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Lastest Weakfish Stock Assessment

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    Posted: 18 July 2016 at 12:42pm

http://www.asmfc.org/uploads/file/572b74a22016WeakfishAssessmentOverview_Final.pdf

http://www.asmfc.org/uploads/file/5751b3db2016WeakfishStockAssessment_PeerReviewReport_May2016.pdf

My selected Hi-Lights of Hi-Lights with a few notes-

Continued concern regarding the status of the weakfish stock was a major impetus for the development and passage of the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act (1993), which made compliance with ASMFC fishery management plans mandatory for member states.


Following the Act’s passage, ASMFC approved Amendment 2 to the Weakfish FMP for implementation in April 1995 (ASMFC 1994).

 

The provisions of Amendment 2 were mandatory and included harvest control strategies such as a 12” (305 mm) total length (TL) minimum size, maintenance of existing minimum mesh sizes, and a 50% shrimp trawl bycatch reduction requirement by 1996.Fishing mortality would be reduced in a stepwise fashion, with a 25% reduction in weakfish fishing mortality in 1995 followed by a 25% reduction in exploitation n 1996.

 

A stock assessment conducted in 2006 showed a significant turn of events from previous assessment results (see full discussion in Section 1.4, Assessment History). Model results indicated that weakfish stocks were at historic low levels, and that fishing mortality was a relatively minor component of total mortality. Projection analyses indicated that even with a full moratorium on harvest, stock rebuilding would occur slowly at best without a significant decrease in other sources of mortality.

 

In August 2006, the WTC provided a response to these tasks (ASMFC 2006).

1. The stock is declining;

2. Total mortality is increasing;

3. There is little evidence of overfishing occurring;

4. Something other than fishing mortality is causing the stock decline, and;

5. There is a strong chance that regulating the fishery will not, in itself, reverse the stock decline.

 

The most recent stock assessment, with data through 2007, underwent an external peer review through the NEFSC SAW/SARC process in June 2009.

  •  Numbers based fishing mortality (age 1+) exceeded 0.5 during most of the 1980s and increased during the late 1980s to a peak in 1990.
  • F declined quickly after that, dropping below 0.2 by 1994, where it has remained for most of the remainder of the time series. January 1 stock biomass (age 1+) declined steadily during the 1980s, from nearly 30,000 MT in 1982 to less than 4,000 MT by 1990.
  • The early 1990s was a period of rebuilding, with the stock reaching a relative peak of 15,000 MT by 1996.
  • From 1996 to 2008, the stock has declined steadily, reaching an all-time low of 1,300 MT in 2008.

 

The stock was determined to be depleted, with the primary cause being attributed to the increased natural mortality rate. Juvenile abundance surveys indicated that young of the year weakfish continued to be present in numbers similar to previous years, suggesting that recruitment had not been severely limited despite the low stock size.

 

My Note: Predation Theory is temporarily out!

2.5 Natural Mortality

The 2006 stock assessment for weakfish assumed a coastwide constant natural mortality rate of M = 0.25 upon the recommendation of the 26th SARC. This estimate was derived using the rule-of-thumb approach in which M = 3/t max, with the value for t max set at 12. There was evidence, however, such as decreasing catch rates and shrinking age structure that seemed to indicate natural mortality had increased in recent years. As a result, the 2009 stock assessment included several analyses to investigate time varying M for weakfish, including:

  • Inverse correlations between the rise in abundance of striped bass and spiny dogfish with the decline in abundance of weakfish for possible increased predation effects on weakfish M.
  • Competitive interactions between striped bass and weakfish over the consumption of forage fish such as menhaden to analyze the potential for negative effects on weakfish survival.
  • Age-varying M estimator, which employs a negative linear relationship between M and the mean fish weight-at-age, to calculate estimates of M-at-age for weakfish by year from 1982 through 2007 for all natural systems and latitudes, natural systems in temperate latitudes and oceanic natural systems in all latitudes respectively. These estimates ranged from a maximum of 1.06 at age 1 in oceanic systems of all latitudes in 1990 to a minimum of 0.22 at age 6+ for natural systems in temperate regions for 2006.
  • Patterns in weakfish food habits, as well as correlations between historical weakfish landings and mean sea surface water temperature shifts coincident with the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation index to investigate potential explanatory variables for mortality.

