[Fox News] - April 5, 2012 -
Wildlife officials in Maryland have put a bounty on the snakehead, the so-called "fish from hell" that can migrate on land and devastates the eco-systems of lakes, ponds and streams.
The state will give out $200 gift cards for Bass Pro Shops as well as other prizes for catching and killing the fish, which is native to Africa and Asia but is believed to have made its way to America through Asian seafood merchants.
ìWe do not want snakeheads in our waters," said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Inland Fisheries Director Don Cosden. "This initiative is a way to remind anglers that it is important to catch and remove this invasive species of fish.î
The first time a snakehead was seen in Maryland was when an angler caught an 18-inch specimen in 2002 in Crofton Pond, 20 miles north of Washington, D.C. Since then, the population has grown and they've been caught in dozens of bodies of water, including the Potomac River and tributaries.
The fish are hardy enough to survive up to four days on land, and can migrate up to a quarter mile between bodies of water by wriggling on their fins. National Geographic has dubbed the snakehead "fishzilla," and it is also frequently referred to as the "fish from hell." They can grow to more than 2 feet long and have been found in at least seven states.
The ravenous appetites that can destroy native populations actually works against the fish when humans go after them. One fisherman told Outdoor Life blogger Gayne C. Young they bite at any type of bait.
ìThese fish clobber any type of moving bait you throw, Rodney Hose said. "When they smash into your lure, be prepared for a fight -- especially if they are around some sort of cover.î
To enter the contest, anglers must catch, kill and then post a picture of themselves with a dead snakehead fish caught in Maryland on the DNR's Angler's Log webpage. Winners will be drawn on November 30, 2012. Last year, 69 anglers entered the contest, killing 82 of the creatures.
Weekly blog April 2, 2012
A Crane Game for Lobster;
Coyotes Well Satisfied
With Open-air Cat Buffet
If youíre boomer material, you surely recall those diabolical arcade ìskill crane clawî machines, where you put hard-earned coins into that tall brightly lit machine, certain that you can manipulate a string-rigged grabber to descend down upon a sea of near-worthless goodies, grabbing who know how many, to then transfer to a small chute ñ and soon into your skilled hands. And you likely remember that solid gold solitaire diamond ring in there, also just begging to be grabbed?
Well, in a you-gotta-see-this version of the crane game, a large number of seafood restaurants down south ñ and more recently in New England -- now have lobster-grabber vending machine, sold under the name ìThe Lobster Zone.î
The machines are the spittiní image of the crane games but patrons fork out bucks ñ not pennies ñ to go mechanically groping for live lobster at the bottom of an aquarium. I kid you not. Just Google the words ìlobster crane game.î Itís truly insane ñ and overtly morbid.
Sure, I fully realize itís already a big tad morose simply having loads of live lobster in a restaurant live tank, ready to be handpicked for boiling, but dropping doomed lobster into this fickled claw of fate game seems doubly wicked to lobster life. Hey, a mere quiver in the cosmos could have us humans running around in a tank with drunken Garthtomizins swinging treble hooks to nab us for deep-frying.
Now donít go putting me in the same bathwater with PETA ñ who would surely find something cruel in what we do to poor helpless bars of soap. But to see these lobsters, already slowed by drugged water, climbing over each other to hide from the crane, thatís wicked cruel. And, of course, their claws are held shut by those famed lobster claw rubber bands.
What happened to that motherly mandate ìDonít play with your food!î?
The only up side is the way the lobsters seldom get nabbed by craners. For that accomplishment, they eventually get placed back into the big tank of dinner doom.
I got a tad freaked out driving Rte. 72 the other day. As I approached that DOT digital sign, I could see it was in the well-lit alert mode. I first worried it might be an Amber Alert, or maybe just a Silver Alert. But, as I got closer, it became spooky. Turned out it was a ìBlond Alert!î I wasnít 100 percent sure what that meant but it spiked my level of alertness on concept alone.
MEAT AND GREET TWIXT CATS AND COYOTES: Itís kinda mystical the way things arriving at my news office connect in the oddest of ways. Take, for instance, a recent local effort to trap/neuter/release feral cats and the arrival of a just-completed study entitled ìObservations of Coyote-Cat Interactions,î published in the Journal of Wildlife Management.
That scientific study, done by Shannon Grubbs of the University of Arizona and Paul Krausman of the University of Montana, has instantly opened more than a few eyes to the unintended role cats play as, well, cat food, so to speak.
Chronicling coyotes in Tucson, Arizona, the researchers directly observed 36 ìcoyote-cat interactions.î Astoundingly, in half of those often less-than-chance hookups, the coyotes invited the cats back to the den for dinner. In many of the other meet-ups, the cats most often opted out of the invite. ìIíd love stop by but I really must run.î
While national coyote/cat interaction reports estimate cats are only about 13 percent of a coyoteís diet, the Grubbs-Krausman study -- one of the only such research efforts based on actual long-term firsthand observations ñ seemingly elevates the cat consumption rate to nearer 40 percent of a coyoteís dietary intake.
Back at the coyote den: ìOh, Albert, not cat again!î
ìHey, you go try ta run done one of them stinkiní rabbits. Here, just smother the damn thing in some of this Cajun spice.î
While you might shrug off the Arizonian study as being far off, it is actually applicable to environments similar to the study area. And we are truly a similar environment: a highly populated suburban milieu with wild-and-woolly wilderness areas a mere catís stroll away. Interestingly, the study references a series of coyote sightings in Central Park (NYC) and Manhattan, confirming the astounding spread ñ and secrecy - of the wild species.
After reading this study, Iím now taking to heart assorted claims that feral and night-loosed cats do, in fact, revert to wildlife ñ as prey. By the by, if you want to get all sciencey, pets as prey are called anthropogenic food sources, as in ììLou, Iím heading up to bed. And make sure you let the anthropogenic food sources out before you turn off the lights.î
As for home-fattened Fifi, that microburst of freedom that accompanies being let out for a night of romping and bird ravaging could have a reality bite to it. Grubbs-Krausman concluded that ìany cat outside is vulnerable to coyote attack,î and recommend that cat owners keep their cats indoors. I say perish the thought.
Iím a coyote person. I make that pretty clear in this column. But it runs a lot deeper than my ultra-amazement at any form of wildlife that can actually persevere and populate in the face of deadly human over-development. Coyotes just happen to be my guardian creature, commonly referred to by Native Americans as a spirit guide. My great grandmother, Elizabeth Dollar Hide, was of the coyote clan. So it runs in the family. (Go ahead and chuckle. Iíll bet coyotes donít have your back.)
