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From the Asbury Park press:

More and more scientists are breaking out of the scientific defensive circle to question the summer flounder data being used to throttle the fishery.

A criticism of the "best scientific information" used by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in the past is the secrecy surrounding it.

There always is the suspicion that bad or insufficient data are used to make decisions, and secrecy feeds distrust. Information coming out of the best computer models is only as good as the data fed into them.

Partnership for Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Science, a multi-state, multi-institutional alliance has some heavy hitters in its ranks, and they are asking important questions.

The scientists working with PMAFS include Eric Powell and Ken Able of Rutgers University, Emerson Hasbrouck of Cornell University, Brian Rothschild of the University of Massachusetts, Bruce Freeman of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, and John DePersenaire of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

They are concerned about the assessments of summer flounder stocks made in other years, and have asked Dan Furlong, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Council, to help them prepare for a meeting Feb. 11-12 leading up to the NMFS assessment meeting in June.

Gregory P. DiDomenico, executive director of Garden State Seafood Association, along with Freeman and DePersenaire, wrote Furlong asking for information.

"The questions that we have relate to the use of survey data and landings data in the assessment, the methods for developing from the raw data the data sets to be input into the numerical models, and the documentation supporting the parameterization of the various models used," they began. "We have been unable to find this detailed in any literature so far supplied to the subcommittee."

Raw data comes from three primary NMFS surveys (fall, winter and spring) plus state surveys.

The scientists want to know if data from the federal survey indices are all strata used or is the survey index derived from a subset of all survey strata? If the latter, they want to know what strata are used to develop the survey index.

"To be productive, the participants in the upcoming meeting must have a thorough understanding of the raw data and the data analysis that are conducted prior to numerical modeling of the stock," they pointed out.

"We have received little documentation of what may be critical decisions as to how to approach and manipulate the data prior to the numerical modeling process," they continued. "A range of questions come to mind that a document detailing the methodology would likely answer fully."

They stressed that the virtual population analysis for summer flounder is based on a number-at-age data set that is ultimately derived from an age-length key and length measurements from survey and port sampling.

"We have been unable to determine from the information provided any details on the quality of the data used for the age-length relationship," they added. "What data are used? Are the number of samples for landings sufficient over the time series?

"How good is the estimate of catch given errors induced by the existence of several ports and sampling locations?" they asked. "What is the effect of the recreational catch estimate particularly given that the estimates have such a poor reputation?

"Are there temporal or other effects of changing mesh size in the fishery or the surveys or any other differential age-specific changes in the vulnerability or availability of which we should be made aware of?" they continued.

"Are the sexes differentiated in modeling the age structure of the population? If not, is this considered a significant uncertainty?"

They also pointed out that in going over the documentation it was observed that geometric means were used rather than arithmetic means in some cases, and in the case of forecasting recruitment, for example, median recruitment was used rather than arithmetic mean recruitment.

"What dictates the decision between the use of geometric and arithmetic means and why is the median rather than the mean used for recruitment?" they asked.

"With what we have at hand, we cannot evaluate the quality of the data or reproduce in any meaningful way the intermediate data sets, model parameterizations or commutations," they pointed out.

Fishermen ask: If scientists cannot do it, what about the rest of us?
 

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Thanks for posting this Mike. Sounds like we have some good scientists asking some good questions.

I can answer a couple as I worked on the research cruises and as a port sampler for NMFS.

"Tobe productive, the participants in the upcoming meeting must have a thorough understanding of the raw data and the data analysis that are conducted prior to numerical modeling of the stock," they pointed out.

This is very true. They also need to know the metadata around which the raw data was collected.

"Wehave been unable to determine from the information provided any details on the quality of the data used for the age-length
relationship," they added. "What data are used? Are the number of samples for landings sufficient over the time series?


The data used comes from two sources.
1. Research cruises which make random, half hour tows with a ground fish net which has a fine mesh bag.

2. Port agents now called field agents and port samplers who go to the commercial fish dealers and collect age length samples shore side. The way that works is Woods Hole the NEFSC (North East Fishery Science Center) makes annual quarterly requests by species and market category by stock area. For example they will ask for 25 jumbo, 25 lg, and 25 medium fluke from statistical area 616. The port samplers will do their very best to collect every sample they are asked for.

The issue I have w/ the cruises is they must use the same net for everything, I understand why, but fluke (especially big fluke) can surf the pressure wave in front of the net easily for half and hour and never be caught. You surfers know how the big board works.

The issue I have w/ port samplers is the number of field offices which have been closed down; Rockland ME, Boston MA, Woods Hole MA, Newport RI, Sandy Hook NJ, Ocean City MD, Greenbackville VA, and one in NC.