 

Although many of these factors provide correlations to support the concept of a variable M, and the 2009 peer review panel agreed with the WTC’s findings, it was not possible to describe relationships that could be used to model time varying M.

 

For the current assessment, both constant and time varying natural mortality have been revisited. The WTC prefers the use of a time varying M, so several of the past analyses have been updated, and new methods attempted to model M. However, in the event that a time varying M cannot be modeled accurately, the fall back was to include a constant M value.

 

5.1.13 SEFSC Shrimp Trawl Observer Program

Juvenile weakfish are caught as bycatch in the south Atlantic shrimp trawl fishery. Scott

-Denton et al. (2012) found that weakfish made up 0.9% of the total catch (shrimp, bycatch, and debris) by weight on observed trips from 2008-2010 in the south Atlantic.

 

The final estimates of weakfish bycatch were very small relative to total commercial removals (Figure 5.1.2). In addition, the length distribution of the weakfish samples indicated the catch was predominantly composed of age-0 fish, which were not included in the population model (Figure5.1.3). For these reasons, as well as the high uncertainty in the data set coming from the low sample size, the lack of mandatory coverage prior to 2008, and the uncertainty in extrapolating the BCPUE further into the past, the estimates of shrimp trawl bycatch were not included in the assessment.

 

The WTC also explored the NC DMF shrimp observer dataset, which had much better sample size for the years in which it was active, but only covered one year of inshore sampling and one year of offshore sampling, as well as only covering the waters of NC. They found similar rates of weakfish in their sample, with about 2% of the total catch by weight made up of weakfish in the inshore samples. Because of the limited temporal and spatial range of this dataset, estimates of total bycatch were not developed from it.

 

My Note:  Kevin Brown (NCDMF) found that weakfish comprised 6.52% of total catch by weight in all nets studied in his Pamlico Sound Bycatch Characterization Study.   Brown found 3x to 7x more weakfish bycatch than the studies above.

 

10.0 RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS

 

Fishery-Dependent Priorities

High

  • Increase observer coverage to identify the magnitude of discards for all commercial gear types from both directed and non-directed fisheries.1

 

Moderate

  • Continue studies on temperature, size, and depth specific recreational hook and release mortality rates, particularly catches from warm, deep waters. Investigate methods to increase survival of released fish.
  • Continue studies on mesh size selectivity, particularly trawl fisheries.
  • Improve methods to estimate commercial bycatch. Refine estimates of discard mortality based on factors such as distance from shore and other geographical differences for all sizes including below minimum size.

Low

  • Determine the onshore versus offshore components of the weakfish fishery.
  • Collect catch and effort data including size and age composition of the catch, determine stock mortality throughout the range, and define gear characteristics. In particular, increase length frequency sampling in fisheries from Maryland and further north.
  • Develop latitudinal, seasonal, and gear specific age length keys coast wide. Increase sample sizes for gear specific keys.

Life History, Biological, and Habitat Priorities

High

  • Develop a coastwide tagging program to identify stocks and determine migration, stock mixing, and characteristics of stocks in over wintering grounds. Determine the relationship between migratory aspects and the observed trend in weight at age.
  • Monitor weakfish diets over a broad regional and spatial scale.
  • Continue to investigate the geographical extent of weakfish hybridization.

 

Moderate

  •  Identify and delineate weakfish spawning habitat locations and environmental preferences to quantify spawning habitat.
  • Compile data on larval and juvenile distribution from existing databases to obtain preliminary indications of spawning and nursery habitat location and extant.
  • Examine geographical and temporal differences in growth rate (length and weight at age).
  • Determine the impact of power plants and other water intakes on larval, post larval, and juvenile weakfish mortality in spawning and nursery areas. Calculate the resulting impact on adult stock size.
  •  Monitor predation on weakfish from both fish and marine mammal species.

 

My Note:  They should closely monitor predation from the Pamlico Sound shrimp trawler in, if not one of the most significant nursery areas for the whole East Coast, at least the most significant nursery area for North Carolina.

