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MakingWaves Waves Summer Summer2017 2016 Making

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The Official Publication of the Recreational Fishing Alliance

The Cobia Debacle Red Snapper Reform Fluke Non Non--Compliance Haddock Sleight of Hand Martin Peters Joins BOD



Making Waves Summer 2017



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The Official Publication of the Recreational Fishing Alliance



veryone at the RFA has been extremely busy working with the new administration and members of Congress on a host of critical issues. Recent talks with the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has yielded an extended red snapper season in the Gulf of Mexico and while it is nowhere near as long as it should be, it is a partial reprieve for private boat anglers in those five Gulf States. In a recent meeting with President Trump RFA Executive Director Jim Donofrio was met with a warm welcome and a display of the RFA's Fishermen for Trump bumper sticker. "I like that," said the President. Talks on recreational fishing, jobs and benefits to the economy followed. This issue is packed with important reading material so zoom the newsletter to full screen size and spend some time with it. You'll be glad you did. From Donofrio's editorial column to features on the current Cobia debacle, more on Red Snapper, the New England haddock season, and more, you'll get information you can't find anywhere else. Along the way you'll be introduced to the newest member of the RFA Board of Directors, Martin Peters from Yamaha Marine Group, and the amazing art of Savio Mizzi—artist, angler and RFA supporter.

INSIDE THIS ISSUE From the Publisher’s Desk


Exec. Director's Report: Full Court Press on MSA


New Jersey's Non Compliant Fluke Season


Meet Martin Peters - RFA BOD's newest member


Red Snapper Inequity in the Gulf


BREAKING NEWS: Anglers Get Snapper Season Reprieve


The Cobia Debacle Explained


The Incomparable Art of Savio Mizzi


Do Not Go Quietly! A Cap- 36 tain's Plea for Unity Fishing Tips: Understanding Saltwater Hooks


NMFS HMS Advisory Panel 44 Meeting Update New England Haddock Regs: Fact or Fiction


News & Views: Breaking Fisheries News from


On the Cover:

This amazing artwork by Savio Mizzi will grace a new soon to be released RFA teeshirt .

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Executive Director’s Report By Jim Donofrio

It All Leads Back to the Magnuson - Stevens Act


he 1990’s and 2000’s where primarily marked as a period in US fishery management of overfished stocks and rebuilding. Today, fishery managers and the recreational fishing industry are struggling with how to manage fisheries once they reach a rebuilt state and provide access for recreational anglers. Limitations of the Magnuson Act have manifested in the current dilemma of managing recreational fisheries at times of high abundance. While RFA has been calling for a Magnuson overhaul since it was last reauthorized in 2007, recreational anglers and the marine industry across the country have reached the tipping point and are collectively calling for immediate changes to the federal law. First passed in 1976, the intent of MSA at the time was to domesticate the nation’s marine fisheries by removing the foreign fishing fleets from our coasts and to build the capacity of the US commercial fishing fleet. Increased commercial capacity lead to depletion of some fish stocks and amendments were made to the MSA to address overfishing. The law was most recently amended in 2007 and called for science based management. Of all these reiterations of MSA, none have

addressed the unique problems specific to the recreational sector. The Magnuson Act was never written or amended to address the current problems being experienced in our community. While the commercial fleets have benefitted from rebuilding fish stocks, recreational anglers and businesses are left scratching their heads as recreational measures get more and more restrictive. It does not take a fisheries management expert to know that the current approach is simply not working for the recreational sector. MSA must be amended immediately to address these lingering recreational fishing issues. RFA, in conjunction with a group of recreational industry organizations that include ASA, CCA, CSP, NMMA, TRCP and IGFA, has been pushing hard to amend MSA and address the provisions of the law that have an unfair and negative impact on our industry. This can be done without compromising long-term conservation of the fish stocks which we pursue. RFA firmly believes that a balance can be struck in the federal law that will achieve a balance between the needs of our industry and the sustainability of our marine fisheries. Earlier this session, Mr. Young

introduced a bill, HR200, to reauthorize MSA. RFA felt that it was a good start but more specific changes were needed to help the recreational sector. RFA is supporting HR2023, introduced by Mr. Garrett Graves, which would address long-standing issues with recreational management such as allocations, alternative management measures, rebuilding time frames, annual catch limits and recreational data collection. If passed and signed into law, the provisions of HR2023 would give the regional councils and NOAA Fisheries the ability to use reasonable flexibility when managing the recreational fisheries. RFA is pushing hard in the House to make sure that a markup hearing is scheduled soon for HR2023 and HR200. RFA is also working with its industry partners and members of the Senate on drafting and introducing a companion bill. On the RFA homepage you can find action alerts that allow anglers to submit a letter to their House member and two US senators asking them to amend MSA and support these bills. We are asking that everyone take the time to participate in the action alert. This is what we have been fighting for so hard for so long.

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NEW JERSEY’S “NON-COMPLIANT” FLUKE SEASON by Jim Hutchinson, Jr. Courtesy The Fisherman Magazine


hile “Feds Threaten Shutdown” newspaper headlines had many anglers worried, the real story in New Jersey regarding summer flounder is that the actual “Feds” have yet to respond to the bureaucrat’s threats. For the past six months, The Fisherman Magazine has closely followed the Christie administration’s minirevolution against a broken system, and provided this breaking update on June 1, 2017 at The $100,000 fluke question remains, is New Jersey officially out of compliance? It would seem officially the answer is yes; but until the

federal government makes it signed, sealed and “officially” delivered, New Jersey doesn’t really seem to care.

the Interior of its finding of New Jersey’s noncompliance, pursuant to provisions of the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative ManUnofficially speaking of agement Act of 1993 which course! is the federal law creating the commission and coordinating On June 1, the Atlantic States management of nearshore Marine Fisheries Commission migratory fisheries along the (ASMFC) voted to find the U.S. Atlantic coast. State of New Jersey out of compliance with mandatory Ostensibly, it’s now up to the management measures con- Trump administration and tained in Addendum XXVIII both departments of Interior to the Interstate Fishery Man- and Commerce to decide agement Plan (FMP) for Sum- how they’ll react to the mer Flounder, Scup, and ASFMC request; ASMFC has Black Sea Bass. Breaking every authority to recomdown the legalese, the inter- mend “non-compliance” to state fisheries commission will the Secretaries, but it’s ultiofficially be notifying both the mately up to the Secretaries Secretaries of Commerce and to officially find a state “out of Continued on page 10

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compliance” and decide on whether or not follow-up action is required. As important as this is for individual anglers to understand, for the for-hire captains with federal permits it’s absolutely critical knowing that New Jersey’s three fish at 18-inch size limit is still allowable until otherwise noted – and still backed by Governor Chris Christie and his staff!

Making Waves Summer 2017

For the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and the Christie Administration, forcing New Jersey to adopt a 19 -inch size limit for the first time in state history was essentially a non-starter. As such, NJDEP biologists and its commissioner, Bob Martin, lobbied fellow ASMFC mem-

ber states and representatives at NOAA fisheries on behalf of local fishermen. Regrettably, New Jersey’s efforts to retain status quo regulations until a new benchmark stock assessment was made available were not supported by fellow states, while NJDEP’s official ASFMC appeal was all but eviscerated by fellow

During the waning days of the Obama administration, NOAA Fisheries and the Department of Commerce lowered the fluke quota for 2017 by roughly one-third; additionally, the fed required deeper cuts in the recreational sector due to harvest overage estimates compiled by way of recreational angler surveys (MRIP) resulting in a 40% reduction for 2017 that represented what would become the most restrictive measures in the history of fishery's management. In response, ASFMC representatives from each of the Atlantic coastal states brokered a compromise amongst members and the outgoing Obama officials at NOAA to allow for what amounted to an estimated 30% reduction in recreational quota for summer flounder, further binding New Jersey to an inflexible 19-inch size, three fish bag Excuse me Officer, but is this fish short? The current minimum size and 128-day season within a the ASMFC is attempting to shove down the throats of NJ anglers tri-state region with New would see more dead fish from release mortality than landings. York and Connecticut.

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members of the interstate commission.

officials presented a set of conservationally equivalent options which would allow for a three fluke at 18-inch size limit from May 25 through September 5, a 17inch size limit for anglers on Delaware Bay and 16-inch size limit and two-fish per day limit for surfcasters at Island Beach State Park to assist with NJDEP summer flounder research efforts, which according to Commissioner Martin met the required reduction requirements, despite ASFMC protests.

Upon notification by ASMFC, the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior have 30 days to review the recommendation and determine appropriate action, which according to ASMFC “may include a federal moratorium on fishing for Summer Flounder in New Jersey’s state waters.”

