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Old 07-21-2012, 02:32 PM
wjc wjc is offline
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Default Salt water limits: When/how they work

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fly
WJC:
I am curious. When was the slot length limit set on those salt water fish in Florida?
Fly, they are continuing to be set on all kinds of state species.

The blackened redfish craze of the 80’s started by that New Orleans chef is what caused the decimation of redfish in Florida due to uncontrolled commercial fishing by everyone. This was before (or maybe right around when) salt water fishing licenses became required. The redfish slot was passed right around 1990 and commercial fishing and sales of reds was also outlawed by constitutional ammendment (description later). This (outlawing commercial fishing for them) is/was the primary reason for the turnaround, but did absolutely nothing from a recreational standpoint, since many people refused to even buy a saltwater fishing license for years after that law went into effect. And many occassional fishermen didn’t even know one was required or where to get one.

Fishing License vendors were paid one dollar to spend ten minutes or more filling out forms between customers actually buying things, not counting the time required to file them with the state etc. So not many places were eager to sell them and clerks who did were (and still are) often surly about it.

Three or four years after the license act became law, I reported a group of boats spearfishing in Pennekamp State Park (strictly illegal) just slaughtering grouper in their holes in the coral in water less than 15’ deep. The Park Rangers informed me they had no jurisdiction to apprehend them!

So I asked for the number of who did. It took them over 15 minutes to find a number that had been disconnected! When I finally got to the appropriate agency over an hour later, I was told that it had only 2 boats for the entire state of Florida and one was in Key West, the other in Jax or Tallahassee –I forget. So the entire income from millions of licenses sold/year to residents and visitors went where? The general fund aparantly. So where was the incentive for me to fork over anything for a license from that point on?

So it took probably 8 years or so for the slot limit or any other limit to start being enforced. Once that happened, since commercial gill netting had been outlawed, the stocks began to quickly rebound.

The slot limit on snook however was almost an immediate success as it didn’t start until about 2000 when the waters were starting to crawl with all manner of enforcers and it too had been taken off the commercial fishing list many, many years prior. The snook decline was undeniably caused by rec anglers (and the the usual pollution of course in recent years, but primarily rec anglers).

The huge sustained freeze we had a couple years ago killed many millions of snook (among many other fish including bones), but seemed to help the redfish population. Snook are on the re-bound already though, after two or three years of total protection.

So now, Florida has doubled the allowable redfish kill limit (from one to two) in the northern half of the state, which has most recreational fishing organizations and guides in a tizzy. They do not want the limits raised and in fact want the slot narrowed, as well as keeping the current one fish/day limit in effect.

Now these are primarily inshore species and fall under Florida law. Florida has a provision in its constitution whereby the constitution can be ammended by a popular vote after the requisite petition signatures have been obtained. This is what happened with redfish and snook. The citizens voted to classify them as gamefish, and thus remove them from the hands of commercial fishing.

Not so with most species here.

The next South Atlantic Fishery Management Council public hearings scheduled from Key Largo to New Bern, NC will be held between Aug 6 and Aug 16, though the agenda concerns Golden Tilefish/Snapper/Grouper Recreational/Commercial “catch allotments” for anyone interested.

The more recreational fishermen that show up at these meetings, the better, if we want to be allowed to continue fishing for anything edible offshore.

The fish I eat more than any other is dolphin. Here in the Keys they spawn nearly all year in schools, not individually. They have a life span of only 4 or 5 years, and start spawning at about 6 months old. However, the big cows will produce over a million eggs per spawn session whereas the small ones produce 80 to 100,000. I’ve also heard that the eggs of the large cows have a larger drop of fat than those of the small cows and a higher survival rate– but that is just heresay.

I don’t personally keep big bulls or big cows. Small ones taste better for one thing and will fit whole into my fish box on the boat. So they are fully iced. Personally, I’d like to see a no-keep above x inches slapped on them – or at least a high-slot no-kill range.

However, the commercial fisheries would have be regulated equally stringently. And that is the big problem; it will never happen because individuals have no say in national matters. The less we catch, as determined by the Feds, the less our "catch allotment" becomes and the greater the commercial "catch allotment" becomes. It is basically a race to see which group can kill the most fish the fastest so he can continue to fish at all.

There is a dolphin kill tournament going on every week somewhere in the Keys often with large prizes – usually for the biggest fish. So despite the fact that these are fish I think should be protected to a degree, these open kill tournaments actually are benefiting me as a recreational angler in helping amass political clout. So, I have basically no choice but to strongly support something that I don’t think is beneficial to the sport, the fishery or the planet.

