Three major takeaways from yesterday’s ASMFC vote

I wanted to take a 24-hour grace period before I responded to yesterday’s disappointing session. It’s dicey trying to predict outcomes when nature is one of the variables, so I’ll just stick to what I know to be true.

  1. The ASMFC manages stripers as individual state playthings rather than a shared coastal resource. This is, after all, a migratory species. If you watched the live feed or heard some of the commissioners speak, you know that this group is infected by special interests. It’s discouraging to see that some states, like Maryland and New Jersey, believe their agenda is more important than that of other states — or the fishery as a whole — and maddening that other states don’t call them on it. States’ agendas rule rather than the good of the fishery. Unacceptable.
  2. When it comes to conservation, the ASMFC is incapable of forward thinking. John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things,” and the fact is that the ASMFC has an abysmal track record when it comes to managing fishing stocks. In their decades of existence, they have never rebuilt and successfully maintained a single stock. Of the 26 stocks they currently manage, 17 are overfished, depleted, or “condition unknown.” That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. What’s more, it points to incompetence. So yesterday’s choice of Sub-Option 2-A2, 1 fish 28-35″ slot, is compelling evidence that they are managing not for the future but for right now.  Want further proof? A moratorium was never even on the table. The closest choice to a hedged bet was the 1@35″ slot, similar to the most recent rebuilding tool of 1@36″, which was successfully implemented last time we did this. But the ASMFC would rather go to the casino and roll the dice than invest in a conservative, fundamentally sound plan with a proven track record of good returns.
  3. The vote of the active, conservation-minded majority doesn’t matter to the ASMFC. The ASMFC constructed a Potemkin’s Village of inclusion with public hearings in its member states, and continued the sham by inviting public email comments. While the response level was disappointing — about 1,000 people — the result was nothing short of a mandate: Sub-Option 2-A1, 1@35″. Incredibly, this vast majority directive was wantonly ignored. So, we get it, ASMFC. You really don’t give a shit what we think.

Search the parks in all the cities, you’ll find no statues of committees.

The fighting is rounds. This is round one.

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10 comments on “Three major takeaways from yesterday’s ASMFC vote

  1. William A Giokas says:

    A slot limit is a bad idea. Guys will cull their catch. In other words, they’ll hold on to a large fish in hopes of getting a larger one. Not a great idea . This will further reduce the fishery. Bill

  2. JOSEPH GANUN says:

    We are losing time here. The last “solution” didn’t work. It was all about compromise. The accompanying Conservation Equivalencies” contributed to worsening the problem..all scams. Here we go again, more compromise and a few states scrambling to develop CE’s that will allow them to kill more fish while winking at each other knowing full well what they are up to,
    The ASMFC is as big a part of the problem as any of the resource users. On another note the fix last time was accompanied by a widely publicized PCB scare in the Hudson. The acceptable (healthy consumption) PPM were eventually increased under the same kind of pressure we have now from the pay to play and commercial interests. We are losing.

  3. DAVID DEITZ says:

    Excellent post. We can argue about slot limits (they’ve worked well in Florida for redfish), but the real issue as Steve highlights so well is the fact that the ASMFC can simply disregard the public without consequences. We have to find a way to get some political leverage or nothing will change.
    How about a ballot amendment in multiple states? It worked for the net ban in Florida (recognizing that it wasn’t a perfect solution, either).

  4. Jon Flansburg says:

    That won’t solve the problem bring it back like the 90’s

  5. Phil Sheffield says:

    Not exactly Steve. The moratorium began due to a dangerous PCB level in Hudson fish that abruptly halted commercial fishing there. The government then followed suit in 1986 with a full blow shut down until further studies determined the ramifications via the Food and Drug Admin.. It is all in the ASMFC’s archives.

    • Steve Culton says:

      Phil, I very much admire your passion for, and active participation in trying to save our stripers. 🙂

      The commenter above was certainly referring to the 80s moratorium bearing fruit in the 90s. 🙂

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