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CSMA Striped Bass- A Put and Too ManyTake Fishery

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 April 2018 at 8:05pm
We shall see what transpires, legally speaking.

But more practically:

Ray, explain what the Director would issue?  Would the MFC tell the Director what to issue or would he choose what he wanted to issue?

We all know that closing the commercial fishery will do little for the fishery, other than increase dead discards in the gill net fisheries, as the stock begins to recover.  Do you think the Director, on his own volition, would close gill nets in that area?  The political heat would be nuclear.

If the MFC has the authority to force the Director to issue a SB proclamation (as you believe) what would have them instruct the Director to do?

Those above measures, are clearly on the table with the upcoming Amendment process, if the MFC wants to address it then.  Public input would be part of that process and could provide some backing. 

Otherwise, the Director and the MFC are on an island.

And by the way, the Secretary of DEQ has already nixed a supplement.

I guess you guys forgot the four consecutive MFC meetings I asked the Director and/or the MFC to intervene in this fishery.  I guess my head is a little bruised.  Its your turn.


Edited by chriselk - 10 April 2018 at 8:18pm
The above comments are my personal opinion and do not represent those of any organizations or agencies I may be a member of.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ray Brown Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 April 2018 at 8:33pm
I have no idea what the MFC would ask for. To know that in advance of a meeting is another whole issue. 😂

Restoring a natural spawn in the CSMA is everyone's problem initially. So the answer falls on everyone, not just one group in my opinion.

But to answer your question. The MFC should specifically instruct the director their desire through a motion.

Let a judge tell the MFC they can't mandate a proclamation if necessary and let the directors boss and scientific peers judge his decision if he refuses their request.

Complicated simplicity!

Edited by Ray Brown - 10 April 2018 at 9:08pm
Shrimp trawling never stops in Pamlico Sound. It just pauses on the weekend so crabs can remove the dead and dying from the battlefield.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 April 2018 at 8:13am
It not just Ray and me that thinks prompt action is needed prior to the next scheduled amendment to the FMP.

Two years later and DMF still has plan management strategies that actually create a situation where fishermen target best spawners by using large mesh gill net, totally ignoring the goals of the FMP.




Edited by Rick - 11 April 2018 at 8:24am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 April 2018 at 9:59am

It looks like the "plan" is to wait three more years for action!  Unbelievable.

A history of efforts to properly manage the CSMA striped bass-

Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting Minutes

Blockade Runner

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

Feb. 17-19, 2016

Public Comment  

Rick Sasser, from Goldsboro, talked about the Central Southern Management Area for striped bass.  He said the stock was listed as concerned and that no commercial harvest was allowed in the Cape Fear River since 2008.  There is compelling data that the Neuse and the Pamlico rivers and their tributaries should be closed to commercial harvest because the fishery in these systems is a put-and-take fishery, that 95 percent of the stock has hatchery origins and that tag data indicate it is a closed system.  He said federal dollars from excise taxes on sport fishing gear pays for the stocking and it appears the Wildlife Resources Commission is using those monies as intended but the Marine Fisheries Commission is converting two-thirds of the public benefit from striped bass restoration to commercial fishing interest in violation of federal law. He said data showed commercial fishermen landed 70 percent of the striped bass, while recreational fisherman landed 30 percent.  He talked about the mortality rates and felt that gill net mortality is being under reported. He advised that present management is preventing the reestablishment of a sustainable spawning stock biomass, which makes recovery impossible and that managing for a predominately commercial harvest is placing the whole stocking program in jeopardy.  He asked the commission to immediately close the commercial fishery for striped bass in the Central Southern Management Area.

 

Fishery Management Plan Guideline Committee

The commission voted to convene a committee to review and make recommendations on changing or improving the fishery management plan guidelines and report its findings to the full commission in August.  

Motion by Chuck Laughridge to form a Marine Fisheries Commission committee to review and make recommendations to the commission to change or improve the Fishery Management Plan guidelines and to have those recommendations presented to the Marine Fisheries Commission at the August 2016 meeting, with the opportunity for the Marine Fisheries Commission to consider changes. Second by Alison Willis. Motion passes 7-0.

 

Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting Minutes

Crystal Coast Civic Center

Morehead City, North Carolina

May 18-20, 2016

Estuarine Striped Bass in the Central Southern Management Area

The commission directed division staff to meet with Wildlife Resources Commission staff, and bring joint recommendations to the August meeting to address problems with striped bass reproduction in the Neuse and Tar rivers; to expedite analysis of fin clip data on samples the division currently has; and to provide a method of determining if the native strain of striped bass still exists in the Neuse and Tar rivers.  The commission also directed that the commission’s Conservation Fund Committee meet within 30 days to consider funding DNA testing of striped bass fin clips.

 

Motion by Rick Smith to direct division staff to meet with the Wildlife Resources Commission staff, and bring joint recommendations to the August meeting in regards to addressing problems with striped bass reproduction in the Neuse and Tar rivers. Also, direct staff to expedite analysis of fin clip data on fin chip samples currently possessed by the division. The division should also provide a method of determining whether or not the old strain of stripers still exist in the Neuse and Tar rivers. Second by Mike Wicker.  Motion passes 5-1 with one abstention.

 

Motion by Chuck Laughridge to request the Conservation Fund Committee to meet within the next 30 days to consider providing funding for DNA testing of fin clips already taken from the Central Southern Management Area in 2016 of striped bass 24 inches and smaller. Second by Rick Smith.  Motion passes 5-0 with two abstentions.

 

Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting Minutes

Hilton Brownstone Hotel

Raleigh, North Carolina

Aug. 17-18, 2016

 

Public Comment

Chris Elkins, President of Coastal Conservation Association - North Carolina and former Marine Fisheries Commission member, said he was going to address striped bass in the Central Southern Management Area.  The first priority of the fishery management plan is having a selfsustaining population.  He said the evidence for a depleted stock is that this is a closed system where the number of fish put in and taken out is known and that there was no cryptic reservoir of fish.  These fish demonstrate severely truncated age classes and three independent studies using different methods concur there are little or no mature fish to maintain a self-sustaining stock because the cause is clearly overfishing, primarily by the commercial sector, which kills between 65 percent and 85 percent of the juvenile fish.  The solution, he said, is to stop overfishing. More studies and removing more dams will make no difference if we don’t have mature fish.  Elkins said in the fishery management plan, the commission granted proclamation authority to the division director.  Additionally, the division has the ability to direct Director Davis to implement overfishing controls and this is what his organization is asking for.  It is tough on a new guy to come in with limited experience; however, he said, there are a bunch of “old salts” here that know this fishery and that need to direct him.  The commission should, at a minimum, close the commercial harvest to these stocked fish to allow some to mature.  Additional steps can be done now, or you can wait the three or four years it will take to review this plan.  This fishery is a $60,000 a year fishery and it represents 1 percent to 2 percent of the total commercial harvest of striped bass and hybrid aquaculture, thus the consumer will not miss these fish.  Moreover, the harvest of a public trust resource is a privilege, he said, and not a right and that right should be revoked when the resource is in danger.  We have depleted two river systems of striped bass for $60,000 a year – which is comparable to a single salary of a middle class worker.  Elkins closed by saying this is sheer lunacy.   

