SEASONS GREETINGS TO ALL OUR MEMBERS AND SUPPORTERS Making Waves |
ROBBING PETER TO PAY PAUL: A NOAA Mess of Biblical Proportions MAGNUSON REAUTHORIATION ON THE HORIZON MEET THE McMULLANS: Fishing Activists, Tournament Champions Volume Volume2,2,Issue Issue 41 Winter 2013
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Page 32 Volume 2, Issue Summer 2013
FROM THE PUBLISHER’S DESK Gary Caputi
TIS THE SEASON As the holidays rapidly approach everyone at the Recreational Fishing Alliance would like to wish our members and supporters the very best. No matter your religious affiliation or how you observe this special time of year we hope it will find you in the best of spirits surrounded by family and friends. The coming year will be one of challenge for the recreational fishing community. The reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Act is already being debated and the RFA is deeply involved in representing your interests . Our mission remains the same as it has been from the day the organization was chartered; to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers; protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs; and ensure the long-term sustainability of our nation’s fisheries. In the spirit of the season we will strive to bring together a wide ranging and often fractionated fishing community to affect the common sense changes to fishery legislation that has done far more harm than good. Changes we have been championing since before the 2007 reauthorization was even signed into law. We can’t accomplish our goals without your help and support and that of many thousands more anglers around the country. As part of your New Year’s resolution we ask that you include a goal to sign up as many of your friends and fishing buddies in the RFA as you possibly can. In fact, a membership is a great holiday gift with benefits. From all of us to all of you—Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a wonderful New Year’s to all.
Inside this issue:
Executive Director’s Report: On Our Elected Representatives
RFA Issues & News
Profiles: The McMullan’s & Ocean Isle Fishing Center
John DePersenaire on A NOAA Mess of Biblical Proportions
An Open Letter: By Jeff Deem, MAFMC
State Chapter News RFA Boots on the Ground Around the Nation
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Executive Directorâ€™s Report
2014 & MSA Reauthorization By Jim Donofrio, RFA Executive Director The battle lines are drawn, lobbying is well underway and the RFA is in the thick of it on your behalf. Will this be the year we can make substantive changes to flawed legislation?
ext year marks the 7th year since the reauthorization of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act by the 109th Congress in the final weeks of its session. At the time of its signing into law by President George W. Bush in January 2007, it was clear that amendments made to the law were going to have negative impacts on the recreational fishing community as the law became fully implemented in the coming years. Unlike the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 that imposed regulations on fishermen to prompt rebuilding depleted stocks but promised improved access to those fisheries as they began to response to management measures, the 2007 MSA reauthorization established a management regime that becomes even more restrictive for anglers as those fisheries began to demonstrate rebuilding success. A combination of strict annual catch limits and a fatally flawed data collection system put the recreational fishing community in a no-win situation. It is a system that defies the principle intent of fisheries management often cited when rebuilding a fishery that reductions in the short-term will result in greater fishing opportunities and economic benefits in the future as stock improve. Not only is this management approach illogical but it is patently unfair to the recreational fishing community. Both the House of Representatives
and the Senate have undertaken a series of hearing during the second half of 2013 calling in experts, managers and fishermen to identify the flaws with the current law. The hearings demonstrated that while the 2007 MSA reauthorization might be working well for the commercial sector, the law is a complete disaster for the recreational sector. Rumors indicate that a Magnuson reauthorization bill has a very good opportunity to pass out of the House in 2014. However, that optimism is not shared for a bill passing out of the Senate. Recreational anglers have an opportunity to correct some of these serious flaw which have disadvantages the recreational sector since 2007. However, the anti-fishing environmental industry as well as factions of the commercial fishing industry are looking to use the looming reauthorization as an opportunity to further erode recreational fishing access or take fish from recreational fishermen and lock it way in individual fishing quota programs. No question that these two interests are heavily lobbying members of Congress to ensure that their ideology or the interests of their constituents are included in the reauthorization, most likely at the expense of recreational fishermen. 2014 represents a unique and necessary opportunity for the collective recreational fishing community to work together toward achieving a positive outcome of the reauthori-
zation. An outcome that increases recreational fishing opportunities as fish stocks rebuilds, that doesnâ€™t punish anglers for the federal governments unwillingness or inability to improve recreational data collection and one that allows the tremendous economic potential of the recreational fishing industry to grow. This will take a team effort from individual anglers, from small business owners, from recreational fishing organization to establish clear and definitive objectives for the reauthorization and engage Congress in a unified, determined voice. Recreational fishing has the jobs, the economic output, and the votes, so there is no reason that outside groups should be able to pursue their agenda in the coming reauthorization to the detriment of our industry. RFA will be asking for your help in the coming months. We will be asking that you engage the political process and speak to your legislators about the importance and needs of the recreational fishing community. Also, we will be asking you to provide our RFA Political Action Committee (RFA PAC) with any contribution you can. Political contributions are a necessary evil in DC and it goes without saying that the commercial fishing interests and anti -fishing environmental industry is giving heavily to legislators to advance their interests.
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RFA Issues & News By Jim Hutchinson, RFA Managing Director
Each news item includes corresponding hyperlinks. For more information, simply click on the link to read the release in its entirety.
DECEMBER 19 MARKS ‘ANTI-FISHING’ ANNIVERSARY
coastal region between the California/Oregon state line and Alder Creek, near Point Arena in Mendocino County, amidst great jubilation by state officials and corporate "environmental" NGO representatives. The implementation of these "marine protected areas" (MPAs) was preceded by those created on the South Coast, Central Coast and North Central Coast.
West Coast investigative reporter Dan Bacher reminded Americans in a recent Daily Kos column that December 19 marks the first anniversary of the completion of the network of so-called "marine protected areas" off the California coast under the privately-funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. In his recent column, Bacher takes the mainstream media to task for ignoring a huge scandal pertaining to the creation According to Bacher, last year at this time 19 "marine pro- of these marine protected areas - the terminally flawed and tected areas" went into effect in the Northern California incomplete science that these MPAs were based upon and the alarming news that Ron LeValley of Eureka, the co-chair of the MLPA Initiative Science Advisory Team that oversaw the crafting of these alleged "Yosemites of the Sea," is now awaiting trial on federal conspiracy to embezzle charges. Jim Martin, West Coast Regional Director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) is one of many North Coast residents who believe the charges against LeValley call into question the legitimacy of the science used to close vast areas of the North Coast to fishing. "I would like to know how the state of California is going to revise the science advice LeValley provided for the North Coast MLPA Initiative process, based on him allegedly filing false documents," Martin said, while suggesting a "truth and reconciliation commission" to unravel "what really happened" in the MLPA Initiative. Read more at DailyKos.com.