As part of the coyote clan, I allegedly share traits like intelligence, stealth, wisdom and folly, guile and innocence -- based purely on established totem symbolism. Totem or not, it doesnít hurt to list all that on a rÈsumÈ.
ìThatís quite some rÈsumÈ, Mr. Mann, but Iím not sure youíd fit in so well here at the Cat Junction Pet Shop.î
And later breaking the news to the coyotes. ìSorry, guys. I tried though.î
One coyote thing I really canít share is the cat-eating thing, being a vegetarian and all. However, I do make a yearly effort to symbolically stay true to the clan cause. At Thanksgiving, I faithfully prepare a 25-pound soy cat, with black olive eyes and chive whiskers. Fellow clan members just kinda go with the symbolism flow.
ìOK, so who wants a leg? Hey, no need to fight over it. I got four of ëem ñ and I can always shape the tail into one if need be.î
Leftover cat for weeks to come.
A SMOKINí PAIN INDEX: I was chatting about poison with an office cohort. Toxins are one of those typically cheery topics reporters bandy about, especially when reflecting on some of the crackpots who call in. The toxin du jour centered on stingers and biters of an insect ilk.
The subject led me to as odd a rating system as youíll ever find. Itís something called the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Developed by Tuscan entomologist Justin O. Schmidt, it is an allegedly scientific pain scale rating of bee, wasp and insect stings/bites.
I was utterly intrigued that someone would create a graduated pain scale that fractionally goes from 1 through 4, based purely on how much it hurts. Quite cool, considering the only way to duly devise such a scale was to actually go out and get stung. Now youíre talking. Itís always fun to watch other people getting stung by stuff.
However, my very first glance at the Schmidt Sting Pain Index quickly got me rethinking the scale ñ not to mention rethinking Schmidt himself.
To start his scale, Schmidt rated the painfulness of the tiny sweat bee, a very common NJ species, at a lowly 1.0.
I fully agreed with that rating. Iíve often felt the minor wrath of these comely green metallic-toned little bees, half the size of a black fly. Theyíre always getting caught up in my insect nets, as I chase the likes of tigerbeetles. Their stings are so lightweight, I just shrug ëem off.
However, Schmidtís interpretive read on sweat bees is also shruggable ñ as in WTF!? He expresses the sweat bee sting as ìLight, ephemeral, almost fruity, like a tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.î Whatís he doing, fermenting and drinking the bees after they sting him?
And he doesnít stop there. Regarding fire ants ñ and we also have tons of those hereabouts ñ he offers an understandable 1.2 pain rating but again goes off by saying the fire ant sting is ìSharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.î
Iím then wondering if old Schmidty is secretly smoking these ants. First of all, who has shag carpets any more and, most of all, who has fire ants crawling on their light switches? Iím guessing most people getting attacked by fire ants donít instantly think ìGeez, that feels like static electricity from the 1960s.î
The 1.8-pained acacia ant strikes Schmidt as ìA rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain; someone has fired a staple into your cheek.î
In my now long and oft odd life, Iíve never once heard of anyone stapling their cheek -- much less offering the experience as if itís some common dominator of pain that we all share.
(I swear Iím not making this up! Google the Schmidt Sting Pain Index to see.)
Exploring another type stinger weíve all run into, the good old short-fused yellowjacket (wasp), Schmidt goes with ìHot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.î
No, Schmidtster, I outright refuse to imagine anyone putting a cigar out on my tongue. As for ìsmoky,î I think that confirms one of my earlier suspicions.
Let me offer just one more sting off Schmidtís list, the hyper-common paper wasp. It rates a no-nonsense 3.0. Then it flies off the sensibility charts when it is portrayed as ìCaustic and burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.î
Aftertaste?! I have to think this is one lonely man. In fact, Iíve lost interest in the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, per se, and have contacted The Discovery Channel to propose a reality show on the daily life of Justin O. Schmidt. I offered to spring for the hydrochloric acid.
All that said, Iím compelled to write my own list of coastal stingers/biters, coming soon.
Tuesday, April 03, 2012: Gorgeous day. And Iím getting quite a few more interesting fishing tales leaking in.
How about those monster baitfish schools of herring, bunker and (Ready for this?) Boston macks, not that far off LBI.
There were bass on below the bait, along with high-diving ocean birds, including gannets, a super rare sight in spring. I have no word on exact locales. Make that, I can offer no exact locales. By the by, the baitballs has big bass below them, meaning they were not the typical April showing of slow and timid river-outers. These seem to be the Delmarva overwintering stock, arguable the largest collection of trophy bass on the planet. I didnít get word on how bassers did down NC this past winter.
As for those Boston macks being so close to shore, Iíll bet anything theyíre breakaways from larger schools way out at sea. The big bluefish came north early this year ñ some medium-sized blues are now in Little Egg Harbor. Big blues are lethally adept at separating entire shoals of fish from the main schools. In a matter of hours, they can drive terrified, fast-tailed macks clear onto the beach. When the surviving macks escape, theyíll buddy up with nearby herring and even bunker, as a survival mechanism. I say this so folks donít think mack schools are just a quick zip out from the inlets ñas they had been decades back. As for fishing macks in those near-in baitballs, Iím guessing theyíre too spooked to be overly interested in mackerel rigs.
The bluefish in the bay are large for this early. Think in terms of LE Inlet areas and particularly, the shallows in the Middle Grounds. Surface plugs shine late in the day, though metals allow larger boats to stay in deeper channel waters and cast far onto the flats.
I hate thinking those blues might soon be at the bridges. Weakfish wonít hang there.
A massive showing of dolphin may be in the area. Hi Jay,
I visited in Avalon this weekend. On Friday 30 March, around 3-4 PM, I walked up the short boardwalk from 32nd to 21st Street, a distance of a half mile.
There was a "train" of dolphins moving north just beyond the breakers, some as close to the beach as 100 yards or even less. I would estimate they were moving about three mph. Some were jumping completely out of the water. I don't think I have ever seen that before. My walk probably took 15-20 minutes and I sure wished I had brought my binoculars. The "train" I saw had to be at least a half mile long, and I could not see a beginning or end. I would say I saw about three hundred of them. About 20% of them were traveling in pairs, like a cow and calf.
I realize if this info is of any value it would have been more so on Friday so the school could have been observed at LBI the next day or so.
Monday April 2, 2012
There was a real decent bite on the west side of Beach Haven, i.e. bayside. It was a bass-on-herring scene. Night anglers were actively tapping into inbound stripers, chasing herring. Iím not sure what type herring.
This burst of bass bodes well for night fishing. Those bass are surely bound for Manahawkin bay. Hearing how active the Beach Haven bass were biting, Iím not even winging it to guarantee some brisk Causeway bridge fishing -- for possibly weeks to come.
