Apr 24 2009
Well the weekend is about upon us and for many that means it’s time to go fishing! The weatherman is calling for temperatures in the 80’s here in the Chesapeake Bay region which means the bay is sure to be packed with anglers chasing the elusive monster spring striped bass. For those that make it out fishing this weekend, good luck!
If you read the Lateral Line blog from time to time you know we call it like we see it. When it comes to out stance on fisheries, we believe in sustainable fishing. When a fish is in trouble that means that if fishing needs to be curtailed we’ll vote for the reductions of both recreational and/or commerial harvests, whatever makes sense to make sure we have fish for the future. We are not against commerical fishing, although we do believe certain methods that commerical anglers use can and are destructive. If you want to see the long version of our stance on sustainable fishing see our past blog post titled Anti Sport Fishing or Smart Sport Fishing.
When it comes to striped bass we believe that the big stripers are being harvested at much too rapid rate and are in fact, probably in some trouble (when we say big stripers are are talking about striped bass bigger then ten pounds). The reason is that we and a lot of other recreational anglers as well as fishing guides up and down the east coast who hunt and chase these big stripers, are all seeing the same thing, less big stripers. In addition, fisheries management has no real way of telling how many of these striped bass are really out there because of the way they sample the fish. We’ll save that discussion for another day. Now to the point, today we received a note from Stripers Forever. We have supported their organization because we like the grass roots effort they represent, we think making stripers a gamefish is not a bad idea, and we like the tight ship they run in the way of managing and raising money; really their idea is to put themselves out of business by accomplishing their goal. However.
Today the message they sent out is a bit confusing to us, the email we got, which you might have as well, was:
“Stripers Forever Members – we recently received the latest figures for the National Marine Fishery Service, Marine Recreational Fishing Survey – MRFS. From their website we were able to get the data for the recreational catch of striped bass from 1995 through 2008. The number of fish caught by recreational anglers peaked in 2006. This includes both harvested and live release. Since that time it has dropped by approximately 50%. The catch in 2008 was the lowest since 1996. This trend is in line with the results of our annual fishing survey in the past few years.
These statistics may well be harbingers of real danger for striped bass First and most important, fishing may simply continue to go downhill and the stock will collapse. It could happen, and this would have disastrous consequences for the 3,000,000 plus recreational anglers who avidly pursue striped bass. In addition, the livelihoods of thousands of guides and various other recreational fishing industry workers will be at stake. The commercially-oriented fishery managers can maneuver the commercial fishermen into a much bigger share of the fishery than they’ve had historically, as they have with the fluke fishery; essentially this will choke off recreational fishing opportunities and impact participation in the sport of recreational fishing.
There is only one answer. Striped bass must be made a game fish and managed for the more socially and economically valuable recreational fishery.”
To see the table and graph that we have created with the MRFS data, follow this LINK to the SF website.
The graph above (click on it to make it larger) is one that we created with the data that Stripers Forever refers to in their message. Now here is our beef, they send out a message that is really hard to defend and appears more like a marketing email then one of substance. Why do we say that, well yes, it appears that the recreational catch of stripers are down, however if we look deeper, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered about this data before we can jump to Stripers Forever’s conclusion. Could the reason the catch was down be there were less recreational anglers fishing in 2008? Did the $4+/gallon price of gas cause less anglers to fish, meaning less fish were caught? It looks as if the catch has always fluctuated? Does this fluctuation of data correspond with the price of gas or the economy?
Our point here is not to beat up on Stripers Forever, they have a good cause, in order to support the good cause and keep that positve reputation we would just suggest to come out with better releases with more supportive information when jumping to such a conclusion. Do not get us wrong, we do think there are less big stripers, are there less overall, we’re not sure. Regardless, if Stripers Forever don’t come out with more sustantive releases, the oppontents are going to eat them for dinner and a good cause will get a bad name because of poor support. We hope they take our critisim in a positive way, in the end we only point it out because we want them to be succesful in their mission.
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