Proposed Limited Access into Party & Charter Groundfish Fishery - Please read

Discussion in 'Striper, Blues, Cod, Haddock, Hake, Sharks' started by leaky, Mar 26, 2019.

  1. leaky

    leaky Captain

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    I'm going to put up two posts here - one is text taken from the notification for listening sessions, which basically kicks off this process, the 2nd is my commentary on it. I am not posting the full text since it does not copy/paste well; I am including the link to the full document.

    If you are involved in Party/Charter ground fishing, or may want to become part of the fishery some day, it is extremely important you pay attention to this and attend and/or comment since these proposals potentially will limit who is allowed to participate in the fishery.

    The full background document can be found here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/nefmc.org/...ccess_Background-Document-with-Attachment.pdf

    The Council is seeking public input on the possibility of initiating an amendment to develop a limited access program for the recreational groundfish party and charter fishery. The Council heard from some recreational fishery participants indicating interest in developing a program, while others in the fishery did not agree with pursuing a program. Given this split in views, the Council seeks feedback from the public on interest in developing a program, in order to assist the Council in deciding how to proceed.

    This background document is to inform you of the Council’s intent to gather information necessary to help decide if the Council would initiate an amendment for recreational fisheries management in the groundfish fishery. At this stage in the process, the Council is undecided on how to proceed.

    Schedule of Public Listening Sessions for the Recreational Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Party and Charter Fishery

    The Council scheduled 8 listening sessions, one of which is a webinar (see below).

    Date and Time Location

    Thursday, April 4, 2019
    5:45 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
    Seabrook Public Library, 25 Liberty Lane, Seabrook, New Hampshire,
    Telephone: (603) 474-2044

    Monday, April 8, 2019
    6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    Icona Golden Inn, 7849 Dune Drive, Avalon, New Jersey
    Telephone: (609) 368-5155
    (same location the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Meeting is being held)

    Thursday, April 18, 2019 5:45 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
    Wells Public Library, 1434 Post Road,
    Wells, Maine
    Telephone: (207) 646-8181

    Tuesday, April 23, 2019 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    Corless Auditorium, University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography,
    215 South Ferry Road, Narragansett, RI 02882
    Telephone: (401) 874-6222

    Tuesday, May 7, 2019 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    Chatham Community Center, 702 Main Street, Chatham, Massachusetts 02633
    Telephone: (508) 945-5175

    Wednesday,May 8, 2019
    6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
    Hampton Inn, 10 Plaza Way, Plymouth, Massachusetts
    Telephone: (508) 747-5000

    Thursday, May 9, 2019 5:45 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.
    Sawyer Free Library, 2 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, Massachusetts
    Telephone: (978) 281-9763

    Friday,May 10, 2019 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    Webinar Session
    Register to participate: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8873736532644639746
    Call in info: +1 (213) 929-4232 Access Code: 494-243-526

    You may attend any of the above listening sessions to provide oral comments, or you may submit written comments by:

    Fax: (978) 465-3116;

    Email: comments@nefmc.org

    Mail at the address below.

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director
    New England Fishery M
    anagement Council
    50 Water Street, Mill #2
    Newburyport, MA 01950

    The comment deadline is 5 p.m. EST, Friday, May 17, 2019.
    Please note on your correspondence; “Listening Sessions for the Recreational Northeast
    Multispecies (Groundfish) Party and Charter Fishery”
     
  2. leaky

    leaky Captain

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    The first thing I should state is I'm on the NEFMC Recreational Advisory Panel (which is where we make recommendations for how they should proceed with groundfish regulations concerning party/charter/private boats, that are generally followed), and this has been a hot topic for the decade or so I've been on the panel; for so many years it failed to proceed as a recommendation by a narrow margin, lately it has been passing by a similarly narrow margin. I strongly disagree with the rationale for limited access into this fishery as well as the motivations behind it.

    From what I've seen there are only a handful of charter boat captains pushing for these changes; a far larger majority were opposed, and a few went along for the ride. Recently they changed the control date from 2006 to 2018 (ie so the date they might use for limited access became basically the current date) and that makes Limited Access less of a concern for the majority of those in the fishery since they are potentially not impacted by Limited Access regulation - it does not mean everyone agrees rather it creates some passiveness on the topic so more may now go along for the ride and make this a real possibility.

