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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 Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2020 at 8:44am

"With appropriate conservation and management hopefully more fish like this will be observed in the Neuse River. The key to population recovery is these larger/older females because these fish lay more eggs that are of higher quality." 

How true! 

With the current moratorium on commercial gillnetting inland of the Neuse River ferry line from Cherry Branch to Minnesott Beach, the recovery of this fishery has started. 

We need to expand the gillnet moratorium.






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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 BrackishWater Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2020 at 8:58am
Amen! Let's hope DMF is conducting their own sampling so the two agencies can be on the same page with the new FMP. 

Expand the gill net free zones!
A rising tide lifts all boats...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chriselk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 April 2020 at 9:32am
Let's remember that the biology of Striped Bass reproduction is inconsistent.  The fish may be present, but often produce poor year classes, sometimes for several years.  Then, as if by a miracle, we get a huge class of fish that can carry the stock for 10-20 years.  

But that only happens if we have mature fish present.  Don't expect a miracle in a couple of years, this is a long-term project, but well worth it.  

Thanks for the post Rick, it just shows what may be possible with patience and careful attention to detail.  Thanks also to the many striped bass biologists who are on board and working hard on this recovery.
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 Rick Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 September 2021 at 9:13am
ALL, it is time to re-engage on striped bass management!

Amendment to the FMP is underway. You can find the draft here with several supporting white papers-

http://files.nc.gov/ncdeq/Marine-Fis...2_AC_DRAFT.pdf


http://files.nc.gov/ncdeq/Marine-Fis...P-AC-Draft.pdf


Notice of the first AC meeting with opportunity to listen and see the presentations via webinar (no public comment) start next week-

http://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/ma...ass-amendment2



Bottom line- the stock is overfished with overfishing (non-directed) occurring.

The solid red line is total targeted fishing mortality allowed under the original FMP. The target was taken from the Albemarle/Roanoke FMP and used as a proxy for the Neuse River. Anytime mortality is above the red line, overfishing was occurring. The blue dotted line is the projected new target in the Roanoke fishery. Using the blue line target as a proxy in the Neuse, overfishing occurred in all but one year.




With the stock being overfished, it will take a super majority of the commission to override the division recommendations for management. We need to help the division make the right management choices to be presented to the commission.

We saw at the August MFC Business Meeting a refusal of the commission to broadly address small mesh gill nets and instead kick the can down the road to be addressed with individual FMP management measures.

We have to get gill nets off our striped bass! Gill nets are the #1 problem.

PLEASE take 45-minutes and watch this YouTube webinar put on by the WRC-



WRC analysis is clear-

Gill nets, both past directed harvest and non-directed discard mortality, are preventing recovery of this stock as the single largest source of total mortality.

Using regression analysis, WRC research shows a direct correlation between gill net effort (direct and nondirected) and striped bass mortality.










We need to move the permanent gill net closure line to the tiedown line.







The DMF observes both large and small mesh gill net trips under the terms of the Sturgeon and Turtle ITPs.  The image below shows those areas in the CSMA where striped bass interactions occurred during DMF observed trips from 2012 to 2017.



Using the online program EarthPoint and DMF data, I plotted the striped bass occurrences showing the geospatial relationship to the Neuse and Tar river ferry routes, which are shown as a solid red line.



Using the same data, I plotted the striped bass data against the well-established NCDMF Gill Net Tie-Down Line established under Proclamation M-3-2015.

 


The division and the commission need to honestly review the facts.  Discard mortality is driving cryptic mortality, which is the primary source of total mortality in the CSMA.  

The observer program data plots above show that a closure at the Tie-Down Line is needed- a complete gill net closure, all gill nets.

Failure to adequately address gill nets will continue to result in failure of the FMP to end overfishing and recover the stock.








Edited by Rick - 23 September 2021 at 10:45am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bakesta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 September 2021 at 12:36pm
I wrote this over 5 years ago and it explained why this fishery is so frustrating.  It's maddening but the DMF insists on including commercial harvest of these stocked fish and the fishery is still in bad shape, even with the current moratorium.  


April 8, 2016

Dear MFC Commissioners,

          I am writing this letter to ask you to take immediate action to stop the commercial harvest of striped bass in the Central Southern Management Area (CSMA). The three river systems in the CMSA (Tar/Pamlico, Neuse, and Cape Fear) are stocked each year with striped bass by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC). Harvest of striped bass in the Cape Fear river is already closed in order to establish a breeding population that will be self-sustaining. Farther north in the CSMA, the Edenton National Fish Hatchery supplies the WRC with approximately 100,000 phase II fish (150-250 mm) each year for both the Tar/Pamlico and Neuse river systems (1,2). Like the Cape Fear striped bass program, these stockings have a goal of re-establishing a natural breeding population that is self-sustaining. Unfortunately, this project is failing due to overfishing by commercial fishermen.