For example, the SAFMC meeting mentioned above includes golden tile fish. Here is the catch allotment breakdown directly from that regulatory agency’s website.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SAFMC
Effective January 31, 2011, the recreational Annual Catch Limit (quota) for golden tilefish is 1,578 fish based on an allocation of 97% commercial and 3% recreational as approved in Amendment 17B. (See Fishery Bulletin Reminder below)
Notice that it's written as if Amendment 17B were personally handed down from God, and not to be questioned. So to implement the “catch allotment scheme” , that organization , decided to give commercial fishermen individual “trip allotments” of 4,000 lbs of golden tile fish per “trip” and adjust that figure as needed as the season progressed.

But rather than do the same for recreational fishermen, they set a limit of one tile fish per day on us. I have a buddy who fishes (used to fish) for them. He fished water from 9oo to 1200 feet deep down here at 32 miles offshore, requiring deep dropping gear, expensive elec reels,etc. So this requires a round trip of 64 miles (in a boat big enough to go out 32 miles and well into the Gulf Stream) to catch ONE fish.

So the entire “catch allotment” scam for salt water fishing is nothing but BS as far as I’m concerned – like creating a 3% national harvest allotment on homegrown tomatos for those with a tomato grow license - but you can only harvest one tomato per day and it has to be ½ lb or bigger in order to not exceed the “estimated” (by the Fed’s magic crystal ball) "harvest allotment".

Basically what’s happened in the salt is that the Feds have perverted the intent of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and are using it as a mandate to arbitrarily restrict, if not outright outlaw, an individual citizen’s use of the oceans in favor of commercial use of them.

Fortunately, Florida's state constitution gives some power to the citizens, and when things get bad enough, we can do something about it for those fish that live inshore.
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Last edited by wjc; 07-21-2012 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 07-21-2012, 02:49 PM
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Default Re: Salt water limits: When/how they work

Jim, good write up! But, your attitude is not good! Just drink the koolaid & conform like a good boy.

You should live here in MD if you want an education about fisheries mismanagement & the politics involved!
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Old 07-21-2012, 03:09 PM
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Default Re: Salt water limits: When/how they work

Big Jim,

I'm afraid I know too much about the Omega Protein Korporation, Virginia Political contributions, menhadden sighting planes and the decline of algae eating menhadden than I want to already.

Don't get me going man!
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Old 07-21-2012, 03:31 PM
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Default Re: Salt water limits: When/how they work

I know exactly what you mean!

Most of the policies are of the same frame of mind. Use it or lose it, just like they do with our tax monies. Whether or not that is best for either fisheries or taxes, or us is not the question they ask. Spend more, take more! Has nothing to do with common sense, the right thing for the fisheries, the planet or life in general!

Allotment is a joke!

It makes more sense to the policy makers to totally deplete a resource than to limit commercial exploitation in the case of fisheries. Or, pass laws they can't possibly enforce with any degree of efficiency, or expect any type of actual concern from the judicial end of enforcement. Natural resource law violations don't involve "real" criminals anyway!

Reminds me of a phrase from one of the Star Trek movies, not the same phrase I don't think, but just what it reminds me of. "The greeds of the few out weighs the needs of the many"! For some unexplained reason, "commercial" seems to be an important word in politics & policy making decisions.

It's slowly changing here, but at a snails pace. I expect I'll be long gone from this world before they ever get it right!
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:13 PM
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Default Re: Salt water limits: When/how they work

WJC:
I was thinking that the primary reason for the turnaround was the ban on commercial gill netting and you appear to agree. My friend in New Orleans says the same thing about Louisiana.

It is sad, but it seems that any time we attempt to manipulate natural systems, politics, the public, outfitters and the sports businesses all get involved with their own agendas rather than the health of the fish populations.

Remember Dr. Seusss and the Lorax? "But who will speak for the trees?"
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Old 07-21-2012, 07:00 PM
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Default Re: Salt water limits: When/how they work

Quote:
It is sad, but it seems that any time we attempt to manipulate natural systems, politics, the public, outfitters and the sports businesses all get involved with their own agendas rather than the health of the fish populations.
IMO, this is exactly the issue. Everyone seems to think the resources belong to them, so they all want to "get their share"! Fact is it belongs to none of us, yet we all have equal responsibility in preserving what we have. There is too much short sightedness. Here in MD, and the surrounding states that impact the Chesapeake Bay, there is little agreement about problems or solutions. Whether it be rec anglers, commercial interests, or the general public all have opinions, yet few understand the problems or will offer viable solutions. Few understand that there are connections & relations in all things, but there are also limits to the resources we have. There's a lot of finger pointing too! No one is willing to take responsibility, or the lead in providing solutions.

