Making Waves Winter Edition 2023

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MAKING WAVES THE OFFICAL MAGAZINE OF THE RECREATIONAL FISHING ALLIANCE WINTER EDITION 2023 OFFSHORE WIND PROJECT STRIPED BASS ASSESSMENT UPDATE STRATEGY FOR COMBATING ILLEGAL FISHING INSIDE THIS ISSUE
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3 MAKING WAVES WINTER EDITION 2023 INSIDE THIS ISSUE Publisher: Gary Caputi Editor in Chief: Barry Gibson Editor: Carolinn Pocher Woody Art Director: Maxwell Moran 4 EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR REPORT 6 HUDSON STRIPED BASS 11 2022 ELECTION ANALYSIS 12 OFFSHORE WIND PROJECT 17 STRIPED BASS ASSESSMENT UPDATE 18 HUDSON RIVER SURVEY RESULTS 20 FEMALE ANGLER PARTICIPATION 24 STRATEGY FOR COMBATING ILLEGAL FISHING 26 RFA PRIORITIES 28 TIMELINE TO SUPPORT FED ERAL USE OF GULF STATE DATA 32 ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT FOR-HIRE DATA 36 NEWS BRIEFS

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR REPORT

Everyone has been told at least once in their life that there are plenty of fish in the sea. That might be a reassuring thought despite the reality that an abundance of fish doesn’t guarantee an abundance of bites. In that spirit, I want to discuss how there are also plenty of government regulations and proposals designed to keep us from getting to those fish we enjoy catching and what we can do about it.

It is well understood by saltwater anglers that we are not only passionate about fishing but that we respect the water, we keep it clean, and we ensure that how we fish and what we catch doesn’t diminish our ability to fish another day. Well regulated, science-based regulations can be defended and are often readily accepted by anglers, but government overreach and overly broad mandates that attempt to close off the ocean to fishing must be pushed back against.

It is to balance promoting our sport while fighting against government interference that the Recreational Fishing Alliance exists. I am proud to fill the role of executive director to ensure that we always have a voice when our right to fish is being challenged. But the RFA is not just one person. YOU are the RFA and your voice, unified and loud, is critical to our mission to promote and protect recreational fishing around the nation.

In just the last few weeks the RFA has spoken out on proposed Marine Sanctuary rules aimed at the recreationally important Hudson Canyon area, rules on ocean windmills and regulatory actions to establish speed limits down the eastern seaboard that will supposedly protect endangered Right whales. These are just a few examples where government overreach can tip the balance against fishing access to such an extent that jobs will be lost, and lives will be irrevocably altered. Fortunately, I know I wasn’t alone as so many RFA members also spoke out on these issues through the formal comment process and with letters to their representatives.

But the mission doesn’t end with sending one letter or going to one press conference. Advocacy to protect what we love is a 365-day a year pursuit. If our elected leaders and the bureaucracy feel no one is watching then they will simply do what they want either intentionally with malice or out of ignorance. The RFA is a strong voice unto itself, but it needs you to tell your Members of Congress how you feel about these proposals. I have always argued that there is nothing worse than a General who yells charge only to realize he has no army behind him. To continue to be successful, the RFA needs you to back us up when we lobby on issues.

For some, fishing is source of enjoyment and fulfillment. For others it is a passion, a way of life. For all of us fishing is a part of who we are. I want the RFA to take that passion and harness it to impact meaningful action in D.C. and in every State. We can make that happen by working together. Please spread the word. If you are not a member, become one, it’s free to join. Then ask your family member and friends to add their names to the rolls of RFA members. Together we can make a difference for the betterment of recreational fishing and common-sense conservation of our valued marine resources.

Sincerely,

4 MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023
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A LOOK AT HUDSON RIVER STRIPED BASS PRODUCTIVITY

The Hudson River is more important to the overall health of the total coastwide stock of striped bass than fisheries managers are willing to admit, and its long past time they make a concerted effort to better understand and account for this vibrant spawning and nursery mecca when developing stock assessments, management plans and regulatory schemes. The Hudson producer area has been the striped bass fishery’s savior in its darkest times and has grown in importance especially in light of the decline of several major spawning rivers in the Chesapeake in recent years.

I’m no fisheries biologist or stock assessment scientist, but I have been involved in fisheries management for many years and spent a lot of time listening to the experts present volumes of data in an effort to guide the regulatory decision-making process. I was a striped bass advisor to Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission and later spent nine-years on the Mid Atlantic Fisheries Management Council representing New Jersey’s fishermen and women.

I am an avid striped bass angler. I’ve written numerous articles on the subject. I’ve fished for them from Maine to North Carolina from beach and boats, in rivers, bays, and on the open ocean. The New York Bight is my home waters and striped bass fishing there has been spectacular. I have been around stripers and fisheries management for a long time.

The instability of the Chesapeake Bay as a producer area is widely recognized, and the result of a variety of factors but the one with the greatest negative impact is the annual variability of favorable spawning conditions in its tributary rivers. The spawning variability is exacerbated by other factors like decades of overfishing, the strip mining of Chesapeake Bay’s menhaden biomass in the Virginia portion of the Bay, and the destruction

of the once ubiquitous oyster population. Menhaden, in addition to being the primary food source for striped bass, play an important role in the bay ecosystem. Along with the oysters that once flourished there, they play a role in maintaining the water quality of the entire system. Combined with the negative impact of pollution, bay waters are often plagued by algae blooms and oxygen dead zones that hamper recruitment of young-of-theyear stripers. The ability to make it from larvae to fully recruited members of the spawning stock biomass (fish that have reached sexual maturity) comes up against some pretty long odds.

The Hudson has had its pollution problems in the past but much of it was alleviated in the decades following the implementation of the Clean Water Act. The river supports a world-class striped bass fishery and a healthy and growing spawning stock biomass. The expansive Hudson nursery complex is incredibly rich in varied food sources for stripers large and small. Thanks to some of the early work of the Recreational Fishing Alliance menhaden have been protected from the major sources of commercial exploitation for over two decades in New Jersey, and surrounding States followed suit. As a result, menhaden stocks have exploded creating an all you can eat buffet for striped bass.

Why is the Hudson stock flourishing when the Chesapeake stock is experiencing such wide swings in striper production? I believe it’s because the Hudson provides a more stable spawning environment year in and year out, and there is a more stable food source for stripers of all sizes to thrive.

The Young-of-the-Year Survey (YOY) used by the ASMFC to track annual striper production for the Bay and Hudson provides some useful hints about production. I find it interesting that the annual Bay YOY numbers are looked forward to with great anticipation by managers and anglers alike,

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continued on page 7
Could the Hudson be the savior of the Atlantic striped bass population?

but there has been little fanfare surrounding the release of the results in the Hudson, until recently. It might be because scientists believe the Hudson accounts for only 25-percent of the total coastwide spawning stock, but is that really the case?

The YOY data for the upper Chesapeake Bay is generated through sampling conducted by the Maryland DNR. The lower bay study is done by the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences. The Hudson River YOY index is conducted by the New York DEC. It’s interesting to look at the productivity of spawning stocks in each region to determine which producer area is doing the best job of pumping out baby stripers. I looked at the most recent 35-year period of survey data (1985 through 2021) since the Hudson study didn’t begin until 1985 and the Virginia study was halted several times in the 1970s and 80s due to lack of funding. The review makes a strong case for the Hudson’s contribution to the coastwide stock being considerably larger than previously thought and explains the vibrant striper fishing it supports.

All three YOY indices include data collected in a similar manner. Handpulled beach seine nets are used to sample specific areas where striper fry can be found at the same time each year ending with a hand count of how many fry were captured. The numbers are compiled, an average number of fish per tow is calculated and used to update the dataset.

