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Wait Until Next Year -
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From todays Star Ledger

Thursday, July 20, 2006
If the National Marine Fisheries Service has its way, fluke fishermen next year might be talking of the "good old days" of the 16 1/2-inch minimum. The agency has called for a big drop in the 2007 quota in order to meet long-term goals, and even an attempt by the Summer Flounder Monitoring Committee to moderate that quota hit would require stricter regulations next year.

Considering the great numbers of short fluke hooked this year, it's hard to believe there's any shortage of the species. The management plan set an arbitrary stock goal that has to be achieved by 2010, and with a present stock of more than 102 million pounds, we're only halfway to the target.

Spawning stock has been increasing steadily since 1980, and there's no reason to believe that the summer flounder population isn't in very good shape. Nevertheless, NMFS insisted on a reduction from last year's 30 million-pound quota down to 23.6 million pounds this year -- and is calling for just 5.2 million in 2007.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council staff suggested 19.9 million pounds for 2007, and the Monitoring Committee at Tuesday's meeting in Philadelphia settled on 13.9 million. As bad as that reduction is, it received only a tie vote with the chairman breaking the tie in order to get a proposal on the table for the upcoming council meeting.

Worst of all, NMFS voted against the committee's figure and can be expected to reject any attempt to adopt a reasonable quota if it won't stay on course to achieving the 2010 goal -- a figure representing a guess at what the population was at its peak without any consideration of interaction with other species or the availability of forage at the time. Blind adherence to that target prevents logical management, but that won't stop NMFS from trying to impose its will despite the effect on the recreational and commercial fishing industries plus the public.

Just how severe next year's restrictions will be depends on whether the recreational catch this year stays within our landing allocation that is only 40 percent of the total quota. Bruce Freeman, chairman of the JCAA Science and Research Committee, estimates that might mean a six-week season under current regulations.

It's more likely New Jersey would have to go to a much higher minimum, though even the 18 inches New York is struggling with this year might not be sufficient. There'll be more about this in Sunday's column.
 

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As bad as that news is, the really sad part is how many recreational fisherman will stand up and fight against this? Probably not even 1/4 of the folks who fish for flounder. I've already got a sit down meeting set up with my state rep. Wayne Gilchrest to talk about the bunker mess in the Chesapeake, now I guess I've got something else to discuss with him. Get involved folks, because it's all gonna slip away.:(
 

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This doesn't sound good for those who love to catch flatties. Looks like I'll/we'll have to start writing letters and emails again to policy makers and the like.
 

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I will be on the phone with local State politicians as well as congressman
This is INSANE
 

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you will never win....
as you increase the size, you increase the pounds...
thus, you take more than the year before...thus going over the quota.

10 fish any size equals = 15lbs
10 fish at 18"(3lb avg) = 30lbs

they measure in pounds, recreationals are regulated in inches.

;)
 

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We Are Not Allowed To Win Either Stay The Same Or Loose.next Year They Will Threaten To Takealmost All Away Then At The Last Second They Will Say Something Like 6 Fish At 18" And Everyone Will Say We Are Going To Have A Season.the Graph Goes In One Direction.
 

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If the fluke limit hits 18" then many anglers will spend more time targeting other species like stripers, seabass, tog, weakfish etc. I know I will. A change in one species must effect others.
 

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Instead of dancing around the issue, why not make it a 30" doormat minimum, with a 2 week season, and give the commies 98% of the quota? I believe this is what they are going towards anyway. :rolleyes:

Can someone say we're getting near ludicrous speed here???

 

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They have no frikin idea how much we take,it is all just B.S.:mad:Sittin in a room makein up numbers.
 

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yes for instance the 200 million pounds of biomass they desire is just a number they pulled out of thin air. How do they know how many fluke there is supposed to be??????? They don't know and they never will. Ristori's article in the Fisherman this week alluded to problems with recruitment also.

Guess what? They're gonna' do the same thing with croakers. They established some biomass reference points last year. The only problem is we havent' seen croakers like that in this area in at least 40-50 years. Now, they're gonna' claim that's the normal amount and start cutting anglers out of the fishery.

There's plenty of folks fishing now with two fish boxes. One for the fish that are legal, and the other for the fish that are short but going home anyway.
 