“We are going forward with the regulations because we strongly believe that we have passed regulations that meet the conservation equivalency of the Commission’s proposed quota limits,” Martin said on May 24, one day before New Jersey opened its recreational summer flounder season. He added, “We have a good relationship with NOAA Fisheries and will contin“We stand by our regulations ue to work with them on any that meet the conservation issues relating to the summer equivalency of the Commisflounder stock and recreasion’s mandated managetional harvest limit.” ment measures, while protecting a multi-billion dollar As for the ASMFC’s latest fit of fishing industry in New Jerrage against New Jersey defisey,” he added. ance, Martin told anglers and industry folks alike not to At issue with New Jersey offiworry, not yet anyway. “We cials is the traditional allowlook forward to presenting ance of “conservation equivaNew Jersey’s management lency” which provides state’s measures for summer flounthe right to provide alternader to the Secretary of Comtive regulations which merce and NOAA Fisheries,” achieve the same quantified he said on June 1. level of conservation. NJDEP

Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), said for some ASFMC members, it’s a little like looking for the forest through all of the trees.

As per the Christie administration and NJDEP commissioner Martin in particular, the concept of a brokered and punitive season, size and bag for New Jersey without any consideration to discard mortality and the directed harvest of broodstock females was, and is, a fight worth waging. “We’re disappointed the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission continues to myopically distance itself from sound fisheries management and advocates for a 19-inch size limit that kills more fish through dead discards than the actual harvesting of fluke. This would result in an overall higher mortality rate and be more detrimental to the fish stock that we are sworn to protect,” Martin said in response to the ASFMC’s decision.

But, ASFMC’s request could also fall on deaf ears. In other words, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does the ASMFC really make a sound?

“This was the common-sense shot right over the bow of a broken, bureaucratic commission,” Donofrio said of New Jersey’s response to the ASFMC. “It’s funny to think that for 20 years the bureaucratic ASMFC decisions have been made to appease NOAA Fisheries, and now we’re suddenly looking at a Commerce Department that’s telling seasoned, career bureaucrats to finally smarten up.”

For more recreational fishing news and update reports from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, go to

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Yamaha’s Martin Peters Joins RFA Board of Directors


he Recreational Fishing Alliance is blessed to have a Board of Directors populated by talented, dedicated individuals from across the spectrum of the marine recreational fishing industry. It is the job of the board to keep the RFA running on an even keel, and the managerial and policy experience they bring to us is invaluable.

Martin Peters from Yamaha Marine Group, another talented individual with years of experience both in the industry and in government affairs.

“Everyone at RFA is pleased to have Martin Peters serve on the RFA Board of Directors,” says Jim Donofrio, Executive Director. Martin has been engaged with the RFA for several years now and has taken a leadership A recent vacancy on the board was filled by role on Magnuson reform. He is a frequent

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visitor to Capitol Hill working with many members of the recreational industry advocating for better fisheries management and improved access to those fisheries.”

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Peters currently serves on the Natural Resources and Energy Policy Committee for the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He is chairman of the Communications Committee of the Center for Sportfishing Policy, “The Recreational Fishing Alliance is imand serves on the Government Relations portant to Yamaha and the marine industry Committee of the American Sportfishing Asbecause it brings a policy expertise to bear sociation ® . Peters also serves as the chairon fisheries management, which is an exman for Boat PAC at the National Marine tremely complex subject,” says Peters. Manufacturers Association ® (NMMA ® ). He “Arguments on fisheries science and manformerly served as the chairman of “Tread agement are easy to lose when you aren’t Lightly,” a non-profit organization that adimmersed in the background and undervocates for ethical land use and public land stand the statutes. Jim Donofrio and John access. With his new position on the RFA DePersenaire know the subject matter.” Board of Directors he will use his expertise to further the organiMartin Peters is Sen- “Serving on the RFA board is zation’s mission. ior Manager of Coman honor,” says Martin, “and I “Serving on the RFA munications and Government Relahope my presence can benefit board is an honor,” tions for Yamaha Masays Martin, “and I rine Group, the unit both the organization and the hope my presence can of Yamaha Motor entire recreational community, benefit both the orCorporation, USA ganization and the enthat markets, sells which needs the voice and tire recreational comand distributes Yamamunity, which needs power of the RFA if we are to ha Outboards in the the voice and power of United States. The get a fair shake on access to the RFA if we are to unit also operates G3 get a fair shake on acfisheries. Boats ® , Skeeter cess to fisheries. The Boats ® and Yamaha loss of access to marine fisheries is someMarine Performance Propeller Industries. thing I had to become involved in both for Yamaha and for my own concerns as a fishPeters joined Yamaha in 2006 and leads erman and outdoor enthusiast. It was loss teams that create communication, educaof access that led to my government relation, and sponsorship strategies to support tions work at Yamaha. the Yamaha Marine Group brand, goals and objectives. Since 2012, he also leads gov“From my experience watching and dealing ernment relations and advocacy efforts and with the RFA over the past few years I can promotes recreational fishing and boating attest to the fact that the organization is interests. doing good work, but there was a lack of understanding of what the RFA was trying In January 2017, Peters was appointed to to achieve by others involved in the mix of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adgroups and industry associations trying to ministration’s (NOAA’s) National Marine impact fisheries issues. My new position on Sanctuary Business Advisory Council (BAC) the board allows me to act as an interface as one of 15 council members to serve a to enhance the work of the RFA and the three-year term. goals of anglers and the industry.”

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Peters is an avid outdoorsman who participates in shooting sports and both fresh and saltwater fishing. In his position as Senior Manager of Communications and Government Relations at Yamaha Marine Group he has worked closely with RFA lobbyists and senior staff members.

Peters is an avid outdoors person who loves fishing and shooting sports. His role as Yamaha’s Senior Manager of Communications brings him into contact with a network of professional fishermen the likes of Capt. George Mitchell from Jupiter, Florida, who he fishes with from time to time, in addition to the professional bass fishermen who make up Yamaha’s BASS Pro Team.

Communications Manager, and seven years with Michelin North America as Public Relations Manager. In the 1990s, Peters served as the feature editor for Exotic Cars Quarterly magazine and Road & Track Specials publications. He began his career as a writer and associate producer at Maryland Public Television (MPT) on the national program “MotorWeek.” Also at MPT, he produced a segment on Chesapeake Bay log racing ca“The outdoors has always been a big part of noes for “Outdoors Maryland” that won a my life,” Peters tell us. “I raced sports cars in Capitol Region Emmy Award. endurance events throughout the 1990s and now enjoy hunting, shooting and fish- Peters holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass ing. I fish for cobia on the Georgia coast Communications from Towson University when regulations allow, and for bass and and a master’s degree in Publications Decrappie in our family’s North Georgia pond.” sign from the University of Baltimore. He and his wife Dianne and children live in Before joining Yamaha, Peters spent seven Marietta, Georgia, not far from Yamaha’s years with Porsche Cars North America as U.S. headquarters in Kenesaw.

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For-Hire Sector - 49 day season Private Boat Recreational - 3 days By Thomas Hilton


no secret that Federal fisheries managers have been colluding with commercial and environmental group’s to convert fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico into private commodities for many years now. In their zeal to sell the concept, they conveniently forgot that they are mandated by law to adhere to a strict quota. The plethora of unnecessary draconian regulations surrounding the red snapper fishery today has no basis in reality other than they are designed to show that a crisis in that fishery exists where there is none. This year’s insane Federal three-day private boat recreational red snapper season in the Gulf is just another example of their subterfuge and the blatantly dishonest manage-

ment surrounding the fishery. It is made all the more unpalatable in light of the for-hire sectors exorbitant and totally unjustified 49 day season. Read on and you will see that the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council have gone so far as to break several laws in this Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sponsored and funded public relations campaign being waged to sell the concept of Sector Separation and Catch Shares and they need to be held accountable for the illegalities and the deception. In addition, we need to expose the Congressmen who are supporting this scam and hold them accountable at the polls. The NMFS and the GMFMC are required under the Magnuson-Stevens Act to follow the

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ten National Standards clearly listed in the legislation when formulating a fishery management plan. Both entities have ignored a number of those National Standards when they formulated the 49 day for-hire and 3 day private boat recreational red snapper season for 2017.

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promote conservation; and (c) carried out in such manner that no particular individual, corporation, or other entity acquires an excessive share of such privilege. NS 10) Conservation and management measures shall, to the extent practicable, promote the safety of human life at sea.

There are four National Standards they clearly Let’s make a few reasonable calculations violated. based on those standards and extrapolate where the collusion lies. NS 1) Conservation and management measures shall prevent overfishing while There are 1,247 federally permitted reef fish achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum charter boats in the Gulf. The chart below yield from each fishery for the United States breaks down the number of charter permits fishing industry. by state, or region of state, plus passenger capacity. What is surprising to me is the number NS 2) Conservation and management of multi-passenger vessels that can take up to measures shall be based upon the over 80 people fishing each trip! I have always best scientific information available. assumed that charter boats were made up priNS 4) Conservation and management marily of “6 packs�, taking a maximum of 6 measures shall not discriminate between resi- paying passengers per trip, but to my surprise, dents of different states. If it becomes necesif you average the passenger capacities and sary to allocate or assign fishing privileges multiply by numbers of vessels, the average among various United States fishermen, such passenger capacity per vessel is over 10 peoallocation shall be (a) fair and equitable to all ple per trip. such fishermen; (b) reasonably calculated to

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There are regions of the Gulf where boats don’t catch many, if any, red snapper, so if you eliminate those regions (FL Keys, Peninsular FL, and Non-Gulf states) that leaves 801 permits. For some reason, neither NMFS nor the Gulf Council track how many permits are being used or those that are inactive. So to make an educated guess, let’s say 25% of the permits are not being used. That leaves 600 permits presumably being used. I don’t believe there is any data that could refute this number, so until that data is made available, it is reasonable to assume that 600 is a viable number.