In the case of the Chesapeake, being the largest estuary on the Atlantic coast, and one of the primary breeding grounds for Striped bass, what happens in the bay has some affect on the entire Atlantic coast. But, all involved can't seem to agree that is in fact the situation. Each state has it's own thoughts on how to handle the fishery, and none agree. Regulations are in affect for the taking of Striped Bass, more for the "my share" than for the species, and there has been much abuse of the regulations, but little to curb the abuse.

Right now, there is much debate on the Striped Bass fishing in the bay. Some say it's the best it's been in a long time, while others are expressing great concern that's it's the worse it's been in a long time.

There are reports that small fish are plentiful, and that seems to indicate that there is a good amount of a single year class. But, a single year class does not make a good fishery or allow for a sustained resource. That alone is cause for concern, yet some will say there is no concern. Seems that these same sentiments were expressed in the past and we ended up with a moratorium.

Seems we just don't learn to well from our mistakes IMO.

Another debate is concern over the pollution in the bay. No one really wants to clean it up due to the cost. Some will say it's not as bad as it was, some will say it's worse. Again, little agreement.

There is some progress being made here, but from my perspective, I hope it's not too little, too late!
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Old 07-21-2012, 07:27 PM
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Default Re: Salt water limits: When/how they work

Fly,

In the case of redfish, I agree. But I did a search on snook and found the date that they were made gamefish and illegal to buy, sell, or catch by any method other than hook and line - 1957. But the bag limit -with no one to check it - was 4 per day from 1957 to 1986 when it was halved to 2 a day, still with no one checking except in Everglades National Park. In 1957, snook in the Ten Thousand Islands area were thick as mullet, very easy to hook with simple white or yellow jigs, and even easier to lose in the mangroves.

The slot limit on snook was initiated in 1999 and from then to the freeze it made a monumental difference in the snook population. According to snookfoundation.org, unlike dolphin and brook trout, snook can live 20 years, but they do not say what age is prime breeding time. The slot limit has shrunk from the original 26 to 34 " in 1999 to 28 to 32 inches this year on the Atlantic. The West Coast season is still closed from the freeze, and the season is no longer year round.

The slot limit definitely makes a huge difference with snook and reds.
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Old 07-22-2012, 12:32 AM
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Default Re: Salt water limits: When/how they work

From what I understand, the commercial gill net fishery was banned in 1996 in Florida. Gill nets catch and kill all fish of a certain size depending on the mesh size. They may have been required to release snook from the nets, but they were dead nevertheless. That is the problem with gill nets.
Am I wrong?
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Old 07-22-2012, 12:25 PM
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Default Re: Salt water limits: When/how they work

No of course you aren't wrong. Not many recreational fishermen like any kind of nets that cause massive destruction to the sea floor and all growing on it, wasted by-catch or corral nets directed by fleets of spotter aircraft.

The gill net ban has obviously had a positive impact on all inshore species one way or the other. The slot limit has too on the ones it has been placed on. However, despite my enthusiasm for the slot limits, and gill net bans, it is nothing but a temporary measure to improve fishing in those remaining rapidly shrinking oases that are capable of sustaining life.

After watching the total destruction of thousands of square miles of lush turtle and bay grass in one year, and the subsequent attempt at a cover up by Everglades National Park officials, I've got to admit that the long term looks very grim.

So long as people fertilize their lawns and kill weeds instead of pulling them up, so long as agribusiness sprays amonia and poisions from tankers on every square inch of its land, so long as acid rain falls on our remote ponds and watersheads, so long as our population continues to increase, all our native fisheries are doomed - freshwater, inshore and offshore.

Like you said, “Everyone has his own agenda”. People from all over the country, say, feel they have the “right” to eat wild tuna and dolphin, for example, so you can’t outlaw commerical fishing because the oceans belong to everybody.

But I literally lived on elk meat when I lived in Colorado that grew on federal land belonging to every American. But I can’t buy it, or sage hens, or fresh fiddleheads, or brook trout or cutthroats or landlocked salmon or wild blueberries or snowshoe rabbits, or partridge or moose or Canadian geese, all of which many others can shoot or pick or catch for themselves.

I CAN, however, travel to those places and still do it. And each place is exactly the same distance from where the blackfins and dolphin are to where those things are.

The more people there are, the more organizations there are, the more businesses there are, the more agendas there are. And there are too many of all of them. But temporary measures are better than nothing.

It’s that simple.
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Old 07-23-2012, 07:29 PM
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Default Re: Salt water limits: When/how they work

Yup. Over 7 billion of us now. Malthus was right, just 300 years too early I'm afraid. We can't kick the can down the road anymore 'cuz we have reached the end of the road or close to it.
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