The primary Pamlico Sound weakfish predator, bar none- 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLl4GSZLqGU





Edited by Rick - 18 July 2016 at 4:43pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 July 2016 at 3:57pm
At BHI with youngest grandson who loves to fish. "Big daddy why did you bring those rods their aren't any fish"

Edited by TomM - 18 July 2016 at 3:57pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kshivar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2016 at 12:06pm
from the mouths of babes!! we all know how he feels. I haven't wet a hook this year. I'll go catch some big Spanish when the wind and my schedule agree but other than that why waste time and fuel to catch a drum (to release) or an undersized flounder if at all, or 100 spikes and no keepers. I've fished the waters for 57 years and never imagined this wholesale destruction of our stocks by both commercial fishermen and those in government charged with the defense and management of the resource. if you want to catch fish go to Louisiana, Florida, SC, Virginia, etc. you can catch more fish in a day than all year here. take a kid fishing here has become 'take a kid pinfishing'. only when hotel owners, rental property owners, boat dealers, tackle dealers, etc. rise up will anyone with any power take notice. as it is now we here are merely a nuisance without any real power and no one is listening. BTW if anyone thinks my assessment too severe go to 'Fishing Reports" forum. there are a lot of good fishermen spending a lot of time and money not catching. no catching, no reports.

Edited by kshivar - 19 July 2016 at 12:38pm
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Just for giggles go to Chris Bait tackle Facebook
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CapRandy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 July 2016 at 10:50am
Well its all funny for some people of which many could care less,but when the kids start complaining there are no fish the WE have a problem,hotel owners and buisnesses have not been hit hard yet but they will and it cannot come quick enough,I guess you have to feel some pain before you know you are hurt,getting in everyones pocket from the business end might work.If I do not catch it I do not eat it,Im not supporting the death of a resource,overseas products taste fine too.
Murder is killing but all killing is not murder
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lcg8978 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 July 2016 at 5:17pm
TomM makes a good point.. look at VA.

Took a trip up there 2 weeks ago. Did all of this in one day:
Jigged for flounder, caught a few dozen from 14-24 inches in about an hour
Sightfished over a dozen cobia, to keep 2 per boat. No gaf allowed anymore so all net and release. Biggest went 65lbs
Caught a limit of nice sized spade fish
Sightfished a school of 1000 plus citation class drum until our arms were toast (~30 between the two of us)

Conditions were less than ideal and we still caught more fish in a day than I do in a month here at home.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Basstard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 July 2016 at 8:55pm
At one time....

There were so many Weakfish......everywhere...in NJ anyway.

Now there's a one fish per day limit and a 13" minimum.

When I was a kid not even a "kid" would keep a 13" Weakfish if he reeled one in....it just wasn't done.....people would laugh at you....some might call you names.

And there was zillions of 13" and smaller Spikes everywhere around docks...in the backwater....and it was common to see them inside Tiderunners and Bluefish when gutted...

So where did they all go?

These days....a town that called itself..."THE WEAKFISH CAPITOL OF THE WORLD"...and had a great big sign stating it....just simply isn't anymore. Long gone are the days when headboats loaded with idiots who had to be shown which end of the rod to hold......as are the giant fleet(s) of headboats themselves.

And them neophytes used to catch big too....I know as I used to have my shingle with "FISH CLEANED...10 CENTS APIECE" attached to my bike and I met the head boats at the public dock and applied my trade....and was about the richest kid in Southern NJ even though my parents never as much as bought me a candy bar.

So where did all them fish go?

Really! Does anyone ever really think about it? Or any other fish for that matter?

When I got to be in my 30's I had my own boat and ran "6-pack charters". The difference with my charters is that I placed one 150 cooler with a 50 pound block of ice in it and when it was full of fish....even if it only took an hour....the charter was over.....and to those who showed up with "drum"....well.....I made sure everyone knew ahead of time that we just don't do that on my boat.

The shortest charter was back at the dock a little past 0800...as we hit Tiderunners just outside the inlet and bailed them until the lid on the cooler wouldn't close......even with the block of ice removed...

So where did they go?