As for livelining for bridge bass, Iím note sure thatís necessary or practical. When currents are honking inward or outward, a live-lined offering would simply hang sideways on the surface. . As for live-lineable matter, herring are oft catch-able in the bay but when near the bridges bunker are way more available. Slack tides would be the only practical time to try livelining. And slack does not last very long thereabouts.
For the most part, plastic artificials shine when angling the spans.
There has been some insider debate on whether the lights draw forage fish, then gamefish, to the bridges or if the structures themselves attract gamefish.
With (any remaining) weakfish, it sure seems to be the draw of the lights ñ and the spearing hanging within. However, the bass sure seem to covet the ambush potential offered by the bridge piles, not to mention the myriad of current-carried foodstuff.
Somewhat oddly, Iíve never once seen a bridge striper come up to nab one of the hundreds of blue crabs frantically swimming near the surface throughout the night. I have seen bass come up to suck down either grass shrimp or small spearing. Iíve even seen bass come up for one single grass shrimp. Hey, makes sense to me. I love shrimp.
During my bloodworming days, I could afford to load a single hook with what would amount to $10 in worms. I tried worming that way off the Hochstrasser bridge at night, with frickiní dozens of bass clearly hanging in the shadows. I couldnít draw a striper glance. Yet dropping a Fin-S Fish, or even a plastic worm, would draw hits instantly. Indicates the fresh bait angle might not be the best bet.
I have to warn there are laws applied to fishing from atop the bridges. Though Iíve never been chased, Iíve heard that a load of folks fishing downward sometimes provokes a cop stop-by.
By the by, boats cannot tie up to any part of the bridge structure, nor can they anchor in the channel itself. I have seen Fish and Wildlife show up, even in the wee hours ñ when I was illegally fishing the climb-down areas under the bridges.
As for any spring weakfish, many folks, like myself, are fully against keeping even that one allowable 13-inch or larger fish.
I did a grass shrimp check and found backbay creeks becoming loaded with these prime forage fish. It could be a banner year. While that might not seem that important, as weakfishing is dead in the water, you canít believe the eco-vital role shrimp play in keeping gamefish fat and healthy. Whatís more, the shrimp are vital to young-of-year fish in the bay.
I also saw a modest showing of minnies. They were resident fish.
A very scraggly coyote was shadowing me near Mayetta, late afternoon. Tells me humans have likely fed it in the past. Had my camera but it was way too dark.
[Portland Press-Herald] By Jay Lindsay - April 2, 2012 -
The tiny fish is, at most, a foot long. The price per pound often won't even buy 12 minutes at a Boston parking meter. Some people eat it pickled, but herring is mainly caught to become bait for more popular seafood, such as lobster.
The herring, though, is deeply important to fishermen and environmentalists, who are fighting to put greater restrictions on trawlers that pull up hundreds of thousands of pounds of herring at a time.
They argue that the large trawlers are depleting a species that's a critical food for just about every prized commercial fish in the region, from cod to striped bass. The herring's influence even extends to ocean tours, which depend on abundant herring to attract whales and birds to the ocean surface to feed and be seen.
"For many people who don't work on the water, make their money on the water, I think it's easy to underestimate the importance of herring," said Tom Dempsey of the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen's Association.
The New England Fishery Management Council is considering clamping down on midwater herring trawlers, named for the area of the water column they the pull their nets through. A series of eight public hearings around the Northeast wrapped up last Thursday in Cape May, N.J., and council action is expected in June.
The proposals include tighter requirements on how the trawlers weigh their catch, and bans on certain fishing areas.
A key proposal would force trawlers to carry independent observers on every trip, in part to stop suspected over-catching and dumping of protected species that the herring boats snare unintentionally, such as cod and haddock.
"It's time for a change in that fishery," said Bob St. Pierre, who fishes for tuna, striped bass and groundfish out of Chatham.
But the herring industry says there's scant evidence their trawlers are the menaces they're portrayed as.
Mary Beth Tooley, a longtime herring industry member and also a Maine representative on the regional management council, said the stock is robust, and there's no research yet to contradict that. There's also no data to show the midwater trawlers are catching and killing huge amounts of other fish species.
Opponents complain that scientists have simply been slow to collect the information. But Tooley said the herring industry is getting battered based on a faulty assumption that because the boats are big -- up to 165 feet long -- they're doing big damage.
"I think perception is everything," she said. "I don't think there's a lot we can do to overcome that perception."
Herring was the fifth-highest revenue fishery in New England in 2010, bringing in nearly $21 million on 140 million pounds of fish (15 cents per pound), according to the National Marine Fisheries Service. The bulk of the catch, about 80 percent, was bait for commercial and sport fishermen.
The trawlers often work in pairs, pulling a football field-sized net between them, then sucking the herring from the net into ships' holds. The trawlers, with crews of about six, dominate the local herring catch and work with remarkable efficiency.
The depletion of herring stocks could have numerous implications, fishermen and environmentalist say. Bait costs would rise for the region's lucrative lobster industry. Without herring to chase and eat, game and commercial fish could fade from inshore waters. Struggling species, such as cod, could fail to rebound without this key food.
"Herring are a vital food source for cod and many other species," said Jud Crawford of the Pew Environment Group. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to get the idea that if you're pulling out one of the major food sources (for cod) Ö you're at least decreasing the chances of recovery."
Regulators are now conducting a major assessment, expected to be completed this summer, which should answer key questions about herring's health.
[Star Pulse] - April 2, 2012 -
Captains Andy and Johnathan Hillstrand (F/V Time Bandit), Captain Sig Hansen (F/V Northwestern), Captain Keith Colburn (F/V Wizard), Captain "Wild Bill" Wichrowski (F/V Kodiak) and returning newer skippers Captain Scott Campbell Jr. (F/V Seabrooke) and resident badboy, hot shot Captain Elliott Neese (F/V Ramblin' Rose) take to the icy Bering Sea searching for their own version of buried treasure - the highly prized Alaskan king crab.
This season "Deadliest Catch" crews have their fishing quota slashed by almost half bringing home a cold economic reality -- how will they make enough money to support their families and literally keep their businesses afloat?
With the change in quota, the captains are faced with choices in strategy and tactics - who will go for the more elusive blue crab? Which boat will risk changing pots and gear in order to reap higher profits?
And later in the season, fishing opilio or "snow crab," the fleet faces some of the harshest weather conditions any of them have ever experienced in more than a quarter century of fishing.
This stuff IS important:
OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SAYS NO PUBLIC INPUT NEEDED
Denies Congress' Request To Allow More Comment On Oceans Takeover
(03/30/2012) House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) received official notice from the Obama Administration denying the Chairman's request for a 90-day extension of the public comment period on the draft National Ocean Policy Implementation plan.