FLORIDA TODAY SAYS BALANCE OF COMMERCE & CONSERVATION SWAYING Finally, federal officials may be willing to consider socioeconomic impact as an issue in their decisions to manage fisheries in the South Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
The empty environmental promise to preserve angler access rights since the MLPA initiative was launched has West Coast anglers angry at the loss of fishing area which has even crept up along the surfcasting set. Photo by Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
In his November 16 report in Florida Today, journalist Bill Sargent reports that how the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard heard testimony relating to the upcoming re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery and Management Act, the primary law governing marine fisheries management in the U.S. “We’ve established that the 2006 re-authorization is working for the fish, but what about the fishermen?” Ben C. Hartig, Chairman of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Coun-
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cil was quoted as saying in a media release by the Recrea- town, Brookhaven, Southold, Southamptom, East Hampton, tional Fishing Alliance (RFA). Shelter Island, Brookhaven, Mastic and Riverhead,” Donofrio said, throwing the organization’s support behind New York Hartig added, “Consideration of the human element of fish- State Senator Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) who has already proven eries management has all but disappeared since the 2006 himself a champion for saltwater anglers in Albany. re-authorization and must be re-introduced back into the management process.” “Sen. Zeldin has made the rights of saltwater anglers one of Click here to Read Bill Sargent’s column. his platforms, both at the state level and now in the race for Congress. I don't have to tell you how important that is as a RFA MAKES EARLY NY ENDORSEMENT IN saltwater angler,” Donofrio said, adding “I would encourage you to read more about Lee at THE 2014 CONGRESSIONAL RACE www.zeldinforcongress.com - he's the fresh young blood With less than 12 months before the midterm election of we need to get the House of Representatives back on track 2014, RFA is already looking closely at races of interest for and working for the America we love.” our members. With all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in play and 33 of 100 seats in the Senate, we exLOUISIANA SPORTSMAN HIGHTLIGHTS pect the 2014 election to hold promise for saltwater anglers FEDERAL RED SNAPPER RESPONSE and recreational fishing business owners on every coast. On December 9, the deadline for submitting comment to a According to RFA executive director Jim Donofrio, with Gal- red snapper allocation plan in the Gulf of Mexico closed. lup polls showing Congress has reached an all-time low, Efforts by the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) to drive winning the approval of just 9% of the American public public comment in favor of the recreational sector were (breaking the previous record low 10% the year before), it reported by Louisiana Sportsmen. has become clear that we're in need of change in Washington DC. Under proposals in Amendment 28, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council could move forward with an allo“For our New York marine anglers, perhaps the biggest area cation plan that provides up to 100 percent of any red snapfor change is in the First Congressional District, made up of per quota above 9.12 million pounds to the recreational some of the 'fishiest' towns on Long Island including Smith- sector.
New York State Senator Lee Zeldin, a saltwater angler himself, has hosted several party boat fishing trips for underprivileged Long Island youth since coming to office in the Empire State. Photo by Jim Hutchinson, Jr.
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Page 9 RFA executive director Jim Donofrio said in a press release that any plan providing a minimum of 90 percent of any red snapper quota beyond 9.12 million pounds to the recreational sector would help give equal opportunity for anglers to enjoy the benefits of rebuilding the red snapper stock. "This is not an allocation war, this is about helping reallocate a portion of the quota over and above the present threshold towards the recreational sector in order to help increase the opportunity for anglers to fish," Donofrio noted. In the days leading up to the federal comment deadline and following the RFA bulletin, comments in favor of the allocation plan quickly surpassed commercial opposition. Click here to check out the Louisiana Sportsman story.
BIG GAME FISHING JOURNAL EXPOSES ENVIRONMENTAL “MASQUERADE”
Red snapper like this one caught not far from shore, are one of the most popular species for residents and tourists alike generating a huge economic impact for the state.
In the world of fishing, recreational fishermen are living the tale of “Little Red Riding Hood” day in and day out as environmental businesses that have long sought to gobble up fishermen on the premise of “protecting” fish stocks have tried all manner of methods of fighting them – lawsuits, alarmist studies and reports, and publicity blitzes. That’s according to Karen Wall, editor of BGFJ.
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Page 10 “At the root of all of this, of course, is the screwed-up language in Magnuson, where environmental businesses forced in rebuilding timeframes that bore no resemblance to the realities of the ocean or of science,” Wall notes, adding that hearings for the next reauthorization of our nation’s federal fisheries law have been underway on and off this year with efforts to increase flexibility in the law in order to loosen the noose around the necks of the fishing communities at the forefront of the debate. “Flexibility is necessary, especially since the best-available science continues to have significant problems stemming from faulty data collection,” she notes. As Wall reports, groups like the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders Alliance, Gulf Fishermen’s Association and South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association - all created by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) as a front to push IFQs on the recreational sector – are trying to influence anglers into believing that catch shares will be a benefit to those who adopt the plan. “Even worse, one of the movers and shakers behind those organizations, Michael Miglini, started up a separate organization called the Charter Fishermen’s Association, a group designed to look like a recreational fishing industry outfit made up solely of charter boat captains, according to Jim
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Hutchinson Jr. of the Recreational Fishing Alliance” said Wall, explaining how Miglini, a commercial permit holder, has had help from EDF which she said has allowed EDF to “dress up in Grandma’s clothing and masquerade as a group of fishermen.” Read more from Big Game Fishing Journal http://www.biggamefishingjournal.com/editorial.html
To Keep Up with All the News from the Recreational Fishing Alliance watch your email box. If you’re not on our electronic mailing click on this link (www.JOINRFA.org) and enter your email address in the box in the upper right hand corner .
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The McMullan Family & the Ocean Isle Fishing Center
he McMullan family is something very special in the world of saltwater fishing. Originally from Atlanta, they migrated to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina with the patriarch of the clan, Rube McMullan, to follow his passion for saltwater fishing. Rube is a successful businessman who maintains a business in Atlanta while spending a good part of the year in OIB where he bought a second home many years ago. His two sons, Brant the elder and Barrett the younger, inherited his love of fishing
and took it to new heights working on local charter boats at an early age, fishing from the family boats and eventually becoming the two youngest men to earn their captainâ€™s licenses in a state known for its charter captains. Both sons put down roots in OIB and live there year round raising their families.
OIB. The facility includes a tackle center and outdoor clothing store, docks that are home to the best charter captains in the area including Barrett and Brant, and the Giggling Mackerel Restaurant. It is a tourist destination and home for serious anglers all rolled into one and it is run by a family that is dedicated to providing their customers As the sons built their charter and charter clientele with the businesses the family built the best personalized service possiOcean Isle Beach Fishing Center, a beautiful facility located at ble. the foot of the causeway bridge A few years back Rube McMulacross the Intracoastal Waterlan hooked up with the RFA way onto the barrier beaches of while working on forage species
TEAM OFIC shows off their winning two fish at the 2013 SKA National Championships Biloxi, Mississippi. The Team from left to right: Rube McMullan, Capt. Barrett McMullan, Caroline and Brayden, Amy McMullan and Capt. Brant McMullan.
cent addition to the team, four year old Brayden. They embody the ideal that the family that fishes together stays together, but their accomplishments in both reThe helpful staff at OIFC is always ready with a warm gional diviwelcome and a wagging tail. sion tournaissues, specifically to get the ments and on the pro tour have Omega Protein purse seine been nothing short of extraordiboats off the beaches and out of nary! state waters in southern North If you’re not familiar with the Carolina. What developed was a Southern Kingfish Association strong working relationship (SKA) Tournament Trail it is the with the entire clan and a family of strong supporters of the RFA. Along the way the battle against Omega was won and the purse seiners were banned from working along the pristine beaches of the area. It was a major benefit to the fishing in the area, too.