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the only chance of making a difference ,as slim as it might be ,is to blast the politicians.My letters went out this afternoon to LoBiondo and Sen Menendez (both up for re-election in Nov ) and Sen Lautenberg
It is time to clean house in the National Fisherey Service and the organizations supporting this .
I intend to blast State leaders tomorrow as they also have to get involved
NOTHING WILL HAPPEN unless they hear from the silent majority in huge numbers ,as slim a possibility that is ,it is the ONLY chance we have of making a difference
MY BET ,however is VERY FEW will take the time and effort to voice their opinion,instead they will ***** on this web site .
based on my tagging records I'm seeing the most summer flounder since the 60's ,their data is no good
RFA is trying to capture data but their form to submit is a nightmare ,however they did provide me with a much better form similar to the Striped Bass form
Everyone fishing for fluke should look into getting the better form and provide the RFA with some good hard data that they can use in fighting for us
 

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NIGHTSTRIKES said:
Wait Until Next Year -
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From todays Star Ledger

Thursday, July 20, 2006

.... and is calling for just 5.2 million in 2007. .
I feel a fluking tea party in the wind. :mad:
 

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Only Congress can step in and resolve this. NMFS will do as ordered by the courts thanks to the enviro lawsuit.

Anglers once again pay for the inflexibility of the current management system.

NMFS does not believe in common sense and neither do our courts.

Flounder fishing sucks now off Barnegat so I guess I won't miss much.
 

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Are fluke anglers' days numbered?
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 07/21/06

BY JOHN GEISER
CORRESPONDENT


A near-shutdown of the recreational fluke fishery in 2007 looms as a possibility after fisheries management officials announced this week that the stocks are not rebuilding fast enough.


Marine biologists who study fluke and the monitoring committee that makes recommendations on management of the fishery by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council are recommending severe cutbacks in the fluke quota for next year.
In the years following, the regulations may become even more stringent to the point where a closure of the fluke fishery could occur by 2009.


Bruce L. Freeman, former research scientist with the state Division of Fish and Wildlife and until this year, when he retired, the state's chief biologist at the council and commission levels, said the outlook is grim.


"They're talking about a 42 percent reduction from this year," he said. "This is a quota of 13.9 million pounds, down from 23.6 million pounds this year.
"And the National Marine Fisheries Service recommended a reduction to 5.2 million pounds," he said. "This is an extremely severe reduction. This could destroy the party and charter boat fishery."


Commercial and recreational fluke fishermen are facing the four ghostly shades of fisheries mismanagement drifting shoreward in their black dories.
These terrible wraiths are: poor recruitment, environmental lawsuits, intolerable regulations and uncontrolled predation. Their contribution: decimation of the fishery - commercial and recreational.


Freeman explained that recruitment in 2005 was the lowest on record since the 1980s. It was estimated at 14.5 million fish when a year class total of 33 to 35 million fish was expected.


"I personally question the accuracy of the numbers, but that's what they are working with," he said.


The correctness of the figures might be challenged when both New Jersey and Massachusetts reported good recruitment. The other states were down.


Even more unsettling, however, is the increasing realization in fisheries management circles that the fluke plan is not working as hoped. Congress set a 10-year rebuilding schedule for troubled fish stocks, and fluke must be at 204 million pounds by 2010. They are currently at 105 million pounds.
A third-grade achievement level in arithmetic is enough for one to know that, if curtailing fishing is the only way to reach 204 million pounds by 2010, then fishermen are in for trouble.


"It's frightening to think about it," Freeman said. "This is a blueprint for disaster on the waterfront. Fisheries management has no plan to deal with a recovered fishery."


Fisheries management officials are months away from putting together regulations for 2007, but there is already talk of a two-fish possession limit, 18-inch minimum size and six-week fluke season.


Indications are that recruitment was good this year, and, if it totals 35 million juvenile fish, and this happens again in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the biomass could theoretically reach 204 million pounds by 2010.


This is a dream, a classroom exercise in marine management theory. The toll from spiny dogfish alone would probably prevent this. Lump in other predators, disease, environmental factors, and the odds against good year-classes, and, even without fishing, the goal of 204 million pounds is unattainable.


Management officials are unwilling to exercise meaningful control over the primary predator - the spiny dogfish - and unable to do anything about any other factors except fishing.


Controlling fishing has brought the stocks back, and Freeman reminds that this is the rub that management officials face.


"This is not like striped bass," he said. "The stocks were down, regulations were put in place to bring them back, the public supported them, and the stocks came back."


Fluke management is different.


