Congressional listening tour on stripers, Magnuson-Stevens, and ASMFC

Amidst the recent doom and gloom surrounding the fall 2019 ASMFC session, a ray of hope: Congressman Huffman, Chairman of Water, Oceans and Wildlife, is hosting a national listening tour regarding the concerns of anglers, scientists, and policy makers. Here are two short reports from people who spoke at the Baltimore meeting that you should read:

The first is from Charles Witek’s blog, One Angler’s Voyage.

The second is from Tony Friedrich, Policy Director of the ASGA.

The quote of the month comes from Tony, who wrote: “Here’s one more thing to ponder. The American Saltwater Guides Association isn’t even a year old and we had a seat at the table for an event sponsored by the Chairman of Water, Oceans, and Wildlife. Let that sink in folks. Profound change doesn’t happen overnight. You have a work and grind at it every day. That’s what we have done from the start at ASGA. We have already won and lost a few. This goes into the “W” column.”

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Two Critical Points on Comment Participation and Conservation Equivalency forAddendum VI

For those of you who don’t know Addendum VI from King George VI, my apologies. Well, maybe not. This is important. Even if striped bass aren’t your thing, what follows is a good, quick read. And we could really use the support of all conservation-minded anglers. It’s from the ASGA blog. The last paragraph is probably the most important. You can read it here.

Definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

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ASMFC Votes tomorrow on Addendum VI — and how WE all voted, or: too much waste!

The ASMFC will decide on the Striped Bass Addendum VI options tomorrow, Wednesday October 30 beginning at 2:45pm. The meeting will be broadcast online. To register to listen in, click here.

Now, to our voices. The ASMFC received 5,500 public responses. 4,500 of those were form letters. Absolutely useless! What a waste. Could we not have taken 15 more minutes to compose an original thought to try to save our stripers? Nearly 900 people attended hearings in ASMFC states. (Thanks to all who came out!)

The most telling stat is that of nearly 1,000 individual comments, too many people did not take a specific stand on the primary or sub options. Very disappointing. Apathetic or positionless responses do us little good. But, I try to be optimistic: of the individual responses and public hearing comments, the vast majority — decisively — voted for Primary Option 2, equal % reductions. The vast majority — decisively — voted for 2A1, 1@35″. The vast majority — decisively — voted for 2B-1, 1@18″ Chesapeake.

So now it’s in the hands of the ASMFC. Will they take a leadership position? Or will it be business as usual? We’ll know tomorrow.

For those keeping score:

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One more week for Addendum VI comments, latest news from ASGA

One more week to get those comments in, people! If you have not yet commented, please do so today. For those of you who don’t striper fish, thanks for bearing through all this ASMFC stuff, and please consider adding your voice to our cause. The infographic below is telling. You can find the email/snail mail address to send comments to here. You must use the subject line Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI.

I promise we’ll get back to some trout stuff soon!

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What went down at last night’s ASMFC Draft Addendum VI hearing

I attended and publicly commented at last night’s ASMFC Striped Bass Addendum VI hearing in Old Lyme. (There’s another public hearing tomorrow, Wednesday September 25 in Bridgeport, CT at Port 5 Hall. Hopefully the AC will be working!)

My general impressions: People are passionate about striped bass. The meeting was well attended, with roughly 50-60 people. About half of them chose to comment. Most are in favor of conservation, and in many cases for more conservation than is being proposed. Many aren’t thrilled with the ASMFC‘s track record. Many cited enforcement as a problem, and asked for more EnCon police and harsher penalties for poaching. (That’s not on Addendum VI, but point well taken.) Unlike the Long Island session from a few weeks ago (the video that was on Facebook), there were no angry outbursts or contentious remarks, so good job on that to everyone.

This is your chance to open your mouth and speak.

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So, what did I say? I drew my comments from the following script:

Commissioners and fellow anglers,

My name is Steve Culton. I am a resident of Middletown. I am a fly fishing guide, instructor, outdoor writer, and I run a website called currentseams which has over 700 followers, many of whom are avid striper anglers. Most of all, I’m a guy who loves fly fishing for striped bass. I am also active within the American Saltwater Guides Association, which is an organization of guides and small business owners from Maine to North Carolina. Along with the ASGA, I endorse the following options:

Option 2: 18% reductions applied equally between the sectors. As Aunt Eller said in Oklahoma!, “I don’t say I’m no better than anybody else, but I’ll be danged if I ain’t just as good!”