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largest and most successful saltwater tournament organization in the United States. They have 10 regional divisions from North Carolina to Texas for weekend warriors and a Professional Kingfish Tour for top teams that reach a level of success that warrants an invitation to step up. SKA hosts or sanctions over 50 tournaments a year, two major fishing rodeo events and the Nationals, the tournament that everyone wants to compete in for the title and a very significant payday. SKA tournaments are sort of like NASCAR and offshore fishing combined boasting high-powered center console fishing boats making long runs in an effort to find the biggest kingfish and then racing to beat the clock back to the weigh-in each day. Think Bassmasters with triple and quad
But the story doesn’t end there. The family, and I do mean family, also happen to be one of the most successful if not the most successful competition teams in the Southern Kingfish Association Tournament Trail in recent years. Team OIFC consists of Rube, Barrett and Brant, Brant’s lovely wife Amy and their The 74-lb. king that put the win in winning at the 2009 SKA National Championships! The six-foot long fish remains the largest kingfish ever weighed in SKA two children, Caroline, competition and the Mississippi State Record. age 9, and the most re-
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outboard center consoles frequently fishing under the harshest conditions imaginable! Competitors regularly clock over 200 miles in a day to get on the biggest kings they can find. You might be interested to know that Jack Holmes, the managing partner of the SKA, also is on the Board of Directors of the RFA and a good percentage of the SKA competition members are also RFA members, including the McMullan family.
Texas, the best teams with the best equipment, all vying for the title. Team OIFC pulled off a win in the most dramatic manner possible on the last day of fishing bringing to the scale the largest kingfish every weighed in the 20+ year history of SKA tournaments! The fish weighed an incredible 74 pounds.
In 2011, the McMullanâ€™s were back in Biloxi, but the team included Brantâ€™s wife Amy and their daughter Caroline fishing In November of 2009 the in the junior division, vying for McMullan clan arrived in Biloxi, another shot at glory. The Mississippi to fish the SKA Naweather was lousy, the two day tional Championships. The team tournament was cut to one and consisted of Brant, Barrett and it was do or die. Team OIFC Rube and they were up against cleared check-out Saturday approximately 175 teams of top morning and made the 84-mile anglers from North Carolina to run to the Dome at full speed
arriving as one of the first boats on the scene. They had a fish on as soon as the first bait hit the water and the action never stopped, except when they ran out of live bait and had to hunt for more. The first fish was fought to the boat by Amy and estimated at 45 pounds so it went on ice in the fish bag while the rest of the clan was hooking and releasing one 30 to 40 pound king after another, releasing them quickly so they could get bait in the water to try for bigger ones. Kings were jumping out of the water all around them, but they realized it would take a bigger fish to make it onto the leader board because most of the boats in the tournament were within sight fishing
much line and it came in without a struggle, but once it saw the boat the 50-pound plus king went crazy. It took all their skill and some fancy boat handling before the gaff was planted in their biggest fish of the day. At the weigh-in Brant was having second thoughts about the size of the team’s two fish. "I really thought they would be around 99 pounds combined," he said. Their smaller fish dropped the scales to 48.43 while their second fish weighed an impressive 54.70 pounds for a 103.13 pound two-fish aggregate giving the OIFC Team the lead. They had won the Nationals two out of the past three years, quite a feat, but our RFA family from North Carolina was-
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n’t done breaking records yet. This past November at the SKA Nationals in Biloxi, again with nasty weather cutting the fishing days from two to one, the McMullan were in the hunt for big fish. The crew consisted of Rube, Brant, Barrett, Amy, Caroline and Brayden and they were back in the same area where they caught their winning fish in year’s past. Here’s how it happened in Brant’s own words.
Blast off was at 6:40 AM on Saturday morning and over 100 big, powerful, offshore fishing boats shot across the sea at 60+mph. The ocean had gotten much nicer compared to previous days, but it still presented a sloppy 3-4’ Southeast sea. After a stop to check out a group of
rigs called the Cities, we headed to the Salt Dome. When we arrived there were 10 other boats fishing the area and every single boat was fighting fish. This is what we came for—the Salt Dome bite has become famous as the ultimate king mackerel bite. We won our 2009 and 2011 National Championship titles while fishing this very spot, and we were ready to do some business. I ran around the group of boats and surveyed what was going on before settling up sea. Barrett and Rube deployed and it took about five minutes before the first reel went off. After the bite, I set the boat in neutral and we began drifting and free-lining baits to hungry and fired-up kings. Amy was angling one fish out of a
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double, which swung close to the boat. She put out the word of good fish and Rube ran up to sink the gaff in a long fish. I was baiting more hooks and briefly looked up to see the fish come over the rail. I got a little excited as I felt like this fish could make for one half of a possible winning duo; possibly making 50 pounds, but it was all work aboard our boat as we continued to set out baits and battle fish. The objective is to try to keep multiple fish on the hooks at all times so we can cull through and keep the biggest fish. Barrett was hooked up and I stuck the gaff in another nice fish which we pulled aboard and put on ice. We knew we had a
couple of good fish that should show well for us. The problem with that kind of bite is everyone is catching fish, and you have to assume that others are catching the same quality of fish. Around noon Amy and Rube were locked into a double header of screaming reels. Rube saw his fish and announced that he had the big one. Amy and I were getting an eye on her fish and when it came by the boat we both remarked on how wide the fish’s back seemed. Rube hollered as his fish bit through the wire, a fish that he would later swear was easily over 60 pounds. Amy’s fish was stubborn and had actually gotten tail wrapped, coming up sideways and tail first. We couldn’t
judge the fish and didn’t want to kill a fish we weren’t going to weigh, so we allowed Barrett to reach over and tail the fish aboard. As Barrett hoisted it my eyes grew wide—this was a fat fish. I pronounced this is our big fish at which point Barrett and I went into a debate. We ended up putting the three fish we had boated together and measuring them to determine which two fish we needed to ice and take best care. Our first fish and last fish ended up being our weigh fish. The final chapter of the story comes on the ride to the weigh in. We felt like we had good fish, and getting there on time was top priority. Rube prompted me to leave a little early on a
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few occasions, but I pushed it to keep trying for a bigger fish. The ride home was 70 miles of open ocean and it ended up being much rougher than I anticipated; I had made a mistake. I was watching the GPS and calculating all along how fast we needed to go to make it in time. It was going to be close, and we were getting beat up trying to maintain the needed speed, but we were going to be OK. Then with 37 miles left the starboard engine died and my heart sank. I jumped back to the bilge and pumped the fuel primer bulb while Barrett fired the engine and throttled up, but it died again. This was the exact same scenario we had seen two weeks earlier. We had again gotten water into our fuel and again it had caused a failure.