"The stocks are up, age distribution is good, 75 to 80 percent of the fish are older than two years, the stocks are not overfished, there has been an increase in the number of large fish, and the spawning stock biomass is twice the size it was in the 1980s," Freeman pointed out.


These are all good things, goals that management sought, and the public is aware of them. The public does not understand, and no one can explain it to them, the need for severe cutbacks to achieve a utopian goal that is meaningless to everyone except a handful of preservationists.


NMFS has no problem with trying to realize the 2010 rebuilding goal at the expense of the fishing public and the industry that depends on it.


The bureaucrats' argument is that they are bound to comply with a court decision initiated and won by the National Resources Defense Council in 2000 in which the judge ruled that Congress mandated that a management plan for a rebuilding fishery had to have a 50 percent or better chance of achieving the goal.


Raymond D. Bogan, legal counsel for the United Boatmen of New Jersey and New York, said this is the reason flexibility must be included in the reauthorization of the Magnuson Act being considered by the House this week.


"That flexibility has to be in there," he said. "These environmental groups that are fighting for hard numbers and following the dictates of scientists without regard for reality and the public good are writing a policy for disaster."


Bogan said that setting unrealistic rebuilding goals based on poor science and faulty conclusions was never more evident than this week with fluke.
"We predicted this mess would happen the last time they reauthorized Magnuson," he said. "Unfortunately we were unable to get the language accepted in the bill, and look where we are today. If this goes through, as some enviros want, they'll have the laws to eliminate fishermen from the water."


Robert "Dusty" Rhodes, former vice chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Council, said an ironic aspect of the present dilemma is that the quota recommended by NMFS and that recommended by the monitoring committee, are both substantially under the quota of 20 million pounds set in 1994 when the fishery was in trouble.


"Here we are 15 years later with the stocks rebuilt, and overfishing not occurring, and we're faced with quotas less than we started with," he said. "And this is all because of what I call an arbitrary target for 2010. It is the height of illogic.


"Trying to make up the difference between 105 million pounds now and 204 million pounds - the arbitrary goal - three years from now is ridiculous," he added. "It underlines the ridiculousness of fisheries management. Talk about Gulliver's Travels, this is it. Sheer lunacy."


James A. Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, said he was shocked at the NMFS recommendation.


"It's unbelievable," he said. "This is glaring proof that the fisheries management process is a failure overall. There are too many people with their own agendas meddling in this.


"It's obvious that the fluke stocks are not in trouble," he pointed out. "They're going up every year, but some people who want us all off the water got to the lawmakers, talked them into writing a law with a rebuilding target that is unattainable, and here we are.


"These congressmen who were brainwashed by extreme enviros don't understand what's going on," Donofrio said. "They don't know about party and charter boatmen who make a living from this fishery. They aren't aware of people in the rental boat business, and in the tackle business. They don't know that the average person wants to take a fluke home to eat."


Donofrio said commercial fishermen were strangely silent when the recreational sector went to bat against excessive cutbacks in the quota last year.


In fact, the environmentalists who were responsible for the lawsuit in 2000 were actively supported by a contingent of commercial netters who were angry at anglers for their stand against them in the late 1990s.


"They had better be with us now," Donofrio said. "If NMFS has its way, and gets the 5.2-million quota that it wants, the commercial sector gets 60 percent - that's about 3 million pounds. There are draggers that can't survive on that either.


"This should be the rallying cry for everyone who fishes," he said. "This should galvanize everyone who enjoys fishing or makes a living from the sea. Everyone should get involved and force NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to recognize what it is at stake here."


Tony Bogan, former member of the Mid-Atlantic Council and a member of the United Boatmen of New Jersey and New York, said the quota recommended by NMFS and adherence to the schedule to achieve the 2010 target represents a disaster.


"This is an enormous step backward," he said. "This will really hurt New York and New Jersey where more than half of the fluke along the coast are landed.


"The numbers don't make any sense," he added. "This is a knockout blow to us. The fluke numbers are the highest they've ever been in memory, and they're talking about restricting us to conserve fish.


"And this on top of porgies and sea bass," he said. "Don't forget that they said at the meeting this week that porgies and sea bass are in trouble, too."
 

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It takes numbers to fight numbers! Without the money from a saltwater licence the fish and game departments can never afford to hire the people they need to come up with data that will refute what is presented in theese enviro lawsuits.
Barrell
 

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design said:
you will never win....
as you increase the size, you increase the pounds...
thus, you take more than the year before...thus going over the quota.