"Are the sexes differentiated in modeling the age structure of the population? If not, is this considered a significant uncertainty?"

Samples taken on research cruises are sexed during dissection. Samples taken by port agents are not. Unlike yellow tail flounder you can't candle the fish to get the sex, they must be cut.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Just curious, how do the port agents know in which statisical are the fish were caught? AFAIK, the dealer ahould have a copy of the VTR which would show it, but they don't keep the fish segregated from other landings for very long.
 

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MakoMike wrote:
Justcurious, how do the port agents know in which statisical are the fish were caught? AFAIK, the dealer ahould have a copy of the VTR which would show it, but they don't keep the fish segregated from other landings for very long.

Hey Mike, It's good question and something which has changed and debated many times over the years.

In NY, dealers usually do not get a copy of the VTR (Vessel Trip Report). Fishermen typically sell to multiple dealers and they tipcally provide the VTR number on the shipping card which is attached to the boxes.

In other states where vessels sell to the dealer who owns the dock where they pack out they will get a copy of the VTR. However the dealer copy (green copy)only provides the VTR number, Vessel Name, USCG number, Vessel Permit Number, Date and Time Sailed, Trip Type, and Number of Crew. The rest of the information including statistical area is blacked out.

As you are likely aware the vessel is required to file a VTR for each statistical area they fish. So if your fishing in 616 for a day and fish slows up and you move to 613 you are supposed to change pages in the VTR. Some fishermen do it and other do not. Same goes with gear change. If you fish lobster pots offshore then pull fish pots on the way in, you are supposed to change VTR pages. It is a PITA for fishermen and compliance is questionable. Sorry I digress, back to your question.

In NY port agents sample from both dealers and directly from vessels. They will ask for the VTR number which is associated with the fish. Back at their office they will use a program called the BSM to enter the samples, as part of this process they will look in the VTR database for the statistical area, based on the VTR number they collected while taking the sample. They may have already asked the captain what area he was fishing as a check on the VTR if the captain is available. Remember the VTR is not due until the 15th of the following month and often VTR submittal compliance is behind and VTR data entry can be waaay behind. Port agents sometimes have to wait months for area, but the age length data is entered within a couple days. If the port agent feels they will never get an area or the area will be reported inaccurately they will avoid taking the sample altogether.

If you are really interested, there is a document called the bio-sampling manual which is available through the Fishery Statistics Office (FSO) in NERO (Northeast Regional Office). This document lays down the sampling procedures in great detail.
 

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While not the "official" press release, I figured since this topic was already on here I'd give you guys another update on the Fluke/Science front.

The actual press release will likely be up on the website and sent to the papers by this evening.

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The Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund has hired Dr. Mark Maunder as it's first step in dealing with the "Scientific" aspect of it's goals and mission statement.

Dr. Maunder (who is already working with SSFFF) has just completed his initial review of the current Summer Flounder Stock Assessment.

Dr Maunder is recognized internationally as a leader in the development of methodology for fisheries stock assessment and population dynamics modeling. He has been the team leader or participant in numerous stock assessments. Dr Maunder has been a main developer for three general stock assessment models used by several organizations worldwide. He has taught several courses in stock assessment and ecological modeling, including a graduate course at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Dr Maunder is currently a senior scientist at the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. Through his company, Quantitative Resource Assessment LLC, Dr Maunder has served as a consultant for several national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations. He has been an invited speaker on many occasions, reviewed stocks assessments for several national and international organizations, has over 30 peer reviewed publications, numerous reports, attended many international conferences and workshops on fisheries, ecology, and statistics, and has obtained substantial external funding as lead or co- Principle Investigator. Dr Maunder?s research focuses on the development of statistical methodology for fisheries stock assessment, protected species, and ecological modeling.
_________________________________________

More to follow, as will the "official" press release.
 

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Captain TB,

Has SSFFF hired Dr. Maunder just for New Jersey, or will this be regional.

I ask because donations are being solicitated in New York as well as New Jersey. I want to make sure my money goes to the right place.

LooneyTunes
Dave
 

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And then there was this from the APP....

State facing big hits from commission on fluke limits

By JOHN GEISER ? CORRESPONDENT ? February 5, 2008

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Advertisement

New Jersey anglers will know more about what they can and cannot fish for this season after the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's meeting this week.

The meeting opened Monday in Alexandria, Va., with discussions about sea herring and striped bass fisheries. Today it will consider blackfish, river herring and weakfish.

On Wednesday, the commission's summer flounder, scup and black sea bass board will review and take action on state summer flounder recreational conservation equivalency proposals.