Well....the "UNSPORTSMAN" like Sportsman had something to do with it as they took way too many "feesh" and either wasted them or became "big-a-shots" parading around their neighborhood giving fish away that should have never been caught anyway.

.....most certainly...the commercial fishermen hammered the hell out of them. I watched "fly netters" from North Carolina crucify giant breeders in the mouth of the Delaware Bay to the point where they lowered the commercial price of the fish down to nothing and even pet food people didn't want them even for free.

Yep....I saw many a world record come off those boats that went towards cat food.

But I will say that when I charted.....there was damned few other boats in the bay where I was....and the ones that were out there were head boats. Why?

Well! When there was plenty of fish...there was no GPS and damned few people had even a flasher fish finder...let alone a VHS radio.

This stopped millions of slobs from leaving the sight of land due to fear....as most once they lost sight were as lost as a blind person dropped in the middle of the Great Dismal Swamp.

I had a Ray Jefferson color video sonar (which was the same gear supplied to PBR's in Vietnam) and a VHF radio telephone which I purchased with my winning on a 15 pick winner football ticket. The sonar unit and radio was over $2,500.00.

I also had Noaa charts...a great compass.....and actually knew how to use both.

It wasn't until GPS came into play at a reasonable price along with reasonably priced fish finders did all the real carnage of the oceans begin.

NOW...with all this cheap electronic gear it made it possible for people with absolutely no seamanship or navigational abilities to merrily go out and pound entire schools of all kinds of fish out of existence.....ALL who erroneously refer to themselves as "Captain" as they constantly crap up the vhf air waves with "TIME" and "Radio CHECKS" and "Captain" each-other to death in their replies.

Needless to say....before all of these modern electronics...docks would have 20 to 30 boats at them...maybe...and after that they had to build to the hold hundreds if they could.

If all the electronics took a dump...all but a few of them would never leave the docks.

So what's the reason(s) that these fish disappeared?

I believe that it could be many.....like over fishing...both commercial and recreational, pollution, a cycle...or maybe it is just their time to disappear as Scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every 24 hours.

I don't really know?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 July 2016 at 9:23pm
Too many people and a lust for shrimp in the Pamlico! Compass and eventually flasher. Allow for wind and it was good. Coastal inshore fish are toast
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Basstard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 July 2016 at 9:41pm
Originally posted by TomM TomM wrote:

Too many people and a lust for shrimp in the Pamlico! Compass and eventually flasher. Allow for wind and it was good. Coastal inshore fish are toast


I think that it might just be more than just the "lust for shrimp"....

Them boys have been killing shrimp for a really long time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 July 2016 at 11:11pm
The Pamlico Sound has been identified as a primary and secondary nursery area for weakfish way before any of us caught or cleaned our 1st fish, not just a nursery area for NC but one for the whole Mid-Atlantic States. While it's possible that seperate stocks exist, overlapping stocks, subspecies...who knows. Federal law requires that weakfish be managed as one single stock from Florida to Massachusetts. The Magnuson-Stevens Act Reauthorzation requires those states to use existing data bases to identify and protect weakfish nursery areas. Under requirements of the Weakfish FMP, member states with a base population level are required to conduct annual juvenile weakfish surveys to submit for establishing young-of-the-year indexes. NC meets that requirement using the P195 trawl survey, which occurs in the Pamlico Sound estuary where more than 80% of NC total shrimp harvest occurs.

It is well established that bycatch is 4X the shrimp haul.

What isn't well known is that contrary to public statements presented as fact by the NC DMF, shrimp trawling effort is not down 70%, an erroneus suggestion implying bycatch is not the issue it once was. Effort is measured by trips. A small boat shrimping overnight, packing his landings in an igloo cooler on ice and returning to the dock the next morning has the same effort, effect, as a 90' steel hulled trawler leaving the dock on Sunday and returning on Friday, packing his landings in a below deck insulated hold. The first boat pulled a 60' net. The second pulled four 55' nets. Really, the same effort and effect?

Annual shrimp landings haven't changed for forty years, about six million pounds. There will be low years with too much rain and there are almost record years like 2015 with over 9 million pounds landed. Those are the reported landings. NC conducts its seafood business as cash transactions. Studies and opinions suggest that landings are significantly under-reported.