 

Central Southern Management Area Striped Bass Meeting Update

Charlton Godwin, with the division’s Fisheries Management Section, gave the commission an overview of meetings the division had with Wildlife Resources Commission staff, along with joint recommendations for addressing problems with striped bass reproduction in the Central Southern Management Area.   Staffs from both divisions met June 22 and discussed stocking efforts and subsequent implications for the status of the stocks of estuarine striped bass in the Central Southern Management Area. The staffs agreed to recommend to their respective directors that the Marine Fisheries Commission adjust the Fishery Management Plan Review Schedule at its August 2016 business meeting, so that the review of Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan would be initiated in August 2017, rather than August 2018.  The directors from both divisions met and agreed with the staff recommendation. The genetic study of fin clips from striped bass from the Central Southern Management Area was discussed. Recent parentage-based tagging analyses of Central Southern Management Area striped bass in the Tar/Pamlico, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers indicates the stocks on the spawning grounds are near 100 percent hatchery origin. From 2010-2015, the majority of samples used in genetic analysis have been obtained by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission from the spawning grounds in these systems. There is a need to obtain samples for genetic testing from fish from areas in the Central Southern Management Area that are well away from the spawning grounds and harvested by the commercial and recreational sectors. This will give a more complete analysis of hatchery contribution to these stocks. 

 

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Population Genetics Lab is currently contracted to perform this work for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Fin clip samples collected by the Division of Marine Fisheries have also been sent to this lab.  Division staff has been in contact with Dr. Tanya Darden at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Population Genetics Lab regarding the timeline of accomplishing this work.  Dr. Darden’s lab is currently cataloging the samples in their database and will begin genetic analysis in early September, and anticipate providing results for review by the commission at its Nov. 1618 business meeting. 

 

The presentation can be found at: http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=f3aa3717-ff97-4d7c-952883ed17ae6846&groupId=38337.

 

Fishery Management Plan Update

Catherine Blum, the division’s Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, updated the commission on the status of the ongoing fishery management plans and reviewed the five-year schedule.   

The commission voted to proceed this fiscal year with a review of the state’s Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan, which had been slated for fiscal year 2018-2019, to give the commission more management flexibility. The commission also voted to accelerate the review of the state’s Estuarine Striped Bass Plan by one year to 2017-2018 due to possible problems with reproduction in the Tar/Pamlico, Neuse and Cape Fear rivers.  

State law requires the Division of Marine Fisheries review state fishery management plans once every five years and revise them as needed. The commission sets this review schedule in August each year.   

The commission slated the review of the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan to begin as soon as a valid stock assessment is available. The results of a coast-wide stock assessment are expected to be available in the second half of 2017.  

Motion by Alison Willis to approve the Fishery Management Plan 5-year schedule as presented by the Division of Marine Fisheries, with the exception of moving the Blue Crab Fishery Management Plan review up to 2016-2017, to include a review of 2016 data. Second by Janet Rose.  Motion carries 7-0. Motion by Janet Rose to move up the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Review to begin as soon as a valid stock assessment is available. Second by Alison Willis.  Motion carries 7-0.

 

Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting Minutes

Hilton Garden Inn

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

Nov. 16-18, 2016

 

Central Southern Management Area Striped Bass Genetics Study Division staff reported that recent genetic analysis of striped bass collected in the spring of 2016 show varying percent hatchery contribution across systems. The overall contribution was 84.5 percent hatchery/15.5 percent “wild.” Percent hatchery contribution for each system was: Pamlico 86.3 percent hatchery/13.7 percent “wild;” Pungo 39.0 percent hatchery/61.0 percent “wild;” and Neuse 95.3 percent hatchery/4.7 percent “wild.” There are several ongoing and proposed research projects designed to better understand the distribution of hatchery-raised vs. “wild” and hybrid striped bass in the Central Southern systems. This type of information will be incorporated in the drafting of the next fishery management plan amendment.  

The presentation can be found at:  

http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=4e874a18-f635-418a-b8ff-79b1debb8a41&groupId=38337

 

Motion by Chuck Laughridge to postpone discussion on Central Southern Striped Bass to the February commission meeting with the intent for possible action on a proclamation or request for a supplement. Second by Rick Smith.  Motion carries 5-1 with one abstention.

 

 

Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting Minutes

Hilton Wilmington Riverside

Wilmington, North Carolina

Feb. 15-16, 2017 

Public Comment Period

Chris Elkins is a retired UNC-Chapel Hill scientist and unlike most of the other speakers and many other scientists you’ve heard from, he does not, nor does his family, have any financial interest in this resource.  He wants to protect and restore the fisheries to some semblance of their former self.  He said he was presenting the CCA-NC’s position on striped bass for the fifth time in five meetings.  Estuarine striped bass in the central region are depleted and in bad shape.  He asked the commission to do one of two things.  First, write a compelling letter to the director of Marine Fisheries requesting him to implement substantive conservation measures for this fishery by proclamation.  Second, as an alternative, he asked that the commission make a motion to implement the supplement process for estuarine striped bass.  Either way, we have looked at this long and hard and the CCA – NC has provided recommendations that can form the basis for restoring this important fishery.

Central Southern Management Area Striped Bass 

At its November 2016 meeting, the commission postponed discussion on Central Southern Management Area striped bass to the February commission meeting, with the intent for possible action on a proclamation or request for a supplement to the existing fishery management plan.   There was discussion about having the division director issue a proclamation reducing the commercial harvest from 25,000 pounds to 5,000 pounds and complementing proposed rules being considered by the Wildlife Resources Commission to raise the size limit for striped bass and a motion was put forward to this effect.   

Division Director Braxton Davis said that the division also had concerns with the Central Southern Management Area striped bass, but preferred to work through the expedited fishery management plan process the commission approved last summer, rather than enact emergency management measures.  This is primarily due to a lack of a peer-reviewed stock assessment.    In January, Davis said he and division staff met with Wildlife Resources Commission staff and their director, Gordon Myers, to continue working on the expedited fishery management plan process.  He asked Myers if anything had changed since the two agencies had determined last summer and recommended expediting the plan review. Davis reported that Myers still concurred that expediting the plan process was still the best approach. Davis said the division has no intention to do an emergency proclamation and the motion was withdrawn.    The commission then voted to send a letter to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s secretary asking him to consider removing stocked fish from the N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan.  

Motion by Chuck Laughridge to recommend that the fisheries director by proclamation reduce the Central Southern estuarine striped bass commercial TAC to 5,000 pounds and mirror the NC Wildlife Commission’s recreational limit of 2-fish-per-person-per-day and 26-inch minimum size limit, effective March 1, 2017. Second by Rick Smith.  Motion withdrawn with consent of the seconder.

