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Old 09-01-2011, 11:47 PM
PT Plugger PT Plugger is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2011
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Default Is this a troubling assumption?

I have been trying to follow the problems that the Striped Bass fishery in the Chesapeake has been facing. The poor juvenile numbers that are being caused by the nutrient enrichment which in turn is causing "dead zones" in the bay to expand which in turn is hurting the juvenile populations in the bay.

Then I read an article in the Cape Cod Times that was published on July 30th 2011 by Doug Fraser. In it he talked to Michael Armstrong, the Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

In the article he mentions, "others believe that heavy spring rains, combined with poor water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, may be wreaking havoc with the larval and juvenile survival rates." I believe this to be true. In addition to the nutrient enrichment which is causing the algae blooms which are effecting fish, it was reported in the article that as much as 50% of the juvenile fish in the bay are infected with Mycobacteriosis, a potentially deadly bacteria. These two facts are apparently leading to a decline in the juvenile fish.

The troubling part came from Mr. Armstrong, who does not believe there is any problem with the stocks. When asked about raising size limits, lowering bag limits or even making the Striped bass a gamefish he said this.

But fishery managers think that effort is misplaced and won't solve the problem. The striped bass stock is still very healthy, they said, arguing that the problem is with juveniles, not adult fish.
"The problem is in the perception (of the recreational fisherman)," Armstrong said. State statistics show the numbers of keeper-size striped bass 28 inches and over landed by recreational fishermen has remained stable, or gone up a little. But the smaller fish that were born in the lean years after 2003 are fewer in number, and fishermen who used to catch 50 small ones before they kept the one big fish are disappointed in the lack of action."

I don't believe in this whole perception argument, and it is a troubling assumption to believe that if the adult stocks are okay, then things will be fine.

Now I don't have any fancy degrees and am still a laymen when it comes to these things, but if there is a problem with the juvenile fish not reaching maturity, it would lead me to believe that eventually the stocks would plummet. This isn't perception, it is simple math, if you do not replenish what you have taken soon there will be none.

To me this seems like the same problem that faced the Striped Bass in the 70's due to the PCB's and DDT's killing off the eggs, hatch-lings, and juvenile fish. But this time it is nutrient enrichment due to farm run-off, that is seemingly having the same effect on the Striped Bass through poor conditions leading to disease.

With NOAA seemingly having trouble managing stocks, it is distressing that some people in the MDMF, are not seeing the bigger picture. If this is the perception that is prevalent throughout the community, then the Striped Bass may be in trouble.

My perception of these statements may be off, but i don't think it is.
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Old 09-04-2011, 09:33 PM
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Doublerunner Doublerunner is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 987
Default Re: Is this a troubling assumption?

I agree with your assumption. Let's also not forget about the most important fish in the ocean....menhaden. They are filter feeders and help keep our oceans clean. They help prevent the disease and dead zones we are now seeing. Until we can manage these stocks with professionals dedicated to knowledge of the ocean and fisheries, instead of with politicians and legislators who look at the bottom line and votes, then we may not have any effective changes until the stock collapses (again).

The reason we see many big fish now is directly linked to the moratorium of the 80's. These big fish take 20 plus years to get their size. The 1st people to see their decline will be the shore fishermen. Once the boat fishermen see it then it may be too late. The lack of small fish IS troubling. The "young of year" indexes have been very similar to pre-moratorium years. Combined with over fishing from both the recs and the comms, poaching, disease, etc then we can see the pressure these fish are under.

Oh and let's add in the age of the internet and cell phones. I see many bait and tackle shops posting on FB and twitter instant reports on who is catching and where. Look at all the tournaments that promote the killing of fish for prizes instead of catch and release. Immediate gratification for money and ego

I would like to see a cutback on both the comm and rec side for a few years with studies to see if a small, temporary cutback will make a difference before things get too bad
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Old 09-06-2011, 09:12 AM
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JakeF JakeF is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: New Bedford, MA
Posts: 5,895
Default Re: Is this a troubling assumption?

You guys are right on the money. Here's another perspective to think about. Given the water quality issues, heavy spring rains (which DO have very detrimental effects on post spawn survival of eggs & larvae), poor forage, disease, and the overall dismal YOY recruitment, even with a large percentage of the the biomass being larger breeders, what you do you think the YOY recruitment is going to look like once these larger fish are gone, the environmental & forage issues remain, and the spawning stock biomass is made up of primarily the fish that are the result of the last several years of dismal spawns? Not a pretty picture....
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