Take Action to Reduce Longline Bycatch of Bluefin

TAKE ACTION TO REDUCE LONGLINE BYCATCH OF BLUEFIN

The severely depleted population of bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic Ocean breeds only in the Gulf of Mexico. Every spring, hundreds of rare giant bluefin, who come there to spawn, are caught and killed as bycatch in the commercial longline fisheries targeting tuna and swordfish. This doesn’t have to happen. There are ways to catch yellowfin tuna and swordfish and protect bluefin at the same time, helping them to recover to healthy numbers.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is considering ways to change future management of Atlantic bluefin tuna, with an emphasis on reducing bycatch of bluefin in the United States longline fishery throughout the Atlantic, including the Gulf. The agency is right now asking for comment on a recently-released Scoping Document. The management alternatives that survive this round of public comment and review will be developed and considered through Draft Amendment 7 to the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan later this year.

Contact NMFS today (BEFORE JULY 15) and tell them you support the inclusion of measures that would allow fishermen to continue to catch yellowfin tuna and swordfish while avoiding current high mortality rates on other vulnerable species; not just bluefin tuna, but billfish, sharks and sea turtles as well. Tell them to:

IMPLEMENT A NEW CLOSED AREA IN THE GULF OF MEXICO. Closure of the Northern Gulf to longlining during peak spawning months of April through June would significantly reduce bluefin bycatch of rare breeders. It could be expanded through the summer months to minimize bycatch of billfish. It is enforceable through electronic vessel monitoring systems.

SET A LONGLINE CATCH CAP BY REGION OR FLEET-WIDE. An annual cap on incidental catch of bluefin tuna (landed and discarded), after which longlining would end for the season, would create a strong incentive for tuna and swordfish longliners to alter their fishing strategies to avoid bluefin or switch to more selective alternative gears. A bycatch cap would require enhanced observer coverage.

SHIFT FROM LONGLINES TO GREESTICK AND/OR BUOY GEAR. Closures and caps can be used in combination to move the fleet away from longlines to the use of greensticks for yellowfin tuna and buoy gear for swordfish. The shift to these gears would maximize protection for bluefin while transitioning the fishery to alternative gears shown to have high catch rates of target species with insignificant amounts of bycatch of any species.

RESTRICT LENGTH OF LONGLINE GEAR. The root problem with longlines is they’re too long, from 20 to 40 miles, and they’re in the water 12 hours or more. Shorter lines and soak times may not help bluefin in the Gulf, where mortality after hook-up is high because of the warm waters and amount of energy expended during spawning, but it could have benefits elsewhere. Studies indicate billfish and sharks that are on the line from 3-6 hours have a substantially higher survival rate than fish that spend more time on the hook, even using circle hooks.

You may submit comments on the scoping document (identified by “NOAA-NMFS. 2012-0082″) through July 15, 2012, by one of the following methods: Submit electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov; fax to 978-281-9340; or mail to Tom Warren, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, NMFS 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.

Image

Nine Year Old Catches Giant Redfish

Nine Year Old Catches Giant Redfish

This nine year old put a hurting on some big redfish in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay and it was his first time hunting the big red drum. Click the picture for the whole fishing report and more pictures. Nice work!

How to Fishing – Light Tackle Fishing Series Part 6

fishing knotsGood how to fish article series on light tackle fishing. Part 6 was just published covering fishing line. Click here to check out the whole article.

The Series

The Light Tackle Fishing for Striped Bass Series

Part 1 – Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing for Striped Bass
Part 2 – Light Tackle Fishing Rods
Part 3 – Light Tackle Spinning Reels
Part 4 – Light Tackle Baitcasting Reels
Part 5 – Fishing Line
Part 6 – Fishing Knots

In the coming months
Part 7 – Lures: Plastics and Jigs/Bucktails
Part 8- Lures: Topwater Poppers
Part 9 – Lures: Crank Baits
Part 10 – Lures: Spoons
Part 11 – Putting it all Together: Where to look for Striped Bass
Part 12 – Boats: Reviewing the Best Light Tackle Boats
Part 13 – Boats: Rigging your Boat for Light Tackle Fishing

Case for menhaden conservation

Anyone concerned with the health of Chesapeake Bay, or indeed the health of the fishery of the entire East Coast, needs to pay attention to the current state of menhaden.

Small, bony and oily, menhaden (bunker) are usually not consumed by humans – at least directly. But menhaden are the forage base for striped bass, bluefish, cod, sea trout, bonito, tuna, haddock, halibut, mackerel, swordfish, king mackerel, summer flounder and numerous other predator species to the point that renowned 19th-century ichthyologist G. Brown Goode stated that people eating Atlantic saltwater fish consume “nothing but menhaden.” (Since menhaden are used to bait crab and lobster pots and “reduced” (boiled, dried and ground) menhaden are used for fertilizer, as feed for chicken, pigs and cattle and as fish oil supplements, they are a significant factor in nearly any human diet.)

A 2001 article in “Discover” magazine by H. Bruce Franklin dubbed menhaden “The Most Important Fish in the Sea,” the title of the widely-quoted article and subsequent book, and a label that has caught on among both the scientific and lay communities.

Franklin also proclaims that vast schools of filter-feeding menhaden filter the water, promoting growth of healthful subaquatic grasses and limiting the spread of algae blooms.

Menhaden, are one of 23 species managed by The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), a deliberative body of 15 Atlantic coast states formed in 1942 and chartered by the United States Congress in 1950 with the mission “To promote the better utilization of the fisheries, marine, shell, and anadromous of the Atlantic seaboard by the development of a joint program for the promotion and protection of such fisheries, and by the prevention of physical waste of the fisheries from any cause.” Read the rest of the menhaden article here

Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) Catch Estimation Methodology Being Updated

Estimating how many recreational anglers there are and how many fish they catch has been a topic at the top of all fisheries management discussions for many years. The data is vital for us to understand to effectively manage fish populations by setting size and catch limits. Unfortunately the best numbers that we had been using were coming out of the old Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS) model (rest in peace MRFSS, well almost, keep reading to learn why it’s not quite completely dead). It was acknowledged my the fisheries management community that MRFSS was flawed in many ways, but the argument was always made that…read the rest of this article here, worth the read

North Carolina Widespread and Significant Fish Kills

Today’s fresh fishing news comes to us from Fisheries biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission who have been assessing fish populations in North Carolina coastal rivers this week to determine the impacts of low dissolved oxygen following Hurricane Irene.

They have found that with the exception of the Cape Fear River basin, whichsuffered little impact to its fish populations, many coastal North Carolina rivers are experiencing oxygen levels too low to sustain fish. As oxygen levels remain depressed, biologists expect the fish kills will read rest of this fishing news by clicking here

White Marlin Bite off Ocean City Maryland on Fire

Check out these fishing pictures of the white marlin bite off of Ocean City Maryland over the last few weeks, the fishing looks insane!