Motion by Chuck Laughridge for the commission to write a letter to the DEQ secretary to take under advisement the removal of stocked fish from the N.C. Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan. Second by Rick Smith.  Motion carries 4-2 with 2 abstentions

 

Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting Minutes

BridgePointe Hotel and Marina

New Bern, North Carolina

May 17-18, 2017

Stocked Anadromous Species

There was discussion about beginning rulemaking to preserve stocked anadromous fish and commission counsel advised that the proposed rule being discussed would not affect species that were managed under a fishery management plan.  The commission then decided to ask the division to provide information at its August 2017 meeting on preserving and restoring spawning stocks of anadromous species like striped bass and American shad to a natural spawning population in river systems where these fish are stocked.  

Motion by Chuck Laughridge to ask the Division of Marine Fisheries to provide information regarding the following:

·         To preserve and restore spawning stocks of anadromous species in NC coastal rivers there will be no sale of stocked striped bass and American shad from any river system where these fish are stocked to restore a naturally spawning population.

·         Any large mesh and small mesh gill nets that interact with these stocked anadromous species shall be attended 24 hours a day.

·         Recreational limits will be no more than one per day with restricted seasons as needed.

·         Both commercial and recreational rules will remain in effect until spawning stock biomass has reached 50 percent of historic levels.

Seconded by Rick Smith Motion carries 6-1 with one abstention.

  

 

Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting Minutes

Brownstone Hotel

Raleigh, North Carolina

August 16-17, 2017

Fishery Management Plan Update/Five-Year Schedule and Commission Supplement Request

Catherine Blum, the division’s Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, updated the commission on the status of the ongoing fishery management plans and reviewed the proposed five-year schedule.   

The commission voted to ask the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality secretary to authorize it to develop a supplement to the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan to make temporary management changes in the Central-Southern Management Area, excluding the Cape Fear River system.  Specifically, the commission asked to:

·         Reduce the annual commercial quota from 25,000 pounds to 2,500 pounds;

·         Lower the recreational daily bag limit from 2 fish per day to 1 fish per day; and

·         Increase the recreational size limit to a 24-inch to 26-inch slot. The current minimum size limit is 18 inches with no possession of fish between 22 inches and 27 inches.   

State law allows the secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality to authorize the commission to develop temporary management measures to supplement a fishery management plan if he finds it is in the interest of the long-term viability of a fishery. Any temporary management measures adopted in a supplement must be incorporated in the full fishery management plan the next time it is amended and adopted or they will expire. The commission also decided to delay review of the full Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan, which began this year, to no earlier than 2019. This was made contingent upon approval of a supplement.

 Motion by Janet Rose to approve the 5-year FMP schedule as presented by staff. Second by Alison Willis.  

Motion by Chuck Laughridge to amend the Rose motion to place in the following order these FMPs: Southern Flounder, to begin as soon as the peer reviewed stock assessment is completed; Estuarine Striped Bass, to pursue this FMP no earlier than 2019, assuming a supplement is in place addressing issues in the Central-Southern Management Area with the approval of the NCWRC; Blue Crab, to begin as scheduled, Spotted Seatrout, to begin in 2020; Shrimp, to begin as soon as the three-year study is complete, and no later than February 2018. All other FMPs as presented by the NCDMF.  

Motion by Chuck Laughridge to table the motion. Second by Mike Wicker. Motion carries 5-1 with one abstention.  

Motion by Rick Smith to ask the director of the NCDMF to request that the NCDEQ secretary allow the NCMFC to move forward with a supplement to the Striped Bass FMP to adjust the recreational and commercial takes of the Central Southern Striped Bass, with the exception of the Cape Fear River system, by reducing the commercial takes from 25,000 pounds to 2,500 pounds and the recreational limit to 1 fish between 24 inches and 26 inches. Seconded by Chuck Laughridge. Motion carries 5-2.  

Motion by Chuck Laughridge to take from the table the previous tabled action. Second by Rick Smith. Motion carries unanimously.  

Motion by Chuck Laughridge to amend the Rose motion to place in the following order these FMPs: Southern Flounder, to begin as soon as the peer reviewed stock assessment is completed; Estuarine Striped Bass, to pursue this FMP no earlier than 2019, assuming a supplement requested by the MFC is in place addressing issues in the Central-Southern Management Area; Blue Crab, to begin as scheduled, Spotted Seatrout, to begin in 20192020; Shrimp, to begin as soon as the three-year study is complete, and no later than February 2018. All other FMPs as presented by the NCDMF. Second by Rick Smith. Motion to amend carries 5-3 Motion to approve by Chuck Laughridge. Second by Rick Smith. Motion carries 5-3.

 

Marine Fisheries Commission Business Meeting Minutes

Hilton Garden Inn

Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

November 15-16, 2017

Director’s Report

Director Davis also provided the commission with a letter from Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan, regarding the commission’s request for authorization to develop a supplement to the Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan. Secretary Regan was unable to grant the commission’s request for a supplement at this time, pointing out that the plan was expedited in 2016 to address concerns about striped bass. The letter said there is insufficient data and analysis currently in existence to change course and that granting the requested authorization would cause further delay in the development of the plan.  In closing, Secretary Regan said this decision does not foreclose the ability to take future action if supported by reliable data and analyses conducted as part of the ongoing plan review, and that would not otherwise impede the continued development and implementation of long-term management strategies for this important fishery.

 


...and of course the legislative bill that was introduced that never made it out of committee-

http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/House/HTML/H853v0.html




Edited by Rick - 11 April 2018 at 5:13pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bakesta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 April 2018 at 7:09pm
There is NO REASON to wait for an FMP.

Manage the fish now.  Everything is in place to support proper management.

When the MFC votes for change, we will find out what the law really says.  For now, we are simply being bluffed - over and over and over again - by people who don't even have a full set of cards.


If the MFC votes to stop CSMA striper harvest in the next meeting or two and provides the proper rationale, we will win no matter what happens.

PLEASE ASK THEM TO VOTE!!!!!!!!

DO NOT PLAY THE FMP/PROCESS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



"Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest." --- Mark Twain
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kshivar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2018 at 9:34am
Yesterday at a restaurant the special was “fresh NC caught striper”. Everywhere I turn are reminders of failure and incompetence.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2018 at 9:42am
Originally posted by bakesta bakesta wrote:

DO NOT PLAY THE FMP/PROCESS GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


...DO NOT PLAY THE FMP/PROCESS DELAY GAME...

Maybe the DMF can complete the next FMP by 2022 recommending a vote of status quo and that the "industry" will study the issue of cryptic mortality for three years and report back to the commission with recommendations to reduce bycatch.