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average, let’s be conservative and say the average weight is 8 pounds. We end up with 12,540 snapper x 8 pounds that total 100,320 pounds per day. Multiply that times 46 days in the season in 2016 and the charter boats caught 4,614,720 pounds.

Remember, the charter boats are just a portion of the forhire boats - the Gulf open headboats’ landings still have not been accounted for in these calcuations. In 2016, the NMFS claims that the Gulf headboats landed 526,575 pounds of red snapper. Assuming those numbers are correct, then that would mean that there is an extremely high Take the 600 likelihood that permitted the for-hire boats and mul- There was a time when red snapper was the top draw for sector landed tiply by the av- Gulf recreational fishing, but with the privatization of the well over 5 milerage passen- fishery and the resulting Draconian bag limits and short lion pounds in season the socioeconomic impact has been devastating! ger capacitya 2016, exceedand you get ing their 2016 quota of 2,434,000 pounds 6,270 people per day fishing on for-hire vesby more than 2.7 million pounds. sels. Considering how plentiful red snapper are these days, it is reasonable to assume The most troubling aspects of what we are that each of these people will catch their 2 facing today is the scandalous collusion befish daily limit which equates to 12,540 fish tween a rogue federal agency (NMFS) and per day. the enviro/commercial interests to privatize our fisheries via Catch Shares. EDF has been Even though these are professional captains exerting undue influence on our fisheries and put their customers on larger fish than

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management process for over a decade now, pouring millions of dollars into the privatization of what is supposedly a public trust resources to create Catch Shares. To accomplish this goal EDF has created and funds a multitude of front groups that do their bidding in an attempt to legitimize their program and spread their propaganda. Below is a recent press release from The Charter Fishermen’s Association, one of sev-

eral EDF front groups; “The recent announcement of the Red Snapper season provided some much needed stability and certainty for the federally permitted charter boat fleet, but it didn't just happen naturally. For nearly 10 years, our organization has been promoting and defending opportunities such as sector separation to provide this for fishing charter businesses. The vision of a specific allocation for charter for hire anglers to access red snapper was immediately met with hostility and opposition; but the organization stood firm and continued moving forward achieving this goal. The 2017 red snapper season will be 49 days for federally permitted charter boats, starting on June 1. This is a modest increase from the season in 2016 due to the improved management certainty of our subsector and the ability of the NMFS to ensure the CFH fleet didn't exceed our portion of the recreational quota. "We look forward to continually working to improve the stability and regulatory certainty of the Gulf of Mexico federally permitted fleet. The current successes are being consistently threatened by private interest groups and we need your help to continue the fight!"

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ability to ensure the for-hire sector didn’t overfish their quota. That's complete garbage. The NMFS was quick to claim that the private boat recreational sector overfished its quota last year during its meager 11 day season, and deducted that overage from the 2017 quota under the mandated “payback provision." However, I don’t see that happening with the for-hire sector. That 1.7 million pound overage that NMFS mysteriously can't seem to find in their data collection SHOULD have been deducted from this year’s for-hire quota, but instead, the Gulf Council gave them even more days to overfish. Considering that the for-hire quota is even less this year than last year at 2,278,000 pounds, I would say it would reasonable to say that there is a very distinct (as in 100%) chance that the 49 day season does NOT prevent overfishing, does NOT promote conservation, is NOT based on the best scientific information available, is NOT fair and equitable. Ah, but it does give particular individuals, corporations, or other entities holding the lions share of the for-hire catch shares an excessive share of the fish. Giving the private recreationals a paltry 3 day season does NOT promote the safety of human life at sea, again violating the basic tenets of Magnuson. I believe it is therefore reasonable to assert, based on the calculations I've made, that NMFS and the Gulf Council, with the urging of EDF, are negligent in their duties and are in fact violating multiple national standards in their quest to further privatize the fishery under the EDF catch share scam.

Interesting statements, but baseless and totalBut who is going to hold them accountable? ly untrue. Nobody has so far, and I don’t see anyone stepping up to the challenge. I am left to surThe supposed “improved management certainty” they talk about is, in a word, ridiculous, mise that they are above the law. Let's hope not. as is the claim that the NMFS now has the

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Gulf States Agree to 39-day Red Snapper Summer Season 3-day-weekend off Friday, June Labor Day

Story Courtesy


or the first time in a long time, there’s some rare good news on the red snapper front in the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana recreational red snapper anglers expecting a 27-day federal season extension this summer are in for a pleasant surprise: Eleventh-hour negotiations on Tuesday between the five Gulf states and the U.S. Department of Commerce resulted in a Friday/Saturday/Sunday 39-day season starting this Friday, June 16, and ending on Labor Day — Monday, Sept. 4.

forts, which means they’re going to monitor the recreational catch and make a determination, and if there are fish left, they will go ahead and open up for a fall season. If not, they won’t.

season kicks 16; ends on

vigilant over the numbers as the season progressed. Some officials have questioned what the 2018 federal recreational season might look like if the Gulf’s catch limit is exceeded during this 39-day summer season extension.

“And Texas is going to have a fall season regardless. Their argument is they’re only 1 percent of the recreation“I think what’s most important is that al catch, so it doesn’t really matter.” Louisiana demonstrates we’re going to As part of the deal, all five Gulf states be professional managers, and we’re agreed that state waters would be not going to overfish or unsustainably closed when the federal season is fish,” he said. “I think it’s really important closed, so there will be no snapper fish- that we practice good conservation ing in state waters Gulf-wide out to 9 efforts, so we’re certainly going to be In addition to three-day weekends to miles on Monday through Thursday monitoring what’s going on in all five pursue snapper out to 200 miles for the this summer (except for the special holi- states and applying lessons learned for next 12 weeks, anglers also will be able day weeks noted above.) 2018 and beyond.” to fish in federal waters on the Monday and Tuesday of the 4th of July holiday The fate of each state’s 2017 fall season In light of the original three-day federal was a key sticking point in the negotia- season that ran June 1-3, Graves recogweekend, as well as the Monday of tions that ultimately led to the 39-day nizes the extra days this summer aren’t Labor Day. necessarily an ideal solution — but said plan being accepted, Graves said. But the potential 39-day season — he’s been working on crafting legislawhich could close earlier for Louisiana “Keep in mind you’re dealing with five tion in Congress to introduce this fall different states, and so there was a lot of that could address the issue for the anglers if LA Creel data indicate catch limits are being reached — comes at the discussion there,” Graves said. “All of the long-term. states certainly preferred a three-day-acost of some states’ fall seasons. week season but there was some dis“I’m not going to sit here and say it’s “Florida and Alabama are foregoing a cussion about what the tradeoffs were perfect, but it’s absolutely a step in the fall season,” said Rep. Garret Graves (R- going to be, because Louisiana was right direction. I think it does improve Baton Rouge), who helped strike the adamant that we practice good conser- access and it gives states more control, extension deal with Commerce Secre- vation measures and manage the spe- which are all things we’ve been advotary Wilbur Ross after extensive meetcating for,” Graves said. “So I’m excited, cies in a sustainable manner.” ings this spring along with Majority but as soon as we get this done, we’re Graves said he was confident Louisiana certainly going to be looking at 2018 Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and other would be able to closely monitor its an- and beyond.” representatives of the Gulf states. “Louisiana and Mississippi are going to glers’ catches through LA Creel’s realbase their seasons on conservation ef- time harvest data, and would remain

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Making Waves Summer 2017

The Great Cobia Debacle Explained By Capt. T.J. Cheek RFA Southeast Regional Director


f you were as disappointed shore. Everything inside of 3 as I was to see that there miles is state waters and some will be no federal cobia sea- states choose to automatically son in 2017, you are probably looking for answers. You may have made a couple of Facebook posts or perhaps even called your representatives to express your frustration. The trouble is that it is a complicated matter and explaining the issue in just a few minutes proves to be a difficult task. One thing is certain, we can't fix the issue if we don't have a firm understanding of the details. I'll do my best to give you the simplest explanation I can. First, let's look at how the management areas are divided. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) manages cobia from Key West up the east coast through North Carolina from 3 miles to 200 miles off-

enforce federal regulations in their own waters. So, for example, if grouper closes in federal

waters, it would automatically close in state waters as well for states that choose to do so, but not all states do. However, for the purposes of managing cobia, the council has decided to do things a little differently. It has been decided that cobia stocks found along the east coast of Florida and Gulf of Mexico are part of the one group, while Cobia from Georgia northward are another separate and distinct group. This led to regulating Florida east differently from Georgia through New York. So now if you fish in Florida you are able to retain cobia, but if you live in Georgia through New York you have no season in federal waters. This is problematic because in North Carolina and Virginia, cobia are primarily a state water fishery.

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and after all of that, fair and equitable management practices were placed into effect... sure, that could leave reason to point the finger. But that is not the case.