During the last 35-years, the Maryland and Virginia vary but there is one caveat. The long-term average for all the years the survey has been in existence is not the same for both states. The Chesapeake Bay complex is composed of numerous tidal rivers that stripers run up to reach freshwater to spawn. According to Chris Moore, senior research scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, cold wet springs that create strong flow rates in these feeder rivers are associated with higher degrees of spawning success. It is interesting that when the river conditions are ideal it does not take a particularly large cohort of spawning females to create an extraordinary YOY number and, in fact, some of the highest YOY’s have been generated when the spawning stock biomass was at low levels.

I looked at the number of years that exhibited spawning success at or above the long-term average for each of the three areas and try to take into account the long-term average for each dataset to get an idea of overall productivity. Remember, I am simply trying to get a handle on the spawning productivity of the two major producer areas.

First let’s look at the two Chesapeake survey indices. During the 35-year time frame the Maryland YOY survey results identified 16 years where the production of young fish was at or above the long-term average of just over 11 fry per tow, and 19 years that were below the average. Of the 19 below average years, 13 came in a less than half of the long-term average indicating that spawning success was particularly disappointing.

The Virginia VIMS survey has a significantly lower long-term average of only 7 fish per tow but during the last 35-year period has been more consistently above the long-term average showing 27 years at or above average. This consistency could be because the three major spawning rivers sampled are closer to the ocean and experience stronger tides and saltwater intrusion than the Maryland portion of the Bay. That said, both Bay datasets show a fishery that has a relatively high level of variability in spawning success due to the variability of environmental spawning conditions mostly related to rainfall and warmer than typical weather conditions. Coupled with an environment that is not as rich in food sources for young fish due to wholesale menhaden exploitation and poor water quality, and you realize the odds that Chesapeake Bay hatchling will recruit to the fishery even if it manages to survive the spawning process are pretty long.

The Hudson River YOY Indices is a different story. The long-term average for the Hudson dataset is nearly double Maryland and nearly triple Virginia coming in at an impressive 19 juvenile stripers per haul. During the last 35-years Hudson spawning success surpassed the long-term average 18 times and of the remaining years 17 years the YOY came in between 11 and 18 fish per tow. The data seems to indicate the Hudson production is

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higher and more consistent from year to year than the Bay. The question is how much more?

What factors make the Hudson more productive in my judgement? It’s a large river that appears to provide a more stable spawning environment that produces a larger number of young-of-the-year. The water temperature tends to be cooler in the spring and freshwater flow is more consistent year to year due to the 13,200 square mile watershed that feeds it. The lower river experiences strong tidal influences that extend 153 miles upriver. The result of these factors is a stable, highly productive spawning area for striped bass that maintains the semi-buoyant fertilized eggs in solution for the requisite amount of time at near optimum temperatures for them to hatch. When higher young-of-the-year production is consistent, and the estuary environment is rich in forage a higher number of small fish survive to recruit to the fishery increasing the number of spawners that return to the river each spring. The stock expands, the cycle repeats.

It stands to reason that more work on the Hudson producer area’s contribution to the coastwide stock needs to be done and it seems the ASMFC agrees. The 2022 Stock Assessment Update, under the data/ research priorities section, lists the “development of an index of relative abundance for the Hudson River stock.” While that is good news, the Commission has to follow through on that key priority. With the next benchmark assessment set to occur in 2027 when biological reference points and other key measures of the health and makeup of the stock will be considered, it would be of great value to start laying the groundwork for the inclusion of an updated analysis of the two major producer areas and their relative contributions to the Atlantic Coastal Migratory Stock in the benchmark assessment.

There are other factors that make the Hudson critical to the future of striped bass. A warming ocean environment could further hamper spawning success and migration of Chesapeake Bay fish. If corresponding sea level rise takes place it could changing the face of the Bay estuary. Will there be a northward shift of striped bass as we are seeing in some other species? Will that make the Hudson even more important to the fishery? Another thing that receives little attention is what appears to be renewed spawning or greater spawning in rivers like the Delaware, Connecticut, and others considerably further north. Do they have the potential to contribute? There is so little known about these issues and so little being done to find out, but one thing is clear. The Hudson River is a critical producer area for striped bass, and it deserves the attention of everyone involved in striped bass management and the scientific community.

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2022 ELECTION ANALYSIS

On the Subject of Waves & Elections

Anyone who has spent time near the ocean knows a thing or two about waves. Sit on any beach and you can watch the breakers come and go. Some waves crest early, some waves break late, and some appear big but then simply fade away. The tides, the wind and the bottom contour have a lot to do with waves while all we can do is sit and watch them do what they do.

The 2022 election was hyped to be a “Red Wave.” Some pundits were even predicting a “tsunami” level event that would wipe Democrats out of power in DC and local races across the nation. The poor economy, the unpopularity of the current President and the history of midterm elections all led pundits to declare for weeks that the GOP was on the verge of a historic election that could reclaim the House and Senate for their party.

All was not as it seemed, and on the morning after the election it was clear that red wave did not materialize. There remains general surprise that not only were Democrats able to maintain slim control of the Senate but that the House GOP majority, once predicted to be a few dozen seats, will actually be very tight. That certainly isn’t the result the Republicans dreamed of, and it left a lot of pundits with egg on their face, but the reality is it means divided government is a certainty in DC for the next two years.

It would be overly simplistic, however, to say the GOP failed and the Democrats succeeded. Like all waves there is a lot more at play than meets the eye. Candidate selection, redistricting and personality all played a major role in who won or lost, and it will take more than a few weeks to strip away the noise to determine what factors mattered most in individual races. As for political predictions, it is safe to say it is best not to judge a wave until after it crests.

The news was not all bad for Republicans nationally. Florida Republicans absolutely decimated the Democrats from top to bottom. New York voters delivered several GOP upsets in what few before the election believed was possible. Even a “blue” State like New Jersey saw a Republican oust a Democratic incumbent Member of Congress. But the loss of Senate races in Pennsylvania, the large fall off of votes from Nevada, New Hampshire and Georgia’s victorious GOP Governors wins down to their unsuccessful Republican Senate candidates (the Georgia runoff election notwithstanding) and the surprising closeness or losses in races in safe GOP Districts will not soon be forgotten.

THE TAKEAWAY

Redistricting

Long standing assumptions about what happens to the party of the President in a midterm election may need to be reset in consideration of what redistricting has done to the competitive nature of Congressional seats. Underneath all the talk of waves and historic results sits the reality that most Congressional seats are gerrymandered to make them safer for one party or the other.

Every State has its exceptions. NY State tried to gerrymander safe Dem seats only to have the map thrown out by a judge for a more competitive map where Democrats poor standing on the economy and crime did likely cost them a few Congressional seats. All politics is local and candidate behavior, personality and message still matter.

In places like Florida, redistricting has certainly made their House Congressional Delegation lean Republican. The same could be said for the Democrats in Illinois where GOP members were squeezed out of their old Districts. New Jersey Congressional Districts were drawn to protect the incumbents, with the exception of the seat Tom Kean took from the Democrats. These types of scenarios took place across the nation.

Historically, House incumbents would win re-election more than 90% of the time. But this is a different political environment. A serious question can be raised as to whether creating an overwhelming number of safe seats reduces opportunities for bipartisan cooperation and thereby drives decisions that appeal exclusively to the party base so that surviving a primary election becomes the objective rather than winning a general election.

Candidates Matter

The GOP failure to take control of the U.S. Senate has led to a nationwide debate as to whether different candidates could have led to different results. For example, Donald Trump had substantial influence in the primary elections for the GOP in State’s like Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Georgia. An argument can be made that non-Trump aligned or more “establishment” candidates would have performed better this year, especially in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

Georgia is a perfect example. Republican Governor Kemp, who President Trump attacked repeatedly, won re-election handily avoiding a runoff. However, the Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker ran five points behind Governor Kemp in his bid to take out Democrat Senator Warnock. This race will be decided in a December runoff election that Walker still may win but some question whether Walker was a flawed candidate who, like Dr. Oz in Pennsylvania, was chosen more for their celebrity than their suitability for the office.