Deja vu the Shrimp FMP, at year three with no valid recommendations in hand, the Director can issue a memorandum to the Commission stating that-

Through existing proclamation authority referenced in § 113-221.1(b) the Marine Fisheries Commission has delegated to the Fisheries Director the authority to issue proclamations suspending or implementing, in whole or in part, particular rules of the Commission that may be affected by variable conditions.   Rule 15A NCAC 03H .0103(b) gives the Director authority to address specific variable conditions not set forth in a rule of the Marine Fisheries Commission that grants proclamation authority to the Fisheries Director, on advice of senior staff the following variable conditions were reviewed in considered for using proclamation authority:
(1) compliance with changes mandated by the Fisheries Reform Act and its amendments;
(2) biological impacts;
(3) environmental conditions;
(4) compliance with Fishery Management Plans;
(5) user conflicts;
(6) bycatch issues;
(7) variable spatial distributions; and
(8) protection of public health related to the public health programs that fall under the authority of the Marine Fisheries Commission. The variable condition(s) to be addressed are found in 15A NCAC 03H .0103(b).

Based on review, biological impacts at this time do not justify nor necessitate emergency management measures through the use of proclamation authority.  Due to staffing issues and the FMP priority schedule, the Division recommends review under the next scheduled FMP process to begin no earlier than 2024 with a projected effective date of 2028.

Another game of kick the can down the road for ten more years!

Status Quo for fisheries management in NC..."because we're different".



Edited by Rick - 12 April 2018 at 9:50am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kshivar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2018 at 9:45am
The Guv can end this madness with one short phone call yet he sits doing nothing. Empty promises he made. I hoped he would be different. Instead he’s cut from the same cloth.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2018 at 9:54am
Originally posted by kshivar kshivar wrote:

The Guv can end this madness with one short phone call yet he sits doing nothing. Empty promises he made. I hoped he would be different. Instead he’s cut from the same cloth.

The Republican legislature could have ended this problem...but the bill never made it out of committee.


There is a lot of partisan political blame to go around for both sides.

ONE THING FOR CERTAIN-

FISHERIES MANAGEMENT POLICY WILL BE AN IMPORTANT DRIVER IN THE 2020 GOVERNOR'S RACE AND IN THE 2018 AND 2020 LEGISLATIVE RACES FOR SOME KEY SEATS.

In 2016-

Governor Cooper received 2,309,157 votes
Governor McCrory received 2,298,880 votes

Cooper won by 10,277 votes.

Think about that...if 5,139 people had changed their vote, McCrory would still be Governor.

There is no doubt that Governor Cooper's Fishery Management Policy Statement secured the election for him.


There is no doubt that Gov. McCrory's delay in making his MFC appointments in 2016 cost him the election.

Voters are watching.

Coastal recreational anglers from Manteo to Murphey and Calabash to West Jefferson are watching.

Other than putting in place "Marine Fisheries Commission members who will make decisions in accordance with the best scientific evidence available and conservative principles to enhance the resource", I really don't see how Governor Cooper is going to meet any of the goals of his Fisheries Management Plan Policy Statement by 2020 without the use of Proclamation Authority or Supplement...the FMP process is just too slow.  The embedded DELAY with key members of Division staff is just too strong...they still see themselves as having a priority to be an "extension agent" to the commercial fishing industry.  Sustainable resource management takes a backseat to harvest. 

From the Governor's Policy Statement,

Unfortunately, today our once abundant marine fisheries resources are no longer.  The fish, shrimp, oysters, and crabs in our sounds and estuaries that once defined our state are now declining or depleted. Between loss of habitat and overfishing of our fish stocks, North Carolina’s marine resources have dwindled. Our oyster population may have declined to 10% of its historic levels.  North Carolina’s flounder, and weakfish populations are depleted; spot and croaker are under significant stress.

Our marine fisheries resources are under threat from pollution straining the ecosystems those fish need to survive, and fishing in nursery areas and oyster reefs that limit our stock’s ability to grow. Overfishing in our nursery areas could threaten prized catches like red drum, speckled trout.  That status quo cannot continue without doing significant, and probably irreparable, damage to our marine economies.

Governor McCrory has clearly shown that the protection of our environment and the natural resources of our State is not a priority.  He has made clear, through his actions and appointments, that our valuable natural resources need not be protected for everyone’s benefit or for the use of our future generations. His actions and appointments have been a betrayal to North Carolinians who have always cared deeply about their clean water and air, fertile lands and forest.

As Governor, Cooper will change the direction of our natural resources policies to make the sustainability of our precious land, water, and air, and the ecosystems within them, a top priority.


It appears that variable conditions in several important fisheries support the use of proclamation or supplement authorities-

(1) compliance with changes mandated by the Fisheries Reform Act and its amendments;
(2) biological impacts;
(3) environmental conditions;
(4) compliance with Fishery Management Plans;
(5) user conflicts;
(6) bycatch issues;
(7) variable spatial distributions; and
(8) protection of public health related to the public health programs that fall under the authority of the Marine Fisheries Commission. The variable condition(s) to be addressed are found in 15A NCAC 03H .0103(b).








Edited by Rick - 12 April 2018 at 11:17am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kshivar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2018 at 10:15am
Not a partisan issue. The Director works for the Guv. One phone call. Plenty of blame to share but he can fix this with a call to his employee.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ray Brown Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2018 at 11:59am
Kshivar....if only it was that easy.

Last year an eastern Senator cut the DEQ budget by almost $9 million dollars because they didn't like the way the DEQ was handing a farm issue even though the governor was very much behind the Sec. At the same time another eastern Senator who ran another committee was getting ready to cut DEQ by another $6 million just to prove that he could if the DEQ tried to impose conservation issues that these pro ag Senators did not want to see. But who is in bed with the farmers? The names of the committee's should tell you.

So it isn't as easy as a phone call, or else you have a SEC who has no money to run his/her department.

The problem, is having a one party government in the legislature that has a veto proof majority. There are no checks and balances and special interest with money is who gets fed.

A lot is going on behind the scenes for the resource, but a handful can still set up roadblocks that trump (no pun intended) accurate science, economics, or majority rule. Whomever holds the keys to the treasury in Raleigh can impose their will.

Take a look at who funds DEQ.

Members of the Committee on Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources

Co-Chairman Sen. Bill Cook
Co-Chairman Sen. Norman W. Sanderson
Co-Chairman Sen. Andy Wells
Members Sen. John M. Alexander, Jr., Sen. Danny Earl Britt, Jr., Sen. Jay J. Chaudhuri, Sen. Cathy Dunn, Sen. Jeff Jackson, Sen. Brent Jackson, Sen. Tom McInnis, Sen. Wesley Meredith, Sen. Paul Newton, Sen. Ronald J. Rabin, Sen. Erica D. Smith, Sen. Joyce Waddell, Sen. Trudy Wade, Sen. Mike Woodard

It contains most of the usual suspects when it comes to thwarting fishery reform in NC.

But there is more....