"President Obama issued an Executive Order imposing a new bureaucracy to zone the oceans that threatens to deter new economic investment, suppress job creation, restrict even recreational fishing, block energy development, and stretch far from the shore to affect farmers and inland communities," Rep. Hastings said in an official release.
"Given the high economic stakes, the vast amounts of new red-tape set to be unrolled, and the fact that some 15 agencies spent over two years devising this scheme, it's unreasonable that the Obama Administration won't allow the American people more than just 75 days to review and comment on it," added Chairman Hastings.
The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) has been a longtime critic of the over burdensome bureaucracy of the National Oceans Policy going back to 2003 following a report by the Pew Ocean Commission when original legislation to bureaucratize management of our nation's oceans was first presented by Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) in the form of the Oceans 21 bill.
RFA executive director Jim Donofrio, a vocal opponent of both the Farr bill and the President's executive order to bypass legislative process, has testified numerous times in front of Congress to stop what he called a "takeover" of our U.S. oceans by radical, anti-access agenda.
"RFA has been back and forth to the House Natural Resources Committee many times over the past 10 years in an effort to stop this bureaucratic nonsense, and we've been very successful in keeping this bottled up thanks to the efforts of congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle," Donofrio said. "Then President Obama came in and essentially moved this bill out of Committee with the stroke of a pen, completely angering the legislative branch of government."
In a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on June 18, 2009 in which Donofrio was asked to testify (see www.joinrfa.org/Press/RFACongress_062309.pdf), Rep. Don Young (R-AK) spoke out against the heavy influence of Pew Environment Group and their support of the Farr legislation, saying "this bill's not going to go anywhere."
"You may try to work it through the House, you may have the Speaker help you out, but I'll stop it dead in the Senate, because you're not going to mess with my waters in Alaska, you're not going to mess with my fishermen as you've done in the past," Rep. Young added, calling the Farr bill "bad legislation" and warning fellow Committee members that the bill was being pushed by an "overzealous group of people" who were opposed to fishing.
Despite the repeated failures by Rep. Farr to get his "bad legislation" out of Committee, President Obama initiated an executive order in July of 2010 (see release at www.joinrfa.org/Press/KingObama_072010.pdf) which bypassed the entire legislative process and excluded from the debate all those concerns brought up by RFA and the Committee members themselves.
RFA called yesterday's announcement by the administration the final act by a President who is clouded by his own agenda.
"This isn't just about our oceans, but everything connected to our nation's waterways will now be under federal control through this executive order," Donofrio said. "It's a complete takeover of every lake, river and stream that flows into the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, along with all the lands within."
In an October 17, 2009 letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Donofrio brought up the RFA's critical concerns that the Administration's Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force was treading dangerously close to violating the Constitutional separation between the Legislative and Executive Branch of government. "RFA believes that enacting laws through Executive order and proclamation sets a dangerous precedence," Donofrio said.
"RFA is concerned about the relatively rapid speed at which CEQ is advancing with this initiative and the apparent lack of opportunity the average recreational angler will have when the final Policy and subsequent bureaucracy is put in place," he added. (See RFA's official comments at www.joinrfa.org/press/CEQComments_101909.pdf).
According to Chairman Hastings, despite all the Congressional hearings and numerous requests by his Committee for more information, the Administration has refused to tell Congress what programs will be cut to provide the money to fund this new bureaucracy. "This refusal to allow a thorough and open review of the plan to carry-out the President's Executive Order is another example of the Obama Administration prioritizing their job-destroying agenda over the livelihoods of Americans from coast to coast," added Chairman Hastings.
Donofrio said while there may be partisan gridlock in Congress between democrats and republicans at times, the House Natural Resources Committee has always provided a stellar example of bipartisan unity in support of issues related to the management, conservation and utilization of our nation's resources. (Watch Committee member Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida cross-examining Pew Environment Group consultant Terry Gibson at the most recent hearing on National Oceans Policy at www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLqFgyRMzBI).
"Some folks don't want to hear it, but the fact is that President Obama and his appointees have completely disregarded the legislative process, that they have ignored the requests by Congress, while supporting the input of environmental business leaders like Pew and Environmental Defense Fund over that of the American people," Donofrio said. "The only way to stop this federal takeover of our public resources now is to have a new executive order rescinding the previous one, and that can only be done by a new president."
"That's not partisan politics, that's just simple truth," Donofrio said, adding "If you don't like the king's decree, you need to participate in an American revolution on Tuesday, November 6."
NEW JERSEY SALTWATER ANGLERS REMINDED TO REGISTER ONLINE FOR FREE FISHING REGISTRY PROGRAM
(12/P35) TRENTON - With the return of the spring fishing season, the Department of Environmental Protection is reminding all saltwater anglers and owners of for-hire vessels in New Jersey to register or re-register online with the state's free saltwater fishing registry.
Last year, Governor Christie signed a bill into law that created the free New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program. The state's free saltwater fishing registry complies with federal requirements, yet avoids a $15 saltwater registration fee imposed by the federal government on Jan. 1, 2011.
"The state's free saltwater fishing registry was a great success in its first year, with more than 250,000 people signing up," said Rich Boornazian, Assistant DEP Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources. "Online registration remains a very simple process. It takes just a minute or two to register. The information gathered from the registry helps protect and manage our marine resources."
The federal registry requirement is part an effort by the National Marine Fisheries Service to improve the quality of data used in fisheries management.
The DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife developed an easy web-based registration system for anglers to register and print their registration. To register, visit http://www.saltwaterregistry.nj.gov and click the box to "Renew Any Registration."
Registrations expire at the end of each calendar year. Some 251,000 individuals registered online with the program in 2011. Through late March of this year, more than 120,000 New Jersey anglers already have registered.
Anglers 16 and older must register with the state system even if they have already registered with the federal system, or if they have a New Jersey freshwater license. They must carry the printed registration with them when fishing. However, people harvest crabs and clams are not required to register. Registration is required when fishing for lobster only when using a spear, hook-and-line, hand line, rod-and line or by hand.
Those who fish from a for-hire party or charter fishing vessels that are registered with the program are not required to file for an individual registration.
Scientists listening to Fish farts -- are you kidding? Ugly oil futures.
Seafood Fish Radio:
Many fish make identifiable sounds, and it offers potential for research and management. The most recent sound discovered ñ fish farts!
Fish farts gives clues to where they are and what fish are doing. Researchers are hoping to better understand fish distributions by recording the sounds they make.
According to ScienceShot, a service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a team from the University of South Florida picked up the barely audible, cricket-like noises using a robot called a glider that sampled ocean sounds in Tampa Bay.