BRDs, bycatch reduction devices, have certainly reduced adult finfish bycatch in the shrimp trawl fishery. Those adults run a gauntlet of total commercial overcapacity in the gill net, haul seine, pound net, drop net, drift net, strike net, fly net, etc fisheries. BRDs don't work on juvenile finfish due to unacceptable shrimp lost. A net designed to catch a shrimp is going to catch 3" to 7" juvenile spot, croaker and gray trout.

What people also don't understand is that shrimp landings from the Pamlico Sound have doubled since the 70's and early 80's. While total statewide landings have remained in a defined range with a 6 million average, the vast majority now come from the Pamilco. This doubling of landings had doubled the absolute quantity of juvenile bycatch.

For weakfish, fly netting for "pan trout" that never spawned once and selling holds for catfood plumented the biomass. It is the Pamlico Sound shrimp trawler that is the recruitment bottleneck preventing recovery.

Edited by Rick - 27 July 2016 at 10:07am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Basstard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2016 at 12:50am
Rick...

No disagreement from me that commercial shrimping has knocked the hell out of fish like Weakies.....my favorite fish!

And as the Pamlico is a great estuary for Weakfish....the Delaware Bay "WAS" also...at one time anyway.

As a child in Cape May NJ, I used to make money from the water. Be it crabbing, treading clams, or catching fish and selling them to widows and such....I also used to net baitfish to sell to the bait stores.

I build my own seins that I would move down the creek and catch minnows that were sold live as flounder baits by the quart. Many is the time that I released hundreds of tiny Weakfish, Flounder and Bluefish from my nets. Those same small creeks today don't even yield that many..if any...minnows and the reason is pretty obvious. "MAN" has encroached upon that area in such great numbers and built the area up that nothing wild lives there any longer.....not even mosquitos...

I have absolutely no problem throwing blame on commercial guys for the lack of Weakfish....as when this site was in it's hayday I argued with many of them on this same subject....but I am also honest enough to understand that it just wasn't them alone that ruined the fishing.   
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I dont blame the commercial fishermen, I blame the people who make the rules:  The MFC and indirectly or directly the NC DMF and the Person who appoints them.

If fishermen are not breaking the law, is it their fault their actions depleted our stocks?  

Rick is right, these are nursery areas.  We have allowed a few hundred people, through mismanagement of our public trust resource, to decimate our stocks.  We must change our attitude from a culture of maximum extraction to one of of conservation first.

Until that is done, inshore fishing is dead.

Originally posted by Big Basstard Big Basstard wrote:

Rick...

No disagreement from me that commercial shrimping has knocked the hell out of fish like Weakies.....my favorite fish!

And as the Pamlico is a great estuary for Weakfish....the Delaware Bay "WAS" also...at one time anyway.

As a child in Cape May NJ, I used to make money from the water. Be it crabbing, treading clams, or catching fish and selling them to widows and such....I also used to net baitfish to sell to the bait stores.

I build my own seins that I would move down the creek and catch minnows that were sold live as flounder baits by the quart. Many is the time that I released hundreds of tiny Weakfish, Flounder and Bluefish from my nets. Those same small creeks today don't even yield that many..if any...minnows and the reason is pretty obvious. "MAN" has encroached upon that area in such great numbers and built the area up that nothing wild lives there any longer.....not even mosquitos...

I have absolutely no problem throwing blame on commercial guys for the lack of Weakfish....as when this site was in it's hayday I argued with many of them on this same subject....but I am also honest enough to understand that it just wasn't them alone that ruined the fishing.   
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 Big Basstard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2016 at 11:28am
Originally posted by chriselk chriselk wrote:

I dont blame the commercial fishermen, I blame the people who make the rules:  The MFC and indirectly or directly the NC DMF and the Person who appoints them.

If fishermen are not breaking the law, is it their fault their actions depleted our stocks?  

Rick is right, these are nursery areas.  We have allowed a few hundred people, through mismanagement of our public trust resource, to decimate our stocks.  We must change our attitude from a culture of maximum extraction to one of of conservation first.

Until that is done, inshore fishing is dead.




Chriselk

I agree....but for a very few..."inshore fishing" really is all but dead.