    The first thing to point out are these proposals have nothing to do with preservation/status of fish stocks, nor are they being pushed by those who make the regulations, nor are they being pushed by science. They are being pushed by a few established charter boat captains who I've heard make comments openly in meetings like "well if things get good we do not want a bunch of new guys jumping into the fishery"; they claim due to tenure they deserve limited access like you see in many commercial fisheries and that the government should control the supply of party/charter boats operating to prevent competition for those who have been in the business longer...

    The major difference between the party/charter fishery and a commercial fishery is there is no quota to divide among these boats, nor is there any "real estate" to divide among the boats like you might see in a lobster fishery. There is a quota shared among all recreational boats, private, party, and charter - you could have 1000 charter boats, or a single charter boat, and literally the regulations per angler remain the same. The "resource" the party/charter boats compete for are their fares, the general public who boards these boats.

    It only makes sense to me to let the businesses compete, as should happen in an economy like ours, and the stronger businesses will survive - which may or may not be those with the most tenure, but that is how a free economy is supposed to work. During times of plenty demand will increase (and those "new guys" will get in), during times of drought the number of business operating will diminish but if any survive it will be the best. I do not think we should be looking to the government to pick who is allowed survive...

    Another thing to mention is what happens if they do institute limited access for those who are in the fishery and established today - what if you get sick or injured and do not operate for a year? Do you want to potentially lose your permit? What if things are good and you want to run a 2nd boat - do you want to potentially be blocked from doing so or have to buy a permit off someone else?

    And for the younger folks who might want to get into this some day - is it fair they have to buy a permit that was once nearly worthless off another boat? Those who will object to this the most some day are too young to even notice.

    Overall there is practically nothing good about limited access in this fishery - it only helps a handful and is going to be an unfair headache down the road for many. If you agree with actions toward limited access I ask you to re-consider all the potential consequences - if you disagree with limited access please make comments; the public comments will determine if this moves forward or is put to rest. Often very little of the public comments on such measures, even just 10 comments one way or the other may make the difference for these measures.
     
  3. breakaway

    breakaway Senior Member

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    Very Interesting. Thanks for sharing.
     
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  4. breakaway

    breakaway Senior Member

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    Are they ever going to let us keep Cod again? 7-1 last year Cod/Haddock the days we fished.
     
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  5. leaky

    leaky Captain

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    What's been going on with GOM cod is there is a very small quota science allows (commercial fishing included)... I believe they will re-assess this year, which could be good or bad, but bottom line is at the moment science for better or worse says cod stocks are well down and the reason fishermen perceive so many cod is because the cod that do exist are clustered in the western GOM where we all fish (again, whether that's right or wrong we are bound by the science and the quota's they design, how we use those quotas is what we have control over).

    On an aside I'm not sure I believe that science, I wouldn't say it's wrong rather I think it's slow to react/notice as things change - I will say I still no longer see whale cod, the big breeders, and that is certainly an indication of a less healthy fishery even if we have piles of market cod.

    Back to the point - there is a massive haddock quota the science allows us (so enormous we could literally have no limits in the recreational fishery and we would not over fish haddock, however we would likely over-fish cod as bi-catch in the process)..

    Our haddock regulations were designed such that we would not over-fish cod via dead throwbacks while haddock fishing, and the prohibition on keeping cod goes along with that. The relationship would be something like for every 1 cod we keep it would cost us 5 or maybe even more haddock in a bag limit - it was deemed better to leave the cod be and have large haddock bag limits.

    So what we've been doing is keeping haddock daily limits high, the length limit low (so we are sorting through less haddock to reach a bag limit and therefore encountering less cod in the process), and cod limits 0. In the near future it appears possible or probable we are going to see 1 cod per person for part of the season, a haddock length of 15 inches, and a ~15 fish bag on haddock. That was our recommendation during the last meeting and based on all the information we had the measures appeared consistent with the science/acceptable, so it should become regulation.
     
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  6. TAftw

    TAftw Senior Member

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    So they’re saying that a guy with a center console who takes 2-3 people out on the weekends or a 6 pack boat running a couple trips per day is going to take fish away from the headboats and deplete ground fish stocks? Give me a break. Exactly what we need, MORE permits and regulations for something that’s a non issue.
     