10 fish any size equals = 15lbs
10 fish at 18"(3lb avg) = 30lbs

they measure in pounds, recreationals are regulated in inches.

;)
This is what I've been saying also. It makes too much sense though, so you know what will happen to this idea. We really should be allowed to keep a certain number of Fluke, regardless of size, for reasons discussed previously, such as gut hooked. I think the total weight would decrease and the health and numbers of the remaining Fluke would be maintained.
 

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While i agree the arbitrary number the nmfs set for our fluke populations to be recovered to by 2010 as the result of lawsuits bought about by extreme enviro's is absolutely impratical, though I have to disagree with our reps who inist fluke #'s are at an all time high and growing each year. As stated "too many people meddling in this w/ too many different agendas" Well, we can't excuse our sector of this either, can we? Now for the unpopular opinion. I'm as avid a fluke fisherman as there is, and for the past 20+ years i've done alot of it with time split between Great Bay and the Ocean waters off LBI and DE Bay and the Ocean waters off Cape May and based on what i've seen, particularly for the past 5 years or so, the fluke biomass may be way overestimated, and we darn well could be over-exploiting the fluke resource..as well as the when, where and how to of it..so it doesn't come as a surprise to me based on what i've experienced in the past 5 years or so, the decline in the # of fluke each year has been commensurate with the growth of those entering into the fishery, along with the growth in the abundance of fluke predatory species such as spiny dogs and stripers (note how our reps leave mention of striped bass out). While the size of fluke was better for a while, thanks to many years of higher size limits, the #'s of fish have been on the decline, more and more each year for the past 5 or so, speaking for Great & DE Bay and the Ocean waters off each. So, when they say there are apparent recruitment problems as of late and we are going to be faced with cuts, i can't say i'm surprised one bit! I think it's pretty apparent to most of us that fish alot for fluke that the populations in these parts have been dwindling each year for the past 5 or so years and so do our recreational management representatives, but they won't admit it..especially w/ the lack of an even remotely accurate rec fish count with the MRFFS. So, our reps in their meddleing, state the opposite in their argument against cuts insisting the fish are plentiful with the argument that the lively hoods of the charter, party boat, bait, tackle shops etc, etc, etc are at stake as the basis of their agenda, basically..they're no better than the comms in that regard where the concern is not about the fish, but the money those fish bring!! Throw in the fact we have what appears to be a foreign comm market driven agenda responsible for the mismanagement of spiny dog fish and a commercial recreational driven agenda driving the mismanagement of stripers which has allowed both of their populations to grow to greater levels than a balanced ecosystem can support and what you got is alot of the immature fluke being eatin before they get a chance to spawn making less and less fish available to pro-create, let alone grow to keeper size for recs to keep. With the combination of the over-exploitation of the resource by a growing population of people, the agenda driven management and greed decisions are based on and the envronmental whackos who don't want fishing all together and the future of our fishing is worrisome to say the least. All said, I'll send the letters as allways in support of our reps agenda..but realize it's not allways in the best interest of the fish and with the uneven 60/40 split between rec & comm allocations presiding as it us, that severe cutbacks are imminent with the state of this fishery as i see it.
 

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Capt G , I don't agree with your assessment of biomass. I have tagged and released more summer flounder YTD (over 500) than in any complete year since I started my tagging in 1990 AND Sept has always been a big summer Flounder month for me as the fish head out the inlets
Given my history ,I'm heading for a 700 fish tagged year in 2006 which will be over 200 more than my best year AND my days fishing for summer flounder are down 10% this year.
In addition ,average size this year is up 1.2" over past 4 years average
Hopefully IF enough fisherman use the RFA survey to report their catches this year we may be able to get a better handle on the biomass
40/60 split is a major problem in my opinion along with the smaller size limit for Comm
In any event I would like to see a lower size limit (15" ) and a lower bag limit like 4-5 fish which should protect the bio mass.
IF Comm can keep them at 14" there is no rational for the rec's 16.5 or greater.
There are many more people fishing for fluke today than there was in the 80's AND as a result of the size limit a large number are being thrown back without proper handling which in my opinion is leading to a higher loss as a result of fish dying.
Bottom line is the National Marine Fisheries Service and the organizations supporting it need a major overhaul.Like most Government organizations it has lost contact with the real world and is being highly influenced by "tree huggers" who could care less about recreational fishing or the ecomonic impact of recreational fishing:mad:
 
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