Look at the Senate Appropriations committee where the DEQ gets their money:

Members

Co-Chairman Sen. Bill Cook
Co-Chairman Sen. Rick Gunn
Co-Chairman Sen. Trudy Wade
Members Sen. Ben Clark, Sen. Paul Newton

Want to rethink that one phone call from the Governor to the Sec of DEQ can make things happen? Some of these folks love to veto the Governor just to prove they can.

Then there is the House:

The resource finds a few more friends here, but it still isn't all resource friendly.

The House Appropriations Committee on Agriculture, and Natural and Economic resources:

Members

Chairman Rep. Dixon
Chairman Rep. K. Hall
Chairman Rep. McElraft
Chairman Rep. Ross
Vice Chairman Rep. Presnell
Members Rep. Ager, Rep. Dulin, Rep. Harrison, Rep. Hunter, Rep. Muller, Rep. B. Richardson, Rep. Wray, Rep. Yarborough

It is a House divided. Most members of the House will tell you that HB 867, which rewrites FRA '97 to a more resource friendly objective for NC, could pass in the House if allowed to go to the floor, but has no chance currently in the Senate.

Who we elect in the next election will be as much about how fisheries are managed over the next 2 years as anything we can do?

Who is running for the House or Senate in your district? Do they know your feelings on this?

If not, why not? If they don't hear from you they will think that small but loud band of Schillites is the majority opinion wherever they set up an amplifier.

I use the term "Schillites" out of absolute respect. With no science to back his wishes for continued harvest, and with no economic numbers to support keeping harvest at current levels or in a net based industry rather than a shift to a recreational industry as other states have done, and with a very small number of supporters in tow, Jerry Schill has managed to set the agenda for fishery management in NC for over 20 years.

Sadly.....as everyone will soon see....our marine fishery stocks are in worse shape now than when FRA '97 was passed and implemented. In the next few weeks we all will see that Blue Crabs are in the worst shape ever recorded in a stock assessment and they have been our number one income generator within coastal waters for years.

We got, the "sustained harvest" that we managed for, paid for in time by "stock reduction" and somehow the "Schillites" have lead us here, but with some pun intended, it certainly isn't the "Promised Land" that most want in terms of fishery conditions, unless you consider a barren land controlled by a few to meet that definition.

NC's marine resources are in a mess and as one of the best members of the MFC to ever sit on it recently told me. "I thought I had time to get something done, but time passed away as we waited to see what the next assessment or the next study would give in hopes that things would be somehow better....then I was gone and got little if anything accomplished."

At some point in time an MFC has got to dig in their heels, win or lose; we can't lose any more than what we have! And when that happens, the people we have elected to Raleigh in both Houses have to leave them alone and let them do their job.

Edited by Ray Brown - 12 April 2018 at 12:30pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2018 at 12:16pm
You will find no more accurate and honest assessment than Ray's.

Here is a little supporting info-








Edited by Rick - 13 April 2018 at 8:14am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FishCommander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 April 2018 at 1:07pm
Amen Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 June 2018 at 3:05pm
...sent to me today by someone who understands the issues extremely well-

This is an explanation of what happened on the Pamlico and Neuse in 2018.

Do you remember that warm spell we had in February?  It was actually warm enough to make the stripers engage in pre-spawn behavior.  That behavior was to move up rivers a bit (just west of Washington and New Bern) and stay there until it was time for the spawning run.   This resulted in fewer large fish available to coastal area gillnetters. I observed many daily gill net commercial catches.  Catches were very low throughout the entire season.  One commercial fisherman was setting approximately 1,000 yards of net. His catches were dismal.  His catches were so low that he pulled his nets well before the season ended.   With all that said, there are many small fish around. Most will be big enough by late fall to become discards in the flounder gillnet fishery.  I worry a great deal about these small fish because  they will recruit into the CSMA gillnet fishery for next spring.  The mass of small fish is very evident in the number of undersized discards estimated and reported in 2017.  They were at record levels.  As you and I previously discussed, I think we had some help from an "environmental sweet spot" that actually resulted in significant numbers of naturally spawned fish. I watched this on the rivers when the fish first showed up at 10-12 inches then followed their status.  The majority of this year class are today 16-19 inches.  We desperately need to protect this group and take advantage of a natural gift that may only come once in twenty years, but is extremely important to a long-lived species like striped bass and red drum. 


When I think about the group of fish we have available today, I am reminded of the tremendous waste of red drum some years back when they too saw a tremendously successful spawn that eventually resulted in busted quotas and excessive discard numbers.   CSMA striped bass are headed for the same destiny.  Regulatory status quo will yield the same results.  Nature intends for these "gifts" to carry us through the poor recruitment years, but with our estuarine gillnet fisheries at over-capacity that just never happens.

I am very disappointed at how DMF has proceeded in regard to CSMA striped bass management, mainly their inaction after learning of the undeniable evidence that these systems are primarily populated with stocked fish. 

After this was determined and validated, DMF along with the others that crafted the first cooperative Estuarine Striped Bass Plan should have realized that the assessment and strategies developed though that process were based entirely on the false premise that stocking had little impact on the population. 

In my opinion, not knowing the contribution of stocked fish resulted in a plan that had little chance of success.  How could it succeed? Every notion and thought the scientists and managers had while developing the plan was founded on a basic understanding or belief that these systems were actually producing fish. When the alarming genetics data became available they should have realized their error and stop using the management strategies developed in a severely flawed FMP.  Proclamation authority gives the Director a wide range of management options.  Waiting for a scheduled FMP update to address the genetics data verges on incompetence.  That may be a strong word, and I hate to use it, but how else can one explain the reasons for the delays.  I do not understand.

We need to do something to bring this to the attention to all those who buy fishing tackle, fishing licenses, or taxes in general.  They need to know how their money is being wasted, more important how the potential for this important fishery is being squandered.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 June 2018 at 4:31pm
The Division has the ability to be pro-active on this, since it only they who have the proclamation authority.

To their credit, the MFC asked for a supplement from DEQ to head off the impending slaughter and were denied it. If we wait for a stock assessment, these "gifts" will be wasted.  I have to think that DEQ did not have this information when they denied the supplement.  It is not too late, DEQ can direct DMF to protect this class of fish.

I know from whence this statement originates, and that person knows what he is talking about.

Protection of our marine resources should not be a political football, but how can this not be an election issue when in the fall these dead discards (with gill net marks) are strewn all over the Neuse and Tar/Pam rivers?  

The fall is when anglers will be out in force targeting trout and drum and they will observe this waste of angler monies. 



Edited by chriselk - 13 June 2018 at 6:00pm
The above comments are my personal opinion and do not represent those of any organizations or agencies I may be a member of.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ray Brown Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 June 2018 at 4:42pm
The MFC has the authority to direct the Director to issue a proclamation at any time.  They have never done so.

The Director can refuse to make such a proclamation.  That is his right, but in doing so he must state his reasons and those reasons will be reflective of his thoughts and also a personal statement of his professional stand.   A reality that our director is aware of and one I think he fully understands and accepts.