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There was no hesitation as we learned the only way to keep the engine going was to literally give it manual resuscitation by continually pumping the fuel primer bulb and thus forcing fuel into the engine. Amy jumped into the bilge and Barrett lay on the floor taking turns pumping the primer bulb until their forearms burned too much to continue. Meanwhile Caroline held onto Brayden, Rube jumped in for occasional primer bulb pumps and I drove the boat for all she was worth.
Fit instructor in Ocean Isle Beach, and I think the trainer/ motivator in her kept us in the game. I watched the GPS and its projected ETA as we fought to make the 5 PM deadline. Keep in mind that it is still rough while all of this going on. We are getting beat up physically and mentally agonizing. As we got closer to shore the seas settled enough to pick up speed and we began to pick up time.
At 4:50 we showed the tournament official our boat number and a huge sigh of relief was reI was honestly on the brink of leased. We’d done it. We didn’t tears as there was a time shortly have any idea how were going after the problem occurred that to fair in the tournament, but we it was apparent we were not go- did know that we had done ing to make it. Amy took on the enough to at least have the oprole of motivator as she pushed portunity to find out. We soon both Barrett and I to keep going learned that Windy Conditions and push harder. She is a Cross was in the lead with 91 pounds, but it was still early in weigh-in and I thought we might do pretty well. As we moved through the weigh-in line we found out that Choice of Two, another boat that fishes out of OIFC, had weighed a monster 58 pound king and taken over first place with 94 pounds. I was really excited to hear of their success, and again thought it strange that more weight had not been posted. By my calculations I figured we had in the neighborhood of 100 Tea,m OFIC pose with their trophy after winning the 2011 SKA National Championpounds, and it was ships. Brant’s daughter would be aboard for the teams threepeate in 2013.
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dawning on me that we might actually win this thing again. The weigh-master weighed our smaller fish at 48.82 pounds and Amy and I looked at each other knowingly, we had done it. We pulled out the big fish, the king that Barrett had simply tailed into the boat, and it pulled the scales to 56.28 pounds. We had taken over the lead and won our third SKA National Championship title in five years!
most dramatic and most proud, hardworking, humble, earned through perseverance. and caring of the environ-
To the uninitiated, what the McMullan’s accomplished that day was miraculous, but unless you’ve actually been in SKA competition and experienced what it is really like it’s hard to imagine that any team could win the National Championships three out of five years! For it to be one of the most generally liked teams on the tournament circuit made their win more palatable for In retrospect it was not the the other competitors and the most glamorous as nothing applause and the outpouring could rival the 74 pounder we of congratulations was simply caught in 2009. It was not the amazing. I know, I was there most efficient as 2011 saw us and saw it happen.
all working perfectly in sync and losing no fish. However, 2013 will go down as the
The McMullan’s are at once the all American family unit,
ment and the fisheries they enjoy and make their living from; while also being a group of the toughest competitors in tournament competition. Their work on behalf of fishermen in North Carolina is tireless and deserving of high praise and we appreciate the work they have done with the RFA to promote the organization. Everyone at the RFA is proud to have them as members and to call them friends. At this very special time of year we rejoice in their continued success and wish them all a very Merry Christmas and great fishing in the New Year.
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Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: A NOAA Mess of Biblical Porportions! By John DePersenaire
Anglers in the South Atlantic recall overall annual catch limit. It In draft Amendment 7 to the the massive bottom fishing closed should be the responsibility and Highly Migratory Species fishery areas that were implemented by the desire of the fishery partici- management plan currently under NOAA. The closure impedes fish- pants to convert as much of that its second extension of public ermen’s ability to fish for red snap- discard mortality to harvest mortal- comment, NOAA has selected preper and many other important ity. ferred options that would reduce bottom fish from South Carolina to the bluefin tuna allocation for recFrom a management and assessFlorida. NOAA had implemented reational anglers and other selecment standpoint, the accuracy of the closure to enforce tive gear categories the annual catch limit and transfer it to BLUEFIN TUNA ARE A HIGHLY PRIZED TARGET SPECIES FOR for Warsaw grouper the 160 permitted and speckled hind longline vessels. RECREATIONAL ANGLERS AND A HIGH VALUE TARGET which are set at zero. Basically, NOAA is FOR COMMERCIAL FISHERMEN. With each species asproposing to take sumed to have a away landings from 100% discard mortality recreational anglers rate, NOAA closed and apply them to hundreds of miles of discards in the ocean to prevent any longline fishery. incidental catch of Recent changes these non-targeted with ICCAT regulaspecies. tions stipulate that However, this kind of dead bluefin tuna draconian but appardiscards must come ently necessary manoff each country’s agement to enforce overall quota. To Magnuson Stevens Fishery Con- data collection for harvested fish is comply with this regulation, NOservation and Management Act far better than discarded fish. AA is proposing to take 68 metric (MSA) is not the course of action From a socioeconomic standpoint tons of bluefin quota from selecNOAA intends to take with the - save a few catch and release fish- tive gears such as the angling and pelagic drift longline fleet in the eries - discarded fish provide no general categories and apply it to financial benefit or purpose. In the pelagic longline fishery effecAtlantic Bluefin Tuna fishery. most recreational fisheries, anglers tively increasing their allocation by Mortality is mortality, regardless if go to great lengths to minimize 82%. the fish is landed or discarded. their mortality associated with disAnd under the management reInstead of imposing greater recarding noting the value that regime in place since the last reaustrictions on the longline fishery to duce discard mortality presents to thorization of MSA, dead discardreduce their dead discards and future opportunities. ed fish are applied to the sector’s making those longliners accounta-
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ble for their bluefin tuna bycatch, NOAA is rewarding this unselective gear type while punishing recreational fishermen. And you thought it was ridiculous that NOAA would close an entire South Atlantic region to eliminate any incidental bycatch mortality coming on Warsaw or speckled hind catches? Recreational anglers should be up in arms over this blatant attack by NOAA against the recreational fishing community. Thatâ€™s why RFA is supporting the following action for Amendment 7.
Strictly maintaining the longline allocation for bluefin of 8.1% of the total US quota. Implementing measures to immediately reduce bluefin bycatch in the longline fishery instead of finding ways of allowing the longliners
to continue to catch vast quantities of bluefin.
erage of every longline vessel in the Gulf or Atlantic.
Implementing a mechanism to immediately prohibit the use of pelagic drift longline gear once their bluefin quota is projected to be have been met through either landings and/or dead discards.
Eliminate "latent permits" in the longline fishery.
Increasing the size and number of time-area closures, preventing longliners from fishing in areas where they incur bycatch of bluefin. Establishing an annual bluefin bycatch "cap" for every single longliner in the Gulf and Atlantic, and never to exceed 8.1% of the total US quota. Establishing 100%, industryfunded observer or electronic cov-
Effectively addressing the problem of discarding of juvenile bluefin in the longline fishery which are the primary size class targeted by recreational anglers. The public comment period for Amendment 7 is open until January 10, 2014. RFA will be circulating an action alert in the coming weeks to provide information on how to submit comments to NOAA on Amendment 7. If youâ€™re not presently receiving RFA email alerts, sign up free on the bottom of the homepage at www.joinrfa.org.
