You seem to have been around enough to realize that common sense and bureaucracies are about as close to mutually exclusive as you can get.
That is about the most understandable argument there is for why "anecdotal" observations mean nothing to managers - and that's a fight we've been fighting for at at least two decades.
As far as "why management," - and I'll qualify that to mean management as it is practiced today - I think that can be traced back to the unbelievable botch job the managers did post-Magnuson. Aided, of course, by President Reagan's "Economic Recovery" program and the World Court's Hague Line decision. I'm strongly of the opinion that most of our problems in the Northeast would not exist today if we still had access to the waters we lost because of the World Court decision and we didn't have the boats that were built because outside investors could - and did - clean up financially by building and operating commercial fishing vessels (this situation was exacerbated by the post-Magnuson feeling of euphoria because our fish were finally ours and we couldn't catch - and export - too many). But most of our overcapitalization wasn't due to the investment strategies of the fishermen, other than the fact that they might have been compelled to upgrade to keep up with the kid at the next dock with minimum experience but with a new million buck boat owned by a bunch of lawyers in Westchester.
Loligo - hook and line can overfish a stock as surely as trawling. Trawling can be managed as effectively (or undoubtedly more so with an open access recreational fishery) as hook and line. And you can probably have a "sustainable" dynamite fishery if you do it in the right place. The average hook and line fisherman probably has a "bycatch percentage" higher than the average commercial fisherman. You might be able to control your catch a significant part of the time, but the majority of hook and line guys can't. And dead is dead (you've read that before, I suspect).
You want an effective management system - try putting one guy - or gal - in charge, with an adequate research budget, with adequate enforcement, and with a pool of knowledgeable advisors. Limit him to plus or minus 5% or 10% increments a year with an adequate response period, and see what happens. Catch goes up (allowing for other significant factors like the state of the economy, strength of the dollar, etc.), cut back effort. Catch goes down, increase effort - but by minimal amounts and with no expectations of short-term changes. It ain't rocket science because so much of it is far beyond our understanding, let alone control, so let's stop treating it as if it is (the computer modeling mystique).
This post edited by NilsS 12:14 PM 02/29/2008