Democrats will argue that “character” matters for their candidates but, in fairness to Republican candidates, there are more to elections than the person’s name on the ballot. It is obvious that voters were not willing to give the GOP control of Congress but the “why” of it deserves more than simple blame on individual candidates.

Divided Government

The next two years are going to be among the most tense and unproductive in recent history. The GOP House majority will be slim, and the U.S. Senate will either remain tied or in the control of Democrats by a single vote. The Senate will not be able to move legislation due to its filibuster rules no matter what and the House GOP will need to decide if it wants to legislate or attack the President until the end of his term.

The next two years are going to be dominated by talk about the 2024 Presidential election. Every decision by President Biden will be dissected for hints as to his re-election choices. The GOP will be forced to choose between a Trump candidacy while waiting on its up-and-coming bench of candidates starting with Governor Ron DeSantis to decide its future. One this is fairly clear gridlock is the winner in this election.

As for the elections impact on fisheries I will refrain from commenting at this time because there are still too many unanswered questions about committee assignments and other key topics. Watch for a follow up on that subject once Congress reorganizes under the new leadership structure.

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MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023

INFLATION’S NEXT VICTIM: U.S. OFFSHORE WIND PROJECTS

A rising tide of interest rates, supply chain bottlenecks and inflation is threatening the Biden administration’s ambitious offshore wind targets, creating a significant challenge for one of the president’s top climate priorities.

Recent weeks have seen a series of developers raise concerns over rising costs. In New Jersey, a developer warned earlier this month that a planned 98-turbine project off the coast of New Jersey could threaten its finances. In New England, two developers with contracts to sell power to Massachusetts have sought to renegotiate the deals, only to get shot down by state regulators.

Many developers bid aggressively in state auctions to win those contracts but are now locked into agreements that didn’t account for rising costs, said Sam Huntington, director of North American power and renewables at S&P Global Commodity Insights.

The financial difficulties call into question the Biden administration’s goal of installing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by the end of this decade. “We don’t see them hitting that,” Huntington said. “It is going to be something to watch. I don’t have a good sense of whether these will get renegotiated or canceled.”

The doubts are shared by other analysts. Bloomberg New Energy Finance sees the United States falling 3 to 4 GW short of its 2030 target due to long development timelines and an immature supply chain. The Londonbased renewables market intelligence firm Renewables Consulting Group estimates the United States will reach just over 25 GW by 2030.

The eroding picture comes as Avangrid Inc. told Massachusetts regulators Monday to continue proceedings to approve power contracts with Bay

Earlier this month, the state’s Department of Public Utilities (DPU) rejected the company’s request for a one-month stay on finalizing the developer’s power purchase contracts, despite Avangrid’s claim that its planned wind farm is no longer viable. Regulators demanded that Avangrid either recommit to moving forward or to canceling the project ( Energywire, Nov. 7).

For its part, Avangrid had hoped a delay would allow it to renegotiate how much it’s paid for the electricity produced from its offshore wind farm to help offset rising costs linked to global commodity price spikes, inflation and supply chain constraints.

In a filing Monday night, the company told state regulators to continue with their review of the existing contracts, but appeared determined to push for future negotiations despite the state’s stance.

“We have been transparent and committed, at all times, to doing everything we can to move the project forward, including coming to the table with all parties to find a solution to the unprecedented economic challenges facing this major infrastructure project,” said Sy Oytan, senior vice president of offshore projects for Avangrid, in a statement.

“AVANGRID believes there is a path forward for this project, and today made a filing with Department of Public Utilities so that we can continue to engage in ongoing discussion with all parties on these important issues.”

The fight over Commonwealth Wind comes amid a political transition in Massachusetts. Gov. Charlie Baker, a two-term Republican who has

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Benjamin State utilities in a closely watched back and forth over how states may handle uneasy developers.
continued on page 13

championed offshore wind, is departing. He will be replaced in January by Attorney General Maura Healey, a Democrat has also made the build-out of the industry a priority. In a statement Monday, a Healy spokesperson said the attorney general continues to support Commonwealth Wind.

“We are reviewing project financials and will work collaboratively to explore options to improve project economics for all parties,” said Chloe Gotsis, the Healey spokesperson.

‘Sobering numbers’

Offshore wind has figured prominently in the Biden administration’s climate agenda. The industry has the potential to slash greenhouse gas emissions in the Northeast, where there is limited land to site renewable developments onshore, and create jobs in ports lining the Atlantic Coast.

Biden briefly plugged the industry as part of America’s wider attempts to decarbonize in an address to the U.N. climate summit last week, championing the Inflation Reduction Act’s $369 billion investment in “everything from … offshore wind to distributed solar, zero-emission vehicles and sustainable aviation fuels.”

Neither the White House nor the Interior Department provided comment for this story by press time. But the administration has signaled it plans to forge ahead with the goal.

On Monday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released a draft environmental review of a 2,076-megawatt project off of New York. The administration, BOEM said, is moving “at the pace and scale required to help achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s goal to deploy 30 GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030.”

Installing 30 GW by 2030 was always going to be a challenge. The United States is basically starting from scratch, with a meager 42 megawatts of offshore wind installed off the country’s coast. Building 30 GW would roughly amount to adding New England’s power grid in the next eight years.

Other countries are also projected to see a growth in their offshore wind sectors in the coming years, creating a shortage of materials needed to build projects. Vessels capable of lifting the massive turbines are also in short supply. One installation vessel is under construction currently in Texas. S&P Global Commodity Insights. estimates the country will need at least three or four more to meet the administration’s targets.

“It takes three years to build these ships,” Huntington said. “Those are those sobering numbers. Even if you can do everything as fast as you possibly can, it’s hard to bring on enough ships as fast as possible.”

The United States’ challenges are not unique. The United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands are likely to fall short of their 2030 offshore wind targets, according to Renewables Consulting Group projections. Of 15 countries with 2030 goals, just three are on track: Poland, with 6 GW; Vietnam, at 5.2 GW; and Denmark, at 12.7 GW.

Rising interest rates and inflation have only compounded the industry’s challenges. In a recent earnings call with financial analysts, the developer of Ocean Wind 1 off New Jersey said rising costs have complicated the project’s future. Some of those costs could be offset by the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, which contains $369 billion in clean energy tax credits, said Ørsted A/S CEO Mads Nipper. Still he conceded the project’s finances are “not where we wanted to be.” “We are not in a situation where we are saying this is something that we no longer believe in,” Nipper said. “We still believe there is a path for this to be value creating.”

The sentiment was echoed by Public Service Enterprise Group, a New Jersey utility that is developing Ocean Wind with Ørsted. Ralph LaRossa, the company’s CEO, told analysts the project’s challenges “are no different from some of the other projects that you’ve been reading about.”

One potential silver lining for the industry from project delays is that it buys time to build up a U.S. fleet of offshore wind installation vessels, and a larger supply chain to meet demand, said Fred Zalcman, director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance.

Matt Shields, who leads offshore wind techno-economic analysis at the National Renewable Energy Lab, called the administration’s 30 GW target still “doable” and noted the Inflation Reduction Act should also help counteract cost pressures facing developers.

But the industry needs to put steel in the water to catalyze the building of a supply chain and installation vessels today if it is to have any hope of meeting the administration’s targets, he said.

“That’s something that the industry needs to plan for a little bit and understand that it takes time to stand up a supply chain, we’re not going to be able to be fully resilient or self-sufficient this decade,” he said.