Option 2-A1: 1@35”. There are major cons to every option listed. It’s hard for me to support an option that allows the wholesale slaughter of the large breeding female bass off of Block Island or in the Cape Cod Canal to continue. Ultimately, it’s difficult to ignore past history, and we’ve seen the positive effect of 1@36”, which helped with the successful rebuilding of the striped bass fishery last time around.

For the Chesapeake Bay, Option 2-B1: 1@18” For the record, I’m not favor of any of the options listed for the Chesapeake Bay. Killing stripers before they’ve have a chance to spawn makes no sense. But Option 2-B1 is expected to achieve the greatest harvest reduction.

Option 3.2.B: Mandatory use of circle hooks. It would be nice if this were accompanied by an effective education and awareness program. I won’t hold my breath.

Some additional comments – and some difficult questions: 

While we’ve got to start somewhere, all this is not good enough. ASMFC has got to do better.

Real power comes not from the taking of life, but rather from the sparing of it. Why are we continuing to allow the killing of the large breeder females that produce millions of eggs annually, and are critical to producing the next big year class? Why 1@35″ and not 1@40″ (or bigger)? Why is there no moratorium or catch & release only provision in this addendum? Why are we relying on a 50% chance of success?

Why is Maryland allowed to do what they damn well please? Maryland’s harvest reduction in this Draft Addendum is based on their 2017 numbers when they were severely over their total. Why would you reward a state for overharvesting by 200%? There must be consequences when states do not live up to their harvest reduction goals. ASMFC needs to change how you analyze and manage conservation equivalency proposals. Please make sure this process gets fixed.

Finally, perception is reality, and the perception is that the ASMFC has a storied history of underachievement and little to no accountability. Not good enough. I challenge the ASMFC to rise to your mission statement this time around.

I recognize the ASMFC has a number of diverse constituencies that need to be considered. However, you have an obligation to manage striped bass for the greater good. You must manage for the benefit of our children, and for their children. Ultimately, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one. Thank you for your consideration.

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So that’s it. I hope you’ll award me bonus points for managing to work Star Trek and Rogers & Hammerstein into my comments.

You have until October 7 to send in email comments. You can find the public hearing schedule for individual states, and the email/snail mail address to send comments to here. You must use the subject line Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI.

 

CT Public Hearings on Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI

CT residents will have two opportunities this week to speak on the ASMFC Striped Bass Addendum VI. This first is tonight, 7pm at DEEP Marine HQ in Old Lyme. The second is Wednesday September 25, 7pm at Port 5 Hall in Bridgeport. I will be attending tonight’s hearing in Old Lyme.

If you’re passionate about stripers and ensuring a viable future for this magnificent fish, I urge you to do one of the following. First, attend a public hearing in your state. Second, send email comments to the ASMFC. You can find the public hearing schedule for individual states, and the email/snail mail address to send comments to here. You must use the subject line Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI.

What to say? You, of course, will have your own opinion. It should be noted that in this situation, there exists the awesome power of similar numbers. The more of us that push for a similar opinion — and outcome — the better. You know I am a champion of the American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA). They have carefully considered the options, and their position on Draft Addendum VI can be found here.

If you haven’t done so already, sign up for ASGA email updates, and, even better, make a contribution. They’re truly doing good work.

Hope to see you tonight — and hope to see more of her in the future.

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Save Our Stripers: Public Hearings and eMail Comments on ASMFC Draft Addendum VI

Now is your chance to make your voice heard on the future of striped bass. No, really! Public comments have been acknowledged by ASMFC commissioners as not only being read, but also helping to influence new policies that will shape the future of our striped bass fishery. Here’s what you need to know:

You can find the public hearing schedule for individual states, and the email/snail mail address to send comments to here. It is critical that you, at the minimum, send an email comment. If you can attend a public hearing, all the better. If you email, you must use the subject line Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI.

What to say? You, of course, will have your own opinion. It should be noted that in this situation, there exists the awesome power of similar numbers. The more of us that push for a similar opinion — and outcome — the better. You know I am a champion of the American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA). They have carefully considered the options, and their position on Draft Addendum VI can be found here.

If you haven’t done so already, sign up for ASGA email updates, and, even better, make a contribution. They’re truly doing good work.

I didn’t get anything remotely close to her size this year. Together, we can change that.

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