Last week’s ASMFC meetings: politics and striped bass

In case you missed it (I know I did), here are a couple good, quick reads on last week’s ASMFC striper meeting. First up is Captain John McMurray’s take. Next, Charles Witek warns of history repeating itself in this trenchant blog post.

I hope you’re all safe and well. These two fine pieces will keep you entertained as well as informed.

I’m going to be tying some of these (Crazy Menhaden flatwing/bucktail hybrid) soon.

Crazy CU

ASMFC Striped Bass Update from ASGA

Good words from the ASGA: “We don’t want to be tone-deaf on the major issue at hand. However, life must go on and we still have to keep everyone informed on fisheries management issues.”

ASMFC is meeting today; striped bass management is scheduled from 3-4pm. For more details, click here.

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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.

Why the ASMFC is set up to fail — and what the American Saltwater Guides Association (and you) can do about it.

Have you ever wondered why so many species managed by the ASMFC (Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission) are in trouble? How can any commission tasked with managing fishing stocks have such an abysmal track record and still exist?

The answers are both complex and simple. On the simple side, the answers are a) because the commission does not have conservation in mind, and b) because they can (there is no accountability).

Why does the ASMFC suck at managing our striper fishery? Because they can. Compare their non-checks and balances with the Magnuson Stevens framework. Share this infographic with fellow anglers and conservationists. And be sure to read this synopsis of ASMFC vs Magnuson Stevens.

ASMFC-vs-MSA-Framework

If it all sounds pretty dire, it is. But there is hope: the American Saltwater Guides Association (ASGA).

Don’t let the name fool you: the ASGA has your (the recreational, conservation-minded striper angler) best interests in mind (as well as in deed). They’ll be going to bat for us at the ASMFC meeting next month. To quote the ASGA: “We are hereby putting the ASMFC on notice. If they choose not to follow their own rules yet again we will do everything in our power to legislate a new framework that won’t allow them to mismanage the resource.”

What can you do to help?  Here’s a short action list:

1) Educate yourself – ASGA blog is a great resource

2) Write your state ASMFC reps (you can find the list here.)

3) Find a post or infographic on ASGA that speaks to you and share it.
4) Hit the contribute button and make a donation support the efforts of ASGA (The value of this cannot be underestimated. It costs money do do all that research and travel around the country to represent your interests.)
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The entire recreational angling community has to mobilize if we are going to have any chance of recovering this precious resource. I’m asking all currentseams readers to step up and do at least two of the above. The stripers and I thank you.