The fluke meeting will take place at 8 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, 901 North Fairfax St., Alexandria.

New Jersey faces a big hit on fluke. The cutbacks will amount to 41.8 percent from 2007.

Scientists have determined that New Jersey anglers landed 1,317,191 fluke in 2007, and they must be held to landings of 766,725 fish in 2008. This is less than one fluke per angler for the season.

Other states were hit even worse, percentage-wise. New York's landings are being cut from 666,753 fish in 2007 to 239,877 this year, a reduction of 64 percent. Rhode Island is being cut by 51.6 percent from 221,141 in 2007 to 106,937 this year.

Maryland faces a cut of 56.7 percent from 139,795 fish to 60,519; North Carolina is being cut back 34.2 percent from 174,498 fluke to 114,868; Delaware, with all of its cutbacks in the last three years, is still facing a 41.3 percent cut from 109,696 fish in 2007 to 64,338 fish this year.

Connecticut must cut back 30.1 percent from 108,076 fish in 2007 to 75,503 this year, and Virginia must cut back 21.5 percent from 397,065 fish to 311,802.

Massachusetts is the only state that does not have to cut back this year. It harvested only 81,855 fish in 2007, and can take 112,518 this year.

New Jersey's biologists believe that the 41.8 percent reduction can be achieved in several ways.

One way would be to have a season running from May 24 through Sept. 8 with an eight-fish limit and an 18 1/2-inch minimum size.

Two other options are a season running from June 28 through Sept. 8 with a two-fish limit and a 17 1/2-inch minimum, and a season running from July 4 through Sept. 2 with a 17 1/2-inch minimum and an eight-fish limit.

If the board approves these and several other proposals, they will be brought back to be discussed by New Jersey fishermen and one will be picked as final by the state Marine Fishery Management Council.

The rules in 2007 were a season running from May 26 through Sept. 10 with a 17-inch minimum and an eight-fish possession limit.

The season running from May 24 through Sept. 8 with an eight-fish limit and an 18 1/2-inch minimum is the same length and bag as 2007, but the 1 1/2-inch minimum size increase is a big leap. This season would encompass both Memorial Day and Labor Day, big days for the party and charter boat industry as well as anglers.

New York's proposals include ideas such as a season running from May 24 until mid-July with a 19 1/2-inch minimum and two fish, and a season from mid-May through Sept. 1 with a 20 1/2-inch minimum and four fish.

The commission's tautog management board is expected to rule on a New Jersey proposal for the reduction in the blackfish harvest for this year. Trenton has been quiet about what it will propose.

The best guess is that it will propose cutting the recreational harvest during the Nov. 15-Dec. 31 season from eight fish to four fish.

Capt. Joe Bogan, owner of the Jamaica II from Bogan's Basin, Brielle, said the 12-hour wreck trips continue to produce big ling along with some cod, pollock and blackfish.

"Three-quarter-day blackfish trips catching some large taug along with a few cod and ling," he said. These trips will be limited to Thursdays and Fridays only from this week on.

James Wang, Edison, caught a 9-pound, 12-ounce blackfish on one of the Jamaica II's trips, and Il Su Kim, Bridgewater, had a 16 1/2-pound cod. Bryan Atwater, Washington, landed 19 ling and four cod, and Roy James, Bristol, Pa., landed 23 ling, two cod and two pollock.

Bogan said the Jamaica II will make a special Presidents' Day trip from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 18. Offshore wreck trips are set for 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
In your voice
 

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LooneyTunes wrote:
Captain TB,

Has SSFFF hired Dr. Maunder just for New Jersey, or will this be regional.

I ask because donations are being solicited in New York as well as New Jersey. I want to make sure my money goes to the right place.

LooneyTunes
Dave

Dave, there is no "just NJ" in the stock assessment. The Summer Flounder Stock Assessment is for the entire stock.

SSFFF has nothing to do with one particular state, it's about Fluke, period. They have no position on regulations, quotas, allocation, etc. The goal is to assure there is a viable fishery in the future, period. To achieve that, we need to make sure the science involved is the best it can be and that the legislation controlling how our fisheries are managed has the ability to deal with something as dynamic as nature in a dynamic way and not the rigid, inflexible manner to which it is currently constrained.

The fact that SSFFF started in NJ in inconsequential. It had to start somewhere, that's where it started. If this initiative ends with NJ we might as well all take up golf. The issues we are dealing with require the support and efforts of all states involved and all sectors involved, since the consequences of doing nothing and leaving things status quo will effect all of us, NY, NJ, DE, MD etc. and commercial and recreational.