The sounds lasted throughout the day and night, and were most likely groups of menhaden and herring releasing gas from their swim bladders. Of the 30,000 fish species in the world oceans, researchers believe fewer than one thousand have been recorded. They know that the tiny cusk eel can sound like a jackhammer. And for years the mating calls of codfish have wreaked havoc for the Norwegian navy- because the love sounds are similar to enemy submarines.
By mapping these sounds, the researchers hope to get a better picture of species distributions and likely spawning
Read this closely. Itís about land off Virginia but a catastrophe would doom the waters of the Jersey coast.
[News Observer] By Brock Vergakis - March 29, 2012 -
NORFOLK, Va, The U.S. Interior Department said Wednesday it is seeking comment from the public on a plan to allow energy companies to begin seismic testing to find oil and natural gas reserves in the Atlantic Ocean.
Officials have released a programmatic environmental impact statement on seismic testing for public review. The testing would be used to determine how much oil and natural gas is available and where the best places to drill would be, among other things. The studies also help identify archaeological and geologic hazards to avoid.
Companies would use the information to determine where to apply for energy leases, although no leases are available until at least 2017 in the region that could be opened up for exploration.
Supporters of drilling argued that there needs to be a plan in place soon to sell drilling leases to make the seismic testing valuable. Environmental groups said seismic testing could harm wildlife, even before any drilling begins.
ìWithout an Atlantic coast lease sale in their five-year plan, the administration's wishful thinking on seismic research has no ultimate purpose,î the American Petroleum Institute Upstream Director Erik Milito said in a statement.
The announcement comes as Americans grumble about escalating gas prices and the Obama administration seeks to fend off criticism from Republicans that not enough is being done to tap domestic energy resources.
ìAs the president has said, there is no silver bullet to high gas prices. But we must continue to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and reduce our vulnerability to the ups and downs of the international market,î Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said at a news conference in Virginia.
Virginia was originally slated to be the first state on the East Coast to offer oil and gas drilling, but that plan was shelved by the Obama administration last year following the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
The exploration area about 50 miles off Virginia's coast encompasses 2.9 million acres. The government estimates the area can produce 130 million barrels of oil and 1.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Seismic studies haven't been conducted in those waters in decades. Industry estimates forecast much higher gas and oil reserves than previously thought, based on new exploration technology.
Salazar said he would make his ruling on whether to allow seismic testing by the end of the year, following a series of public meetings from Delaware to Florida, where the testing would occur. Salazar said six companies have already filed applications expressing interest in conducting seismic testing.
The possibility of oil exploration in the Atlantic drew immediate criticism from environmental groups, who are concerned about its effects on marine life, including endangered whales.
ìToday's announcement is great for petroleum companies, but horrible news for our coastlines and a potentially deadly blow to ocean fisheries and wildlife,î Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke said in a statement.
MRFSS STRIKES BLACK SEA BASS AGAIN
RFA Disappointed With Sea Bass, But Praises News On Tog
(3/29/2012) The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's (ASMFC) Tautog and Black Sea Bass, Scup and Summer Flounder boards met on Wednesday to discuss 2012 measures. While in most seasons recreational limits are determined by early March, new information resulted in the need to reconsider recent management decisions.
For tautog anglers, the news is good. For black sea bass anglers, not so much.
"New Jersey learned today that, for tautog, only a 39% reduction from 2011 harvest will be needed," said New Jersey's ASMFC Legislative Proxy Commissioner Capt. Adam Nowalsky. "This is better news than the 53% reduction current 2012 regulations are based upon."
Capt. Nowalsky, whom is also the chairman of the Recreational Fishing Alliance's New Jersey Chapter (RFA-NJ), noted that the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council will now need to meet to come up with revised 2012 measures which should, hopefully, be fully resolved in early May.
"Most unfortunate is the lost revenue and income which could have been generated by the open tog season this March," Capt. Nowalsky said. While New Jersey's tautog fishery is not typically significant in March, the record warmth of this past late winter would have allowed a sustained fishery.
The reason for the lesser reduction stemmed from the discovery in an error in calculation of the current fishing mortality rate on tautog based on the ASMFC's most recent stock assessment update. The most recently calculated fishing mortality rate (as of 2009) had been thought be 0.45, but the updated calculations resulted in a much lower value of 0.23.
Questions had been raised previously regarding the validity of a coastwide mortality that greatly exceeded what individual states were seeing.
"Tautog are badly in need of a benchmark stock assessment," said Capt. Nowalsky, adding "the repercussions of foregoing that process in favor of the recent turn of the crank update are now in plain view."
"We can all be thankful this error was identified and prompt action was taken on behalf of the coast's anglers," he said.
While the tautog decision may have provided some good news, New Jersey anglers also learned that the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council's previously approved season (5/19-10/14 and 11/1-12/31 with a 25 fish bag limit and 12.5-inch minimum size) will not be approved by the ASMFC.
Citing data from the "fatally flawed" Marine Recreational Fishing Statistical Survey (MRFSS) from the 2011 November and December Wave 6 data collection, the ASMFC noted that their preliminary findings had been significantly underestimated, resulting in a need to reduce the coastwide liberalizations for 2012 which had previously been considered.
"While New Jersey will have the opportunity to liberalize from the 2011 fishing season of 168 days of fishing, we will not be given the 200-day or better season this year as we had all hoped," Nowalsky said. "I thank the Bureau of Marine Fisheries for the work staff did in preparation for this meeting. It will now be up to the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council working with the Bureau to come up with the best option for anglers for 2012."
"I am confident that consideration will be given to the need to maintain the October open days in order to give anglers something for which to fish after the closure of the summer flounder season," Capt. Nowalsky said, noting that the summer flounder is scheduled to close in New Jersey on September 28th of this year.
In reviewing the 2011 MRFSS numbers which is still classified as "preliminary" data, RFA found that a significant reason for the underestimation of the 2011 November and December harvest came in an alleged increase in harvest by New York anglers by an estimated 4,000 percent during those months.
"It's staggering that MRFSS has once again shattered the threshold for reasonable thought, particularly in New York which has been grossly hammered by this inept science so many times," said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio. "To think that estimates of 1,300 fish can suddenly swing wildly to exceed the 52,000 fish mark in the blink of an eye highlights the problem with this data, a problem which we've discussed so many times over the past 15 years."
Donofrio said that the 2006 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act required that NOAA Fisheries replace the MRFSS data, deemed "fatally flawed" by the National Research Council, by a time-specific deadline of January 1, 2009. While NOAA is now tinkering with new estimating procedures using the same data compiled through the present survey waves, the congressionally mandated replacement of MRFSS has still not been met.