        Not only does the WRC stock these fish, but they have also conducted cutting edge scientific experiments aimed at understating the populations. What they have found is disturbing. Genetic marking studies by the WRC have shown that at least 93 to 97% of fish in the Neuse and Tar/Pamlico rivers are derived from hatchery stocks and that very little, if any, natural breeding is occurring (1,2). This finding is very troubling, but these particular populations of striped bass offer a unique opportunity that is quite rare in the complicated world of marine fisheries management. While most marine species are difficult to assess, a known number of phase II fish is added to the respective rivers each year. Natural mortality of these older fish has been well-studied so an accurate range of mortality rates can be used when evaluating the population. In addition, these fish don’t emigrate. They stay within the river system in which they were stocked and swim upstream each year during a set season, passing through relatively small sections of water where they can be routinely sampled. Finally, a very limited recreational harvest is monitored via surveys while commercial harvest, which is limited to a yearly TAC of 25,000 pounds, is reported on trip tickets. In essence, the only unknowns in this system are the number of fish killed and discarded by commercial gillnetters, the commercial gillnet harvest that is not sold, and illegal harvest. Using all of this information, the WRC was able to complete a virtual population analysis (1). This analysis indicated that “cryptic mortality” was greater than the reported recreational and commercial harvest. Using even the highest known natural mortality rate in this analysis could not lessen this cryptic mortality to a level that would allow it to be explained (1). Considering this, the most likely explanation for the cryptic mortality of CMSA striped bass is that it derives from illegal and underreported commercial harvest, dead discards from gillnets, and ghost fishing gear (1). Taken together, the results of many years of studies on this fish population along with their recent genetic analysis have led the WRC to conclude that long term recruitment overfishing is occurring and that the stock would improve if this exploitation decreased (1). Since recreational harvest is minimal, this can only be achieved by stopping the commercial harvest of CMSA striped bass. Without stopping the commercial harvest of these fish, the joint effort of the WRC and the National Marine Fisheries Service to re-establish a self-sustaining population of striped bass in the Tar/Pamlico and Neuse river systems will continue to fail.

       Now some will say that stopping this harvest will cause great hardship. However, that is not the case. At most, stopping the commercial striped bass harvest in all CMSA waters will eliminate the legal sale of 25,000 pounds of striped bass each year. From 2005 to 2014, the average annual commercial harvest of striped bass from the CMSA was 23,623 pounds [only 168 commercial fishermen reported a striped bass sale in 2013, which is the latest available data (3)]. The CMSA striped bass harvest is on average, only 15% of the yearly harvest taken from internal waters in North Carolina, with the other 85% coming from the Albemarle Sound Management Area (ASMA) and Roanoke River Management Area (RRMA). In 2014, the reported commercial harvest from the CMSA was 25,085 pounds and this had a value of $68,607. This works out to an average of about $400 per commercial fishermen if about 168 fishermen reported sales in 2014 as was the case in 2013. The cost of stocking these fish is estimated to be approximately $600,000. These amazing numbers lead prudent people to ask a simple question - why does one state agency allow the harvest and sale of fish that cost other agencies nearly 10 fold more to stock? And this stocking is occurring to try to re-establish a breeding population of this species!! This just makes no sense, and that is why I am asking you to do the right thing and put an immediate stop to commercial harvest of striped bass in the CSMA.


Literature Cited

1. Rachels, K.T., and B. R. Ricks. 2015. Neuse river striped bass monitoring programs, populations dynamics, and recovery strategies. Federal aid in sport fish restoration project F-108. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Inland Fisheries Division. Raleigh, NC.

2. Rundle, K.R. 2015. Striped bass fisheries and monitoring programs in the Tar river, North Carolina-2014. Federal aid in sport fish restoration project F-108. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Inland Fisheries Division. Raleigh, NC. 3. 2013.

3. Amendment 1 to the North Carolina Estuarine Striped Bass Fishery Management Plan. Prepared By The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission with assistance from the Albemarle/Roanoke and Central Southern Management Area Fishery Management Plan Advisory Committees. North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries. Morehead City, NC. page 144.
"Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest." --- Mark Twain
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