And, as we discussed earlier, Virginia and North Carolina do not automatically enforce federal regulations in their state waters. They are able to continue to harvest cobia as long as they don't come from federal waters. So everything being caught in state waters will be counted against the next year's Annual Catch Limit (ACL). This likely means that prior to 2018 even starting, the Georgia through New York cobia season will already be over in federal waters. Who gets screwed? Well, mostly Georgia and South Carolina. Georgia doesn't have any viable state water fishery. VA and NC are both harvesting cobia in state waters and Florida has a huge catch limit all to themselves. Georgia and South Carolina are left out in the cold. Should those states be

Data is being used that shows unreasonably high numbers of landings and unreasonably low numbers of landings. For one period, Georgia showed zero landings. In another period, upwards of 400,000 pounds of cobia was supposedly landed after extrapolating from a very small number of observed landings. These numbers mad at the others for harvesting are so insane that if they were their catch limit before they ever from a routine blood test you get a chance to access the fish- would be locked in quarantine ery? until you could be re-tested. Yet, Well... only if you believe that the data is still being used. the data we are being managed But wait! Not only are we being by is sound and at least minimal- managed based on some pretty ly reliable. If all available data absurd data, but there is even was considered by the SAFMC, peer reviewed research that assessments were consistent contradicts the basis of the curand didn't include outlier data,

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rent zone split that makes the harvest so inequitable. There are studies that show that the cobia being caught in the Florida east coast zone are the same migrating fish as those being caught in the Gulf of Mexico, but ALL of the East Coast cobia and GOM fish are genetically homogenous, in other words there is really only a single stock. This was made clear in the Gold Paper cobia study from Texas A&M University. A separate study by the University of Southern Mississippi shows that cobia tagged off of Mississippi were recaptured as far west as Texas and as far north and east as Virginia.

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formation, how do we find a so- the ASMFC assuming management responsibilities is that each lution? state will have representation At first we thought a push for emergency action through the and Cobia would be managed with more consideration for SAFMC would be the answer. each state's unique circumstancEmergency action was recomes all while considering the overmended by the advisory panel but we know that it is most likely all sustainability of the stock as a whole. going to fail even though peer reviewed research such as the Gold Paper were not previously considered prior to making the current management decisions.

There are some issues to consider, such as whether or not the stock assessment that is being used currently to guide manageFor a permanent solution to all ment decisions will also be used by the ASMFC. Whether that is of our fishery management the case or not has yet to be dewoes we are going to have to termined but the fact is that push for reform at the Federal there is a strong chance that the level. The bill that we are all transfer of management can managed by, The Magnuson happen and right now it is our Stevens Act, as it is currently written is devastating to the fish- best option. Cobia are a very unique fish and they require ing industry. Most fishermen agree that conservation is abso- management options that reclutely critical and our industry. It ognize that. depends on a healthy and flour- If we want to have access to a ishing fish stocks. However, healthy cobia fishery, this is there has to be some common what we need to push for. Is it sense and flexibility that allows perfect? No. Is it the best option for a balance between conserva- we have? It appears so. tion and fair and equitable acPlease take the time to learn cess. This is our most important more about the ASMFC and priority right how and we can't how they operate. Talk with let our efforts to reform the MSA your representatives on the be derailed by individual species council. Contact the RFA if you conflicts. have any questions or concerns

I'm no scientist, but unless those cobia that were tagged in Mississippi have some secret tunnels that pass under Florida that allow them to get to Virginia undetected, they must have swam around Florida. This would mean that Florida is being granted access to a fishery that is shared by many states, while the other states are left wanting. It makes it clear that the current zones and the quota splits assigned to each zone are unsupported by scientific data and have set up an fish grab for the Florida East Coast Zone that is For now though, we can try to and let's get back on the water. totally inequitable. do what is best for cobia using Now that you know all of this, what options we have available let's just sum it up by saying that to us. Surprisingly, a motion was the data isn't that strong, cobia approved unanimously on May are a low encounter fish which 12 for the Atlantic States Marine makes data collection and inter- Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) pretation uniquely difficult, and to request that the South Atlanthe geographic aspect of cobia tic and Gulf Councils transfer management isn't based on all management authority for cobia available research. With this in- to the ASMFC. The benefit of

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The Incomparable Art of

Savio Mizzi

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n the world of marine artists, Savio Mizzi could be considered a newcomer, but in the world of fine arts he has been a creative force for over 40 years. A native of the island of Gozo, Malta, it is his love affair with the Montauk surf and the fishing there that precipitated his move to sketch and paint scenes of fish and fishermen. His work is strikingly beautiful, refreshing and totally unique. His images borrow from a strong dose of surrealism and the free-thinking manner in which he approaches painting. We loves it and we think you will, too! The RFA will soon offer two limited edition shirts with specially commissioned Savio Mizzi art donated by the artist. The striped bass scene on the cover of this issue and the bluefin tuna art below will be the first two shirts of what could become regular offerings. Over the next few pages you can read a review and see more of his truly amazing artworks.

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In one painting, a fish, shimmering and looming larger than life in the foreground, eyes the hook that snagged it. In another, the shadowy silhouette of an angler perched on a rock casts a line against a sky of purple, yellow and orange. In Savio Mizzi’s exhibitions of mixed-media paintings, a panoply of hues, layers, and animal and human forms, create unusual marine worlds suggestive of something from a dream. But the East Hampton artist insists his works spring from nothing more profound than his desire to paint as much as he can. “To me there is no meaning,” Mizzi said. “You paint and you draw because it’s in your blood.” The artist estimated he has created upwards of 600 works since moving to New York City in 1974 to study advertising illustration. His paintings are rooted in design and line drawing and in the

Making Waves Summer 2017

course of his career he has made posters, book covers and advertisements for such publishing houses as Bantam Books, Dell Books, Time magazine and Newsday. In the White Room exhibition held two years ago, staged near his home on Long Island, he was pared with fisherman and underwater photographer Mike Laptew’s images in a unique blend of photographs and paintings. Mizzi selected paintings inspired by Long Island Sound and the fish that live in it and the deeper waters offshore— things that remind him of his native Gozo, an island in the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean where he grew up. Although he still works on commissioned illustrations, he has concentrated more heavily on painting in recent years. When looking for subjects he said he looked around and asked himself, “What is there to paint?” In his search for subjects, he

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realized that “we live at the tip of Long Island,” he said. “A lot of people fish; a lot of people like fish.” And with that his more recent subjects are fish and fishing related. Mizzi is an avid fisherman himself. Like painting and drawing, it’s in his blood, he suggested.

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Painting a landscape without anything in it “is just boring. I like to add stuff that doesn’t exist,” he said, acknowledging that he gets bored very easily. “I always like to put elements that you can’t, a lot of times, make sense of; it’s beautiful.”

He first sketches out an idea of what he wants— he sees it beforehand in his mind’s eye, he said— “I fish first,” he said, “everything else comes after.” and then blends in new forms, sometimes paintHe is especially passionate about fishing for ing layer upon layer until he’s satisfied. He emstriped bass from the surf and boats. “Striped bass ploys different combinations of charcoal, oil, is a uniquely American fish,” he said with great acrylic, watercolor, pencil, or pastel to make it admiration. “It is only found naturally on the East work. Coast of the United States and is deserving of great conservation efforts.” But his piscatorial pur- “The morphing of the figure with other things, it suits aren’t limited to stripers and his interests does something to me,” he said. with rod and reel range far and wide. Mizzi believes the human spirit transcends all For reference, he draws on photographs, his im- forms, becoming absorbed into the sea creatures mediate environment, and his imagination. He in so many of his paintings. In other works, hufollows what he calls a “surrealist style,” citing man figures seem to shape shift, changing into such inspirations as Salvador Dalí. animals or trees.

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he finds “cool.” He noted that over the years his style has become looser and more direct. “When you paint, what the heck, you’re painting,” he said. “You’re doing beautiful things.