If the MFC makes a motion with a solution that is not simply arbitrary and capricious, but is based solely on the science in hand and is equal in its response then our director, and any director for that matter, would be almost compelled to act as requested professionally.

But again....it has never happened in NC.  A lot of talk, but no MFC has ever forced a decision by the Director.

Will this one?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 June 2018 at 5:02pm
Is there any other targeted fishery using large-mesh gillnets in June, July, August, September, October and November in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers other than Southern flounder?

I don't think so.  Please tell me what they are if they exist.

Red drum is not a targeted fishery.  It is a bycatch fishery solely for the purpose of reducing regulatory discards in other fisheries.  Without those other fisheries, red drum bycatch doesn't exist.

From the recent Southern flounder stock assessment, we know that the stock is overfished and that overfishing is occurring.  We also saw a further truncating of age/size in the stock assessment which is an indicator of recruitment overfishing.  Harvest needs to be cut immediately on Southern flounder.

What better place and method is there to support two important fisheries than to immediately prohibit large-mesh gillnets in the Neuse and Tar/Pamlico Rivers and possibly other important striped bass areas of the CSMA...the Pungo...others

As stated in the FMP on page 24-
4.6.3.1 Marine Fisheries Commission Rules
North Carolina Rules for Coastal Fishing Waters – 15A NCAC 15A NCAC 03H .0103 PROCLAMATION AUTHORITY OF FISHERIES DIRECTOR
(a)  The proclamation authority granted to the Fisheries Director by the Marine Fisheries Commission within this Chapter includes the authority to close as well as open seasons and areas, to establish conditions governing various activities, and to reduce or increase the size and harvest limits from those stated in rule when specifically authorized.  It is unlawful to violate the provisions of any proclamation issued by the authority of Marine Fisheries Commission Rule.
   
(b)  Unless specific variable conditions are set forth in a rule granting proclamation authority to the Fisheries Director, variable conditions triggering the use of the Fisheries Director's proclamation authority may include any of the following: compliance with changes mandated by the Fisheries Reform Act and its amendments, biological impacts, environmental conditions, compliance with Fishery Management Plans, user conflicts, bycatch issues and variable spatial distributions.
 
History Note: Authority G.S. 113-134; 113-182; 113-221; 143B-289.52; Eff. January 1, 1991; Amended Eff. March 1, 1994; September 1, 1991; Temporary Amendment Eff. July 1, 1999; Amended Eff. August 1, 2000.

Please tell me how ESA "takes" on sturgeon and sea turtles are justified in the CSMA knowing what we know about Southern flounder and striped bass.


Edited by Rick - 13 June 2018 at 5:53pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 June 2018 at 6:28pm
Rick,
Spot on.
The above comments are my personal opinion and do not represent those of any organizations or agencies I may be a member of.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 June 2018 at 6:33pm
Never justified but whole system is hard to
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bakesta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 June 2018 at 7:12pm
Thank you Rick!!  Great info.


The Division of Marine Fisheries completely and totally owns the commercial harvest of striped bass in the central-southern management area (CSMA).

They have argued and fought to do everything they could do to make sure that commercial harvest of these stocked fish will continue.  They have even done a study to try to refute the one done by the WRC, just to buy more time for commercial harvest.  

In the end, the DMF has blocked every attempt to fix this ridiculous problem.

It is now time for the MFC to put up or shut up.  VOTE!  Don't let anyone stop you from taking a vote on whether to stop harvest.  If legal counsel says no - please tell him to be quiet.  JUST VOTE!!!!!!!!


And then let the chips fall where they may.


Rest assured - if the MFC refuses to vote - or gets tricked into postponing - nothing will change.


This class of stripers may be our last chance in a long time to get a foothold on returning a breeding stock.  Will the DMF sell it for pennies??

 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kshivar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 June 2018 at 10:28am
They have and they will. Maybe they sit on the MFC for status. They clearly don’t care about the resource. Meek, timid and feckless they are.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 8:34am
This is CLEAR, VERY CLEAR!  It is a gillnet problem- PERIOD!

Another fantastic piece of research by Kyle Rachels and Ben Ricks (NCWRC)

Exploring Casual Factors of Spawning Stock Mortality in Riverine Striped Bass Population




The Commission must ask the Director to use proclamation authority to address this issue-

I direct you to the
Discussion starting on page 8- 

Linear modeling indicates that gill-net effort is the most important factor influencing spawning stock mortality among the exploitation and environmental factors examined. Gill-net effort accounted for substantially greater variability in spawning stock mortality than commercial harvest, and the model-averaged coefficient identified a discrete annual exploitation rate of 0.29 for gill-net effort. This suggests that the commercial multispecies gill-net fishery imparts substantial mortality even when the Striped Bass harvest season is closed.

 

Current high exploitation rates combined with low stock abundance and a high contribution of hatchery fish to the spawning stock (Rachels and Ricks 2015; Bradley et al. 2018) suggest that the expected recovery time of Neuse River Striped Bass continues to be “both uncertain and long” (Hilborn et al. 2014). Our research indicates that fisheries managers should reduce exploitation by focusing on reductions in gill-net effort in areas of the Neuse River that are utilized by Striped Bass.

 

CSMA recruitment and age/size structures are not an environmental/water quality issue-

Contrary to exploitation factors, the environmental factors examined did not account for much variability in spawning stock mortality. Bradley et al. (2018) also failed to detect a relationship between dissolved oxygen, water temperature, and Striped Bass mortality between summer 2014 and summer 2015. Although numerous Atlantic Menhaden fish kills have occurred due to hypoxic conditions throughout the time period encompassing our research, it appears that these events have relatively little impact on Striped Bass spawning stock mortality. Campbell and Rice (2014) observed that estuarine fish can rapidly detect and avoid hypoxic areas in the Neuse River.  However, they also found that habitat compression due to hypoxic conditions likely reduced growth rates in juvenile Spot Leiostomus xanthurus and Atlantic Croaker Micropogonias undulatus. Neuse River Striped Bass exhibit the fastest growth rates among coastal North Carolina Striped Bass populations (Rachels and Ricks 2015). It is likely that negative impacts of hypoxic conditions or water temperatures exceeding Striped Bass thermal optima would manifest through reduced growth rates before mortality effects are observed. Nonetheless, the parameter coefficients for summer mean dissolved oxygen and summer mean surface water temperature indicate the potential for increased spawning stock mortality as dissolved oxygen decreases and water temperature increases. These effects were minimal —approximately 2% change in discrete annual mortality per unit change in temperature or dissolved oxygen—compared to the cumulative effects of gill-net effort and commercial harvest.


The FMP is a complete failure- The Division is allowing a commercial fishery that is detrimental to the plan's goals and objectives of the CSMA Fishery Management Plan.