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An Open Letter: From Jeff Deem of the Mid Atlantic Fisheries Management Council Concerning the River Herring & Shad FMP.
o My Fellow Recreational Fishermen:
I would like to respond to the concerns of my friends and fellow Mid Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (the Council) member's about my vote on the river herring and shad issue at the October 2013 Council meeting. First, I would like to commend the environmental community for bringing the issue of forage fish to the forefront a few years ago. At the time, the councils were so deep in the task of restoring our over fished stocks, that we were not focusing on the forage issue even though forage is critical to recovering and maintaining our fisheries. We are not at odds on the need to manage forage. The question is how to go about it. To put everything in perspective, you should be aware of the information provided to Council members before the meeting: Commercial fishermen had already begun to address the bycatch of these forage species by alerting each other of areas where they have encountered substantial river herring and shad catches. High bycatch numbers are a lose/ lose situation for these fishermen whether through the time and effort required to sort the catch or because of the possibility that their fishery could be closed if too many of these forage species are caught. Catch caps for shad and river herring in
the Atlantic mackerel and Atlantic herring fisheries will take affect this year. Once the shad and river herring landings are estimated to have reached the cap levels, the offending fisheries will be shut down. These species are managed by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (the Commission) because they spawn in state waters, not the EEZ where the MAFMC has authority.
“NOAA Fisheries has recently committed to expanded engagement in river herring conservation.” The Council is “initiating a framework that would improve precision and increase accountability in the river herring and shad cap for the mackerel fishery”. Additional research into stock abundance is needed to establish biological reference points. The National Marine Fisheries Service has been diverting resources from other small mesh fisheries to mid-water trawl fisheries in recent years to get better information on river herring bycatch. Midwater trawl fisheries appear to be responsible for most of the at-sea bycatch.
Through the Commission, the various Atlantic states have ongoing river herring and shad conservation efforts at various levels and the states have recently increased their control of state landings. Although they have not been formally assessed since 2007, American shad stocks do not appear to be recovering . As for river herrings, NOAA Fisheries has recently found that they are not endangered or threatened and that coastwide abundances of river herrings appear to be stable or increasing. You can find more details at the link below.
You can find the materials we were provided at http://www.mafmc.org/ briefing/october-2013, under Tab 2. One of the fisheries with the highest incidence of bycatch in the past was the mackerel fishery. For the last few years, there has not been any substantial mackerel fishery. Some of the most outspoken groups are apparently concerned that if the fish return, there could possibly be a problem. Council members have not seen any evidence that this fishery will return in the near future. While it would be desirable to commit Council staff to study these species, develop a Draft Environmental Impact
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When he isnâ€™t busy taking care of RFA business he can sometimes be found catching dinner.,
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Statement (DEIS), initiate a formal Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) have observers on every boat and all of the other steps requested by the environmental community, the Council's staff and resources are already committed to studies we have requested for other fisheries. Throughout both of my terms on the Council, we have pressed for more and more staff commitment to research and improved scientific data in the many fisheries we manage. The staff and funds are already stretched to the limit and it is quite likely that some of these commitments concern species that are important to you. Are we willing to postpone research on summer flounder, black sea bass or one of the other species we manage? We believe we have a plan that will avoid any major diversion of resources from other projects while also addressing the core data and management gaps for river herring and shad.
Page 27 bine the various efforts under way into a cohesive program to address the problem. This joint effort also creates a new opportunity for the Council to address its concerns about these fisheries. While we have discussed the problems with dams, pollution, pharmaceuticals, habitat degradation, dead zones, etc., we did not have any authority to address these issues because they occur in state waters. Hopefully, this partnership will allow us to present our concerns and have some influence in finding solutions to those problems.
still suffering the affects of this fishery disaster as these predators appear to be consuming substantial portions of the stocks we are trying to rebuild. Nothing can be taken at face value. Every request, proposal and opinion has to be both considered and verified.
There is more to do to insure that our plan works. Two of the most important are the issues of industry funded observer coverage and slippage (the possibility of dumping a net with excessive bycatch before it is witnessed by an observer) which I have recently learned will be Recreational fishermen are appointed to addressed in early 2014. Updates will be bring the perspective and experience of provided at the Council website, a recreational fisherman to the council www.mafmc.org. I have also been adand to insure that the interests of recrea- vised by the Council Executive Director tional fishermen are addressed. This that further details on the Council's work does not mean that they are to damn group approach will be presented at the the rest of the world and insist that recre- December 2013 Council meeting. ational fishermen be allowed to catch You can track NOAA's expanded eneach and every fish or that the entire gagement efforts at We would all like to have more research focus has to be on their fish. No group http://www.nero.noaa.gov/prot_res/can and better science across the entire spec- owns each and every fish. If they belong didatespeciesprogram/RiverHerringSOC. trum of fisheries management. The reali- to anyone, they belong to every Amerihtm. A recent update can be found at ty is however, that like it or not, there are can. With very few exceptions, each http://www.nero.noaa.gov/stories/2013 real funding limits. We are not likely to member's obligation is to see that every/rhupdate.html.. see any change in this situation in the one has a fair share of any healthy stock. Council members are sworn to protect current political environment. Please stay involved and hold our feet to the resource first with the interest of all I should mention that the Draft Environthe fire on this issue. of those that benefit from the resource mental Impact Statement (DEIS) that being the very next priority. some are calling for would take 2 to 3 Jeff Deem, Virginia Obligatory Member. years, at a minimum, followed by anoth- We are also not appointed to represent er year to complete the Amendment only one group and it would be irresponnecessary to implement the Council's sible and foolish to assume that any one recommendations. The solution we group has all of the answers. We are to passed develops a working group conweigh all of the information and base sisting of Council and Commission staff, our actions on what we believe to be the the NOAA Regional Office and state fish- most reliable of that information. The eries officials that should produce results extremist members of each user group much sooner. The Council members' would have you believe that their way is commitment to the forage issue was the only way and that to think freely or demonstrated in the 'motion to amend' develop any alternative is to abandon which changed the original motion's your responsibilities. To be even modestrequirement to reconsider the “stocks in ly successful, a member has to respect the fishery” question in five years to each group's concerns and try to formuthree years. We also insisted that the late plans that work for everyone. progress of the working group be reportPlease keep in mind that some of the ed annually. These reviews will begin at groups that are insisting that we blindly the June 2014 Council meeting. We are follow the DIES and 'stocks in the fishery' serious about this issue. path are also the ones that insisted that The new joint working group is mandat- we shut down the summer flounder fished to 'seek to improve current manageery a few years ago. They believed that ment by aligning current ASMFC, individ- the stocks would then quickly grow to ual state, and at-sea cap management the target level, a level that the science measures to comprehensively address and models later determined was unatfishing mortality throughout the species tainable. They also pushed for severe range in state and federal waters...'. It is restrictions on the spiny dogfish fishery not to 'study' the problem for another when everyone on the water knew the three years a some suggest, but to com- population was out of control. We are
While Deem’s vote might seem controversial, it was a well reasoned decision based on the facts and with the best interests of the resource in mind.