Hope that answers your question, and thanks for your support.
Capt.TB


This post edited by CaptTB 03:22 PM 02/05/2008
 

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Good job, Tony -

Will Dr Maunder be coordinating with Eric Powell, Ken Able, Brian Rothschild et al? While they're different groups with sort of different missions, it seems like there could be some potentially valuable synergies among them all.

Nils
 

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NilsS wrote:
Good job, Tony -

Will Dr Maunder be coordinating with Eric Powell, Ken Able, Brian Rothschild et al? While they're different groups with sort of different missions, it seems like there could be some potentially valuable synergies among them all.

Nils


Nils, first off thank you for stating things as they are, different groups with somewhat different missions. Second, you are absolutely correct that there are potential benefits to both groups working on the same issue, especially in light of the differences between the scientists and their fields of expertise.

I always envisioned a working relationship, especially since United Boatmen, RFA and GSSA are the founders of PMAFS. It isn't at that stage yet since Dr. Maunder's involvement is so recent (he's been working on the review as fast as we could supply him with data for the past month) and he's still on the west coast. Things are happening rather quickly so suffice it to say my posting on here is the first step in saying "we need to get all our ducks in a row and work together."

I always assumed that some of the work each group is doing would be duplicative, it's almost impossible not to be. However, I am confident that the working relationship all parties involved have will help eliminate some of that, and at the same time as I stated before having two different sets of eyes, with somewhat different perspectives based on their specialties, is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Capt.TB
 

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wait was Brian Rothschild just nominated to the SSC for the MAFMC? Can he work on the fluke assessment as a paid person or even as part of another institution, and yet funtion on the SSC at the same time?
 

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Go ahead- hate me some more

Personally- I think that the fed should take over NJ's fisheries.:rolleyes:

It's obviously a system corrupted by the influences of everyone who's got a stake in whatever the fish d'jour is.

There shouldn't be a guaranteed access to fisheries for the recreationals. The only reason there is, is because of the feel good efforts of groups like RFA who use liars and zealots as their spokesmen.

I think they should just shut down the whole scene down there and let the federal courts sort it out, find out whats really going on.

whats next? you guys want 1/2 the TAL on squid too??

This post edited by loligo 05:07 AM 02/06/2008
 

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"More and more scientists are breaking out of the scientific defensive circle to question the summer flounder data being used to throttle the fishery."

Whoa, next thing you know these scientists will start questioning whether or not WWF wresting contests are real or staged.
 

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loligo wrote:
Personally- I think that the fed should take over NJ's fisheries.:rolleyes:

It's obviously a system corrupted by the influences of everyone who's got a stake in whatever the fish d'jour is.

There shouldn't be a guaranteed access to fisheries for the recreationals. The only reason there is, is because of the feel good efforts of groups like RFA who use liars and zealots as their spokesmen.

I think they should just shut down the whole scene down there and let the federal courts sort it out, find out whats really going on.

whats next? you guys want 1/2 the TAL on squid too??

What exactly does NJ and how it internally manages it fisheries have to do with this topic?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
CaptTB wrote:
loligo wrote:
Personally- I think that the fed should take over NJ's fisheries.:rolleyes:

It's obviously a system corrupted by the influences of everyone who's got a stake in whatever the fish d'jour is.

There shouldn't be a guaranteed access to fisheries for the recreationals. The only reason there is, is because of the feel good efforts of groups like RFA who use liars and zealots as their spokesmen.

I think they should just shut down the whole scene down there and let the federal courts sort it out, find out whats really going on.

whats next? you guys want 1/2 the TAL on squid too??

What exactly does NJ and how it internally manages it fisheries have to do with this topic?

Nothing, I think he forgot to take his meds today. :rolleyes:
 

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It might be time to implement a new policy

loligo wrote:
There shouldn't be a guaranteed access to fisheries for the recreationals. The only reason there is, is because of the feel good efforts of groups like RFA who use liars and zealots as their spokesmen.

I think they should just shut down the whole scene down there and let the federal courts sort it out, find out whats really going on.

whats next? you guys want 1/2 the TAL on squid too??

Mike,

This is a quote from Loligo on a board where you are not allowed to delete your posts. It might be a good idea to implement the same rule here. It will stop a lot of the trash talk.

This was regarding the getting the traps off the reef bill in NJ.

Loligo wrote:
I hope this backfires in your faces.....

flippin recreational crybabies.

We'll see how happy you are after this:

Loligo doesn't beleive that there should be recreational fishing. Yet he preaches that recs must compromise with comms.

LooneyTunes
Dave

This post edited by LooneyTunes 10:03 AM 02/07/2008
 
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