striped Bass Info

chrisp

Lieutenant Commander
Joined
May 18, 2012
Posts
116
Likes
63
Location
Weymouth Ma.
Boat Make
23 SeaCraft
Fishermen,


On December 9th, an informational meeting was held with MCSBA board members and DMF Director Paul Diodati, Dan McKiernan, & Nichola Meserve in order to gain clarification on the regulatory proposals set to come up for public hearing this winter. These proposal are likely to impact current regulations significantly and be implemented for the 2014 fishing season. Below is a summary of the meeting for you to better understand the regulatory proposals that will be out for public hearing in January.




Take home points from DMF meeting:


-DMF is committed to reducing the abuses that have been reported in the fishery.


-Through a variety of changes to permitting, DMF is looking to reduce the volume of fish landed by tightening up permit regulations. Significant changes to the individual permit status and restrictions on the ability of a boat to be commercially fished by anyone other than the permitted owner without a letter of authorization from DMF are being proposed. These changes are fairly complicated and if you believe that they may impact the way you fish, read and research the changes so you can make effective public comment. More information will be available once the public hearing is announced. Fishermen that fish single dory on their own vessels and hold standard boat permits will not be impacted by these proposals. Fishermen that fish on their own vessels and hold standard boat permits and employ crew but sell all fish on the boat owner's permit should not be impacted by these proposals. Fishermen that split fish onto different permits on any one vessel may be impacted by these proposals. Fishermen that fish and sell fish on a vessel that they do not own and/or hold the boat permit for, may also be impacted.


-The new permit cut off date, originally proposed to DMF by MCSBA several years ago, is now in place. Fishermen MUST renew their striped bass permits by March 15, 2014. This change was made to reduce the amount of permits issued to recreational fishermen fishing in the commercial fishery, bandwagon fishermen, and those not serious enough about commercial fishing to pay attention to the permitting requirements. It is highly recommended that commercial striped bass fishermen complete their reporting and renew their permits by the cutoff date. In order to fall in line with other DMF renewal dates, the cut off date will change to the last day in February in coming years.


-Tagging: Due to an ASMFC mandate, striped bass in MA must be tagged in 2014. How and where is the subject of discussion and it was quite clear that DMF is still trying to figure out this issue. They stated that they are planning to require point of sale tagging in 2014. Dealers would be in possession of all tags and distribute the required number of tags to fishermen at the point of sale on a daily basis. Fishermen/Dealers would be required to tag each fish upon transfer to the buyer. Discussion ensued about the logistics of this requirement and the possibility of the system causing significant delays and backups during the selling process for many of our fishermen. MCSBA suggested that DMF require that the fish be tagged at the buyer's land based plant, not at the truck if a mobile unit was being used to purchase bass. While DMF was open to these concerns, they appeared to be likely to go with their original plan as they are clearly behind the 8 ball on this program and have not quite figured out how it will run yet. Future changes, after 2014, to the tagging program appear likely.


-Science: The Director outlined the status of the striped bass stock briefly. Although the stock has been in decent shape for the past decade, ASMFC is likely to adopt new biological reference points this winter which will change the scenery dramatically. In laymen's terms, these new reference points change the way the models calculate the health of the stocks and would put the fishery retroactively into a category of being overfished. This is bad news all around for both the fish (if they are correct), and our quotas. This would also provide more ammo for our enemies that want to end the fishery. Bottom line that the Director stated is that it appears as though cuts are coming down the pipe coast-wide. Here in MA, this will likely translate to a reduction to a 1 fish bag limit per angler in the recreational fishery and percentage cut to the quota in the commercial fishery. DMF suggested a possible commercial cut of 30%, which would cut the commercial fishery down to under 800,000 pounds annually. Discussion ensued and MCSBA made a strong case for the consideration of implementing a commercial reduction of less the 30%. The main points made were that; the recreational fishery has been allowed to grow significantly while the commercial fishery has held to a steady TAC, the simple measure of cutting rec from 2 to 1 fish may fully accomplish the cut that is required of MA by the ASMFC, the fact that in 2011-12, MCSBA requested that ASMFC not increase the coast-wide commercial quota for both scientific and political reasons and that this should be factored into consideration. Regardless of any position, it is likely that coast-wide cuts are coming and may be enacted as early as the 2015 fishing season but will not impact the 2014 season when we expect to have a full quota of just under 1.1M pounds.


-Control Date: DMF is proposing the re-instatement of a control date (possibly March 6, 2008). This proposal is simply putting a control date back into the picture and no actions will be taken this year using a control date. The control date would give DMF the option of using this control date to manage permits in the future.


-For-Hire Sale: DMF is proposing a complete ban on the sale of striped bass from charter vessels. Despite a tradition of this sale being legally allowed, DMF is now saying that the practice is too difficult to enforce, is not allowed in any other state fishery, and the change will be made in an effort to reduce the volume of daily landings and help address the market glut.


-Season Opening Date: DMF states that they will be utilizing the public comment period in order to make a decision on a new season opening date. Fishermen from the islands, south coast, and north shore have requested that the season open as early as June 1st. Factors such as length of season, market demand, and the contingency on the amount of days fished per week along with bag limit will also impact this decision.


-Open Fishing Days & Bag Limit: A proposal to eliminate Sunday as an open day is on the table and appears to have little resistance. DMF seems likely to enact a change that would eliminate Sundays. Again, public comment will be heard is, according the Director, very important in his decision. Which and how many days are allowed during the week goes hand and hand with the bag limit is an extremely hot topic of discussion and debate statewide. Director Diodati repeatedly stressed that no decisions have been made and that he will be giving significant consideration to public comment regarding this issue. A two day/week or three day/week system seem to be the most popular options with the Director. Of course, it is highly dependent on the bag limit. A 10 fish/day bag limit is the lowest level that would be enacted this year. While the Director did say that he believes many members of the Marine Fisheries Commission favor a 10 fish bag limit, he is not necessarily in support of this measure. Discussion was had regarding the impacts on the fishery if a 10 fish bag limit were put in place without permit reductions, essentially recreationalizing the fishery. While the Director did not seem committed to 10 fish bag limit, he also seemed unlikely to retain the 30 fish bag limit. He mentioned 20 and 25 fish as possible scenarios. He also mentioned the SB Focus Group's recommendation of a Monday & Wednesday fishery, which initially incorporated a 30 fish bag limit, may work well with a 20-25 fish bag limit. Again, he stressed that he will be relying heavily on public comment in his decision making process. The end result of how many days/week we can fish at what bag limit and when we open the season will re-define commercial striped bass fishing in Massachusetts and the market in 2014. MCSBA stated that the association is committed to efficiently maximizing profit margins for our fishermen.


As you can see, there is a lot of regulatory change coming for the fishery. MCSBA will meet shortly after the New Year to develop new recommendations on these proposals. Please stay tuned for a meeting announcement. DMF will announce the public hearing date(s) soon. They are planning to have two hearings, most likely one in the north and one in the south, and towards the end of January. Your attendance and public comment are highly encouraged. DMF notices of public hearings can be found here: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dmf/marine-fisheries-notices/public-hearings-notices.html




Thanks,
Darren


Darren Saletta
Executive Director
Massachusetts Commercial Striped Bass Association
[email protected]
https://www.facebook.com/masscommbass






Darren Saletta
Executive Director
Massachusetts Commercial Striped Bass Association
[email protected]
https://www.facebook.com/masscommbass



 
Top Bottom