13 MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023 continued from page 12
Photo: President Joe Biden shows a wind turbine size comparison chart during a meeting at the White House in June. AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File
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ATLANTIC STRIPED BASS ASSESSMENT UPDATE FINDS RESOURCE NO LONGER EXPERIENCING OVERFISHING BUT REMAINS OVERFISHED

Board Approves Draft Addendum I for Public Comment to Consider Voluntary Commercial Quota Transfers

Long Branch, NJ – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board reviewed the results of the 2022 Atlantic Striped Bass Stock Assessment Update, which indicates the resource is no longer experiencing overfishing but remains overfished relative to the updated biological reference points. Female spawning stock biomass (SSB) in 2021 was estimated at 143 million pounds, which is below the SSB threshold of 188 million pounds and below the SSB target of 235 million pounds. Total fishing mortality in 2021 was estimated at 0.14, which is below the updated fishing mortality threshold of 0.20 and below the updated fishing mortality target of 0.17.

The 2022 Assessment Update used the same model from the approved peer-reviewed 2018 Benchmark Stock Assessment. Data through 2021 were added to the model, and the model structure was adjusted for 2020-2021 to account for the regulation changes implemented through Addendum VI to Amendment 6. The assessment model was able to handle missing data due to COVID-19, but overall, COVID-19 increased uncertainty in the 2020 and 2021 data.

The 2022 Assessment Update also included short-term projections to determine the probability of SSB being at or above the SSB target by 2029, which is the stock rebuilding deadline. Under the current fishing mortality rate, there is a 78.6% chance the stock will be rebuilt by 2029, indicating a reduction in catch is not necessary at this time. The projections and the updated fishing mortality reference points took into account the period of low recruitment the stock has experienced in recent years.

“This 2022 assessment was the first check-in point for progress toward stock rebuilding by 2029,” said Board Chair Marty Gary with the Potomac River Fisheries Commission. “It is extremely important that we continue to monitor fishery removals and conduct regular stock assessments to keep evaluating rebuilding progress and stay on track.” The next stock assessment update is scheduled for 2024, and the Board will review the 2022 removals as soon as the data are available to evaluate whether catch remains at sustainable levels.

The Assessment Update will be available next week on the Commission’s website at http://www.asmfc.org/species/atlantic-

striped-bass under Stock Assessment Reports. An overview of the assessment is available at http://www.asmfc.org/uploads/ file/636967f9AtlStripedBassStockAssessmentOverview_2022.pdf.

Draft Addendum I

The Board also approved Draft Addendum I to Amendment 7 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass for public comment. The Draft Addendum considers allowing for the voluntary transfer of striped bass commercial quota in the ocean region between states that have ocean quota.

The Board initiated Draft Addendum I in August 2021 after deciding that changes to the striped bass commercial quota system would not be considered during the ongoing development of Amendment 7. With the adoption of Amendment earlier this year, the Board re-initiated discussions on, and ultimately approved, Draft Addendum I for public comment to consider voluntary quota transfers which could provide some relief to states seeking additional quota. The Draft Addendum proposes a range of options that would permit voluntary transfers of commercial quota, including options based on stock status and options allowing the Board to set criteria for transfers on a regular basis.

The Draft Addendum will be posted to the website next week at http:// www.asmfc.org/about-us/public-input. A subsequent press release will provide the details on the public hearing schedule and how to submit written comments. The Board will meet to review submitted comment and consider final action on the addendum in February 2023 at the Commission’s Winter Meeting in Arlington, VA.

For more information, please contact Emilie Franke, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at efranke@asmfc.org or 703.842.0740.

### PR22-31

The press release can also be found at http://www.asmfc.org/uploads/ file/636aa791pr31AtlStripedBassAsstUpdate_DraftAddendumI.pdf

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HUDSON RIVER YOUNG-OF-YEAR SURVEY RESULTS RELEASED

It was a fair to average year of striped bass reproduction on the Hudson River in 2021, just above the 25th percentile and a shade below the long-term average recruitment numbers for spawning response on the Hudson. In fact given a 5% margin of error is incorporated into the young of the year (YOY) index, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC), the 2021 recruitment numbers are right at the long-term average mark.

NYDEC’s Hudson River striped bass YOY index value provides an estimate of annual recruitment for striped bass in the Hudson River. This index is generated through a beach seine survey at 13 sites in the lower Hudson River conducted bi-weekly from July to November. In addition to the Hudson River seining efforts, NYDEC also collects striped bass data in the Western Long Island (WLI) survey. This survey captures predominantly 1-year-old fish and is used in striped bass stock assessments.

According to Stephanie Rekemeyer with the NYDEC, the Hudson River YOY survey and WLI 1-year old survey from the following year generally track well with each other (see figure B below). Preliminary analysis suggests a nearly average abundance for age 1 fish in 2021 but a final preparation of the 2021 WLI survey will be complete in February 2022.

Rekemeyer noted that a recreational slot limit for striped bass was implemented in the Hudson River in 2015 limiting harvest to predominantly male fish, and that the average index value in the six years since that regulation change was 18.4 fish/haul. Rekemeyer said this is an improvement over the average index value from the previous six years, 2008-2014, of 15.7 fish/haul.

In addition, the 2020 YOY index value was the fourth highest (35.4 fish/ haul) in the 37-year time period of Hudson River’s spawning research.

In the fall of 2021, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced the results of their juvenile striped bass survey studying recruitment numbers for YOY in the Upper Chesapeake region. While the 2021 YOY index of 3.2 was slightly larger than the 2020 numbers, the recruitment findings on upper Chesapeake striped bass in 2021 were still well below the long-term average of 11.4.

A similar Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) juvenile striped bass seine survey recorded a mean value of 6.30 fish per seine haul in the Virginia portion of the Chesapeake Bay, which is virtually identical to the historical average of 7.77 fish per seine haul in that particular spawning area of the Chesapeake. New Jersey’s Division of Fish & Wildlife (NJDFW) also does sampling on the Delaware River to get information on spawning stripers in the upper Delaware. The 2021 NJDFW seine survey began on August 2 and was completed on August 24; in total, 117 striped bass were caught with 100 measured as young of the year (86%) which put the monthly YOY geometric mean at .59 which ranks 31st out of 41 time series.

18 MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023
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A RISE IN FEMALE ANGLER PARTICIPATION

Forestville, WI – Women now account for 37 percent of anglers in the U.S., the highest level on record according to the Special Report on Fishing announced at ICAST 2022 by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation (RBFF) in collaboration with the Outdoor Foundation. 19.4 million women went fishing in 2021, an 8% increase in fishing outings since 2019. 1.6 million female participants were first timers. The total number of fishing outings for females in 2021 was 288 million.

To attract and reengage women and families to the sport of fishing, Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing focuses on attracting women to fishing through educational hands-on programs with networking and fishing as well as online events and promotions. In 25 years the organization has generated more than 9,000 new female anglers, not including the others they bring to the sport. Their motto is: “Bring the women, get the whole family!”

Fishing industry overall 2021 statistics: 52.4 million Americans ages 6 and over went fishing in 2021, an increase of 4.15% over 2019. The sports of fishing and boating flourished during the worst years of the pandemic due to lack of school and professional sports, concerts and other activities involving crowds. People flocked to fishing and boating as a way to participate in a sport with lower risks of infection and to bond with family or friends to experience the outdoors together.

The sport of fishing is now challenged with how to keep these new participants. The good news is, according to the report, 99 percent of participants plan to continue fishing this year.

Fishing Industry focuses on females – and Florida

The fishing industry contributed 49.8 billion dollars to the US economy in 2018 (most recent report available). That spending contributed $63.5 billion to the National GDP and total economic impact, including all multiplier effects was nearly $126 billion in 2018 according to this report https://asafishing.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Sportfishing-inAmerica-Revised-November-2018.pdf

Female anglers spend billions of dollars each year, creating tens of billions in economic impacts.

