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Another UNSUSTAINABLE Gillnet Based Fishery

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    Posted: 28 August 2020 at 5:53pm

The latest stock assessment-


Albemarle-Roanoke Striped Bass- overfished with overfishing occurring

...blame being layed on predation (sound familar?-gray trout)
...blame being layed on environmental...always

They should start looking here-



FF-53-2019

PROCLAMATION

RE: STRIPED BASS – ALBEMARLE SOUND MANAGEMENT AREA – RECREATIONAL AND COMMERCIAL – COMMERCIAL OPENING


This proclamation supersedes FF-47-2019 dated November 20, 2019. It opens the harvest of striped bass taken for commercial purposes in the Albemarle Sound Management Area at 12:01 A.M. on Wednesday, January 1, 2020.


...and here-


FF-6-2020

PROCLAMATION

RE: STRIPED BASS – ALBEMARLE SOUND MANAGEMENT AREA – RECREATIONAL AND COMMERCIAL


This proclamation supersedes FF-53-2019 dated December 19, 2019. It increases the daily landing limit for the harvest of striped bass taken for commercial purposes in the Albemarle Sound Management Area at 12:01 A.M. on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.


...and here-


RE: GILL NETS – ALBEMARLE SOUND AREA – MANAGEMENT UNIT A

This proclamation supersedes Proclamation M-26-2019 dated December 20, 2019. It opens a portion of Management Unit A to the use of floating gill nets configured for harvesting American shad by removing vertical height restrictions for all gill nets with stretched mesh lengths of 5 ¼ through 6 ½ inches.

Stephen W. Murphey, Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, hereby announces that effective at 12:01 P.M., Monday, March 2, 2020, the following provisions shall apply to the use of gill nets in the following areas:


…and here-

FF-9-2020

PROCLAMATION

RE: STRIPED BASS – ALBEMARLE SOUND MANAGEMENT AREA – RECREATIONAL AND COMMERCIAL

This proclamation supersedes FF-6-2020 dated February 28, 2020. It increases the daily landing limit for the harvest of striped bass taken for commercial purposes in the Albemarle Sound Management Area at 12:01 A.M. on Thursday, March 5, 2020. 

...and here-


M-5-2020

PROCLAMATION

RE: GILL NETS – ALBEMARLE SOUND AREA – MANAGEMENT UNIT A


This proclamation supersedes Proclamation M-3-2020 dated February 28, 2020. In Management Unit A, it removes gill nets configured for harvesting American shad. It maintains restrictions on the use of fixed, stationary, or unattended gill nets and allows the use of run-around, strike, drop, and trammel gill nets and with a stretched mesh length of 5 ½ inches through 6 ½ inches in portions of Management Unit A.

Stephen W. Murphey, Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, hereby announces that effective at 12:01 A.M., Wednesday, March 25, 2020, the following provisions shall apply to the use of gill nets in the following areas:


...and here-


FF-14-2020

PROCLAMATION

RE: STRIPED BASS – ALBEMARLE SOUND MANAGEMENT AREA – RECREATIONAL AND COMMERCIAL


This proclamation supersedes FF-12-2020 REVISED dated March 13, 2020. It decreases the daily landing limit for the harvest of striped bass taken for commercial purposes in the Albemarle Sound Management Area at 12:01 A.M. on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. The harvest season for striped bass taken for recreational purposes remains open.

...and here-


M-10-2020

PROCLAMATION

RE: GILL NETS – ALBEMARLE SOUND AREA – MANAGEMENT UNIT A


This proclamation supersedes Proclamation M-5-2020 dated February 28, 2020. In Management Unit A, it implements small mesh gill net attendance requirements. It maintains restrictions on the use of run-around, strike, drop, and trammel gill nets and with a stretched mesh length of 5 ½ inches through 6 ½ inches in portions of Management Unit A.