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  7. leaky

    leaky Captain

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    I like the attitude :) - but to be accurate, this "issue" from what I've witnessed is being raised by a handful of "full time" 6-pack captains, who have been at it a long time, and they want the government to take steps to prevent anyone new from running charter boats (maybe they want to limit party boats too but it's new 6 pack boats mostly they seem to mention, although any regulation would likely impact 6 pack and party boats).. Then keep in mind while this is going on, if anything is changing, the number of these boats operating is actually going down.

    If it was up to them (and again it's not a huge group pushing this) I think they would've had a limited access program put in place a couple years ago, before the control date was set at 2018, and they would've kicked a bunch of the existing charter & party boats out who got their permits after 2006 - it was not a popular idea, but now there is less contention on the subject since so few people would be directly impacted today (down the road is a different story).

    It's got nothing to do with taking fish away and it's got nothing to do with fish stocks or conservation, or even the government (council really doesn't want to deal w/ this they just have to because the advisory panel is asking them to do it via a slim margin 5/4 vote).. It's purely some folks wanting the government to limit competition in their business. They talk about how the commercial fishermen have limited access (who from what I've seen often wish they didn't), so they should have limited access too, and see new business as encroaching on their turf.

    Now I will say the same people who are pushing this I also end up arguing with because they think someone in a private boat, ie the general public who also generates the fares on their boats, is not entitled to the same daily limits as an angler on their boat :).. Similarly that's been another argument for years - it just hasn't gotten the majority needed to move forward, ie regulations that are more liberal for charter boats. It's a general attitude where someone feels they are in the club, they have tenure, nobody should be able to start a similar business and compete with them, and that their use of a public resource is more important - I really dislike this type of thinking and certainly do not want to see it made into regulation.

    The way to prevent these sorts of things moving forward is most importantly to send in comments. Attending the listening sessions and providing input is great and anyone concerned really should (as well as should send in comments), but the easiest & simplest thing is a written comment in email as outlined in the instructions above - they are captured and copied/distributed to all those who will be making related decisions.

    Jon
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
  8. SPINE-A-LINER

    SPINE-A-LINER Member

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    Thank you Leaky for the work that you do and articulating an industry that usually does not make much sense. Public input and/or comments are a must!
     
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  9. breakaway

    breakaway Senior Member

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    In my opinion a 15” haddock is useless. You can hardly get a filet off a 17”
    We only keep 19” + on my boat.
     
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  10. 30-06guy

    30-06guy Senior Member

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    I will second what SPINE-A-LINER said. Thank you for investing the time to get this all together and putting it out there for all of us.

    Rob
     
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  11. leaky

    leaky Captain

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    That was the sentiment of some, but then you don't have to keep them either. The purpose of changing that is basically from a science perspective it catches less cod - ie by keeping small haddock some can get their limit of haddock faster and will stop catching cod (and even will tend to throw back less dead/wasted haddock). On a party or charter boat where you have mates that are very skilled from dealing with piles of fish on a regular basis, they can fillet a scrod haddock, so though the rest of us may not bother with them they have value.

    Since there is a huge haddock population available to us, which we are not even close to ever catching our quota of, it really doesn't matter how many haddock we keep from a conservation standpoint since the recreational fishery is way under what is sustainable.
     
  12. Double Header

    Double Header Member

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    Aren’t the haddock eating the same baitfish as the cod and don’t they prefer the same habitat? When I was growing up there was excess cod and no haddock. It seems to me that there is a strong correlation between the two and I fear we are headed down a path of over fishing the haddock. I can’t thank everyone for the work they have done to protect the fisheries but I am a strong believer in tightening the quota and regs for haddock to protect them for the long-term.
     
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  13. leaky

    leaky Captain

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    We might want to start another post to talk about the cod & haddock situation but in short, based on what the science says, and it does seem like there are a lot more haddock around than we've seen in the last 20 years I'm familiar with (and spreading to places where I never saw them), even if we had no limits on haddock whatsoever we would be catching a conservative amount of haddock in the recreational fishery. Basically the effort is down, we have shorter seasons than we once did (which were year round), and at the same time we are at a point in the cycle of these fish where we've got a lot of them available.

    Quota's are set based on what is sustainable by science and that's it, then we get some options to work with on how to mix and match with species, seasons, bag limits, size limits - those are based on models of efforts, what we caught in seasons past, various ways they try to predict how angler turn out is going to be (including how it changes based on the regulations).

    Many anglers go out catch 5 keeper haddock and hang their rod up - but the Charter (and less so but to a degree Party) boats benefit greatly from having larger bag limits as it helps with selling trips. I'm no expert on the science but one reason is their life cycle, haddock spawn sooner and recover faster.
     