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RFA CHAPTER NEWS Reports & Updates from RFA State Chapters and Regional Directors RFA-NY New York Sportfishing Federation Jim Hutchinson
RFA FISHING SEMINARS AT NY BOAT SHOW: Discount Show Tickets Exclusively for RFA Supporters The Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) will once again be hosting how to fishing semin a r s a t t h e N e w Yo r k B o a t S h o w , wh i c h t h i s y e a r w il l b e h el d f r o m W e d n e s d a y , J a n u a r y 1 t h r o u g h S un d a y , J a n u a r y 5 at t h e J a v i t s C e n t e r i n M an h a t t a n . E x c l u s i v e l y f o r R F A m e m b e r s , t h e r e’ s a l s o a $ 3 d i s c o u n t o n a d m i s s i o n p r i c e w he n y o u p u r c h a s e t i c k e t s online at w w w . n y b o a t s h o w . co m / a t t e n d e es / a d mi s s i o n . a s p x a n d a p p l y t h e promo code RFA.
i s a l s o we l l - k n o w n a s c o s t a r o f t h e s yn d i cated fishing show Northeast Angling Television. At 7 p.m., head out Island for East E nd S t r i p e r s w it h C a p t . J o e P a r a d i s o o f Eastern L.I. Sportfishing Charters, one of t h e N o r t h F o r k ’ s t o p s t r i p e d b a s s g u i d es who goes on the hunt for trophy stripers from Greenpoint and Orient out to the fab l e d w at e r s b et w e en F i s h e r s a n d G a r d i n e r s Islands. T o k i c k o f f t h e S a t ur d a y l i n e u p o n J a nu a r y 4, be sure to bring along a pencil and
O u r e x c l u s i v e N e w Y o r k f i s h i n g s e m in a r s g e t u n d e r w a y o n T h u r s d a y n i g h t , J a nu a r y 2 a t 6 p . m . wi t h R FA m a n a g i n g d i r e c t o r J i m H u t c h i n s o n t a l k i n g up B u n k e r Bu s t i n’ Ba s s t e c h n i q u e s . D ub b e d ‘ t he m os t i m p o r t a n t fish in the sea’ bunker or menhaden schooled up along the New York and New Jersey coast from May through July provides outstanding trophy striper action for t h o s e us i n g l i v e b ai t s o r l u r es . At 7 p . m . o n T h u r s d a y n i g h t , g e t i n t o s o m e W e s t E nd F l u k e w it h C a p t . Au s t i n P e r i l l i , a B r o o k l y n b a s ed l i g h t t a c k l e ex p e r t w h o c h a s e s d o o r mats runs from the flats of Gravesend Bay and Coney Island to deepwater hotspots like Ambrose and Chapel Hill channels in search of New York fluke. F r i d a y n i g h t , J a n u a ry 3 , i t ’ s Bl a c k f i s h i ng o n L o n g I s l a nd S o u nd w i t h C a p t . R i c h T e n r e i r o o f R & G C h a r t e r s o f P o r t W a s hi n g t o n a n d captain aboard the Angler Fleet; Capt. Rich
RFA managing director Jim Hutchinson with a 42-pound striper boated while chasing bunker schools off the North Jersey coast while fishing with Capt. Tony Arcabascio. Both Hutch and Tony will be doing fishing seminars at the 2014 New York Boat Show at the Javits Center in January.
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n o t e p a d f o r a n e xc l u s i v e l o o k a t S p o o n F e e d i n g T r o p h y S t r i p e r s w i t h C a p t . To n y "Maja" Arcabascio, maker of Tony Maja Bunker Spoons. This 11 a.m. workshop will s p o t l i g h t t h e a rt an d s c i e n c e o f w i r e l i n e bunker spooning for striped bass explained i n d e t a i l b y o n e o f t h e m o s t a r e a ’ s mo s t h i g h l y r e g a r d e d s t r i p e d b as s s k i pp e r s , known for bring numerous 40’s and 50’s to t h e g u n n e l e v e r y s pr i n g a n d f a l l . At n o o n , the focus moves to Doormat Fluke with noted author/angler Tom Schlichter of N e w s d a y a n d T h e Fi s h e r m a n m a g a z i n e , a s h e t a k es a l o o k a t t h e m o s t p o p u l a r s p e c i e s targeted by NY Bight fishermen from Mont a u k t o S t at e n I s l a nd a n d a l l a l o n g t h e J e r sey Shore. Whether you’re hunting for trophy stripers, doormat fluke or offshore pelagic, the key t o s u c c e s s c a n o f t en b e f o u n d i n C a s t ne t t i n g & Li ve Ba i t F i sh i n g, a n d t h e N e w Y o r k B o a t S h o w is p r o u d t o h a v e M a n h a t t a n sharpie Capt. Frank Crescitelli of Finchaser C h a r t e r s & G u id e s C h o i c e T a c k l e o n t ap a t
1 p . m . o n S a t u rd a y . I f y o u ’ v e e v e r w a n t e d to learn the tricks for throwing a cast net, d o n ’ t m i s s t h is s p e c ia l p r e s e n t a t i o n o n J a n uary 4! Then at 2 p.m., it’s Capt. Joe Leggio of ChasinTailTV.com for a unique look a t J i g gi n g Bl a ck f i s h , o n e o f t h e h ot t e s t n e w t e c h n i q u e s f o r t a k i n g t h i s t a s t y, f e i s t y and often finicky local reef favorite - using l i g h t t a c k l e , it is n o t o n l y v e r y e f f e c t i v e , but also very exciting! An outstanding pair of seminars caps off t h e w e e k o f f i s h - f in d i n g a t t h e N e w Y o r k B o a t S h o w o n S u nd a y , w it h J i m m y F ee o f O n t h e W a t e r M a g az i n e k i c k i n g o f f t h e J a n u a r y 3 l i n e - u p w i t h a l o o k a t I ns h o r e Li gh t T a c k l e P e l a gi cs , f o cu s i n g o n r u n & g u n t a c tics for chasing light tackle targets like bonito, false albacore, even a few Spanish mackerel when conditions are right and your proper arsenal is in place. No t e d N e w Y o r k C i t y a r ea l i g h t t a c k l e s k i pp e r , C a p t . J o e M a t t i o l i o f O n t h e B i t e C h ar t e r s picks up on the fly and light tackle focus w i t h a n e x c l u s i v e l o o k a t F l y & Li gh t T a c k l e
NY B i gh t t a c t i c s .