And whereas I can still go out and catch a ton of Weakies....they are all small and in my estimation not worth going after.

At one time....there was one hell of a Redfish market in NJ.....believe it or not.

...a booming Sturgeon market as well!

They (commercial fishing interests) caught so many of them both that they built processing facilities right next to the creeks that they strung nets across so that nothing could make it through.

...and this went on for years....that is until they didn't catch enough to make it profitable anymore.

So! Today ...every now and then...someone will catch a Redfish or a Sturgeon by accident since 100 years ago when they stopped commercially targeting them.

What does that tell you?

Well it tells me that they lowered the stock numbers so greatly that they will never come back on their own.





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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2016 at 8:55pm
In NC commercial guys are very close to fishing themselves out of business😔
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2016 at 9:13pm
I had that thought this morning. I convinced myself otherwise. When you look at the number of part-time players who are in it with low overhead for pure supplemental money, pocket change or fun, it will be a long slow death to the last fish. Commercials will aquire new targets, black drum and sheepshead, as they deplete old ones. As one leading university research professor told me recently, the shrimpers are clean-sweeping our sounds. With the current politics, those shrimp catches will be increasing as predators like gray trout, flounder, speckled trout, croaker, spot and red drum disappear from our estuaries.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bakesta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2016 at 9:39pm
That makes too much sense Rick!

Edited by bakesta - 27 July 2016 at 9:40pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 July 2016 at 10:15pm
When black drum and sheepshead are diminished what is left besides a tasteless shrimp. Inshore is done except for big drum and maybe a few specs. Even croakers seem in decline as stripers. It may be slow but the death seems inevitable. Sad.

Edited by TomM - 27 July 2016 at 10:17pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kshivar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 July 2016 at 9:31am
Commercials are not totally to blame but the trawls in nursery areas keep the fish from ever recovering. If you kill the babies there are no adults to make more babies. Not too complicated. When's the last time you saw a spot run in October?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Basstard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 July 2016 at 2:00pm
Actually!

It doesn't appear that there are the zillions of Weakfish ANYWHERE like there was years ago...

...and as far as I know...Weakfish have bred in every estuary up and down the eastern seaboard.

I have had occasion to travel quite a bit around this country and have always enjoyed going into supermarkets to see what types of seafood they have on hand.

Many of you would be shocked to find out that places like Iowa, Illinois, Oklahoma....etc....have supermarket chains that have fresh seafood in very large displays from every fish and shellfish caught in every state on the east coast.

And that does not include the imported stuff.

I can't understand how there is anything left in the oceans.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 July 2016 at 2:40pm
The spawning stock biomass data confirms your assumptions, the zillions are gone.




The YOY Indices show that spawn and hatch has always been highly variable-




The problem that has kept us in our current depleted state is lack of successful recruitment from Age-0 to Age-1 fish, seen in the graph above.

Weakfish are batch spawners that reach sexual maturity at about 10" is size.  If more fish could recruit to Age-1, the possibility of turning this fishery around in a few years is real.

That's not going to happen as long as we're killing the juveniles in their primary and secondary nursery areas before they even get a chance to exit the estuaries for their wintering grounds off Hatteras.

If we then kill the few that make to the wintering grounds as bycatch in the croaker flynet fishery, that's a problem also.

Instead of studying bycatch reduction devices for three years in the Pamlico Sound, the MFC should have stopped shrimping for three years and studied weakfish population the fourth year.


Edited by Rick - 28 July 2016 at 2:43pm
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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 TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 July 2016 at 2:44pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Basstard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 July 2016 at 5:51pm
Originally posted by Rick Rick wrote:


Instead of studying bycatch reduction devices for three years in the Pamlico Sound, the MFC should have stopped shrimping for three years and studied weakfish population the fourth year.


I'll agree with you....and offer this as well.

Shut off all fishing for Weakfish on the entire east coast for everyone and not allow any to be kept or targeted for any reason by anyone...

....then do the data.

It the data proves promising then allow one slot 18 to 24 inches per day and if the data still improves....allow one more per day each year the data improves until the number reaches a total of 8..

...and never allow them to be kept as bycatch or targeted by comms ever again.

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