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Commercials are taking all the flounder ? period!

28165 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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Draggers are taking all the flounder

I strongly agree that the draggers are taking all the flounder. Go into a fish market and they got hundreds of flounder for sale. Look in the newspapers and every supermarket advertises flounder for sale. A couple of powerful fish markets are shipping our flounder all around the globe and us fisherman get practically nothing. This is our resourse , why can't we get some flounder ?
The same thing applies to whiting. I haven't caught a whiting since the early 90's. The draggers take them all and send them to Europe. Sound fair ?
New York state will do nothing because NY is controlled by upstater's and taxes and Jobs mean more to them than our resources. How would they like it if commercial fishing resumed on their beloved lakes ?
Regarding Flounder, the dec wrongly states that recreational fishermen are responsible for the decline in flounder. There wrong because nobody fishes for flounder in the ocean. We catch flounder that came from the ocean into the bay. The commercial draggers are working on flounder all year long. How long do recreational fishermen fish for them ? March, April, October, November and mainly on the weekend. The commercial fishermen have depleted almost every species of fish and its safe to assume that they are responsible for decline in Flounder.
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Stripers are not responsible for the flounder decline

Stop this crazy non sense. All we're doing is letting the commercials off the hook. They alone are responsible, not the seals or stripers!
30 or 40 years ago, stripers and flounder were extremely numerous, even without any bag limits or size limits.
Wake up and stop listening to all this nonsense!
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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The commercial catch has gone up because they?ve gotten better at it over the years. They don?t have to be fishing in the bays because they?re catching them before they get a chance to get into the bay. And then they get them again as they leave the bays. Unless of course flounder don?t leave the bays, something I would find hard to believe.

And I don?t agree with the ?bass eating everything? theory. In past five or so years bass have been blamed for eating everything from all the blue claw crabs to bluefish to all the weakfish, menhaden, herring, mackerel and even all the little striped bass. The even ate all the shad; of course no one is really sure how that happened as the shad disappeared when the bass population was on the verge of collapse. Of course the commercial shad fishery had nothing to do with that, it was the bass.

I think the commercial fishery needs to be further restricted to allow the flounder in and out of the bays and to stop fishing them over the winter months. And if what you suggest is true, that the fish are being caught offshore, then there should be little resistance from the commercial fishery on such a proposal. But the sad truth is the last piece of dragger legislation was water down so bad at the end that it resulted in the commercial catch going up.

If they?re not catching them inshore then why not give it up?
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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.

I honestly appreciate your opinions but I?m a bit confused about the two stock theory. If there?s an inshore stock that migrates in and out of the bay, and an offshore stock that never goes into the bay, where is the line drawn between the two stocks? How deep do the inshore flounder migrate?

I was always under the impression that all the flounders intermingled, going off shore some years and not others.

I also agree that there?s many contributing factors to the poor response the biomass has had with the current regulations, and I?ll also agree that the commercial fishery wasn?t solely responsible for the decline and that recreational anglers probably played a major role in getting to where we are today. But if there is any chance of winter flounder returning to our bays like years of old, reductions will have to be made in the commercial sector as they are the only ones catching the fish.

George R. Scocca

I agree that the two stock theory is a bit vague. From my experience working on party boats, we would see fish in the spring that recently migrated into the bays. From what I was taught, "new" fish have somewhat of a rough feel on the bottom side (white side) caused by migrating fairly long distances from the offshore winter grounds. Most of those fish were skinny from traveling so far, and it seemed like a majority of those flounder were males. I know because I got "squirted" often enough unhooking the fish for my customers. :) Anyway, this was back in the early to mid 80's. I don't know how much things have changed since then.(except there being a lot less fish) We would see fish that were "residents" that seemed to stay in the back bays year round. For the most part, these fish tended to be big females loaded with roe. So this is why I don't really by the two stock theory too much. There are fish that migrate offshore in the late fall/winter, and fish that take up residence in our bays year round, and I do believe they intermix with each other. The fish the Commercial guys are netting never have a chance to make it into the back bays to spawn. The same thing happened with the fluke in the 80's. That fishery was nearly dead. There would be a line of draggers working a few miles off the beach and the new bodies of fluke working their way inshore never made it into the bays. What's the answer? I suppose moving them offshore and giving these fish a chance to move into the bays would be a start. I'm sure there are many other factors involved, (global warming, predation, etc...) but we need to start somewhere. K, I'm off my soapbox. :)
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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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Thanks Togmaster, but that really doesn?t answer my question . . .