O n e o f t h e M a n h at t a n and Staten Island top light tackle sharpies, C a p t . J o e wi l l p u t t h e f o c u s o n l i g h t t ac k l e spin and fly techniques for stripers, bluef i s h , we a k f i s h a n d fa l s e a l b a c o r e , a l l v ir t u a l l y w i t hi n m i n u t e s f r o m N e w Y o r k C i t y . Get more information and directions to the J a v i t s Ce n t e r a t ww w . n y b o a t s h o w . c o m – and be sure to get your tickets in advance by clicking here and entering the promo code RFA for your discount on tickets! O n t h e p o l i t i c a l f r o n t , R F A h a s b ee n c a r e fully monitoring potential changes to repr e s e n t a t i o n t o t h e A t l a n t i c S t at e s M a r i n e F i s h e r i e s C o m m i s s i on ( A S M F C ) i n t h e s t a t e of New York. A commission of U.S. states f r o m M a i n e t o F l o r i d a , t h e AS M F C w a s formed by an Act of Congress in 1950 to coordinate and manage fishery resources, including shellfish, marine fish and anadromous species. Each member state is repres e n t e d b y t h r e e Co m m i s s i o n e r s , i n c l ud i n g t h e d i r e c t o r f o r t h e s t a t e ’ s m a r i n e f i s he r i e s management agency, a member of the s t a t e l e g i s l at u r e , a n d a n i n d i v i d u a l a p pointed by the governor. T h e v a r i o u s m e m b er s o f t h e A SM F C p a rt i c i p a t e i n v a r i o u s d el i b e r a t i o n s o n k e y a r e a s including interstate fisheries management, r e s e a r c h a n d s t a t i s t i c s , f i s h e r i es s c i en c e , h a b i t at c o n s e r v a t i o n , a n d l a w e n f o r c e ment. W h i l e e a c h o f t h e 1 5 s t a t es h a s t h r e e C o m m is s i o n e r s , i t i s a o n e - s t a t e o n e vote process which typically involves the t h r e e i n d i v i d u al s t at e m e m b e r s t o c o m e u p with a consensus before contributing to t h e s i n g l e A S M FC v o t e f o r a g i v e n s t a t e . I n N e w Y o r k , t h i n g s h a v e c h a n g e d w it h r e gard to the ASMFC in recent years. First and foremost, after 40 years service in the N e w Y o r k S t a t e S e n a t e f r o m t h e 4 t h S en a t o r i a l D is t r i c t , O w en J o h n s o n a n n o u n c e d h i s r e t i r e m e n t d u r i ng t h e s u m m e r o f 2 0 1 2 , paving the way for local republican Assemb l y m a n P h i l B o y l e i n t h e s t a t e s e n a t e ra c e . W i t h s u p p o r t f r o m R F A a n d t he N e w Y o r k S p o r t f i s h i n g F e d e r at i o n , B o y l e w as e l ec t e d t o t h e Se n a t e wi t h 5 3 % o f t h e v o t e, a n d e n d e d u p r e t a i n i n g t h e l e g i s l at i v e s e at t o t h e A S FM C p r e v i o us l y h e l d b y Se n . J o h n son. In addition to his being personally e n g a g e d i n o u r c o a s t a l f i s h e r i es is s u e s ,
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S e n . B o y l e h a s a l s o t a b b e d K at h y He i n l e i n o f t h e C a pt r e e F l e et a n d a d i r e c t o r o f t h e New York Sportfishing Federation as his ASMFC proxy. T h e g o v e r n o r ’ s a p p o i n t e e t o t h e A SM F C , P a t A u g u s t i n e , h as s e r v ed f o r 1 5 ye a r s s i n c e b e e n s el e c t ed b y r e p ub l i c a n G o v e r n o r G e o r g e P a t a k i b a c k i n t h e l at e 1 9 9 0 ’ s . Having mostly turned his back on the recreational fishing community in recent y e a r s , A u g u s t i n e ha s a n g e r e d m a n y R F A a n d N e w Y o r k S p o r t f i s h i n g F e d e r a t i on b y continually denouncing Governor Andrew C u o m o ’ s r e p e a l o f t h e s a l t wa t e r f i s h i n g t a x , w h i l e al s o s u p p o r t i n g i n c r e a s e d c o m m e r c i a l h a r v e s t o f s t r i pe d b as s . T h is f a l l , i t w a s announced at a New York Marine Res o u r c e s A d v i s o r y Co u n c i l m e e t i n g t h a t t h e New York Department of Environmental Conservation - and Governor Cuomo himself – was actively seeking nominations for a representative to replace Augustine as the governor’s appointee. I n r e s p o n s e , b o t h t h e R F A a n d t he N e w Y o r k S p o r t f i s h i n g F e d e r a t i o n , i n a d d i t i on t o the New York Fishing Tackle Trades Association and United Boatmen of New York, h a v e s e n t l et t e r s t o A l b a n y i n s u p p o r t o f E m e r s o n H a s b r o u c k a s t he g o v e r n o r ’ s n e w a p p o i n t e e . A s S e ni o r E x t e n s i o n E d u c a t o r f o r M a r i n e E n v i r o n m e n t a l I s s ue s a n d F i s h eries Management at the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Suffolk County, RFA and our coalition of angling groups believe E m e r s o n H a s b r o u c k i s u n i q u e l y q u a l i f i ed t o represent both the commercial and recreational fishing sectors. An avid saltwater angler himself, Mr. H a s b r o u c k h a s d e d i c a t e d h is p r o f e s s i o n a l l i f e t o h e l p i n g s a f eg u a r d t h e m a r i n e en v i ronment and surrounding area, while concentrating on the socioeconomic imp o r t a n c e o f a v i b r an t a n d s u s t a i n a b l e f i s h ing community by working hand -in-hand w i t h o u r c o a s t a l f is h e r m e n o v e r t h e y e a r s . RFA-NY - together with our friends at the N e w Y o r k S p o r t f i s h in g F e d e r a t i o n – h op e s f o r a m o r e h e a l t hy a n d p r o s p e r o u s N e w Y e a r i n o u r m a r i n e d i s t r i c t . W i t h a fr e s h s l a t e a t t h e A SM F C , a n d p e r h a p s s o me l e g islative success in Washington DC through Jim Donofrio’s efforts to lobby Congress,
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we are optimistic about 2014! _______________________________________ ________
New England Update Capt. Barry Gibson RFA New England Regional Director
R F A C o n t in u e s T o F i g h t N o Fishing Zone Off Massachusetts M a s s a c h u s et t s a n g l e r s , a l o n g w i t h p a r t y and charter boat operators, continue to fight a proposed 55-square-mile “no recreat i o n a l b o t t o m f is h i ng ” z o n e c o n t a i n e d i n the New England Fishery Management C o u n c i l ’ s ( N E F M C ) “ O m n i b u s E s s e n t i al F i s h H a b i t a t A m e n d me n t 2 ” s c h e d u l ed f o r i m p l e m e n t a t i o n s o m et i m e i n 2 0 1 4 . A s I s t at e d i n t h e f al l e d i t i o n o f t h e R F A e n e w s l e t t e r , m a n y o f t h e a l t e r n a t i v es i n t h e d r a f t d o c u m e n t a r e s e n s i b l e a n d r e a s o na b l e , a n d wi l l h el p p r o t e c t c o d , h a d d o c k , and other bottom fish, particularly in areas w h e r e t h e s e s p e c i e s s p a w n . B u t t h e m an a g e r s o f t h e S t e l l w ag e n B a n k N a t i o n a l M a r i n e S a n c t u a r y ( S B N M S ) h a v e b e e n p u s hi n g t h e N E F M C t o i n c l ud e a 2 5 1 - s qu a r e - m i l e Sanctuary Ecological Research Area, known a s S E R A I I , a t t h e l ow e r p o r t i o n o f t h e W e s t e r n G u l f o f M ai n e C l o s e d a r e a , wh ic h h a s b e e n c l o s ed t o c o m m e r c i a l g r o u n d f i s h i n g s i n c e 1 9 9 4 b ut h a s b e e n o p e n t o r e c r e ational fishing. T h e p r o p o s e d 5 5 -s qu a r e - m i l e “ r e f e r e n c e a r e a ” i s s i t e d a t t h e s ou t h e r n e n d o f t h e S E R A I I , a n d w o u l d b e c l o s e d t o r e c r e a t i o n a l fi s h ing, including party and charter vessels, for five years or even longer. Dr. Craig MacD o n a l d , S B N M S ’ s s up e r i n t e n d e n t , s a y s t h e c l o s u r e i s t o “ as s es s w h a t e f f e c t r e c r e a t io n a l f i s h r e m o v a l s h a ve o n t h e s t o c k s . ” H e c l a i m s t h e S B N M S wa n t s t o “ s e e w h a t ha p pens if all fishing is stopped. Maybe the f i s h s i z es w i l l g o u p . ” I r o n i c a l l y , l o b s t e r t r a p s w o u l d s t il l b e a l l o w e d i n t h e a r e a , even though traps account for a huge number of cod annually, many of which are u n d e r s i z e a n d s i m p l y r e c y c l e d a s l o b s t er bait.