Florida data for fishing:

Florida ranks number one for numbers of anglers. One out of every four trips in the U.S. occurs in Florida and 60 percent of recreational fish caught in the U.S. are caught in Florida.

The highest region for female participation is the South Atlantic. Its share has the strongest three-year annual growth rate overall.

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continued from page 20

Female Participation over Time

While female fishing participation fell slightly in 2021 from its 2020 alltime high, in 2021 there were 2.8 million more female anglers than five years prior, and 3.8 million more than in 2011.

Female activities outside of fishing

In addition to fishing, nearly half of all female participants walked to stay fit. The next most popular activities were camping, hiking, bowling and bicycling.

This information is provided by Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing (LLGF), according to statistics from RBFF, NMFS and other sources. The goal of LLGF is to activate, recruit and retain new anglers through educational programming and communications, aligning with the mission of the American Sport Fishing Association’s R3 endeavor.

Featured on national network television and more, the series is supported by major partners including Recreational Fishing and Boating Foundation, Take Me Fishing, Vamos a Pescar, Mercury, Magic Tilt trailers, Shearwater Boats, Power-Pole, Penn, TACO Metals, Lowrance, Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida and Fish Florida. Largest Annual Sponsors are Freedom Boat Club, ICOM America, CCA Florida STAR, Bob’s Machine Shop, AFTCO, Costa, Smith Optics, Frogg Toggs, Hubbards Marina, Star Brite and Future Angler Foundation. Other sponsors and donors are listed on the website.

For the 2022 Special Report on Fishing from RBFF visit takemefishing.org.

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Fishing Industry statistics from 2021 or most recent available according to the Special Report on Fishing:

54.4 million Americans ages 6 and over went fishing:

• Women now account for 37 percent of anglers in the U.S.

• 3.7 million were first-time participants, of that number, 43 percent were women

• Nearly 41 million Americans ages 6 and over freshwater fished

• 13.8 million fished in saltwater

• 19.4 million female anglers fished

• 2.8 million more female anglers than five years prior, and 3.8 million more than in 2011.

• 1.6 million female participants were first-timers

• 7.9 million children ages 6 to 12 fished

• 5 million adolescents ages 13 to 17 fished

• 4.7 million Hispanics ages 6 and over fished

• 17 percent of the American population went fishing

• More Americans fish then play golf and tennis combined in 2016, no new data available

Income brackets, females participating in fishing:

• 25% Income of over $100,000

• 24% income 25K to $50K

• 19% $50K to 75K

Fishing and the economy:

Fishing contributed 49.8 billion dollars to the US economy in 2018 (most recent report available). That spending contributed $63.5 billion to the National GDP and total economic impact, including all multiplier effects was nearly $126 billion in 2018 according to this report https://asafishing. org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Sportfishing-in-America-RevisedNovember-2018.pdf

Female anglers spend billions of dollars each year, creating tens of billions in economic impact dollars.

Story and images provided by Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing

About Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing

The Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing Foundation (LLGF) is a national charitable 501C3 organization dedicated to attracting women and families to fishing and encouraging conservation and responsible angling. LLGF promotes networking among women anglers and emphasizes mentorships. Founded in 1997 by Betty Bauman, of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, LLGF has over 9,000 graduates and is the largest organization in the world whose objective is to

introduce women and families to fishing. In addition to fishing education and hands-on practice, most events offer a fishing experience depending on venue, from charter boats to land-based fishing. The mission is supported by sponsors and donors. Both Bauman and the University series – dubbed “The No-Yelling School of Fishing” – are known nationally in the fishing and marine industries. The organization has earned rave reviews from media including Inside Edition, The Early Show, NBC Nightly News, CBS, Good Morning America, Outdoor Life Network, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Southern Living and more.

ABOUT Future Angler Foundation

The Future Angler Foundation (FAF) is an incorporated 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation formed in April of 2012. The FAF’s mission is to “Create New Anglers and Boaters” through its support of angler education and boating safety programs hosted by passionate, knowledgeable volunteers throughout the U.S. and through its “Getting Families Fishing” initiative, a series of free source digital educational programs developed to engage young anglers and boaters as they educate them about angling in an exciting, informative, and effective manner. More information about the FAF can be found online at www.futureangler.org

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FEDERAL AGENCIES RELEASE JOINT

U.S. STRATEGY FOR COMBATING ILLEGAL,

UNREPORTED,

AND UNREGULATED FISHING

The U.S. Interagency Working Group on IUU Fishing, composed of 21 federal agencies, released its wide-reaching National 5-Year Strategy for Combating IUU Fishing. NOAA chairs the Working Group, alongside the U.S Department of State, and U.S. Coast Guard.

Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing is one of the greatest threats to ocean health and a significant cause of overfishing. It contributes to the collapse or decline of fisheries that are critical to the economic growth, food systems, and ecosystems of numerous countries around the world. It is also a global problem that disadvantages law-abiding fishers and seafood producers. The U.S. Maritime Security and Fisheries Enforcement Act called for stronger federal collaboration to coordinate efforts to address this and other maritime related threats. Today, the Congressionally established U.S. Interagency Working Group on IUU Fishing, composed of 21 member agencies, released its wide-reaching National Five-Year Strategy for Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing (PDF, 32 pages).

U.S. agencies are leaders in building an expanding toolbox for partners to combat IUU fishing, bringing world-wide recognition to the issue through international channels, and making progress through major domestic initiatives. The Working Group reflects the need for a whole-of-government approach to address this insidious problem. The strategy is a result of years-long domestic and international collaboration and private sector and industry engagement. It not only makes tangible and targeted progress towards combating IUU fishing globally, it also realizes a shared vision for sustainable stewardship of marine resources.

The strategy details U.S. priorities and plans over the next 5 years to combat IUU fishing and promote maritime security. It includes measures to increase governmental and regional capacity to implement and enforce domestic regulations and international rules and norms to mitigate the effects of IUU fishing. These U.S. actions amplify the global collective action necessary to address this problem.

Over the next 5 years, the Working Group will engage with five priority flag states and administrations: Ecuador, Panama, Senegal, Taiwan, and Vietnam. We will focus our efforts in helping foreign partners in their ongoing efforts to combat IUU fishing and related threats. These flag states and administrations were selected in large part due to their demonstrated willingness and interest to take effective action against IUU fishing activities associated with their vessels. They are also located within priority regions the Working Group identified as being at a high risk for IUU fishing activity, having no mechanism to prevent the entry of illegally caught seafood into the regional markets, and lacking the capacity to fully address such illegal activity. U.S. activities will be tailored to the specific needs of each

region, flag state, or administration, and U.S. projects and activities already underway.

Cover of the National Five-Year Strategy for Combating IUU Fishing

The strategy calls for agencies to leverage existing tools and innovate new technologies to improve global governance, conservation, and management measures. Our focus on public-private partnerships is especially promising and recognizes the important role industry must play for change to endure. The emphasis on partnerships within the United States, between foreign governments, and with non-government organizations and industry will increase the effectiveness of ongoing efforts. It will help foster better communication and coordination on a global scale.

The efforts of the Working Group align closely with the President’s National Security Memorandum on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing and Associated Labor Abuses. NOAA, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Coast Guard, in coordination with other Working Group agencies, will oversee the implementation of the strategy and track progress in priority regions and with the priority flag states and administrations. Together with other governments and authorities, seafood industry, academia, philanthropies, and nongovernmental stakeholders, the strategy will combat and deter IUU fishing and related threats.

The United States is committed to strengthening enforcement measures, advancing public-private partnerships, and making measurable progress in creating an environment where IUU fishing fleets and their owners no longer benefit from these illicit practices.