"MRFSS is the system which was used by the government to implement a coastwide moratorium on sea bass back in 2009, yet a federal judge tossed out our legal challenge against that closure by citing written testimony from NOAA attorneys that MRFSS was no longer being used," Donofrio said.
"MRFSS is most definitely still being used, and our anglers are getting abused by it," he added.
NEWS March 28, 2012
Three judges for the 4th district appeals court, covering Maryland and Virginia and DC, upheld the conviction of Ocean Pro Industries for an illegal sale of striped bass. Judge Neimeyer, writing for the unanimous three judge opinion, said that Maryland and Virginia had sufficient interest in striped bass so as to be able to impose restitution payments on the company.
The summary of the opinion from Judge Niemeyer:
Oceanpro Industries, Ltd., doing business as "Profish, Ltd." ("Oceanpro"), a seafood wholesaler in the District of Columbia, and two Oceanpro employees, Timothy Lydon (officer and fish buyer) and Benjamin Clough, III (fish buyer), were convicted for purchasing untagged and oversized striped bass, in violation of the Lacey Act, 16 U.S.C. ß 3372(a)(2)(A) (prohibiting the purchase in interstate commerce of fish or wild-life sold in violation of state law).
Oceanpro and Clough were also convicted for giving a false statement to federal law enforcement officers during the course of the investigation of the crimes, in violation of 18 U.S.C. ß 1001. In addition to imposing fines and prison sentences, the district court ordered the three defendants, jointly and severally, to pay Maryland and Virginia $300,000 in restitution, to be divided equally between the States.
On appeal, Oceanpro and Clough challenge the District of Maryland's venue for the false statement offense because the false statement was made at the offices of Oceanpro in the District of Columbia, not in Maryland. In addition, all of the defendants contend that the order of restitution to the States was improper because the States did not have a sufficient interest in the illegally caught fish so as to make them "victims," as is required for receiving the benefit of a restitution order.
We reject both arguments, concluding that venue for the false statement charge was proper in the District of Maryland and that Maryland and Virginia's interest in striped bass was sufficient to make the States "victims" and therefore to justify an award to them of restitution. Accordingly, we affirm.
Weekly blog march 26
Thereís Gold in Them Elvers;
Tiring of Macho Rubber Rides
TICK TALK: The tick count in any and all wooded areas remains atrocious. Be on the lookout if you even glance at woodlands or pick up a copy of ìOutdoorsî magazine.
While the mild winter played into the early activity of the notorious bloodsuckers, the overall population of ticks is still a cyclical thing ñ and has been on the upswing in recent years.
That is proven beyond mere anecdotality. A heavily publicized report published last month describes NJ as pretty much tick central.
Per a Star Ledger story, ìA researcher who aided in mapping the risk of Lyme disease in a national study released this week, said New Jersey was "loaded."
"Lots of ticks, lots of deer and lots of people," said Durland Fish, a principal investigator for the study, which was funded by the Center for Disease Control.î
So tell me something I donít know. Thatís comes via John Halperin, medical director of the Atlantic Neuroscience Institute at Overlook Medical Center in Summit (NJ).
ìLyme disease is very treatable and itís rarely ever a lethal disease," said Halperin. "There are risk everywhere ó smoking, car accidents, air pollution, asthma ó no matter what you do there are risks. Fortunately this is a manageable one."
Hell, that almost makes me want to go out and coax deer ticks to jump onboard my body.
Oddly, ticks seldom stay with me very long. I kid you not. Iíve watched them explore my skin, take a taste and jump off. I know why. They go in for blood and instead get a load of the energy drinks coursing through my veins. Before they know it, they have this overwhelming urge to go jogging.
EELS OF GOLD: (Please donít make me regret writing about this. Iíd hate to see you doing 90 days or more in the small house, i.e. jail, for illegal fishing.)
Baby American eels, also called elvers and ìglass eels,î have suddenly become caviaresque, so to speak. This week, the tiny see-through eels are demanding an all-time high of $2,200 a pound. Theyíre fished commercially, legally, primarily in Maine.
Elvers are currently arriving along the Eastern Seaboard, having made an insanely perilous, current-driven drift here from the Sargasso Sea, mid-North Atlantic. Thatís the singular breeding ground of the species.
But donít drop your day job to go prospecting, ìGold Rushî like, for the large numbers of elvers arriving hereabouts. It is now fully illegal to trap or net elvers in N.J.
However, a mere few years back, Jerseyís glass eels were all the rage, being feverishly taken by fishermen and baymen using dip nets, elver fykes and Sheldon eel traps. In fact, the spring race for Garden State elvers got quite heated, as New England professionals eelers suddenly shouldered into our creeks as if they instantly owned place, including the likes of Tuckerton Creek, an elver hot spot.
I recall those intruders quite well. They had the weirdest accents out there. It was somewhere between French and the sound of bed-ridden aardvarks make. Their accents alone pissed me off.
To address the interlopers, a group of locals and myself tried to, uh, persuade them to cool their jets. Shoves and such were issued. Still, they remained on-scene and fully obnoxious. Police were even called.
ìSee. Didnít I tell you officer?î
ìYep, they really do sound a bit like sick aardvarks.î
ìSo, are they breaking any laws?î
ìBreaking any laws? Son, youíre in New Jersey. Thereís nothiní that doesnít break some law or another. Oh, by the way, quit resisting.î
Back then, I could make about $550 a pound on elvers ñ even more when I was paid in yen. Just try handing those to the lady in 7-11.
The solid gold interest in elvers has always come from (where else?) Asia. Over there, each individual elver is treated like royalty, being aquaculturally grown for about 18 month. After that, itís off with their heads and off to the sushi races. A dozen harvested hand-grown eels can cover the cost of a single pound of elvers.
If left in nature, American eels can grow to over 10 pounds and live for 30 years -- before making that fatally fateful mating journey out to the Sargasso Sea, never to return.
The largest American eels are called silver eels. Smaller mid-life eels are called golden eels. Anglers are most familiar with the smaller black eel phase, the perfect striper attracting size.
As with all things pricey and fishy, Asian demand instantly led to wholesale over-harvesting.
The eco-bugaboo comes with the number of elvers needed to equal a poundís worth, namely thousands upon thousands. I sure never counted. It was all done by weight -- first weighing a transport container with water in it then gently loosing small nets of elvers into the water and reweighing. Try doing that accurately at 4 a.m.
The call of the all-mighty Yen led to harvesters voraciously nabbing virtually every elver coming up every East Coast creek. Theoretically, that would eventually leave virtually no newcomers, called recruits, to reach freshwater and grow up.