3.2 GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goals of Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass FMP are to achieve sustainable harvest through science based decision-making processes that conserve adequate spawning stock, provide and maintain a broad age structure, and protect the integrity of critical habitats. 


Edited by Rick - 06 August 2018 at 8:18pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Redfisher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 9:28am

Didn't Chuck already ask the new director to issue a proclamation at the last meeting?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 10:05am
Withdrawn

Asked...never DIRECTED.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 11:07am
What needs to happen?

The gillnet fisheries in the Tar/Pamlico River and Neuse River need to be closed.

We must protect those fish that are age-3 as they reach about 5-pounds.  This is the size that the mesh in the anchored large-mesh flounder gillnet fishery selects for...this is our "cryptic mortality".

We will never see recovery of this fishery without removing gillnets.

We know with certainty that this fishery is almost a 95% to 100% put-grow-take fishery driven by stocking.

We have truncated age structure with few older fish...no spawning stock biomass to reach sustainability.

There is almost zero natural stock.


Please start making public comment-

My email from June 14

Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2018 4:27 PM
To: steve.murphey@ncdenr.gov
Cc: john.nicholson@ncdenr.gov; c.boltes.mfc@ncdenr.gov; j.kornegay.mfc@ncdenr.gov; c.laughridge.mfc@ncdenr.gov; r.smith.mfc@ncdenr.gov; m.gorges.mfc@ncdenr.gov; b.koury.mfc@ncdenr.gov
Subject: Re: CSMA Striped Bass- A Put and Too Many Take Fishery
 

Director Murphey,


As a follow-up to my email below, I would like to share the following thoughts-


I am not aware of any targeted fisheries of significance using anchored large-mesh gillnets in June, July, August, September, October and November in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers other than Southern flounder.  If such fisheries exist, I will greatly appreciate you sharing what they are and the landings value for each during those months.

What better place and method is there to support the important fisheries of Southern flounder, red drum and striped bass than to immediately prohibit anchored large-mesh gillnets in the Neuse and Tar/Pamlico Rivers and their tributaries?  Additional striped bass areas of the CSMA should also be considered for closure like the Pungo, Pantego, Bay and bays of Cedar Island.

An immediate anchored large-mesh closure offers the additional benefits of reduced ESA takes on sturgeon and sea turtles.  It is difficult for me to understand how not taking action to reduce takes in the CSMA will be justified knowing what we know about the stocks of Southern flounder and striped bass.

The concern over striped bass bycatch in the anchored large-mesh gillnet fishery for Southern flounder this summer and fall is certainly a trigger for proclamation authority.

As stated in the FMP on page 24-
4.6.3.1 Marine Fisheries Commission Rules
North Carolina Rules for Coastal Fishing Waters – 15A NCAC 15A NCAC 03H .0103 PROCLAMATION AUTHORITY OF FISHERIES DIRECTOR
(a)  The proclamation authority granted to the Fisheries Director by the Marine Fisheries Commission within this Chapter includes the authority to close as well as open seasons and areas, to establish conditions governing various activities, and to reduce or increase the size and harvest limits from those stated in rule when specifically authorized.  It is unlawful to violate the provisions of any proclamation issued by the authority of Marine Fisheries Commission Rule.
   
(b)  Unless specific variable conditions are set forth in a rule granting proclamation authority to the Fisheries Director, variable conditions triggering the use of the Fisheries Director's proclamation authority may include any of the following: compliance with changes mandated by the Fisheries Reform Act and its amendments, biological impacts, environmental conditions, compliance with Fishery Management Plans, user conflicts,
bycatch issues and variable spatial distributions.
 
History Note: Authority G.S. 113-134; 113-182; 113-221; 143B-289.52; Eff. January 1, 1991; Amended Eff. March 1, 1994; September 1, 1991; Temporary Amendment Eff. July 1, 1999; Amended Eff. August 1, 2000.

I hope you will consider my request as reasonable and prudent, and take action. 

Sincerely and Best Regards,





Edited by Rick - 06 August 2018 at 12:28pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 11:15am
What needs to happen?

The gillnet fisheries in the Tar/Pamlico River and Neuse River need to be closed.

We must protect those fish that are age-3 as they reach about 5-pounds.  This is the size that the mesh in the anchored large-mesh flounder gillnet fishery selects for...this is our "cryptic mortality".

We will never see recovery of this fishery without removing gillnets.

We know with certainty that this fishery is almost a 95% to 100% put-grow-take fishery driven by stocking.

We have truncated age structure with few older fish...no spawning stock biomass to reach sustainability.

There is almost zero natural stock.

Please start making public comment-

My email from June 14

Sent: Thursday, June 14, 2018 4:27 PM
To: steve.murphey@ncdenr.gov
Cc: john.nicholson@ncdenr.gov; c.boltes.mfc@ncdenr.gov; j.kornegay.mfc@ncdenr.gov; c.laughridge.mfc@ncdenr.gov; r.smith.mfc@ncdenr.gov; m.gorges.mfc@ncdenr.gov; b.koury.mfc@ncdenr.gov
Subject: Re: CSMA Striped Bass- A Put and Too Many Take Fishery
 

Director Murphey,


As a follow-up to my email below, I would like to share the following thoughts-


I am not aware of any targeted fisheries of significance using anchored large-mesh gillnets in June, July, August, September, October and November in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers other than Southern flounder.  If such fisheries exist, I will greatly appreciate you sharing what they are and the landings value for each during those months.

What better place and method is there to support the important fisheries of Southern flounder, red drum and striped bass than to immediately prohibit anchored large-mesh gillnets in the Neuse and Tar/Pamlico Rivers and their tributaries?  Additional striped bass areas of the CSMA should also be considered for closure like the Pungo, Pantego, Bay and bays of Cedar Island.

An immediate anchored large-mesh closure offers the additional benefits of reduced ESA takes on sturgeon and sea turtles.  It is difficult for me to understand how not taking action to reduce takes in the CSMA will be justified knowing what we know about the stocks of Southern flounder and striped bass.

The concern over striped bass bycatch in the anchored large-mesh gillnet fishery for Southern flounder this summer and fall is certainly a trigger for proclamation authority.

As stated in the FMP on page 24-
4.6.3.1 Marine Fisheries Commission Rules
North Carolina Rules for Coastal Fishing Waters – 15A NCAC 15A NCAC 03H .0103 PROCLAMATION AUTHORITY OF FISHERIES DIRECTOR
(a)  The proclamation authority granted to the Fisheries Director by the Marine Fisheries Commission within this Chapter includes the authority to close as well as open seasons and areas, to establish conditions governing various activities, and to reduce or increase the size and harvest limits from those stated in rule when specifically authorized.  It is unlawful to violate the provisions of any proclamation issued by the authority of Marine Fisheries Commission Rule.
   
(b)  Unless specific variable conditions are set forth in a rule granting proclamation authority to the Fisheries Director, variable conditions triggering the use of the Fisheries Director's proclamation authority may include any of the following: compliance with changes mandated by the Fisheries Reform Act and its amendments, biological impacts, environmental conditions, compliance with Fishery Management Plans, user conflicts,
bycatch issues and variable spatial distributions.
 