Rear Admiral Jo-Ann F. Burdian, Assistant Commandant for Response Policy, U.S. Coast Guard

24 MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023
Dr. Kelly Kryc, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Fisheries, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Professor Maxine Burkett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans, Fisheries and Polar Affairs, U.S. Department of State

RFA PRIORITIES: WHAT WE’VE BEEN WORKING ON

NOAA Right Whale Speed Limits

The RFA is strongly opposed to the proposed regulations to establish a 10-knot speed restriction on most of the waters off the Atlantic Coast for vessels greater than 35 feet. The proposal is government overreach at its worst that will do little to impact whale strikes. Whale strikes are extremely rare for vessels between 35-65 feet. The proposal, however, will dramatically impact recreational boaters and charters by driving up fuel consumption for long trips, extending time in waters that could potentially see whale migration due to slower speeds and eliminating opportunities for a wide variety of fishing activities. The RFA has joined a coalition of stakeholder organizations to oppose the proposal.

NOAA Recreational Harvest Control Rule

NOAA is proposing changes to the process used to set recreational management measures for summer flounder, scup, black sea bass, and bluefish as recommended by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. RFA members were encouraged to make comment prior to the January 17,, 2023 deadline.

RFA Watching New Atlantic Mackerel Plan

In early 2022, the Mi-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) determined that stocks of Atlantic mackerel were only at 24% of the target biomass of 180,000 mt. MAFMC was then charged with developing a rebuilding plan to reduce the catch by 50%. The plan, known as Amendment 23 to the Mackerel, Squid & Butterfish Fishery Management Plan currently includes deep cuts in the commercial harvest, and a 20-fish per person bag limit in federal waters to go into effect in 2023. Some states, including Maine, are already developing plans that will mirror the federal regulations for their territorial waters.

Public comment on the plan ended on 1/3/2023. The RFA is closely watching the final process to monitor any changes from the proposed rule that was announced this past November 2nd. We will also be monitoring complementary state waters plans as they are developed.

Legislative – Federal

The new Congress was to be sworn in on January 3rd but the delay caused by the selection of the Speaker of the House has delayed Committee assignments, staff appointments and bill introductions. The rules changes being proposed also may change the way bills move through Committee and are amended. As such, the RFA will be carefully monitoring bill introductions and working with our partners in Congress to identify priority issues to promote and protect recreational fishing.

State Activity

The Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has lived up to his word to continue scheduling stakeholder meetings with outdoor organizations like the RFA. We continue to work to support saltwater fishing by pushing the DEP to complete the appointment of advocates to fight for New Jersey fishing rights on various fisheries councils. In addition, we are continuing the discussion to maximize data collection to ensure NJ receives a fairer share of federal funding to support fishing activities.

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MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023

NOAA FISHERIES, PARTNERS PUBLISH TIMELINE TO SUPPORT FEDERAL USE OF GULF STATE DATA

The Transition Plan for Gulf State Recreational Fishing Surveys outlines a multi-year approach to incorporate Gulf state recreational fishing data into the federal stock assessment and management process.

State, regional, and federal scientists are working closely to establish a coordinated, consistent approach in the use of state fisheries statistics, and improve the state and federal surveys in the region.

A collaborative team of state, regional, and federal partners have developed a multi-year transition plan to support the use of Gulf state recreational fishing data in the federal stock assessment and management process. It was developed in accordance with NOAA Fisheries policies and procedures. The transition plan is an essential step in ensuring all of the information Gulf recreational anglers submit is available to inform NOAA Fisheries’ work. This includes information submitted to:

• Alabama’s Snapper Check

• Florida’s State Reef Fish Survey

• Louisiana’s LA Creel

• Mississippi’s Tails n’ Scales

• Texas’ Coastal Creel Survey

“Ultimately, the plan will ensure scientists and managers follow a coordinated and consistent approach in the use of state fisheries statistics. It will provide NOAA Fisheries with a more complete picture of recreational fishing activity in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Evan Howell, Director of NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology.

The Transition Plan for Gulf State Recreational Fishing Surveys includes two paths. It was developed by a Gulf of Mexico Subgroup of the MRIP Transition Team. The team includes representatives from NOAA Fisheries, the Gulf Fisheries Information Network, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, and the five Gulf states.

“Progress is being made to fully utilize state surveys in the scientific process for managing our region’s marine fisheries through the collaborative efforts of our state and federal partners,” said Gregg Bray, Gulf Fisheries Information Network Program Coordinator. “The transition team is working as quickly as possible to develop and execute the transition plan, recognizing the desire and need to utilize the data being collected by state partners.”

Research Path

The data collection programs in the Gulf of Mexico use different statistical methods to meet different data needs. As a result, their data series differ from one another. The drivers of these differences are currently unknown. This transition plan includes a research path that will improve our shared understanding of the potential sources of error affecting all of the region’s recreational fishing surveys. Findings will inform survey improvements, increase the accuracy of state and federal recreational fisheries statistics, and minimize differences between these data series.

Transition Path

Because the data collection programs in the Gulf of Mexico use different

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MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023

survey designs, it’s not possible to directly compare their estimates of recreational catch. Nor can we use state data immediately “as-is” in the federal stock assessment and management process. Instead, we must use statistical methods such as calibration to ensure estimates are in the same scale, or integration to create a consistent, composite time series. In the near-term, this plan’s transition path will implement casespecific calibration approaches for incorporating state data into upcoming assessments for gag grouper, red snapper, and other Gulf of Mexico stocks. Over the long-term, it will lead to the use of a more sophisticated approach for calibrating different data series in the same scale or integrating them into one composite estimate. Calibration methods are expected to improve over time as we explore the drivers of differences between data collection programs and implement changes to all survey designs.

“There are no “quick fix” or “off-the-shelf” solutions for the challenge of incorporating data from six different survey designs into stock assessment and management,” said Dr. Richard Cody, chief of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Science and Technology’s Fisheries Statistics Division. “Researching potential sources of survey error, testing survey improvements, and exploring model-based methods of placing estimates in the same scale is a time- and resource-intensive process. Without the results of this research, it is not possible to make an informed decision regarding the long-term use of calibrated or composite estimates.”

The transition path will also develop a publicly accessible state survey database. It will store state survey data, statistical values, and information that explains how state surveys are designed and implemented, and how statistical analyses are performed.

Transition Goals

The full execution of the transition plan is expected to last through 2026. When fully executed, this plan will:

• Improve our shared understanding of the sources of error affecting all of the region’s recreational data collection programs

• Implement survey improvements to increase the accuracy of and minimize differences between these data collection programs

• Incorporate state data into the federal stock assessment and management process while maintaining a consistent, long-term time series of regional recreational fisheries statistics

• Develop a publicly accessible state survey database to store state survey metadata, microdata, and estimates

• Ensure Regional Offices, Science Centers, and Councils follow a consistent approach in the treatment and evaluation of all available data through their adherence to NOAA Fisheries’ regional framework for determinations of best scientific information available

• Comprehensively address congressional directives related to recreational data collection in the Gulf of Mexico

• Maintain clear and open lines of communication between partners and stakeholders regarding progress toward these goals

“On behalf of NOAA Fisheries I’d like to thank our state and regional partners for their invaluable contributions to this plan, we could not have completed it without their efforts,” said Dr. Cody. “We hope to continue building on this collaboration to carry out the needed survey research and facilitate the use of state data in the sustainable management of Gulf of Mexico fisheries.”

Next Steps

Increased communications is an important part of this transition process. All participating agencies have committed to keeping stakeholders informed of progress toward transition milestones. When appropriate, status updates will also be provided at Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council meetings.

To learn more, read the Transition Plan for Gulf State Recreational Fishing Surveys.

29 MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023 continued from page 28

ASK MRIP: ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT FOR-HIRE DATA

NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program responds to questions about collecting fishing data from for-hire captains and their clients.

