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Old 11-19-2009, 07:38 PM
CaptTB CaptTB is offline
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Default Comments on Sea Bass, Fluke Scup MUST BE DONE BY TONIGHT!!

Here's a link to give your comments on the proposed rule setting the specifications for Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass. All comments must be received by 11:59pm TONIGHT, November 19th!

CLICK HERE and then click the link that says "Submit Comment"

Here is a link to the Comments from United Boatmen.

Below is a copy of an e-mail sent out by Capt. Adam.


Thank you for your interest in the on-going saga of black sea bass. Even if
you are not a black sea bass fisherman, it is important to understand how
much of what is happening here could just as easily happen to any other
fishery, and this, therefore, needs to be addressed. Please forward this to
anyone and everyone that you feel appropriate, as well.

Yesterday, a meeting was held by the Mid-Atlantic Council staff with their
Monitoring Committee and Advisory Panels. Measures to achieve a 66%
reduction in 2010 from 2009 landings is what we are facing. A sample
measure that achieves this reduction is -

Season of 9/17 - 12/31 (if size increased to 13" and bag reduced to 10)

If we are unable to get something changed soon, regulations comparable to
the example given above will be in force coastwide for 2010.

Let me also add the following. I understand the frustrations of this. The
only way we can hope to get any relief in the short term is to work within
the constraints of the system as it currently is established. There are
many larger efforts underway to make longer term changes to the processes
and constraints. However, we need to focus on how we can make a difference
right now.

It is important to understand that there are at multiple issues at play here

A - The fact that MRFSS is now being used for real-time management of
recreational fisheries. Magnuson-Stevens says it was to have been revamped
by Jan 1st, 2009, but it hasn't been. It is broken and needs to be fixed.
(See http://www.joinrfa.org/Press/RFA_MRFSS.pdf after you've submitted
comments to the Federal Register as referenced above.) Efforts are underway
to improve this situation as the Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund has
contracted with a 3rd party to seek an improvement in the MRFSS data

B - The 2009/2010 federal Black Sea Bass Closure. (View Legal Defense Fund
at http://www.joinrfa.org/ to view the lawsuit and to donate.)

C - The fact that the 2010 quota will be, for the second consecutive year,
the lowest quota ever set on black sea bass, despite the stock being fully
rebuilt, not overfished, and not having overfishing occurring. Here is what
you need to do to help in the efforts to get the quota increased.

1) The 2010 quota was voted on in August, a regulatory package was
prepared, reviewed by NOAA legal counsel, and put in the register for public
comment on 11/4/2009 for a short 15 day period. Attempts to get the comment period lengthened, including a direct letter from Congressman Frank Pallone's office have been unsuccessful.


Here are some suggested comments -
As per the 2009 Black Sea Bass Stock Assessment October update, Black Sea
Bass are not experiencing overfishing, are not overfished, and is fully
rebuilt. However, quota available to anglers, both recreational and
commercial is currently proposed to remain the lowest in the fishery's
management history for 2010. The quota recommendation of approx. 2.3
million pounds by the Council at their August meeting was significantly
lower than both the Council staff (which recommended fishing levels
consistent with 2008 of approx. 4.8 million pounds, an average landings
number for much of the past decade during which time the stock has remained at or above target spawning stock biomass levels) and Monitoring Committee (3.55 million pounds). The reason for the recommendation, as per the Federal Register Notice of November 4, 2009, was "The Council is bound by the Magnuson-Stevens Act to set annual catch limits no higher than the ABC recommended by their SSC and, accordingly, voted to recommend a TAC and TAL consistent with the SSC's recommendation." As per Dr. Jane Lubchenco's recent letter to Sen. Olympia Snowe, for stocks not currently experiencing overfishing (like Black Sea Bass), "a mechanism for specifying annual catch limits (ACLs) does not need to be implemented until 2011." The current Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan does not even currently contain a mechanism for ACLs. Therefore, the 2010 quota specifications process has no more constraints than it did in recent years. However, the inclusion of the Science and Statistical Committee in the specification process, while important in being able to leverage their expertise, resulted in significant confusion with regards to if, by what, and why the Council would be constrained in their recommendation.

The Council, in recognizing this, devoted a day of their recent October
meeting to addressing the combined roles the Monitoring Committee and
Science and Statistical Committee moving forward. The outcome, as per the
October Council Meeting Summary press release, was "Given this new
circumstance, it was agreed by all participating parties that a joint
non-decisional meeting or virtual, web-enabled meeting of the SSC and MCs be convened at the initiation of the Council's annual specification setting
process to share available data and relevant information regarding each
jointly managed species and then meet as separate entities with the SSC
meeting first to address scientific uncertainty and the MC meeting following
the SSC meeting to address management uncertainty."

As a result of not having followed the above agreed upon process prior to
the August Council meeting, different recommendations came out of the
Council staff, Monitoring Committee and Science and Statistical Committee.
Anglers, especially the recreational community, will now bear a heavy
socioeconomic impact by the continued historically low quota, despite a
change in stock status to being fully rebuilt, not overfished, and not
having overfishing occurring. NOAA Fisheries must recognize their
responsibilities under the Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standard 1 to
"prevent overfishing while achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum
yield (OY) of each fishery". By using the fishing mortality rate
recommended by the SSC of F=0.12, we are fishing at 28% of Fmsy (0.42). By way of comparison, the South Atlantic Snapper Grouper Complex Amendment 15A defines optimum yield for their overfished Black Sea Bass fishery as 75% Fmsy. Despite the National Standard 1 guidelines requirement that Optimum Yield must be evaluated and described in FMPs, this has not been done for the Black Sea Bass Fishery. However, it is unreasonable to believe that Optimum Yield is even being close to being achieved by fishing at 28% of Fmsy on a fully rebuilt stock that is not overfished and is not experiencing noverfishing when an overfished stock has OY defined as 75% of Fmsy.

2010 recreational management measures must also consider in addition to the above the fact Magnuson states that MRFSS data should not be used without significant revisions (which are yet to occur) beyond Jan. 1st, 2009.

In summary, the 2010 quota for Black Sea Bass should not be promulgated
until a joint meeting of the SSC and Monitoring Committee is held.
Additionally, the Council should be provided proper guidance that the ACL
constraint does not apply to Black Sea Bass specifications (contrary to the
Federal Register Notice) since the fishery is not overfished.
---- END COMMENTS ----

2) Contact members of the Mid-Atlantic Council
(http://www.mafmc.org/members/memberlist.htm) and ASMFC Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board (coastal states from MA - NC on this list http://www.asmfc.org/commissioners.htm) and let them know that the 2010 quota for black sea bass needs to be revised as per the above comments.

The next joint Council/Board meeting will be held December 8, 2009 in
Wilimington, DE. (http://www.mafmc.org/pres/2009/pr09_...l%20Agenda.pdf) It will be important to be there, but it will be more important to contact Council/Board members, including your state Marine Fisheries offices, well beforehand. If you do nothing between the time you receive this e-mail and December 8th, then show up and expect to get results, you're going to be disappointed.

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