While a few scientist entwined within the elver industry claim that theory of attrition is faulty, the long-term fact sheet tells it all. Eels are on the brink of endangerment. Thatís utterly amazing when considering American eels once accounted for at least 25 percent of the entire U.S. Eastern Seaboard fish biomass. They were as plentiful as bunker and herring. Something is doing them in.
NJ does have an addendum to its elver-harvesting ban. Should anyone in-state want to get into American eel aquaculture, a designated number of Jersey elvers could then be harvested annually, providing they reach the farm, so to speak.
Oddly, Asian markets have voiced no interest in purchasing Jersey grown eels, should they be grown. My guess: If you grow them, they will come.
Yes, an elver growing empire is yet another of the myriad moneymakers I regularly dream about. Of course, Iíve gotten cynical about dream: If youíre dreams donít include zip codes they probably canít be reached.
NO TROUT TUCKERTON: I want to alert anglers down Tuckerton way that Lake Pohatcong was not stocked with trout this season, as it had been in years past. It has to do with the dam/spillway work currently being done where the lake meet Tuckerton Creek.
I know that non-restocking actually dismays quite a few anglers. A slew of real nice folks faithfully fish the walkway along Rte. 9 on the east end of Lake Pohatcong.
Iím not sure if the lake will be ready for the next stocking period.
OH, THATíS UGLY: I was alerted by Edmund K. that the Hunter Training Area, Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area, off Rte. 539 (the turnoff just east of the Warren Grove Gunnery Range) is an abysmal mess. He said it is trashed -- and shot-up to hell and back.
I thought Ed might be exaggeting so I went over to check it out. He was underexaggerating. It is deplorable out there, made doubly so by the fact this area was once pristine and is within the ìtreasuredî Pinelands National Reserve.
The ground there is covered with spent shotgun shells. Paper and plastic trash extends well back into the nearby woods. Anything standing has been blasted.
The area is so damaged by shooters, it begs to be helped -- maybe in the Earth Day spirit of things.
Although I have no real contact with the many area gunning clubs, Iím still wondering if those folks might combine forces to clean up this eyesore area.
I fully realize itís seldom if ever club members making the mess. Those groups have strict rules about cleaning up after shooting practice. But, who else can make things right back ther? The state? They donít even empty the couple/few filled-to-bursting trashcans there.
Conversely, if Iím unable to stir up some righteous public assistance to clean up the site, Iíll get the place closed down. All I need to do is invite some state officials ñ and politicians -- to visit the area and I can assure itíll be shut down in nothing flat.
TECHNICAL TIRE TALK: Iím riding ñ but not riding high -- on four news ones. Huh?
The tires on my 2006 GMC truck had barely been holding on. I was warned that a blowout was imminent ñ if not sooner.
Admittedly, I always find it kinda fun having a good old blowout. Thereís that big ìBam!î and the head shaking shutter -- holding on like driving through a 7.0 earthquake. Good fun.
Despite that fun factor, I make a lot of trips to weird and distant places, sometimes beyond Manahawkin. You have a blowout in a place outside Warren Grove and itís a well-known fact that beavers wait for you to get out for your spare then rush out and begin gnawing at your legs. Itís a bad scene.
ìI swear, you guys get any closer and Iím going to make frickiní hats outta all ya.î So, not wanting to resort to pelt-taking, I bit the plastic bullet and Mastercarded a set of brand spankiní new tires.
I did consider retreads and even emailed for info. I was sorely tempted by the retread industryís fact sheet declaring, ìNearly 90 percent of the worldís airlines use retread tires and the Navyís famous Blue Angel jet precision flying team lands on retread tires. Whatís more, over 50 percent of the tires used on military aircraft are retreads.î
My first reaction was ìHow fast do these people think I drive?î
The retread folks even tried pressing my green buttons by noting that it takes about 22 gallons of oil to produce one new truck tire and just seven gallons to retread the same tire. At first I thought that sounds swell, then I began questioning how much tread I can really get with just seven stinkiní gallons of oil.
A last-gasp effort to win me over to retreads pointed to the fact that many prisons around the country are now making retreads, thus offering inmates training in a productive field, one that will allow them to leave the big house with a trade ñ and an enhanced getaway potential after they resume robbing banks and such.
Inmate marketing retread tires: ìDuring my daring daylight heists, I know I can always count on South Carolina Department of Correction retreads to give me that extra road handling I need in high speed getaways.î
Check out http://www.scprisonindustries.com/retreading.asp
Despite that hard sell on reterads, I shunned the urge to help some good old boy in the pen and decided on a set of oil-guzzling brand-name first-time tires.
Sidebar: I always envision a set as two. (Hey, keep it clean buddy.) In tire terms it somehow means four, as in four times a couple/few hundred bucks. Itís like you get run over by the tires before theyíre even on.
Once committed to new tireness, I had to battle the nagging male urge to go for bad-assedness.
In the realm of full-sized pickups (pretty much a manís world), itís often all about look. In tires, gnarly chunks of deep, thick, heavily-toothed rubber is a look of, well, truckified manliness. Men are thoroughly convinced women go wild for a man with thick and gnarly tread designs. Women, on the other hand, couldnít care less about tire tread design, as long as itís carrying them somewhere to eat.
Torrential treading is primarily suited for rocky and punctureous terrain, i.e. scaling the likes of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Itís not only overkill in our flat and sugar sanded environs, but it can ìburyî a truck in a bog-down heartbeat. The toothy tread also sucks up gas.
A tire expert and mobile surfcaster once showed me that the less bite a tire has the better it rides atop sand, be it scalding Pinelands sand or LBIís ìsinkiest sand on the planet.î Less bite is what you want on sand.
In the end, I opted for the moderately-priced, performance truck tire known as ìThe Grabberî by General. Iím not sure what the ladies think of that name. Although itís meant for smaller trucks, itís perfecto for larger trucks with heavy-duty beach riding on the agenda. When you air these tires down, they essentially flatten out ñ in a good way, that is.
So far, they ride fine on the asphalt, at 35 psi. As for off-roading, I hit some super-soft out-there roads in the Pines and the tires didnít break a sweat. No aring down needed. However, the true tell will be Island beaches.
Thanks to the real nice (and efficient folks) down at Parkertown Car Care.
By the by, Iím not even remotely trying to sell buggyists on one tire or another. I just finally went the way many truck owners swear theyíre going to go, i.e. performance road tires as opposed to high-tech, off-road tires. Iíll keep you posted.
[Examiner] Charles Pekow - March 26, 2012 -
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wants to change the way it surveys recreational anglers.
NOAA routinely collects information about what fishermen catch and their efforts as well as demographic data about the people who fish.
It does so as required under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to manage aquatic resources, using a combination of mail, telephone and in-person surveys.