Saltwater anglers, for-hire captains, and other members of the recreational fishing community often ask how and why we collect recreational fishing data. They also want to know how we use that data to estimate total recreational catch. Our Ask MRIP web series answers your questions about the science and statistics that support sustainable fishing.

Why are for-hire clients surveyed about their catch instead of their captains?

We collect information from for-hire clients instead of captains to ensure that catch rate data are consistent and comparable across for-hire, shore, and private boat modes. That’s because our estimates of catch rate are based on the number of trips taken by anglers, not boat trips. We do the same with shore and private boat interviews: We interview each individual angler about their individual catch. This consistency is important to ensure high-quality data. If we interviewed some anglers using one method, and

other anglers using a different method, we could introduce the potential for systematic differences between surveys. In addition, as opposed to the numerous types of commercial data collection programs, which have multiple components, there are no complementary validation methods related to for-hire electronic vessel trip-reported catch data.

Why are for-hire operators asked to report to more than one program?

For-hire data are a critical component that drives the science and management measures needed to keep recreational fish stocks sustainable. Different NOAA Fisheries data collection programs gather different pieces of information about catch and effort. When combined, they provide a more complete picture of for-hire fishing activity than any existing single program could.

Many states also administer their own data collection programs. While these programs were designed for different purposes, we are working to help streamline the for-hire reporting process. Across NOAA Fisheries, and in collaboration with our partners at the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative

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MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023
Photo: Tom Migdalski

from page 32

Statistics Program, we have been developing tools that will allow the submission of a single electronic vessel trip report for multiple jurisdictions.

How are for-hire fishing data used?

We use several types of data to produce estimates of total for-hire catch. They include catch data collected through shoreside interviews, effort data collected through telephone surveys, and information collected through electronic vessel trip reports. These estimates are combined with information about shore and private boat fishing activity. This allows stock assessment scientists and managers to evaluate the impact of recreational fishing on fish populations and the effectiveness of management measures.

How does NOAA Fisheries use for-hire logbook data?

NOAA Fisheries regional offices and science centers administer three for-hire trip reporting programs. They overlap with the Marine Recreational Information Program’s for-hire data collection. These programs target federal for-hire permit holders, and participation is a condition of the permit.

All federally permitted for-hire vessels with New England or Mid-Atlantic Council permits are required to submit electronic Vessel Trip Reports to the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office. They are required regardless of the area fished. The data collected are used for several purposes:

• Type of trip, number of anglers on each trip, and soak time (hours fished): Used by MRIP to estimate for-hire fishing effort

• Fish kept, fish discarded, chart area (statistical), and lat/lon (where the fish is caught): Used by managers to assign fish to a stock area

• As noted above, estimates of catch rate are based on the number of trips taken by individual for-hire clients and other anglers, not boat trips, so we use angler interviews to produce catch estimates. In addition, for-hire electronic vessel trip-reported data do not have a validation component.

• Gear types: Used by stock assessment scientists to estimate discard mortality by fishing gear (e.g., hook and line, trawl, pot)

Federally permitted for-hire charter boats with South Atlantic and/or Gulf of Mexico permits, regardless of area fished, must submit electronic trip reports to the Southeast Regional Office. This is part of the Southeast For-Hire Integrated Electronic Reporting Program. Federally permitted headboats in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico must submit trip reports to the Southeast Region Headboat Survey, if selected to participate in that survey.

At this time, the Southeast For-Hire Integrated Electronic Reporting Program is being conducted alongside the For-Hire Survey Some vessel owners or operators may be asked—or required, depending on the permit(s) they hold—to participate in both for benchmarking purposes. This will be a critical step in the process of fully transitioning to the Southeast For-Hire Integrated Electronic Reporting program.

Have a question?

For more answers to your questions about recreational fishing data, read the first three posts in our Ask MRIP web series. If you have a question you’d like us to answer, email NMFS.MRIP@noaa.gov.

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MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023 continued
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RFA NEWS BRIEFS

12-MONTH FINDING ON A PETITION TO LIST THE SHORTFIN MAKO SHARK UNDER THE ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT

NOAA Fisheries completed a comprehensive status review under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus) in response to a petition from Defenders of Wildlife to list the species. After reviewing the best scientific and commercial data available, including the Status Review Report, NOAA Fisheries determined that listing the shortfin mako shark as a threatened or endangered species under the ESA is not warranted.

For more information on the 12-month finding and other supporting documents, please see the NOAA Fisheries website.

NEW NJ SALTWATER FISHING EXPLORER APP

Check out the new Saltwater Fishing Explorer App! It provides interactive maps and information on artificial reef sites and saltwater fishing opportunities in NJ.

The Artificial Reef Deployments interactive map allows users to explore artificial reef sites that have been developed off the coast.

The Saltwater Fishing Opportunities interactive map provides information of areas to fish throughout NJ for saltwater species like striped bass, bluefish, and summer flounder.

This application is compatible with smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers.

NOAA FISHERIES FINALIZES 2022 AND 2023 AND PROJECTED 2024 BLUELINE TILEFISH FISHERY

SPECIFICATIONS

Effective December 5, 2022

Today, NOAA Fisheries announced the final 2022 and 2023 and projected 2024 quota specifications for the blueline tilefish fishery north of the Virginia/North Carolina border. The specifications are status quo and are outlined below.

Final 2022 and 2023 Projected 2024 blueline tilefish specifications (lb).

Specification 2022-2024

ABC – North of Cape Hatteras 179,500

ABC – North of NC/VA line 100,520

Recreational Annual Catch Limit 73,380

Commercial Annual Catch Limit 27,140

Recreational Total Allowable Landings 71,912

Commercial Total Allowable Landings 26,869

For more details, please read the final rule as filed in the Federal Register or our permit holder bulletin.

NOAA FISHERIES ANNOUNCES PROPOSED RULE OF ATLANTIC MACKEREL REBUILDING PLAN AND 2023 ATLANTIC MACKEREL SPECIFICATIONS

Today, NOAA Fisheries published a proposed rule and request for comments on Amendment 23 to the Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan.

The proposed action would implement a revised Atlantic mackerel rebuilding plan with the goal of having the stock rebuilt by 2032. This is a revision to the initial 5-year Atlantic mackerel rebuilding plan implemented in 2019. In 2021, the Atlantic mackerel management track assessment determined that the Atlantic mackerel stock was still overfished and overfishing was still occurring. Additionally, the assessment noted that under the original rebuilding plan, the stock is expected to be less than half rebuilt by 2023 (the terminus year of that rebuilding plan).

In addition to the revised Atlantic mackerel rebuilding plan, this action proposes the 2023 Atlantic mackerel specification which includes:

• An acceptable biological catch (ABC) of 8,094 mt

• ABC deductions for expected Canadian catch (2,197 mt), recreational catch (2,143 mt), and estimated commercial discards (115 mt)

• A resulting commercial quota of 3,639 mt

• A 20-fish per person recreational possession limit (including private anglers and for-hire crew)

• A status quo river herring and shad catch cap of 129 mt

• A modified commercial fishery closure approach including:

• An initial closure before May 1 if only 886 mt of the quota remains; or

• An initial closure on or after May 1 if only 443 mt of the quota remains;

• A final closure when 100 mt of the quota remains;

• Following the first closure of the fishery, Tier 1, 2, and 3 limited access permits trip limit would be reduced to 40,000 lb, and incidental/open access permits trip limit would be reduced to 5,000 lb; and

• Following a final closure all permits trip limit would be reduced to 5,000 lb.

Read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register today. The comment period is open through January 3, 2023. Submit your comments through the e-rulemaking portal.

MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023

NOAA FISHERIES IMPLEMENTS MEASURES FOR FRAMEWORK 7 TO THE TILEFISH FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLAN

Today, NOAA Fisheries finalized measures for Framework 7 to the Tilefish Fishery Management Plan. This rule:

• Sets quota specifications for the golden tilefish fishery for fishing years 2022-2024

• Changes the start of the golden tilefish fishing year from November 1 to January 1 to improve the administration of the fishery and extends the 2022 fishing year through December 31, 2022

• Modifies the annual specifications process so that specifications would be set for the maximum number of years needed to be consistent with the Northeast Region Coordinating Council-approved stock assessment schedule

The final specifications are outlined below.

FINAL SPECIFICATIONS FOR 2022-2024

Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC) 1,964,319 lb

Commercial Quota – 1,763,478 lb

Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Fishery

Incidental Quota 75,410 lb

Incidental Trip Limit 500 lb or 50 percent, by weight, of all fish, including Recreational Bag Limit 8-fish recreational bag-size limit per angler, per trip

We will send Tilefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) shareholders a new 2022 IFQ permit reflecting the increase to their 2022 allocation. Once they have renewed their IFQ permit for the 2023 fishing year, we will issue their 2023 allocation, which will become effective on January 1, 2023.

For more details, please read the rule as filed in the Federal Register or our permit holder bulletin.

NOAA FISHERIES SEEKS

COMMENTS ON PROPOSED 2023 BLUEFISH SPECIFICATIONS

NOAA Fisheries is proposing the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s recommended catch specifications for the 2023 bluefish fishery. These proposed catch limits are largely unchanged from what was previously projected for fishing year 2023, with adjustments to the final recreational harvest limit to account for a 2021 recreational sector overage, and the most recent (2021) recreational discard data available.

The commercial fishery state allocations for 2023 are unchanged from what was previously projected. No states exceeded their state-allocated quota in 2021 or are projected to do so in 2022, so no adjustments are necessary for the 2023 commercial fishery.

All other management measures and requirements, including the

recreational daily bag limit of three fish per person for private anglers and five fish per person for for-hire (charter/party) vessels, would remain unchanged.

For more details on the proposed specifications, read the proposed rule as published in the Federal Register, and submit your comments through the online portal. The comment period is open through November 30, 2022.

REVISED COMMERCIAL AND RECREATIONAL ALLOCATIONS FOR SUMMER FLOUNDER, SCUP, AND BLACK SEA BASS

NOAA Fisheries is implementing Amendment 22 to the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. This final rule implements changes to the commercial and recreational allocations for summer flounder, scup, and black sea bass. The previous commercial and recreational allocations for all three species were set in the mid-1990s based on historical proportions of landings (for summer flounder and black sea bass) or catch (for scup) from each sector.

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission developed this amendment partly in response to recent changes in how recreational catch is estimated by the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP), which resulted in a revised time series of recreational data going back to the 1980s. This created a mismatch between the data that were used to set the allocations and the data currently used in management for setting catch limits. In addition, some changes have been made to commercial catch data since the allocations were established.

For all three species, these changes result in a shift in allocation from the commercial to the recreational sector. However, because the summer flounder and black sea bass fisheries will be transitioning from landingsbased to catch-based allocations, the current and revised allocations for those species are not directly comparable.

Approved Commercial and

No changes to the allocations commercial or recreational allocations apply to the current, 2022, fishing year quotas. We intend to use the new allocations to set the 2023 quotas consistent with the recommendation of the Board and Council.

For more information see our final rule as filed in the Federal Register or our bulletin

Recreational Allocations
MAKING WAVES | Winter 2023 Species Base Years Allocation Type Commercial Allocation % Recreational Allocation % Summer Flounder Scup Black Sea Bass 19801989 19881992 19831992 Commercial & Recreational Catch Commercial & Recreational Catch Commercial & Recreational Catch 55 65 45 45 35 55
TM Do you know where to fish? Captain Segull Charts will show you the most productive fishing areas. We have offshore, inshore, nearshore, bathymetric, small boat/kayak and species identification charts. Before you head out and waste gas get a Captain Segull Chart and plan your trip. Visit your local dealer, or our website www.captainsegullcharts.com 888-473-4855

SUSTAINING PARTNERSHIPS

Sustaining Partners are the backbone of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and provide us with a steady source of revenue so we can do our job and protect our community’s right to fish.

As a Sustaining Partner, your recurring contribution not only puts your organization in front of a national audience, but it’s your badge of honor, demonstrating your support for the RFA’s goals and objectives. We need your help to keep moving our shared agenda forward on both a state and national level, working to protect your rights as saltwater anglers. Most importantly, Sustaining Partners have the satisfaction of knowing they are always actively doing their part to keep RFA thriving.

Saltwater fishing is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in the United States. In 2021, more than 14.5 million Americans flocked to the nation’s waterways to engage in saltwater fishing activities, marking the highest fishing participation rate in over a decade. Saltwater fishing participation continued its upward trend, growing nearly 3% per year for the each of the last three years. (takemefising.org)

At RFA, we are launching a freemium membership providing Sustaining Partners reach to potentially 14.5 million saltwater anglers in the United States through RFA’s communications, social media, website, fishing tournaments, boat shows and other opportunities. The recreational saltwater fishing sector in the United States was valued at $72 billion with another $41 billion in value-added (noaa. gov 2018) illustrating fishing enthusiasts’ strong economic impact in their communities and the need for the RFA to continue to battle the policies that will impact the industry.

RFA Fast Facts

• According to our recent survey, 73% of RFA Supporters fish 25 to 50 days per year vs the 13.1 days per year national average

• 34% fish 50 or more days per year

• 66% earn more than $50K, 31% earn more than $100K

• 71% of RFA Supporters own a boat

• 70% fish the Mid-Atlantic Region (NY-NC)

• Saltwater anglers are 69% Male & 31% Female

Please join as a Sustaining Partner by contacting Rob Nixon at RNixon@joinrfa.org or by calling 609.582.8280.

CHAIRMAN

ROBERT

TREASURER

BOARD MEMBERS

RFA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
T. HEALEY JR. Viking Group
JOHN KASINSKI Viking Yacht Company
Seakeeper,
AmeraTrail
ANDREW SEMPREVIVO
Inc. ANDY DORMOIS
Trailers BOB FLOCKEN Hi-Liner/Diamond Fishing Products BOB SHOMO JR. Johnson and Towers Inc JIM MOTSKO Ocean City White Marlin Open
JOHN DEPERSENAIRE Viking Yacht Company
Viking
MARTIN PETERS Yamaha Marine Group MIKE LEECH World Cup Blue Marlin Tournament NICK CICERO Folsom Corporation PAT HEALEY
Yacht Company
Contender
ROBERT SHERRIFF Viking Group TONY NOVELLI
Boats

MAKING WAVES

OUR MISSION

Anti-fishing groups and radical environmental interests are pushing an agenda on marine fisheries issues affecting America’s saltwater anglers. At the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), we’re pushing back to protect your right to fish!

Incorporated in 1996 as a 501(c)(4) national, grassroots political action organization, RFA is in the trenches, lobbying, educating decision makers and ensuring that the interests of America’s coastal anglers are being heard loud and clear. Click here to learn more about what we’re up against, and why joining the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is so important when it comes to protecting your right to fish.

As your watchdog, RFA understands what recreational fishing is worth to you – we were founded specifically to represent recreational fishermen and the recreational fishing industry on marine fisheries issues on every coast, with state chapters established to spearhead the regional issues while building local support for the overall RFA mission:

“To safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs and ensure the long-term sustainability of U.S. saltwater fisheries.” 160

WINTER EDITION 2023 THE OFFICAL MAGAZINE OF THE RECREATIONAL FISHING ALLIANCE
WEST STATE STREET, TRENTON,
NJ 08608
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