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Ristori: Dogfish problem must be solved

Thursday, March 24, 2005
BY AL RISTORI
Star-Ledger Staff


If anglers thought last year's spiny dogfish invasion was bad, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service have a surprise in store for you.

They consider spiny dogfish to be underfished and intend to continue restricting commercial landings to a bycatch while rebuilding the stocks over a 20-year period. By that time dogfish should be attacking swimmers and crawling out on the beaches in search of something to eat.

The 2005-06 Spiny Dogfish Specifications, Draft Environmental Assessment, Regulatory Impact Review and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (hereafter referred to as "the plan") consists of 85 pages mostly repeating previous information or discussing possible fishery interactions with marine mammals. It totally ignores the spiny dogfish's position in the marine ecosystem as a voracious predator, which fishermen over the ages unsuccessfully tried to eliminate, often with government assistance.

Now that they're being accorded government protection, the "overfished" spiny dogfish has greatly increased its range and adapted to higher water temperatures.

Incredibly, this document never even discusses the consequences on all other species of sharply increasing the dogfish population, which has already taken over much of the ocean.

The document notes that there was relatively little exploitation of the species before 1990, when a foreign market was developed. Since the larger females were targeted, that portion of the population dropped to an apparently dangerous point for a slow-to-mature species that, like almost all sharks, produces a limited number of live offspring. Environmental groups pushed for action, and management plans have limited commercial landings to a small bycatch.

Despite these measures, scientists claim the female portion of the stock has failed to recover and that it will take 15 to 20 years for that to occur under the present bycatch limits. Yet, by some miracle of nature, those supposedly few females have produced record numbers of dogfish that are eating everything in sight.

I've been fishing for 60 years, and have never seen such an abundance of dogfish. There used to be a late-fall to early-winter offshore migratory problem in this area and were never seen in warmer waters after April, but last year I was catching some in 20-foot depths off Sandy Hook during mid-June -- when they were stacked up in 60 feet.

It used to be that you could avoid dogfish by anchoring right over wrecks rather than alongside, but Capt. Paul Regula of the Bounty Hunter in Point Peasant said he still often had to catch 10 dogfish in order to get through to one sea bass last June.

Party boats chumming for bluefish around the Mud Hole were frequently forced to move when schools of spiny dogfish rose from the bottom to take over the slicks. Fluke anglers had to avoid depths over 50 feet in June, and giant tuna fishermen on Stellwagen Bank were afraid to put a bait in the water even without chumming due to the abundance of dogfish at all depths.

This is the species that NMFS and the council considers overfished, and they're dead set on making a bad situation impossible without a thought about the consequences. They watched the whiting fishery disappear while doing nothing about it, and now want to ensure there's no hope of a comeback in a Mud Hole paved with voracious dogfish.

Fishermen should rise up to protest what bureaucrats are prepared to inflict on the ecosystem through the most unprofessional and scientifically inept management plan I've ever read.

Alternative 3 would reopen the fishery to directed fishing and is the only hope of slowing the dogfish invasion.

Comments must reach the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (300 South New St., Dover, Del., 19904) by 5 p.m. Monday. They can also be e-mailed to [email protected] with the heading "Comments -- 2005 Dogfish Specifications."


Al Ristori appears regularly in The Star-Ledger. E-mail him at [email protected]
 

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We need to start targeting these fish and spread the word. Start a dogfish contest. Run party boat dogfish trips. Then, we can be confident they will lift the commercial restrictions.
 

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If you have ever eaten Arthur Treacher's fish and chips ,the fish comes from spiny dogfish.We all may be missing out on a good thing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
 

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how soon we seem to forget, an article of this nature just starts all over again the practice of breaking snouts on the gunnel, filleting the tail section off and throwing them back or flipping over horseshoe crabs or anything else that 'annoys' us....I grew up with this, on land and water, practiced the same thing, only to grow wiser and more knowledgeable today.

if commercial interest is opened, other species also live in the same areas, scoop em up with a net, other species are in the same net.

In my book, this is the start of a good thing, if it is on track of my thinking. From what I read, Florida has it's act together.
 

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Lots of dogfish have to be killed for winter bottomfish to recover. How can young ling and whiting ever live through these hordes of dogs. They also eat the heck out of small sea bass.
 

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Funny how the shoes on the other foot w/ the stripers though. Too many of them in our back bay estuaries can't be a bad thing when they ar so fun to catch, can it?
 

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I had a crew out this fall and could only buy one striper and one Blue, then in came the doggies. I was at first tossing them back unharmed and then asked the guys if they would care to take a few. They agreed and I headed about 8 of them critters. Got back to the dock to finish the deed and sent the guys home with bags packed with meat. Well wouldn't ya know it, they loved that stuff! I kept a few years back but did not have to opportunity to treat them as I do now, I may have to eat a few more......how dare they approach the vesse BAWUGNA!

