spring survey was beginning.

"There simply was not enough planning in advance to make this thing successful," Sissenwine said.

Powell did not return a telephone call left Monday at his Haskin lab.

Recreational fishermen are upset that NMFS has rejected New Jersey's research, said James A. Donofrio, executive
director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

"This was put together by some of the best scientists we have in New Jersey" Donofrio said. "For him to dismiss
that and say it wasn't done properly, that's a lot of hogwash."

NMFS regulations affect jobs in the commercial and recreational sectors, yet the agency doesn't seem interested in
research that could improve their population estimates, he said.

"They are using a lot of voodoo," Donofrio said.

Dan Cohen, owner of commercial docks in Cape May and Point Pleasant Beach, said commercial fishermen are
disappointed the research won't be going ahead this year, but the industry is committed to future research
projects with NMFS.

Sissenwine said his agency is a strong advocate of cooperative research. He even testified before Congress on the
issue last December.

NMFS previously has engaged in cooperative research that resulted in management changes for scallops, monkfish,
surf clams and ocean quahogs, he said.

Nothing prevents New Jersey's trawl research from resuming next year, he said.

"I have no doubt that if we got good data, it would be used in stock assessments," Sissenwine said.

Last year's research cost about $150,000 in state and private money. The state portion came from the New Jersey
Fisheries Information and Development Center, which was created last year with a $500,000 budget. The private
portion came from the National Fisheries Institute's Scientific Monitoring Committee, a seafood industry group
chaired by Cohen.
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