Stephen W. Murphey, Director, Division of Marine Fisheries, hereby announces that effective at 12:01 A.M., Friday, May 1, 2020, the following provisions shall apply to the use of gill nets in the following areas:



How much time, money and staff does it take DMF to "manage" unsustainable gillnet fisheries in NC?

That "management" is killing our stocks!

Here's an idea- Lets pick the most liberal state from here to Texas and implement the same gillnet restrictions in our waters as they have in theirs.

...better yet, lets just ban gillnets like the rest of those states have in either all or the vast majority of their fisheries. .






Edited by Rick - 28 August 2020 at 6:17pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 August 2020 at 9:43pm
Been going on far too long
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TomM Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 September 2020 at 3:34pm
Overfished and overfishing occuring
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 September 2020 at 9:01am
...and you should read the CSMA report-


Results from the matrix model indicated that striped bass populations in the CSMA are depressed to an extent that sustainability is unlikely at any level of fishing mortality


...and Rachels and Ricks (NCWRC) were spot-on about the affects of cryptic mortality in their research.  The latest assessment found that

Fishing activities typically select larger fish; thus, increases in fishing mortality disproportionally impact the abundance of older fish, constrict the age structure of the population, and limit reproductive contribution.

The gillnet fisheries whether directed, as illegal harvest or as bycatch in other gillnet fisheries are a huge problem that prevent recovery of this stock. 

...and what is the answer- stock more fish

Simulation on stocking and fishing strategies showed that population would likely benefit more from stocking more fish.
 
...and another solution to recovery- close the fishery to harvest (which the DMF fought tooth-and-nail one year ago, see below)

Among the fishing strategies tested, the 10-year closure was most effective in increasing adult (age 3+) abundance over the entire 15-year simulation time period, and was also most effective in increasing old adult (age 6+) abundance during the first 13 years of simulation.


So tell me this-

How screwed up is the Division (DMF) and the Department (DEQ)?

Just one year ago DMF & DEQ were fighting tooth-and-nail (more on that in another post) against efforts to protect the CSMA stock.

The MFC, thanks to great leadership, voted in an emergency meeting to take action.

What did Sec. Regan do?  Politics as usual.

He took cover from the commercial fishing industry's ire with the letter below.  The whole letter was cover, but this sentence was over the top with implications that if allowed, he would reverse the decision-

The statute empowering the Marine Fisheries Commission to direct issuance of gill net bans in certain areas does not authorize the Secretary or the Department discretion to overturn such a directive.


Zero credibility!  Clean house.



Release: IMMEDIATE   
Contact: Megan S. Thorpe
Date: March 14, 2019
Phone: 919-618-0968

Secretary Regan's Statement on Marine Fisheries
Commission's Non-Emergency

 

 

RALEIGH — N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael S. Regan issued the following statement on the emergency meeting called by the Marine Fisheries Commission this week:

I am disappointed by the Marine Fisheries Commission calling an emergency meeting with only 48 hours notice for a non-emergency. The Commission used bad judgment in directing the Division of Marine Fisheries Director to take actions that contradict science and the recommendations of the division’s scientists.  I certainly hope this is not a precedent we will see again from this Commission.

The statute empowering the Marine Fisheries Commission to direct issuance of gill net bans in certain areas does not authorize the Secretary or the Department discretion to overturn such a directive.

nr-26-2019



...and what were Director Murphey's comments at the emergency meeting-  a deflection blaming the problem on the recreational fishery and defending gillnets


Division of Marine Fisheries Director Steve Murphey responded this was the first time he had seen the report and what stood out to him is the paper cites the leading cause of striped bass mortality as gill nets and the data used is from 1972 – 2002. Director Murphey said it is now 2019 and measures put in place in 2007, as part of the initial Estuarine Striped Bass FMP that was developed jointly with the Wildlife Resources Commission, to reduce discard morality, including tie down and distance from shore provisions, and those provisions have proven successful.  