O v e r t h e p a s t t w o s e a s o n t h i s p a r t i c u l ar a r e a h a s b e c o m e e x t re m e l y i m p o r t a n t t o t h e f o r - h i r e f l e e t , a s d r ag g e r s w o r k i n g u n d e r t h e n e w “ s e c t o r ” r u l e s h a v e d e c i m at e d t h e cod that have historically populated Stellwagen Bank. “We have to run 40 miles o u t t o t h is ( t h e r e f e r e n c e ) a r e a j u s t t o f i n d s o m e p o l l o c k a n d r e d f i s h i n t h e d e e p wa ter,” explains Capt. Tom Depersia of Bigfish C h a r t e r s o u t o f G r ee n H a r b o r . “ T h a t ’ s a long run, but there aren’t any fish left on top of the bank. If they close this area we’ll have no place to go, period.” Back in September the RFA drafted a letter of opposition to the reference area and circ u l a t e d it a m o n g N e w E n g l a n d R F A m e m bers and the region’s for-hire fleet via the t w o l a r g e s t i n d us t r y o r g a n i z a t i o n s , t h e N o r t h e a s t C h a r t e rb o a t C a p t a i n s A s s o c i a t i o n a n d t h e S t e l l w ag e n B a n k C h a r t e r B o a t A s s o c i a t i o n . M a n y m e m b e r d r a f t e d s i mi l a r l e t t e rs a n d s e n t t hem t o t h e N E F M C , t he
Codfish are a mainstay of the recreational and for-hire fleets in New England waters.
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MA Division of Marine Fisheries, the Regional Administrator for NMFS, and to Dr. MacDonald.
with Mr. Bullard at some point in the near future to outline the difficulties the party/charter fleet are facing and to offer some suggestions The NEFMC’s Recreational Advisory Panel (RAP), as to how NMFS and NOAA might start to develwhich I chair, will be meeting in late January to op measures that could help mitigate the probdevelop a formal position on the proposed SERA lems. II and its no-fishing “reference area.” If I had to I intend to stay on top of this and will report guess I would say that the RAP will oppose it again in the next e-newsletter. unanimously. The operators in the for-hire sector that depend on groundfish have been conMaine Elver Fishery tinually squeezed over the years with ever shorter seasons as well as restrictive bag limits To Be Reduced 25 to 40% and minimum fish sizes. To remove an important Maine’s elver or “glass eel” fishery will remain 55-square-mile tract of ocean bottom simply in open for 2014, but the catch much be reduced the name of “further research” is at this time to- 25% to 40% from the 2013 level. tally inappropriate and unnecessary, and RFA The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commiswill continue to oppose it. sion’s (ASMFC) Eel Management Board, which There will be public hearings on the proposed manages American eels along the entire East Omnibus Habitat Amendment sometime in Coast, postponed a new plan with tighter regu2014. We will let RFA member know as soon as lations until 2015, but mandated that Maine’s these are scheduled. In the meantime, much catch be reduced this coming year. more information on the amendment is availaThe tiny elvers, just a couple of inches long, are ble at www.nefmc.org. shipped live to Asia where they are raised in ponds into adults and sold for food. Elver fishermen, who net the eels in streams in the Groundfish Economic Coordinating spring, were paid as much as $2,000 per pound Committee in 2013. The fishery was worth $38.8 million in I was recently appointed to Northeast Regional 2012, second only to the state’s lobster fishery in value. Administrator John Bullard’s new Groundfish Economic Coordinating Committee as a recreational member representing the RFA and the RAP.
Conservationists and fishery managers, though, are concerned about eel stocks coast wide, which are considered depleted due to overfishing and habitat loss. Eels are an important source of forage for a wide variety of fresh and salt water fish and birds, as well as a popular bait among recreational fishermen. Only Maine and South Carolina allow elver fishing, and Maine’s harvest is about 15 times larger. Continued harvesting in Maine at current levels could impact stocks coast wide.
The committee is made up of about 45 members representing NOAA, NMFS, NEFMC, state fisheries agencies, and the commercial fishery. Two of us represent the recreational side. The focus of the committee is to try and explore ways NMFS, NOAA, and other agencies can help fishermen in these times of restrictive regulations and small quotas on most of our valuable groundfish species. The Eel Management Board is scheduled to meet in February to continue work on the plan. The first meeting I attended was held on November 26 th, and each of the seven specific agenda items was geared towards the commercial fishing sector. There was nothing that applied to the for-hire sector or recreational fishermen. I brought this up right off the bat, and after a bit of discussion it was decided that a few of us who represent the for-hire sector would meet
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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. “Anti-fishing 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 more than a dozen 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 Mailing Address P.O. Box 3080 New Gretna, New Jersey 08224 Phone: 1-888-564-6732 toll free Fax: (609) 294-3812 Jim Donofrio Executive Director
Kim Forgach Administrative Assistant
Jim Martin West Coast Regional Director
Jim Hutchinson Jr Managing Director
Gary Caputi Corporate Relations Director
John DePersenaire Policy & Science Researcher
Capt. Barry Gibson New England Regional Director
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The Official News Magazine of the Recreational Fishing Alliance