The law has been amended to require NOAA to improve its efforts. NOAA has been experimenting with some alternates.
It now plans to replace the Coastal Household Telephone Survey with a mail survey asking how many people made how many fishing trips at the given address. NOAA also made some technical changes designed to get a better sample of anglers.
But NOAA also dropped a few other ideas it tinkered with. If you were sampled as part of any of the following, you won't be again. The dead ideas include the Longitudinal Sampling for Coastal Household Telephone Survey, Directory Frame Telephone Survey of Licensed Marine Recreational Anglers, the Angler Diary Recruitment Screening Questionnaire, and Biological Data Collection.
NOAA still plans some on-site surveying as well as the mail survey but no more telephone surveys.
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Bangor Daily News] by Bill Trotter - March 26, 2012
It may have to go up quite a ways more before it compares to gold or saffron, but the price of elvers sure has come a long way in the past two years.
According to officials with Maineís Department of Marine Resources, the first day of the stateís 2012 elver fishing season on Thursday saw some fishermen getting as much as $2,200 per pound.
Compare that with the 2010 elver fishing season, when the average price fishermen got for juvenile eels was $185 per pound.
Between 1994 and 2010, the highest average price for their catch that elver fishermen received in any year was $346 per pound in 2007.
Then last year, it jumped. Demand for the eels, which are shipped live to the Far East and then raised to adult size before being sold in seafood markets, reached unprecedented highs, causing the average price for the season to increase to nearly $900 per pound, according to DMR statistics. In some areas last year the price was reported to be more than $1,000 per pound.
At noon Thursday, when Maineís spring elver season officially opened, it went up again. According to some reports, one dealer in the Ellsworth area was offering $1,500 per pound on opening day. In the midcoast region, some were offering more than that.
Sgt. Marlowe Sonksen of Maine Marine Patrol, DMRís law enforcement division, said Friday that officers in the Knox and Waldo county region heard that at least one midcoast dealer was offering $2,200 per pound.
ìOne [fisherman] told us thatís what he got,î Sonksen said.
Elvers are juvenile eels that are born in the Sargasso Sea region of the Atlantic Ocean and then migrate to North American freshwater lakes and rivers. Elvers generally are caught at night in tidal rivers and streams by fishermen using funnel-shaped fyke nets or small, hand-dip nets mounted at the end of poles.
During this elver season, fishing is allowed five days a week, from noon Sunday until noon Friday of each week. Elver fishermen have been known to catch several pounds in a single night.
Since 2006, the number of elver licenses issued by the state has been limited to several hundred at most in order to protect the elver population. In 2011 and again this year, the number of licenses is capped at 407.
According to DMR officials, the high price of elvers has generated a lot of interest and more illegal fishing by unlicensed fishermen. Before the season opened, there were people out trying to catch elvers without being noticed by marine patrol officers, they said.
ìA lot of our violations now are unlicensed peopleî using hand-dip nets, Sonksen said. Fyke nets, which Sonksen said are bigger and tend to catch ìa lot moreî elvers than hand-dip nets, have to be tagged with the name of their licensed owners and so generally arenít used by unlicensed fishermen.
Sonksen, who oversees officers operating along the midcoast between the St. George and Penobscot rivers, said that only one day into the season his officers already have written between eight and 10 citations total for illegal elver fishing. That estimate, he added, is higher than normal. Statewide, the number of summons written so far this elver season is around 20, he added.
Lt. Dale Sprowl, who oversees marine patrol operations in the eastern half of the state, said Friday that officers also check on dealers to make sure they only buy elvers from licensed fishermen. He said Maine Marine Patrol makes unannounced spot checks on dealers and reviews their paperwork to make sure they are complying with the stateís regulations.
ìWe already checked some dealers today,î Sprowl said.
Some environmentalists have raised concerns that the population of the eels has been declining and say the eels should be protected by federal regulations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicehas been petitioned to list eels either as threatened or endangered, which would prevent them from being fished.
According to Dr. Gail Wippelhauser of the Department of Marine Resources, no such designation is expected to be made before the end of the elver season on May 31.
Vancouver Sun] By Mike Hager - March 26, 2012 -
After being flushed out to sea by last year's massive tsunami and earthquake, a Japanese squid-fishing boat has drifted across the Pacific Ocean and is now moving in on British Columbia's north coast.
The 150-foot ship is drifting right-side-up about 140 nautical miles (260 kilometres) from Cape Saint James on the southern tip of Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands.
ìIt's been drifting across the Pacific for a year, so it's pretty beat up,î said marine search coordinator Jeff Olsson of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.
A plane on a routine surveillance patrol for the Fisheries and Defence departments found the ship on Tuesday afternoon. The Canadian Coast Guard has issued a notice to all vessels that the ship is an obstruction to navigation.
Transport Canada was still monitoring the boat Friday evening for marine pollution and interference with passing ships. The government body would not say whether the ship would be towed in or left to drift to shore on its own.
The hull numbers were traced to the ship's owner in Japan, who confirmed that nobody was believed to be on the ship when it was dragged out to sea Olsson said.
Off the wires: Striped bass news and other stuff
March 22, 2012
Commercial fishermen from Cape Cod and chefs from Boston are united in their support of yesterday's decision by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture to not move forward with a proposal to ban the harvest and sale of striped bass in Massachusetts.
With yesterday's announcement, the committee is effectively taking the bills off the table for any kind of legislative action this year.
Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) opposed the bill, stating "There was no reason, based either in science or economic impact, to adopt the proposed legislation. The recreational and commercial sectors share a common interest in the health of this fishery. We should all work together to engage in meaningful work to ensure the ongoing viability of this very important fish."
Cape and Islands Senator Dan Wolf (D-Harwich), a member of the Joint Committee, thanked his colleagues for joining him in opposition to these bills.
"Fisheries management is complicated and serious business," Wolf said. "It should build off credible science, and also try to forge consensus among all of those who fish, and care about fish. These bills did neither."
"We are very grateful that our state legislators have left the job of managing striped bass to fishery managers," declared Darren Saletta, co-founder of the Massachusetts Commercial Striped Bass Association. "This culturally significant and sustainable fishery will continue for years to come. We encourage people to support Massachusetts fishing communities by asking for local stripers at restaurants and markets this summer."
"The committee recognized that our oceans and the fish in them belong to the community as a whole, not solely to the recreational fishermen," said Chefs Collaborative chairman Michael Leviton, chef/owner of Lumiere and chef/partner of Area 4. "The majority of the Massachusetts population that eats striped bass does so because a commercial fishery exists. Allocating a well managed fishery to just recreational fishermen would be unfair."
"I think the c