In referencing Commissioner Kornegay’s concerns about the level of observer coverage, Director Murphey said the Percent Standard Errors (PSEs) were high in data from the Observer Program, but the division does not see significant discard mortality in the tie-down fishery, which is primarily the large mesh flounder fishery.  The measures just implemented in Supplement A require year-round tie-down and distance from shore restrictions to address commercial discard mortality, he said. 

Director Murphey referenced a letter he sent the commission dated March 4, where he declined to voluntarily implement a motion from the commission’s February meeting that requested he restrict the use of gillnets that interact with striped bass upstream of the ferry lines in the Pamlico and Neuse river systems and require attendance of gill nets that interact with striped bass upstream of the tie-down lines in the CSMA. He acknowledged in the letter and in Supplement A that there are discards in both the recreational and commercial fisheries and pointed out that gill net restrictions put in place in the initial FMP resulted in reductions in discards in the striped bass commercial fishery.  Our data indicates with much higher confidence levels that dead discards in the recreational fishery have increased significantly and that is one of the pieces of evidence used in identifying the one or two successful year classes the CSMA is currently experiencing, he advised.  

Director Murphey reiterated that implementation of gill net restrictions is best served through the continued development of the Estuarine Striped Bass FMP.  Supplement A measures will certainly not stop discards and dead discards from occurring in the commercial or recreational fisheries; however, the division’s data supports that Supplement A will reduce the overall number of fish being removed from the stock, thereby providing additional conservation protection to the two successful spawning year classes moving through the CSMA. Observer coverage of the gill net fishery will continue, with plans to increase that coverage as much as feasible in 2019.  If significant spikes of discards are observed, Director Murphey said he reserves the right to consider additional measures if warranted. 

Director Murphey talked about the professionalism of his staff said he supported the data and stood behind the data that the division has presented. 

Commissioner Kornegay asked if the director could support the data with such minimal observer coverage in the Neuse and Tar rivers. 

Director Murphey explained that the state’s Incidental Take Permit requires 7% to 10% observer coverage and that the division gets that in the rivers, but its not all observer coverage, some is from alternative platform coverage.  He explained that if you look at the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program, that 2% observer coverage is considered a very high standard for an observed fishery. Commissioner Kornegay said statistically he would argue that point. 

Director Murphey said while we would like to have more robustness in the observer data, we do have much more robust data in our CSMA creel survey, he said.  It is not an MRIP survey, but a creel survey designed with the Wildlife Resources Commission and N.C. State University and it shows a lot of discards and it is tracking those two year classes.  That is what prompted our action to try and limit the discards; however, we know it cannot be eliminated. 

Director Murphey then discussed the need for the commission to ask the Wildlife Resources Commission to develop concurrent regulations because striped bass are still being harvested in the Joint Fishing Waters of the state; whereas commercial fishermen are unable to pursue the fish in these waters. 

Then Director Murphey advised he had talked to the secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the secretary has talked to the Governor’s Office, and the secretary does not agree with the approach for this proceeding.  


 




Edited by Rick - 02 September 2020 at 5:05pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 September 2020 at 11:03am

tooth-and-nail...how many hours did DMF staff spend, how much money, trying to convince the public (support the DMF position of DELAY) that things were not that bad and the problem wasn't gillnets-

The WRC saw the problem-







DMF had to try and refute the science (spin it) and claim sole decision making authority, all for the purpose of delay-





Edited by Rick - 02 September 2020 at 5:06pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 September 2020 at 11:09am

How many man hours were spent by DMF trying to divert blame to the recreational sector?

Take blame off gillnets?

Delay action?

This (linked) DMF presentation shows that thousands of dollars in man-hours were spent trying to spin the story for delay, while common sense and basic biology (along with alarm calls from several highly credible biologists) supported immediate action-


The real problem?

