From  www.stripersforever.org, see our Action Aler.t here is the article from the The Washington Times

 

Report skews rockfish harvest numbers

By Gene Mueller
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

I've never been a fan of the various federal and/or state regulatory bodies and commissions that deal with our natural resources — especially wild fish stocks — and what they referto as
equitable ways to allocate such resources.
My dislike is rooted in the strong favoritism invariably
shown
by such agencies and commissions toward commercial interests.
Meanwhile, the very people who pay most of the bills — in
fishing's
case, recreational anglers — are viewed by the government
types as a
pain in the neck.
I don't think this attitude will change in my lifetime.
It's a
sad state of affairs.
Take for example the National Marine Fisheries Service
that
plods on year after year in the firm belief that (a) certain
heavily
depleted fish species are actually a lot better off than we
believe
them to be or (b) they must be sure that commercial fish
netters
make a living. (Wouldn't it be nice if private industry looked
upon
its millions of employees with such devotion.)
Along the eastern United States, the majority of tidal
water
activity is managed by fiat through the Atlantic States Marine
Fisheries Commission headquartered in the District.
A disturbing report that strongly favored commercial
fishing
interests was recently issued by the ASMFC. In a recent issue
of its
newsletter, Fisheries Focus, a species profile was presented
under
the headline "Atlantic Striped Bass — The Challenges of
Managing a
Restored Stock."
Of course, in these parts the striped bass — better known
as
rockfish — isn't a mysterious creature. We know it can be
found from
Nova Scotia to Florida, and we know that the majority of the
coastal
stock originates in the Chesapeake Bay. We also know that the
species in general saw a collapse in the 1970s, and by 1985 a
moratorium was declared on the catching of stripers by
recreational
or commercial sectors.
The fish rebounded quickly and by 1990 limited fishing was
once
again permitted.
According to the ASMFC, the commercial harvest that peaked
at 15
million pounds in 1973 declined to 3.5 million pounds in 1983,
or a
77 percent decrease.
Nowadays, the ASMFC believes that the species is doing so
well
that (under its Amendment 6) the coastal states can implement
commercial quotas equivalent to the average harvests during
the
1972-79 period. Remember, in 1973, the netters removed 15
million
pounds of rockfish.
Get ready to see ever-increasing commercial rockfish
netting,
especially by Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.
But if you ask the ASMFC who catches the majority of the
stripers, guess who's doing it?
It's the recreational anglers.
The ASMFC says the recreational harvest of rockfish grew
from
3.1 million pounds in 1990 to a record high 19.6 million
pounds in
2001. In other words, the sport anglers took more fish than
the
commercials did during their super year of 1973, when 15
million
pounds of rockfish ended up on beds of ice in super markets
and
restaurants.
Do you have any idea how the ASMFC got its numbers about
the
recreational catch? I don't, and I'm a striper fisherman. I've
never
been questioned, polled, phoned or otherwise asked how many
rockfish
I catch, keep or release. No one in my large circle of fishing
pals
has ever been asked. We know there is no legal requirement to
report
recreational catches, but there is for commercial fishermen.
So how did the ASMFC come up with such numbers that at
first
blush appear to be outlandish, making us look like ravenous
jerks
while the commercials are seen as guys who are not doing any
harm at
all. Sounds to me that this commission has some sort of an
agenda,
and it doesn't look good for us.
Meanwhile, if you believe the ASMFC numbers, I have a
piece of
Florida swampland I want to sell you.
•Look for Gene Mueller's Outdoors column every Sunday,
Wednesday
and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail:
gmueller@washington-times.com.

COME ON FOLKS, LET'S PUT AN END TO THIS STUFF. SEND THOSE LETTERS AND
E-MAILS IN TODAY!

 

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