History Note: Authority G.S. 113-134; 113-182; 113-221; 143B-289.52; Eff. January 1, 1991; Amended Eff. March 1, 1994; September 1, 1991; Temporary Amendment Eff. July 1, 1999; Amended Eff. August 1, 2000.

I hope you will consider my request as reasonable and prudent, and take action. 

Sincerely and Best Regards,

Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2018 2:43 PM
To: steve.murphey@ncdenr.gov
Cc: john.nicholson@ncdenr.gov; c.boltes.mfc@ncdenr.gov; j.kornegay.mfc@ncdenr.gov; c.laughridge.mfc@ncdenr.gov; r.smith.mfc@ncdenr.gov; m.gorges.mfc@ncdenr.gov; b.koury.mfc@ncdenr.gov
Subject: CSMA Striped Bass- A Put and Too Many Take Fishery
 

Director Murphey,


Management of CSMA Striped Bass has been one of the issues that I have made both public and written comments on to both the Division and MFC over the last several years.  On December 8, 2015, I started a post on the website NC Waterman concerning the fishery and today that post has 162 comments with 13,838 views.  The informed public understand the issues and support changes to the fishery as shown by the numerous public comments to the MFC and Division on the subject.


The FMP is a complete failure- The Division is allowing a commercial fishery that is detrimental to the plan's goals and objectives.

3.2 GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goals of Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass FMP are to achieve sustainable harvest through science based decision-making processes that conserve adequate spawning stock, provide and maintain a broad age structure, and protect the integrity of critical habitats. 

The original purpose of stocking the CSMA can be found on page 301 of the FMP.  

Specific objectives for stocking striped bass into coastal river systems include attempts to increase spawning stock abundance while promoting self-sustaining population levels appropriate for various habitats and ecosystems.

Also on page 301, we can see that stocking was not thought to be of significant importance.

Results suggested striped bass stocked in the Neuse and Tar rivers appeared to contribute little to the spawning stocks in these systems.

Many of us do not understand why the Division has not supported immediate action through the use of temporary management measures allowed under the FMP.   Below you will find comments echoing my concerns that were recently sent to me in an email exchange with a person who understands the CSMA fishery extremely well. 

I ask that you use your proclamation authority to immediately close the large-mesh gill net fisheries in the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.  This action is supported by the needs of the CSMA Striped Bass with benefit also provided to our Southern flounder and red drum stocks.  Southern Flounder is both overfished with overfishing occurring and with the continued truncating of age structure indicating that recruitment overfishing is occurring.  The red drum fishery is allowed only as a bycatch fishery to reduce regulatory discards is other fisheries.  With flounder currently being the only targeted large-mesh fishery and a fishery in need of immediate harvest reduction my request is not only reasonable, but also prudent.

Sincerely and Best Regards,

These are the comments referenced above in my June 13th letter-

Originally posted by Rick Rick wrote:

...sent to me today by someone who understands the issues extremely well-

This is an explanation of what happened on the Pamlico and Neuse in 2018.

Do you remember that warm spell we had in February?  It was actually warm enough to make the stripers engage in pre-spawn behavior.  That behavior was to move up rivers a bit (just west of Washington and New Bern) and stay there until it was time for the spawning run.   This resulted in fewer large fish available to coastal area gillnetters. I observed many daily gill net commercial catches.  Catches were very low throughout the entire season.  One commercial fisherman was setting approximately 1,000 yards of net. His catches were dismal.  His catches were so low that he pulled his nets well before the season ended.   With all that said, there are many small fish around. Most will be big enough by late fall to become discards in the flounder gillnet fishery.  I worry a great deal about these small fish because  they will recruit into the CSMA gillnet fishery for next spring.  The mass of small fish is very evident in the number of undersized discards estimated and reported in 2017.  They were at record levels.  As you and I previously discussed, I think we had some help from an "environmental sweet spot" that actually resulted in significant numbers of naturally spawned fish. I watched this on the rivers when the fish first showed up at 10-12 inches then followed their status.  The majority of this year class are today 16-19 inches.  We desperately need to protect this group and take advantage of a natural gift that may only come once in twenty years, but is extremely important to a long-lived species like striped bass and red drum. 

When I think about the group of fish we have available today, I am reminded of the tremendous waste of red drum some years back when they too saw a tremendously successful spawn that eventually resulted in busted quotas and excessive discard numbers.   CSMA striped bass are headed for the same destiny.  Regulatory status quo will yield the same results.  Nature intends for these "gifts" to carry us through the poor recruitment years, but with our estuarine gillnet fisheries at over-capacity that just never happens.

I am very disappointed at how DMF has proceeded in regard to CSMA striped bass management, mainly their inaction after learning of the undeniable evidence that these systems are primarily populated with stocked fish. 

After this was determined and validated, DMF along with the others that crafted the first cooperative Estuarine Striped Bass Plan should have realized that the assessment and strategies developed though that process were based entirely on the false premise that stocking had little impact on the population. 

In my opinion, not knowing the contribution of stocked fish resulted in a plan that had little chance of success.  How could it succeed? Every notion and thought the scientists and managers had while developing the plan was founded on a basic understanding or belief that these systems were actually producing fish. When the alarming genetics data became available they should have realized their error and stop using the management strategies developed in a severely flawed FMP.  Proclamation authority gives the Director a wide range of management options.  Waiting for a scheduled FMP update to address the genetics data verges on incompetence.  That may be a strong word, and I hate to use it, but how else can one explain the reasons for the delays.  I do not understand.

We need to do something to bring this to the attention to all those who buy fishing tackle, fishing licenses, or taxes in general.  They need to know how their money is being wasted, more important how the potential for this important fishery is being squandered.




Edited by Rick - 06 August 2018 at 12:35pm
fiogf49gjkf0d
NC Fisheries Management- Motto: Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad   Slogan: Shrimp On! Mission Statement: Enable Commercial Fishing At Any and All Cost, Regardless of Impact to the Resource.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote j.willis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 11:37am
Very well written.

What reply did you receive from your emails sent 2 months ago?????
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 11:55am
Originally posted by j.willis j.willis wrote:

Very well written.

What reply did you receive from your emails sent 2 months ago?????



ZERO
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NC Fisheries Management- Motto: Too Little, Too Late, Too Bad   Slogan: Shrimp On! Mission Statement: Enable Commercial Fishing At Any and All Cost, Regardless of Impact to the Resource.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 12:33pm
Double post

Edited by Rick - 06 August 2018 at 12:34pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kshivar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 August 2018 at 1:36pm
Despicable that he did not reply. He is a public servant. He is clearly cut from the same cloth as the rest of anti-sustainable practices leaders at DMF. Nothing says ‘I don’t care what you think’ like no reply.
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