Stated in this email that I wrote in 2017 to then Deputy Assistant Secretary Shelia Holman-

(please ignore the font issue on the date below. To correct deletes the email)

Note: I have removed the candidate's name as she was not selected and instead Braxton Davis was temporarily placed in the position. 

Wed 5/31/2017 3:38 PM
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  • Sheila.holman@ncdenr.gov

Sheila,


Good Afternoon.


I am hearing rumors that the search for our new Director is narrowing down with xxxxxxxx xxxx xxxxx as one of the lead candidates.  While I do not personally know Dr. xxxxxx, I do have concerns that I would like to share with you that are not only my personal concerns but those of many recreational anglers and conservation voices.


There is general overall distrust in the system that starts with NCDMF and extends to SeaGrant, the NC Coastal Federation, NC Catch, some members of our research universities and the commercial fishing industry.  There exists an unhealthy and deeply conflicted relationship between these groups and individuals which has clouded the vision of those with missions to regulate and promote protection/restoration of our important coastal resources.


While Dr. xxxxxx's credentials on the SeaGrant website are indicative of a balanced policy vision that supports sound resource management, there are several red flags that will prevent her from being perceived as a "neutral" Director capable of making the tough management decisions needed to properly manage our fisheries.  Dr. xxxxxx has been a long-term player in the process- an unsuccessful process.  Dr. xxxxxx's involvement with SeaGrant and Carteret Catch ("co-founder") will not be viewed as positive by many of us fighting for a new direction in policy- a truly new direction for NC marine fisheries management designed to produce an abundant and healthy resource supporting sustainable fisheries. 


Early last fall, I sat down with a group of concerned coastal conservationists and Attorney General Cooper to discuss the importance that a clear message on fisheries policy could mean to his election campaign.  The outcome of those meetings was released on the Governor's website.  You can find that policy here:   http://www.roycooper.com/marine-fisheries/


I direct you to two paragraphs of the Governor's policy:


As Governor, Roy Cooper will put in place agency managers and Marine Fisheries Commission members who will make decisions in accordance with the best scientific evidence available and conservative principles to enhance the resource.  The Fisheries Reform Act of 1997 will be 20 years old next year, and it needs to be modernized and updated to respond to the realities of our state’s resources and economic well being. If the current course, as set by Governor McCrory, is maintained; the availability of our natural resources for the use and enjoyment of future generations is in serious jeopardy.

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.

NCDMF needs a strong Director capable of meeting the Governor's goals.  A new direction will not be easy, especially for someone deeply embedded in the past.  NC fisheries management demands a new set of eyes capable of seeing the Governor's vision and implementing it.   I understand the difficult situation you face in finding such a person given the well-known problem we have in NC of managing our fisheries through "political science" versus best available sound biological sciences.  


I ask as one of the many conservation/recreational angling voices who helped elect Governor Cooper, based on his fisheries policy, that the search for a new Director be given the time and resources necessary to succeed.  The new Director "will change the direction"  as part of the "top priority" campaign promise made by Governor Cooper- or not.


If Dr. xxxxxx is that person, then I support her 100%.  If not, please broaden the search until the proper candidate is found.


Sincerely and Best Regards,






Deputy Director Holman was very kind to provide the following reply-


Thank you for your message and your feedback.  As demonstrated by our posting of the position, we are conducting a national search for the next director of the Division of Marine Fisheries.  I am committed to finding a great leader for this important division.

 

Sheila

 

Sheila Holman

Assistant Secretary for the Environment

NCDEQ

1601 Mail Service Center

Raleigh, NC 27699-1601

Phone/Fax: 919-707-8619

deq.nc.gov

Sheila.holman@ncdenr.gov



To which I sent this follow-up email- 

Sent: Wednesday, March 8, 2017 11:44 AM
To: Sheila.holman@ncdenr.gov <Sheila.holman@ncdenr.gov>
Subject: Posting of DMF Director's Job
 

Shelia,


Per your note below-


First, I fully realize that posting the director's job is a formality.  