From what I can see there is no distinction between inshore and offshore stocks, only regional, which is pretty much common knowledge.

And as for the Jersey study, I have a problem with commercial draggers reporting how many fish are in the ocean. Kind of like the fox watching the henhouse don?t you think?
Hey George I have been fishing Jamaica Bay for about 25 years. I totally agree with you about the draggers I keep logs and going back to 1990 i use to catch at least 40+ flounders in half a day without even chumming 2002 here your lucky if you catch 10 with chum and all I also think about the equiptment that they have and it definetly gives them the upper hand. Eventually it will be just like Quincy Bay. How do you solve a problem like this you dont to much money involved. Unfortunately I personally think the major damage has been done already. Hope im wrong.
Bay fykes

Yes, the gentleman who posted the message about the bay fykes was right on the mark - for the past few years at Shinne****, there was great early-season flounder fishing right until the fykes went up, then it would die. This year, the fykes were up before the opening and the fishing was very tough. What can be done about this when most of the fykes are owned by Trustees that control issuance of permits?
commercials taking all the flounder

Don't worry guys, we're getting our fisheries back one fish at a time.
In the last 10 years we restored fluke ,porgies,seabass, stripers,and hopefully codfish. Its only a matter of time before they start working on flounder, whiting and other fish.
Recreational fishermen should be able to go out and catch any fish that swims in a particular area and in good numbers.
Regarding codfish, they will come back in a couple of years. All the regulations will pay off.
Capt. Clambelly: Glad to see someone picked up on the fyke problem. The fykes are owned by individual baymen, some guys have more than one and are issued a permit by the Town Trustees. In addition, they must possess a food fish permit from our beloved DEC. The problem lies with the state, ban fykes statewide and that will take care of the problem. My only gripe is that the fykes target PRE SPAWN FISH!!!!! LATER
Fykes in Southampton

Bucktail, Even if they banned fykes statewide, that might not help the situation in Shinne****. Southampton town has some kind of Royal Charter that has been a bone of contention with the DEC for a long time. They claim to own the bay bottom, and the lake bottom at wildwood, and therefore they set the rules what takes place there. Even with "State" game.

It is illegal to blow out steamer clams with an outboard in NYS, but Southampton allows it. Non town residents cannot duck hunt (federal game) in Southampton town without a town guide because they are not allowed to anchor or beach a boat, or anchor decoys. Also, try to catch some of the state stocked fish in Wildwood lake, you'll get a fine if your not a resident.

I bet that some similar action would be instituted against a DEC ban on fykes in Shinne**** as well. I thought England lost the war, why are the charters still recognized?
As a Southampton Town resident , recreational angler and commercial shellfisherman I am well aware of the Dongan Patent that you are alluding to. The Southampton Town Trustees who make the laws regarding the waters both fresh and salt follow the law as written by the DEC in regards to finfish. They do this because finfish are migratory. They do manage shellfish a little bit differently than the state is regards to harvesting methods, but size and water quality standards are the same as state law.The Dongan Patent has worked very well for Southampton, Easthampton and Southold Towns for 350 years by allowing local control of our waters without too much interference by the state.My original point was to agree that fykes kill pre-spawn fish with the blessing of the DEC. LATER
Hey bucktail, OK. Well that is why I said "maybe". I would consider shellfish state game as well, especially since the state and Cornell pay to reseed areas. But if Southampton manage finfish according to state laws then maybe it would be possible to ban fykes.

There is still a problem with banning them though. The DEC does not see fykes as a problem (as per a recent conversation with a biologist at the Setauket office), to local flounder fishing.
Southampton does not take State $ for shellfish seeding, hence the difference regs for harvesting. LATER
money talks and B .S walks

George, what we need is money! We have the greatest resources in the world, Think of everyone on long island who owns a boat , tackle, and waterfront homes. We will spend a thousand on new electronics, hundreds on fishing gear and buy bait and tackle every week, Yet when i see you guys at the sportsman shows selling raffles to combat these guys , nobody is willing to part with a nickel. these commercial guys don,t out number us ,can,t out spend us, but they stick together, and are willing to grease the right guys, with the right amount, period ! Thats why we need to start a lobby, and people should realize with all our resources pooled together we could put a hurting on these guys. GEORGE you set something up and I,ll put the 1st hundred dollar check in the mail!!!
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