Savio Mizzi's exclusive RFA shirts will be available soon. Watch look for an email blast announcement in the coming weeks. The artist was born with dyslexia and a form of attention deficit disorder, he said, and painting helps bring to life what’s in his head. He struggled to summon the words to describe this process, finally musing that if he could express it, perhaps he wouldn’t need to paint. He also stressed that he sees the same process at work in his illustrations, paintings and architecture—he designed his craftsman-style home after moving to the East End in 1990. “When it comes to illustration and fine art, in reality, there is no difference,” Mizzi said, maintaining that Renaissance artists Raphael and Michelangelo were accomplished illustrators at their core. “The best artists, as far as I’m concerned, anywhere, were illustrators and, became fine artists,” Mizzi said. His favorite illustrator is the late Bob Peak, famous for designing such posters as those for the “Star Trek” franchise. Mizzi said Peak’s skill was truly unique, and although he never got to meet the artist in person, he owns the TV Guide cover art Peak created for a television production of “The Diary of Anne Frank.” Mizzi has also captured such pop culture icons as The Joker (as played by Heath Ledger) and Bob Marley, turning his artistic attention to anything

See more amazing sketches and paintings at

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FELLOW FISHERMENDo Not Go Quietly Into the Night! By Capt. Bobby Bogan - Fishing Vessel Gambler, Pt. Pleasant, NJ A life-long fishing boat captain's wake-up call and call-to-arms to fellow saltwater fishermen. Bogan, in his own words, documents the decimation of a once proud industry in his home state of New Jersey orchestrated in the name of an out-of-control fisheries management bureaucracy created by Federal law hijacked by the environmental industry.


ellow fishermen, I urge you to contact your legislative representatives. The tentacles of fisheries regulations are steadily choking small businesses out of existence, while restricting individual saltwater anglers from participating in the sport we all love. Ever since the first bad re-authorization of Magnuson-Stevens in 1996, through the last federal update in 2006, many small businesses have permanently closed their doors. A visit to some of the local fishing ports in just my home state of New Jersey to compare activity today to what it was 15 years ago paints a startling picture. So many of the once prosperous businesses and the people who worked there are gone. I did a rough count of the losses in my state and came up with 22 party boats and 28 charter boats that are gone, not replaced, and not coming back, since those reauthorizations and there are probably more than that. I don't know the amount of family owned tackle shops and fulltime charter boats that have gone by the wayside but I do know it is substantial. Along with that the number of private boat registration in the state was down by 36% .

men that are pushed off the water and from the surf and jetties, the smaller our voice gets. If it keeps going this way, eventually, even catch and release will not be permitted; and if you think that's crazy, just look what they have done in the last 20 years with so many members from the environmental industry at the helm of NMFS. On top of all this, there is a seropis move by many of these same people to establish no-fish zones throughout the Northeast, just like they were able to accomplish on the West Coast. There is a deep-pocketed environmental industry that is making money by keeping YOU off THEIR waters. According to NMFS data, the sea bass stock has been rebuilt to 229% of target. The stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, yet we are once again being told that we must be penalized and quotas must be reduced. Porgies are rebuilt by over 300% and yet the fisheries managers are cutting the bag limits back again from 50 fish to 15 for the simple reason that they believe 50 fish is too many thus taking away something more from fishermen because of someone’s personal beliefs.

If you think that these statements do not relate Summer flounder stocks have been rebuilt to histo you, but you have anything at all to do with toric numbers through angler sacrifice, yet the all recreational fishing, think again. The more fisher-

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knowing managers force us to harvest only the breeding females while pushing through even harsher regulations.



The original intent of the MSAS was to maintain sustainable fish stocks and protect the socioeco- Belmar nomic benefits to fishermen and the nation. But the federal law has been hijacked by special interest groups that are making a pretty good living stopping fishermen from fishing while manipulating public opinion to believe that our oceans are dying and that fish stocks are collapsing. I urge you to take a few moments to contact your Brielle Governor, Congressmen, U.S. Senators, the Secretary of Commerce and even the President of the Point Pleasant United States. The Magnuson-Stevens Act was first implemented as a tool for “conserving” our coastal fish stocks; but their enviros want those stocks “preserved” and that requires removing fishermen from the resource equation. Fishermen are not always going to agree on eveBarnegat rything, but sustainable fisheries through common-sense regulation is something we all believe in. Regulations that deny us access to healthy fisheries serves no purpose and flies in the face of the original intent of MSA. You can find your Representative and U.S. Senator’s contact information by visiting For your state representative in Trenton, go to Finally, if you want to support the political fight by supporting lobbyists who are battling at both levels to bring that common-sense approach to recreational fisheries management, I encourage you to go to

Party and Charter fishing vessels that have disappeared in New Jersey (not replaced) since the hijacking of the Magnuson Stevens Act in 1996 Port

Bayonne Perth Amboy Leonardo Highlands


Bucky Sea Pigeon Freddy C Crack-a-Dawn

Atlantic City Sea Isle City Fortesque Cape May


Eagle Jersey Girl Ranger Catherine II Mohawk Explorer Mohawk IV Eileen Ginny Lynn American Eagle Atlantis Capt Kel Norma KII Miss Norma K Deep Adventures III Deep Adventures IV Sea Devil Cock Robin White Star Miss LBI Doris Mae Searcher Jersey Devil Capt Applegate Capt Robbins Miss Ocean City Angler Mid 90's -29 party boats Currently - 9 party boats

That's 50 once viable businesses that are gone for good in New Jersey, alone. Other states have experienced similar and even larger reductions in their fleets of fishing vessels that carried recreational fishermen. These were all US Coast Guard, Federally documented vessels. Make no mistake, NMFS wants us off the ocean and they have done a good job of making it a reality. Fisheries management has been hijacked by special interest groups that are making money by putting us out of business. They are penalizing fishermen on fish stocks that are rebuilt as high as 200% of the rebuilding goal!

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Summer flounder biomass stock rose from 35.9 mil lbs in 1995, to 88.9 million lbs. by 2014 (more than double). This was achieved through our sacrifices. Fisheries managers didn’t sacrifice, the typical Council member gets paid $400 per-day to attend meetings, and are put up in a fancy hotel, all expenses paid, and fed for their time at the meetings.

spoken of in the Declaration of Independence).

Fisheries management has successfully divided and conquered. Managers have pitted recreational fishermen against commercial, private boat fishermen against those who fish from for -hire boats; beach fishermen against boat fishermen and fishermen from one State against another.

If you fish, please, "Do not go quietly into that good night." (T.Dylan) Join me and thousands of others in the fight by joining the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

If you look at the lobbyists, Marine Fish Conservation Network, for example, you will see a sheep in wolves clothing pretending to be concerned about fishing communities. MFCN is on Capitol Hill lobbying to put a stop to any bill that would introduce common sense flexibility into our fisheries management. MFCN repreThe Original intent of Magnunson Stevens was sents over 200 organizations and many people good: Increase fish stocks and maintain a viacontribute to this lobbying business thinking ble fishing community through sound fisheries they are helping fishermen not realizing they management. This is no longer the case. Fish- are in truth, working against us. Other lobby groups with deep pockets include Environing communities no longer matter. mental Defense Fund, PEW Trust Fund, PETA Above is only a list of larger recreational forhire fishing charter and party boat businesses and many more. that have disappeared since the MagnunsonThe Axe needs to be laid to the root. MagunStevens reauthorizations of 1996 and 2006. It son Stevens needs to be fixed --returned to its does not include family run tackle shops, fishoriginal intent. If our Fisheries Management ing marinas and boat rental facilities. This rep- Council is not going to stand up for our fishing resents just a fraction of the residual loss of communities, we must do our part by reaching business that has suffered under the inequity our representatives. Send an email --make a call --use social media: facebook, twitter, ect. Inforof these unfair regulatory practices. mation on how your rep can be reached has It would be impossible to estimate the numnever been easier. You do not need to be elobers of people from a whole generation of quent, you don't need to be long winded, you lower-income Americans who have given up only need to let your reps know how the fishor not even bothered to participate in saltwater fishing due to the fact that the cost doesn't eries system is broke and that Magnunson Stevens needs to be fixed before our fishing comwarrant the return in enjoyment and the munities are solely given over to the elite. Supchance of bring some fish home for personal port Bill HR 200 and HR 2023. consumption.

All the while, the enviro-industry (and make no doubt, it is a money making industry) are laughing all the way to the bank. Behind closed doors, these same people are earnestly working to create Marine Sanctuaries to further restrict our..."Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness", (which was our unalienable right,

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Capt. Barry Gibson

Making Waves Summer 2017

UNDERSTANDING SALTWATER HOOKS By Capt. Barry Gibson RFA New England Regional Director

Barry Gibson was the Editor of SALT WATER SPORTSMAN magazine for nearly three decades. He resides in Boothbay, Maine where he still charters, is a marine surveyor and RFA director.


industry standards regulating the size of fish hooks. One manufacturer’s 7/0 won’t necessarily match up with a 7/0 of the same style made by don’t think anyone’s ever tallied up the another company. Furthermore, size variations number of different styles and sizes of between hook styles (either from the same manufish hooks available in the world today, but it’s facturer or different ones) can be significant. got to be in the tens of thousands. Hooks have Case in point is that the actual size of a circle steadily evolved since the Stone Age, and show hook may be quite different from that of a J-hook no signs of slowing up. of the same size Suffice to say that somedesignation. one, somewhere, manuTherefore, unless factures a size and style you are absolutely for just about every specertain of the hook cies and size of fish on size and style you earth, and for every want, it’s often type of fishing and cirbetter to look the cumstance. “Yup, there's selection over at a a hook for that….” tackle store rather Although entire books than blindly order have been written from an internet about hooks, there’s still retailer. a bit of confusion over The Numbers sizes, materials, and the Game basic styles, so perhaps Second, be aware this is a good time to of correct size desstraighten some of this ignations. Basicalout. ly, and this is a First off, there are no rough rule of