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  14. Regina E

    Regina E Senior Member

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    Thats a bunch of bullshit for a few selfish humps to try and grab up a chunk of public resource for themselves. This must be fought and defeated.
     
  15. Kailua Kid

    Kailua Kid Senior Member

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    While it is unlikely to ever affect me personally, I completely agree with the need to oppose this proposed limited entry by attending the sessions, speaking up with cogent, fact-based arguments, and following up with tightly drafted and carefully crafted written objections. The privatization of a public resource for the benefit of a few, on the basis of some perceived “entitlement,” is pernicious and should not be allowed.

    As Leaky ablely points out, such schemes, this one particularly, masquerade as measures to conserve a resource, but when stripped of pretense are based purely on greed and self-interest.

    Difficult as it might be, the trick is to put forward a powerful and coordinated opposition, without coming across as strident, shrill and unreasonable. The regulators will credit sound, cogent and well organized comments more than loud emotional rants (even though it feels so very good to rant in the face of such proposals).

    Thank you, Leaky, for bringing this issue to our attention - and for your service on that committee.[/QUOTE]
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
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  16. Beamie

    Beamie Senior Member

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    This should absolutely not be a limited access on the amount of charter boats in the GF industry.

    The limiting factor is NOT the amount of boats or the fish. IT IS THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE THAT WANT TO GO FISHING ON ANY GIVEN DAY.

    It does not matter who is the best fisherman, who has the biggest, fastest or nicest boat. THE SKILL IS CATCHING THE CHARTER. Usually this involves being the best bullshitter you can for the fishing is always great! Always get your limits.........yeah, ok.

    The people who want this to be limited just want less choices for people to choose a boat, more charters for them, plain and simple. Has nothing to do with the fish. If 200 people want to take a 6 pack charter this saturday they should be able to choose from 100 or 5000 boats to go on.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
  17. leaky

    leaky Captain

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    Thank you all very much for reading and commenting! I hope others continue to take notice.

    Another good point has been mentioned - if they limit boats in operation they limit options for the consumer, which is the general public.

    The thing to do is absolutely to send some written comments - which is very easy and can be done at any time via email. Then of course attend your local listening session too if you can. I'm re pasting the instructions below on options for submitting comments.

    With this issue especially I think with public involvement it will be put to bed, there is no science, government body, or environmental reasoning moving it forward.

    You may attend any of the above listening sessions to provide oral comments, or you may submit written comments by:

    Fax: (978) 465-3116;

    Email: comments@nefmc.org

    Mail at the address below.

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director
    New England Fishery M
    anagement Council
    50 Water Street, Mill #2
    Newburyport, MA 01950

    The comment deadline is 5 p.m. EST, Friday, May 17, 2019.
    Please note on your correspondence; “Listening Sessions for the Recreational Northeast
    Multispecies (Groundfish) Party and Charter Fishery”
     
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  18. RCLS2016

    RCLS2016 Senior Member

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    Leaky tank you for posting this.
    I missed the April 8th meetings in my area, but just emailed my comments echoing your feelings as well. Hopefully it helps. Unfortunately it seems lately, rules & regulations seem to get imposed despite overwhelming public comment to the contrary. Where I am anyway.
     
  19. leaky

    leaky Captain

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    Thank you very much for that. The comments I heard were mixed, but I think the most effective feedback are written comments - basically you have a few people involved from the council in the room, and a recording may get replayed later, however written comments are included as correspondence to everyone involved- they may literally count how many come in for and against.

    This is not a situation where the government is pushing for it rather the noise is from some charter captains - at least one who is on the council and a few on the RAP. I think mostly the council doesn't want to take this up as its too controversial and a huge waste of time compared to other real issues in the fishery.
     
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  20. PatriciaLynn

    PatriciaLynn Senior Member

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    I was looking for a new fishery in either state or federal waters this past summer. I called the state of Maine and NOAA. Both groups of people were very helpful and both basically said the same thing. There are NO viable open entry or affordable limited entry (<$100k investment) commercial fisheries in the northeast. They both suggested that a six pack charter boat is THE MOST viable commercial fishery we have left. Sure you can try and gillnet in the small vessel permit in a <30' boat. Good luck, ask SteveinAK how that goes. Handgear A? Better be able to put good trips together pretty much every time.
     

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