Design, I understand fully what you ae saying about the gunwal smacks and such and I agree, but with this particular fish, I think there may have been a glitch in the science. Perhaps they do not breed as slowly as previously thought. And it is altogether possible that they make be eating themselves out of house and home. It is a strange dilemma. Isn't it odd however, that some species that ARE overfished but carry a higher price tag are still heavily exploited? Just look at the rest of the shark family, tog, seabass etc. Even though their #s are in enough trouble to put the squeeze on us, the commercial fleet is allowed to continue :confused:
 

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Smoked Dog is awesome !!! :cool:
 

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" that some species that ARE overfished but carry a higher price tag are still heavily exploited? Just look at the rest of the shark family, tog, seabass etc. Even though their #s are in enough trouble to put the squeeze on us, the commercial fleet is allowed to continue "


We exploited the snots out of dogs. There are two seasons one season is 300 lbs a trip the second season is 600 lbs per trip at .20 a pound I wouldn't exactly call that gettin rich.
 

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fishpicker, you're in an interesting position. On the one hand, they've curtailed your take of dogfish. On the other hand, those dog fish cause me to buy massive amounts of fresh bunker. During the Utsch's tournament, I was buying 50-60 fresh per day.
 

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Although I did catch my share of dogs last year up here,it was nothing like the trip I took in carolina new years week.I boated a bluefin that we sold,no luck on the stripers,so I took the boat out for some sea bass.Out of the 25 bass and stripe tails caught,we easily boated 200 dogs.I had the captain and mate fishing but it got so bad the mate had to unhook and re-bait.No matter where we moved to it was the same thing,double dogs with 20 of em' following up the others.It was so bad we packed it in early.
 

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Hopefully this issue will be resolved next fall. Myself and a fellow gillnetter from up the road are going to be taking scientist out fishing to prove that there are plenty of dogs again. This is a very touchy issue very political.
 

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How do you handle those things and get the filet off of them? Should I head 'em and gut 'em before throwing them in the cooler? Strip of meat down the tail? If you can't avoid them, might as well eat a few.
 

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I remember reading in the UK they refer to it as "rock salmon" to make it sound more appealing.

JohnnieM, I think somebody on these boards posted about how to properly bleed them while they are alive otherwise you end up with urea in the flesh, which converts to ammonia and gives you the hershey squirts.
 

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Sunnydaze,
Your right about that post. I asked the same question in another topic, and got no response. I tried the search function with no luck.
I'm so concerned because I know I'll be pullin a "few" of those doggies in this year.
So until we find out, I'm going to fillet them as soon as I land them because of what you said.
 

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Ok, I did some chatting and reading. Here is my version;

Bleed
Cut an incision on the underside of the tail and let them bleed out while alive. It is discouraged to club them as it will only result in drawing blood to the contusion, which is at the wrong end of the fish you are trying to bleed. It should also be noted that there are high concentrations of urea in the gills and that is another good reason you do not want to club sharks prior to bleeding.

Me personally, I usually bleed fish by cutting the area between the gills and then field dressing them. So I researched which was better. After reading a few papers I found out that the dogfish as a function of the kidney has a renal collecting tubule that facilitates the natural removal of urea from the shark. So cutting the shark in the tail is without a doubt the place to cut them for bleeding to remove urea. Maybe other sharks are different, but my guess is that all elasmobranch (no bones) fish such as the spiny dogfish (Triakis scyllia) have a similar design and should always be bled by cutting the tail.

Dress
Once dead, cut from the anus up to the gills and remove the entrails. Immediately pack on ice, the fillet is more susceptible to bacteria so keep the fish icy cold.

Fillet
It is not required, but recommended that you soak fillets before freezing or cooking if ammonia odor is detected. The fillets should be soaked in brine, milk(when fried), vinegar or lemon juice (when broiled) to scavenge any remaining ammonia. Again, keep cold while soaking.

Store
The fish is good in your fridge for 1-2 days cooked and 2-3 fresh. It can be frozen for 4-6 months.

Eat
Supposedly, the belly flaps go to Germany beergardens as shark bites, the fins are sent to Asia and UK eats the backs as fish and chips.

I think that's basically the gist of things.


==================================================

Spiny Dogfish Shark Dissection
http://viking.lkstevens.wednet.edu/biology/dissection/2003/Period1/Group1/sharkpage.htm

A facilitative urea transporter is localized in the renal collecting tubule of the dogfish Triakis scyllia
http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/207/2/347

Urea transport in kidney brush-border membrane vesicles from an elasmobranch, Raja erinacea
http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/206/18/3293

Molecular and functional characterization of a urea transporter from the kidney of the Atlantic stingray
http://ajprenal.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/284/5/F996

Active urea transport and an unusual basolateral membrane composition in the gills of a marine elasmobranch
http://ajpregu.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/280/1/R16
 
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