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thumb. Freshwater hook sizes are designated by is no such thing. It’s either a #5 hook, or a 5/0 “number,” and the higher the number the smaller hook, two completely different sizes, and never the hook. the twain shall meet. A #1 hook is the largest of the “numbered” series (about the size you’d use for freshwater bass) and continue to get smaller as the numbers goes up. A #12 hook, for instance, is a popular size used for many trout flies, and a #24 hook is so tiny that most people can’t tie it to a tippet or leader without a pair of strong magnifying eyeglasses. Saltwater hooks are normally designated by the “ought” system, written as “X/0,” and unlike the numbered hooks, get larger as the “ought” number goes up. The smallest in this series is a 1/0 (“one-ought”) hook, just a tad larger than the freshwater #1 hook. A 6/0 hook (about right for average size striped bass) is significantly larger than that, and we go up from there to mammoth 22/0 hooks for giant marlin. You’ll sometimes hear so-called "saltwater pros” on TV talk about a “number 5/0 hook” but there

X-Rated Salt water hook strength generally has to do with the diameter of the steel “wire” that it’s made from, and is often designated by the “X” system. A single size and style of saltwater hook may be offered in standard, 2X, 3X, and 4X rated models. The 2X is said to be twice as strong (thicker wire) than the standard hook, 3X is about three times stronger, and so forth. This brings us to the subject of hooks “dissolving” or “rusting away” in a fish’ jaw or gullet after the fish has broken the line and escaped, or the leader has been clipped and the fish released. No hook will “dissolve harmlessly in a week or two” as well-meaning outdoor writers sometimes opine. A hook in a saltwater fish’s jaw may rust away eventually, but the thickness of the wire has a lot to do with that length of time. The message here is that it’s best to avoid extra-strong hooks whenever possible. The finer the wire, the

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Circle hooks have grown in popularity for certain types of fishing and fish, just be sure you purchase non-offset circle hooks to best reduce deep hooking of fish to be released. faster it will rust through if a fish swims off with it. sure is applied to the line by the angler, the hook is pulled harmlessly back out of the throat and Also, avoid stainless steel hooks, especially when the turned-in point catches and wraps around bait fishing. Yeah, I know they are appropriate in the fish’s jaw hinge. In round fish this significantly some applications, and come standard on some reduces gut-hooking and increases the chances plugs and jigs, but stainless hooks don’t rust of the fish’s survival after release., but not in all away. Not in most fish’s lifetimes. ‘Nuff said. situations and all species of fish. Circular Arguments Non-offset circle hooks are required in some state's waters when fishing with bait, but what consititues a circle hook? It’s basically defined as a hook where the point is bent inwards so that it’s perpendicular to the shank (a standard Jhook’s point is normally parallel to the shank). The “non-offset” designation means that the bend of the hook (the curved part) is in line with the shank. An offset or “kirbed” hook is one where the bend is kicked out at a slight angle. An offset hook is more efficient in that the point is more likely to catch in a fish’s throat or gullet, but that’s not always a good thing.

Capt. Barry’s Choices People often ask me what brand and size circle hook I use for stripers. I favor the Gamakatsu Octopus Circle, standard wire and nickel finish, in sizes 4/0 to 8/0. I use the smaller hooks on the little “pre-schoolie” bass we’ve been seeing the past couple of seasons in Maine, and the 8/0 size with big mackerel chunks fished on bottom for jumbo stripers. Besides Gamakatsu there are excellent circle hooks offered by Daiichi, Eagle Claw, Mustad, and Trokar, but remember, the designated sizes don’t always exactly match from brand to brand.

The idea of a non-offset circle hook is that the fish Saltwater hooks are an important tool for succan swallow the bait and hook, but when prescessful fishing so hey, choose wisely!!

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NMFS Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel Meeting Update By Capt. Mike Pierdinock Mike Pierdinock runs the charter boat Perseverance out of New Bedford and is the chairman of the RFA Massachusetts chapter. He is heavily involved in fisheries issues, including as a member of the NMFS HMS Advisory Panel. He works tirelessly to provide representation to his fellow recreational fishermen .


s a Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Advisory Panel member, I attended the recent three-day meeting in Silver Spring, Maryland, that had a wide array of issues to deal with. I served as an outspoken advocate on your behalf, and several items of discussion that could ultimately impact recreational anglers and the for-hire fleet that target pelagics are summarized below.

stitute of Marine Science to assess bluefin tuna mortality utilizing light tackle with treble hooks. No mortality was observed based upon the results of the study. As a result we recommended not to implement a mandatory prohibition of treble hooks or lure size limits, minimum line sizes, minimum size reel and rod combinations, use of single barbless hooks, or limitations on the maximum number of releases and fight times. Lack of experience may lead tomethods There were claims by some that recreational that might increase mortality, therefore, we recfisherman utilizing light tackle with treble ommended public outreach to promote the use hooks result in increased bluefin tuna mortality. of J hooks on plugs and jigs utilized to target I was somewhat surprised to hear of this, since small bluefin tuna to minimize foul hooking as most responsible and experienced recreational well as other methods to reduce mortality. anglers in our waters will remove the treble hooks and replaced them with J hooks on light Trophy Bluefins Each year the bluefin tutackle when targeting bluefin tuna or other na recreational fishing trophy fish (1 permitted species. We typically do this to aid in a quick per angler per season) is typically closed early and clean release no matter what species we in the season for New England anglers. Last are targeting. year the closure occurred in August when the bluefin tuna bite had yet to heat up in New We were able to refer to a recent study conducted by William Goldsmith of the Virginia In- England waters. The trophy category quota is

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small and needs to be increased. Last year the HMS General Category commercial fleet was permitted to land five trophy or giant bluefin tuna for sale per trip late into the fall and into November. This has been reduced to four bluefin tuna giants per trip for 2017. I requested that this inequity be addressed as a result of the complaints of many recreational anglers disappointed with the early season closure as well as just a single trophy per year limit. Additional adjustment to the bluefin tuna trophy quota may be necessary depending upon the outcome of the USCG/HMS permitted for-hire charter/headboat (CHB) vessel requirements described below.

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sengers would not likely partake in the process as they might if the fish was caught on hook and line. Those that support the measure want an increased opportunity during a short window early in the season, while conducting charters, to harpoon and sell the fish. Most of the CHB captains supporting this measure also commercially target bluefin tuna with a harpoon under the commercial HMS General Category and Harpoon Category permit.

This is a contentious issue. It interesting to note that those against the proposal include commercial fisherman, harpoon category commercial fisherman, charter boat captains, and recreational anglers, all of whom don't want to There was a recommendation to change the see any addition effort exerted on the fishcommercial bluefin tuna season in northern ery. To implement such a measure also leads and southerly waters. Those who fish in south- to a perception that the trophy category blueern waters recommended that the season be fin tuna quota is small and typically closes early open through April and/or an additional in our waters each year, and to implement a month. For northerly waters a recommendathe new means or method would increase eftion was offered to open a month earlier, or in fort. Recreational anglers continue to be subMay. This continues to be a topic of discussion ject to an early bluefin tuna trophy closure, yet at each HMS AP meeting. Both the northern commercially one can land giants for sale and southern fleets point to the economic im- throughout the fall and in some cases Novempact on recreational anglers, the CHB fleet, ber and December. Use of a harpoon by HMS/ and the commercial fleet with additional CHB vessel to land bluefin tuna results in addimonth of fishing where they claim trophy or tional effort on the fishery and a perception commercial-grade bluefins are present during issue that is not equitable. this time. Those of us in New England continCommercial or Passenger Rules: The ue to point out that additional landing in the south could negatively impact the New EngUSCG early this year concluded that CHB vesland fleet with an early closure. The New Eng- sels are required to comply with USCG comland fleet does not have alternative species to mercial fishing vessel safety requirements even target recreationally or commercially, unlike in if fishing under recreational bag limits and not southerly waters. commercially selling fish landed by the vessel. This was one of the biggest items of discussion, Party/Charter Harpooning: There was with concerns voiced by the CHB fleet from a recommendation to permit CHB vessels to Maine to Texas. Many CHB vessels never fish utilize a harpoon to take giant bluefin tuna commercially and are therefore subject to and swordfish for sale with paid recreational USCG OUPV (six-pack) safety requirements onanglers on the vessel. The captain and first ma- ly, and not burdensome USCG commercial te will harpoon the tuna or swordfish, which safety requirements. The discussion was furwould ultimately be sold. This is not a recrea- ther complicated with questions ranging from tional method of angling, and the paying pas- “does this include vessels fishing in state and

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federal waters? Documented and/or undocumented vessels? Inspected and/or uninspected vessels? CHB vessels commercially landing other non HMS pelagic species?” The list goes on. There was consensus that if a CHB is fishing commercially that the vessel be subject to USCG commercial safety requirements. As noted above CHB, vessels are subject to USCG OUPV safety requirements when fishing recreationally with no commercial sale of fish landed.

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cies such as bluefin tuna and swordfish via hook and line. USCG vessel safety compliance will be based on the category selected within the HMS permit. Therefore, those HMS CHB commercial vessels would be subject to a mandatory USCG inspection every five years, and if successful a USCG emblem/sticker is placed on the boat.

