Three takeaways from yesterday's Winter 2020 ASMFC Meeting

It wasn’t as bad as I’d feared. It wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. Welcome to the wonderful world of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission winter meetings. Yesterday’s focus was on discussing and formalizing each state’s Conservation Equivalency proposals. Almost 24 hours later, here are three big takeaways.

Settle in for a cup of tea. This might take a while.

The ASMFC is structurally and procedurally bloated. An efficient organization this is not. The webinar was audio only, so it made a helter-skelter meeting like this one even more challenging to follow. At times it was like watching a Bergman film — you try your best to keep up but you’re never really sure what’s going on. And I’m not the only one who saw it that way — the chairman of the meeting described it, and I’ll quote, as “chaotic.” Maybe it’s just as well that the meeting wasn’t video broadcast — surely you could lump the ASMFC Winter 2020 CE decisions along with laws and sausages as things you should never see being made.

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My reaction to some states’ CE proposals can best be summed up by Otto, who so eloquently stated: “Disappointed!!!” (That includes you, Rhode Island.)

Beware of rogue states within the ASMFC. North Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan, and…New Jersey? Let’s not forget Maryland, who along with New Jersey have some rather — ahem — creative ideas on how to best conserve and restore our rapidly dwindling stocks of striped bass. Remember in “A Fish Called Wanda,” when Wanda reminds Otto that the central message of Buddhism is not “Every man for himself?” Someone should point out to Maryland and New Jersey that the ASMFC mission is not, “Kill as many striped bass as you can under the cloak of conservation.” Nope, those emperors don’t have new clothes. They’re wearing the same crappy, poorly camouflaged outfits they’ve been sporting for years. Kudos to those who saw through their charades, like…

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Some ASMFC Commissioners get it. If a state’s CE proposal fails to achieve target results, that state should be held accountable, right? High fives to those commissioners who called out certain CE proposals, effectively telling those states to behave and eat its broccoli. Apologies in advance to those I missed, but here are a few of the people who fought the good fight yesterday: Justin Davis (CT). Capt. John McMurray (NY). Ritchie White (NH). Pat Keliher (ME). Again, these are only a few of the people I could positively identify. A very sincere thank you to all of you who are trying to save our stripers. If you’re reading this, why not take a few minutes to send them an email of thanks and support. You can find that list here.

Is anybody there? Does anybody care? Some commissioners clearly do. Especially those who understand that killing this fish now doesn’t bode well for the future.

4 comments on “Three takeaways from yesterday's Winter 2020 ASMFC Meeting

  1. johngmcmurray says:

    Epic read!

  2. William A Giokas says:

    Some good news from the Martha Vineyard Derby. “Recreational fishing communities and fisheries scientists understand the unequaled value of striped bass. The Derby shares this view, and acknowledges the importance of supporting measures to restore healthy striped bass stocks…Because of the obvious significance of striped bass – to the recreational fishing community and to the Derby – we strongly believe that the responsible decision is to completely remove it as an eligible species in the 2020 Derby, including any catch and release component…The Derby Committee is proud to have played an influential role in the recovery of the striped bass. When we excluded the striper from our tournament in 1985, it may have been only symbolic, but it sent a message to sport fishing contests and enthusiasts that without a good management plan, this treasured resource would be no more.”

    Bill

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