The director's job needs to be filled from outside of NC if it is a permanent replacement.  No one at NCDMF or a former NCDMF employee should be considered.  The informed public has zero confidence in senior Division staff to manage our fisheries and coastal habitats for sustainability. 


What really needs to happen is to put a strong interim director in place to clean house, establish policy and right this ship that rolled over a long time ago.  Only then will you be able to conduct a legitimate search to find a quality person to fill the director's job.  No one in his right mind would want to come into that mess as a permanent long-term position unless he or she is unqualified and hired to maintain status quo.


The incestuous relationship between SeaGrant, NCDMF, NCDA&CS and our research universities is preventing proper resource management.  Everyone is scratching each other's backs to promote and defend the use of unsustainable gears and practices in NC's commercial fishing industry.  These agencies have made a career out of supporting the commercial fishing industry.  There's a lot of job security in studying and trying to manage the unmanageable- supporting and trying to manage the use of those unsustainable gears and practices fishing on depleted and overfished stocks.


NCDMF is the poster child for Regulatory Capture.


Respectfully with Best Regard,



...and here we are today.


  • Flounder- overfished with overfishing occurring. Closed annually for all but 45-days with a four fish daily creel limit. Truly depleted if DMF still used that term.
  • Weakfish (gray trout)- depleted with no hope of recovery in sight. A one fish daily creel limit while the single largest source of total annual mortality is shrimp trawl bycatch.
  • CSMA striped bass- permanently closed to all harvest.
  • A-R Striped bass- overfished with overfishing occurring- soon to be closed.
  • Spot and croaker runs are nonexistent while the single largest source of total annual mortality for both is shrimp trawl bycatch.
  • Red Drum- overfished.  A one fish daily creel limit and we have to fight the Division from trying to give the commerial sector additional daily bycatch fish.
  • Speckle Trout- the single success story thanks to the recreational sector fighting for cold-stun event closures and forcing DMF to follow protocol.

All of the emails above were forwarded, at the time, to senior administration staff and political operatives for Governor Cooper.  When Shelia Holmon left her position and was replaced by Chief Deputy Secretary Nicholson, I sent him copies.

Ladies and Gentlemen- we get fisheries reform by one of two means
  • Total collaspe of our fisheries
  • Lawsuits


Edited by Rick - 02 September 2020 at 6:16pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Get Bowed Up Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 September 2020 at 6:01pm
Red drum, overfished?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 September 2020 at 6:07pm
Originally posted by Get Bowed Up Get Bowed Up wrote:

Red drum, overfished?
 


The regional benchmark stock assessment (North Carolina and all states north), conducted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in 2017, indicates that overfishing is not occurring and that management targets continue to be met. The size of the fish stock (overfished status), however, continues to be unknown due to limited data available for the adult population. The Red Drum Fishery Management Plan Update was approved in August 2017. A new benchmark stock assessment is scheduled for 2022. For more information, contact Lee Paramore at Lee.Paramore@ncdenr.gov


Edited by Rick - 02 September 2020 at 6:08pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Get Bowed Up Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 September 2020 at 10:30pm
I admit, I had focused on the unknown due to limited data available for the adult population.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Get Bowed Up Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 September 2020 at 10:40pm
CSMA- Given sustainability is unlikely at any level of fishing mortality, it's either continuing stocking a put take fishery and or close it for 10ish years and hope for the best.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 September 2020 at 12:07am
Originally posted by Get Bowed Up Get Bowed Up wrote:

CSMA- Given sustainability is unlikely at any level of fishing mortality, it's either continuing stocking a put take fishery and or close it for 10ish years and hope for the best.




Put and take....would it allow commercial harvest?

A put and take fishery would require abandonment of the FMP.




Edited by Rick - 03 September 2020 at 12:10am
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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 Get Bowed Up Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 September 2020 at 12:11am
Rick, i believe you pointed out the scource of funding does not permit if deemed put and take.



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