So what is the status of this matter? The legal branch of the USCG in Washington is taking into consideration the input provided by the Requiring those who only fish recreationally to HMS AP, and they say an opinion will be procomply with all of the USCG commercial vessel vided in the immediate future. Stay tuned! safety requirements (immersion suits, life rafts, etc.) would be unfairly burdensome to the rec- Shark Measures On Tap: Finally, as a reational for-hire CHB operators, and in many result of the dusky shark issue previously reinstances is just not be feasible. As an example, ported on, mandatory recreational shark fisha small center console CHB vessel 18 to 20 feet ing measures are proposed to be implemented that never lands and/or sells fish commercially January 1, 2018. Those will likely include a will not have the space available to carry all of HMS permit shark endorsement that requires the safety equipment required for a commerthe completion of an online shark identificacial vessel. Or what if the vessel is a large head tion and fishing regulation training course and boat with 50 anglers on board fishing in desig- review of a shark video. The shark video will nated “cold waters” -- would all 50 anglers provide an overview of the identification of would be required to have an immersion suit dusky sharks and certain other species, safe available? handling and release methods, circle hook requirements, and a multiple choice quiz on Recreational for-hire CHB vessel operators or these subjects. captains must be licensed by the USCG, have a documented history of operation on the water, Mandatory use of non-stainless steel, nonmust pass a rigorous physical exam, provide offset circle hooks will be required when fishproof of operation every five years, and must ing for sharks in all federal waters south of 41° be enrolled in a DOT-certified random drug 43’ N latitude (Chatham, MA area) except testing program, none of which is required for when fishing with flies or artificial lures. Therecommercial fishing vessel operators. Requiring fore, mandatory use of circle hooks is not rethose who only fish recreationally to comply quired north of 41° 43’ N latitude. In the event with all of the USCG commercial vessel safety a HMS permitted angler lands a shark utilizing requirements would be unfairly burdensome a J hook with bait south of the demarcation to the recreational for-hire CHB operators that line, the shark is required to be released. If the have proven safety records on the water. shark is landed on a J hook with flies or artificial lures, the shark can be retained or released Ultimately, two HMS CHB permit options were consistent with HMS season restrictions and proposed -- one that will comply with recreabag limits. tional bag limits where there will be no commercial landing or sale of fish, and the second option to permit the CHB vessel to commercially land and sell HMS regulated permitted spe-

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Making Waves Summer 2017

NMFS “OKs” Gulf of Maine Haddock Measures Then Adds Option to Shut Down September By Capt. Barry Gibson, New England Regional Director


he main focus of a meeting of the New England Fishery Management Council’s Recreational Advisory Committee (RAP) back on January 18th was to develop recommendations for cod and haddock management measures for the 2017 fishing year, which started this past May 1 st.

members buckled down to try and come up with a bag limit and season that anglers could live with without going over the quota.

So, with projections indicating that the haddock quota would be exceeded by 139 mt this year if no changes were made to the regulations, RAP

One of the thorny issues the RAP has been dealing with for years has been the time it takes NMFS to finally implement recreational measures. The

One option presented by folks from the NMFS Science Center in Woods Hole, MA, was a bag limit of 12 fish (down from 15 in 2016), a 17-inch miniIt was clear that the possession of cod would have mum size, and closed seasons from March 1 to to be prohibited in April 14, and another order for the recreaclosure in the fall tional sector to stay from Sept. 17th to below its tiny 157 Oct. 31st. This combimetric ton (mt) annation, said the nual quota, and NMFS people, was there was not a lot projected to hit the of dissension in recrecreational quota ommending a moraright on the nose at torium for 2017. 1,160 mt. RAP memThe quota was exbers were told that it pected to be met was therefore “dojust through projectable.” ed release mortality After much discusof cod (15%) as ansion, the RAP voted glers pursued other the measures up as groundfish species its recommendation, during the course of and forwarded them the year. to the Council’s Haddock, however, Groundfish Commitwas another story. tee, which in turn Although the recreaforwarded them to tional quota will inthe full Council. The crease from 928 mt Council also recomin 2016 to 1,160 mt mended them and this year, the recreaforwarded them on tional sector supposto NMFS for final apedly exceeded its proval and imple2016 quota by 15%. mentation.

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RAP has pleaded with NMFS to get the measures out on the street well before the start of the fishing year (May 1st). This is especially important to the Gulf of Maine’s party/charter fleet, as these operators need to know well in advance what the regs will be in order to inform potential customers. NMFS, however, has had a very poor track record in this regard, and in most years the new rules have been implemented in late April at best.

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measure that was never endorsed by the RAP or the Council. NMFS’s Northeast Regional Administrator, John Bullard, explains it away by saying that since the RAP/Council’s measures would hit the quota target on the nose, that there is too much of a probability of the recreational sector exceeding it and that “It may be prudent to implement more conservative measure.” This is particularly disturbing because the NMFS folks, who were at the meeting in January, never

This year was the worst yet. Nothing happened, May 1st came and went, and still no word. NMFS waved any red flags for the option that the RAP then issued a release that stating that the 2016 ultimately approved. If they had, the RAP would regulations would stay in effect until the new likely have come up with an alternative suite of ones were put in measures, perhaps place. Haddock is the fish of last resort keeping New even a further reduced bag limit, in England for-hire vessels afloat and a favorite Finally, on May 25th, order for the hadof private boat anglers, too. NMFS issued a nodock season to retice seeking public main open until comment on the Sept. 17th. 2017 recreational measures. They One other issue that were just going out concerns many of us to public comment is the fact that the on May 25th! An2017 haddock measglers and captains ure will likely not be were incredulous. implemented until early July. That is disTo add insult to injugraceful in itself, but ry, NMFS has arbia bigger problem trarily included a may be the retention second option for the fall seasonal haddock cloof last year’s 15-hadddock bag limit until that time. sure to run the entire month of September! This The 2017 haddock catch projection is based on a option was never seriously considered by the RAP, 12-haddock bag limit, so how will two extra since the party/charter fleet relies on Labor Day months of 15 fish affect this year’s catch? Will Weekend and the first half of September as the NMFS’s delay ultimately drive the catch up to the period of the season where expenses have been point where we will be further cut back in 2018? met and they can finally make a little profit. And, a full September closure wasn’t recommended by RFA members are urged to let NMFS know that a the Groundfish Committee or the full Council, ei- closure on haddock for the entire month of Septher. The savings in haddock over the Counciltember is totally unacceptable, and that NMFS’s recommended closure from Sept. 17 th to Oct. delay in implementing this year’s measures is un31st? Just 23 mt. out of 1,160. acceptable as well. You can comment by clicking on this link ( online portal) or by Needless to say, anglers and for-hire operators are sending an email to: If furious at both the delay in the process and the you have any questions about the proposal conlast-minute insertion by NMFS of a significant tact Jennifer at (978) 281-9175.

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Making Waves Summer 2017


stands and values the power of grassroots advocacy which is demonstrated by their support of the RFA.

"The RFA is extremely appreciative of Yamaha Marine Group and Martin Peters who serves on the RFA Board of Directors for their support of the RFA and the The Recreational Fishing Alliwork we are doing" stated Jim ance (RFA) is excited to announce a membership incentive Donofrio, Executive Director of the RFA. "Yamaha Marine for 6 select tournaments in the 2017 season. The incentive has Group has emerged as a leader been made possible by Yamaha in fighting for the recreational Marine Group who has commit- marine industry and has been ted to awarding a $1,000 prize effectively working in DC to ento the RFA member with heavi- sure our rights and the needs of our industry are heard and conest fish or the overall points in sidered by legislators." each of the tournaments listed below. To qualify for this prize In order to qualify for the the captain or individual regis$1,000 Yamaha RFA Incentive tered in the tournament must be prize, the captain of the regisan active RFA member. tered boat or individual must be RFA has been working with Yamaha Marine Group and other industry partners on amending the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) to ensure that recreational anglers have reasonable and equitable access to marine fisheries. Many of problems impacting some of the most important recreational fisheries such as red snapper, cobia, black sea bass and summer flounder are a direct result of provisions contained in MSA that disadvantage recreational fishing industry. Yamaha under-

Hyannis Tuna Fest, June 22-24, 2017, Hyannis, MA $1,000 Awarded to the Heaviest Tuna North Atlantic Shark Tournament, July 14-15, 2017. New Bedford, MA $1000 Awarded to the Boat with the most overall points Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association Tournament, August 27, 2017 Mexico Beach, FL $1,000 Awarded to the Heaviest King Mackerel


The 5th Annual Bass River Classic Summer Flounder Tournament was held on June 10th with over an active RFA member prior to 75 anglers participating in the the start of fishing. Make sure one-day event. With the capyour membership is up-to-date to date if you plan to fish any of tain’s meeting, weigh-ins and the following tournaments. You awards ceremony all taking may not make the tournament place at Breeze’s on the Bass Rivleader board but if you out fish er, the event has grown considerably and turned into a comother RFA members participatmunity event marking the opening in that tournament you could come home $1,000 richer. ing of the summer fluke season. The tournament is organized by To make it even easier, join or the Recreational Fishing Alliance renew today! with all proceeds from the event being used to advance the misJolly Mon VIP King Mackerel sion of the RFA. Tournament, June 15, 2016, Ocean Isle, NC $1,000 Awarded Stan Gola and his fishing team for the Heaviest King Mackerel on the C-Witch swept the field

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taking first place in the two heaviest fluke, single largest, heaviest bag-limit and the Yamaha/RFA incentive prize. Stan ‘s success in the tournament was in large part due to landing a 28.5 inch, 8.62lb doormat. Second and third place fields were filled respectively by tournament regular Martin Poslusny on the Bay Girl and Sean Healey on the Wild Thing.

of wind and cool temps, fishing proved to be tough with spring tides and a 15-22mph SW wind with the best bite being the morning hours before high tide.

Tournament sponsors include; Scott’s Bait and Tackle in Mystic Island, Shooters on 539, Allen’s Dock on the Bass River, Absecon Bay Sportsman Center, The Fisherman Magazine, the Boat Shop in Manahawkin, Barnegat Light In the Youth Division, Brody Wil- Fiberglass, Amon Construction, son took home first with a Allen’s Clam Bar, Munro’s Marina, 4.64lb summer flounder folDoyle’s Pour House, Tuckerton lowed by Brody Rawa who has Car Wash, John & Sonia’s Lunchbeen on the leaderboard the eonette, Chestnut Neck Boatyard, past 4 years. Michael Dubler Ellis Family Eyecare, Tuckerton came in third place with a 2.68 Marine, GULP! baits, S&S Bucklb fluke. tails, Bimini Bay Outfitters, Tsumani, Sea Tow, R&H Custom Rods and Tom P. at Rack n’ Fin Radio at 97.3 ESPN FM.

Brody Wilson

Check out the Classic website at for next year’s tournament date.


Brody Rawa While the tournament took place on the first day of good weather after a week-long bout

North Pacific Fishery Management Council Executive Director Chris Oliver has been offered and accepted to be the top administrator for NOAA Fisheries, according to an email he sent out to industry members. Oliver received widespread support from recreational and commercial fishing groups for the appointment to the top fisheries post. The Alaska Charter Association submitted a letter of support endorsing Oliver. His knowledge of Alaska fisheries issues carries advantages to those of us working here. Oliver has served professionally and fairly over the years at the NPFMC, and we look forward to working with him at NOAA.

WIN A TRIP! Ninilchik Charters Hosts Raffle to Benefit the Alaska Charter Association

ACA Board Member Mike Flores and his team at Ninilchik Charters have donated THREE fishing packages for our second raffle benefitting the work of the Alaska Charter Association (Alaska Gaming Permit #3064.)

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Ninilchik Charters offers fishing trips out of Seward, Homer, Ninilchik and on the Kenai River, as well as hunting trips all over the state of Alaska. Raffle drawing will be held on Sept. 4th 2017, over Labor Day Week- SCIENTIFIC ORGANIZAend, and you can schedule your TION LAUNCHED TO trip at your convenience. WINSHARE SUCCESSFUKL NERS DO NOT HAVE TO BE FISHERIES MANAGEPRESENT TO WIN. Raffle tickets MENT WORLDWIDE are $100 each and can be ordered over the phone by calling SEATTLE (Saving Seafood) -- June Ninilchik Charters at 907-2605, 2017 -- Fisheries in the U.S. and 7825. other parts of the developed world have provided a blueprint for sucOnly 250 raffle tickets will be cessful fisheries management globsold, and with three prizes to win, worth $6,100 in total, your ally, according to a newly formed odds of winning are good with scientific advisory group that plans to take the lessons learned from the ACA! these successes and apply them to For full details about the raffle developing fisheries in the rest of click here. Learn more about the world. the trips at The organization, the International

Making Waves Summer 2017

Fisheries Information Network (IFIN), debuted ahead of this year’s SeaWeb Seafood Summit in Seattle. Headed by internationally recognized marine scientists, economists, and fisheries managers, I-FIN hopes to be a global resource on where fisheries are being managed successfully, why they're successful, and how those successes can be adopted elsewhere. “We’ve got a team of people who can provide the most authoritative, scientific advice on what’s happening in global fisheries, and what has been shown to work to improve the performance of fisheries,” said Dr. Ray Hilborn, professor of marine science at the University of Washington and one of the members of the I-FIN steering committee. According to I-FIN, over the last

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several decades, fisheries in much of the developed world have quietly transformed themselves into global leaders in sustainable management. In places like the United States, Iceland, and New Zealand, fishing mortality has been reduced, abundance of many fish species has increased, and more species than ever before are being harvested at a sustainable rate.

“The greatest insight that we’ve uncovered so far is that there are a lot of really sustainable fish stocks,” said Chris Costello, professor of natural resource economics at UC Santa Barbara. “Many people don’t realize that in the U.S., most of our fish are some of the most sustainable on the planet, and there are other places where you find a similar story.” Successful fisheries, like those in the U.S., have several traits in common. Their fisheries are closely monitored and collect significant amounts of data, their management adheres to scientific advice, and their regulations are strictly enforced. Many fisheries in the developing world, in contrast, are data poor, which, combined with weak enforcement, increases the likelihood of overfishing. Identifying and closing these data gaps is one of I-FIN’s top priorities.

vancing our understanding in what’s going on with fisheries there, and how we can improve fisheries for people’s livelihoods.” Much of North America and Europe have collected significant amounts of data on their fisheries, as well as certain fisheries in South America, such as Peruvian anchovetta. However, many fisheries in Africa and Asia have relatively little data collected on them. Compounding this data gap are the unique challenges posed by smallscale fisheries, which make up around 90 percent of fisheries in the developing world and have not traditionally been closely monitored. Successfully managing these fisheries will likely require a different approach than in larger-scale fisheries.

“In the developed world context, where the rule of law is strong, where there are highly evolved processes for doing stock assessments, or making a bridge between research and management, there’s a different set of opportunities for having research make a difference. When you move to the developing world, that really is not appropriate, because of capacity, because of the nature of the fisheries, because of the remoteness of the people, language, politics, many different things,” said Neil “We know a lot about fisheries in Andrew, a professor at the Universome areas of the world and not sity of Wollongong in Australia. very much about fisheries in other areas of the world,” said Mike Mel- “You need to take a philosophically nychuk, a research scientist at the different approach to improving University of Washington. “In the fisheries,” he said. “I think we take developing world, mostly, we the best of the lessons from the deknow very little. What we’re trying veloping world—and there are to do is address some of those data some fundamental ecological gaps by looking at other methods, truths about catching fish—but I other kinds of approaches for ad- think we need to think about it dif-

ferently and with a different skill set, which is much more social, which is much more invested in the management process rather than the provision of data.” I-FIN’s current efforts are an outgrowth of previous efforts to monitor progress in fisheries management at the global level, particularly the RAM Legacy Stock Assessment Database. The information gathered by the RAM Database, particularly the positive developments, has helped I-FIN identify trends in global fisheries, and informs the organization’s current message. “The motivation was that we were seeing all these very bad, sad pictures of fisheries going really in the wrong direction, and we thought ‘well, there are all these NGOs and all these processes that are painting a picture that is probably worse than it is,’” said Ana Parma, a researcher with the Research Council of Argentina. “That was our impression from the fisheries people, because we have seen some improvement in many of them and we thought ‘the only way is to ground these statements on real data.’ That was the motivation to collect RAM.” I-FIN hopes that its efforts will change the way the fisheries are perceived, and that successful management receives more recognition. “The common perception that fish stocks everywhere are in decline are wrong, and we now have very strong evidence, and I would argue irrefutable evidence, that that’s the case,” said Dr. Hilborn. “So we’re hoping to change the general perception about the status of global fisheries.”



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Making Waves Summer 2017

The Official Publication of the Recreational Fishing Alliance

The RFA Mission Safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers Protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs Ensure the long-term sustainability of our nation’s fisheries. Anti-fishing groups and radical environmentalists are pushing their agenda on marine fisheries issues affecting you. The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is in the trenches too, lobbying, educating decision makers and ensuring that the interests of America’s coastal fishermen are being heard loud and clear. Incorporated in 1996 as a 501c4 national, grassroots political action organization, RFA represents 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. “The biggest challenge we face is the fight to reform and bring common sense and sound science into the fisheries management process, says James Donofrio, RFA founder and Executive Director. “Antifishing and extreme environmental groups are working everyday to get us off the water.” Despite the threats to diminish access to our nation’s resources, Donofrio says that RFA offers members hope in an organization that’s designed from the ground up to fight back. “As individuals, our concerns will simply not be heard; but as a united group, we can and do stand up to anyone who threatens the sport we enjoy so much – fishing!” After nearly 20 years working inside the Beltway and within state capitols along the coast, RFA has become known as one of the nation’s most respected lobbying organizations, and our members have a lot to celebrate.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance Headquarters P.O. Box 3080 New Gretna, New Jersey 08224 Phone: 1-888-JOIN RFA toll free Fax: (609) 294-3812

Jim Donofrio Executive Director

Capt. Barry Gibson New England Director

Jim Martin West Coast Director

John DePersenaire Managing Director

Gary Caputi Corporate Relations Director

T. J. Cheek Southeast Director

Making Waves - Summer 2017  

The official news magazine of the Recreational Fishing Alliance

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