Monday, March 07, 2011

Thoughts on Fisheries Management

I have enjoyed the past few days off dealing with the jungle around the RV and getting Flatlines ready for the crew coming down this month.  As most of you know, regulations are really starting to put a cramp in my style, so I have spent a bit of time pondering the problem. 

The worst part is that the Keys is not a good fit for either the Gulf or Atlantic regulation zones.  Gag Grouper, may be having issues in the Atlantic due to over fishing.  In the Keys whatever problems the Gag Groupers are having are more due to Goliath Grouper FKA Jewfish predation.  We have a bunch of Goliath's down here and they munch on Gag's anytime they get a chance.  Many Bay Side spots have fewer Gags and lots more Goliaths.  Seems pretty clear to me that preferential regulation of one species is harming the other.  So a Keys Zone should include some fair way of controlling Goliath stocks.

The Deep drop zone regulation banning drops in water over 240 feet is total nonsense for the Keys.  Off Jacksonville, Snowy Grouper were thick in the 260 foot range.  Down here, because of water temperature, the Snowies start in the 400 foot range.  The regulation makes no sense at all South of Daytona. 

The powers at be are proposing catch shares.  Dividing catches between charters/recreational and commercial fishermen.  That may make sense north of Daytona, but from around Daytona south the percentage of charters and recreational is much higher than up north.  Economically, charters and recreational fishermen have an equal of greater impact than commercials with a lower percentage of harvest per buck spent.  That has to be addressed by something other than catch shares and closed seasons.

Then the powers are thinking about letting the commercials swap quotas with each other and borrow on future catches!  Catches vary from year to year because fish populations and habits  vary.  That is a natural regulation that can be screwed up by letting over harvesting happen in selected areas and selected seasons.  I thought conservation was the main idea?  That is just plain stupid if you are trying to maintain health stock levels.

Now the powers are planning to regulate species that have no significant pressure.  Not because they need to based on sound management practice, but because they can! There is already a 100 pounds per person limit in place for non regulated species.  Why add crap warm and fuzzy regulations when there is already reasonable regulation?

Anyway, if you get a chance tell every politician you know that things are not making sense.  Tell them to regulate areas that have verifiable data showing it is over fished and leave the rest alone.  Then explaining common sense to most politicians is like explaining nuclear physics to five year old kids.  Still we gotta try, with the politicians that is, the kids we need to explain the computers to us.

Marathon in the Florida Keys should be your next fishing vacation destination. Join us for charter fishing, fishing guide trips or our fishing 101 so you can fish on your own with better success.

Tight lines,

Capt. Dallas

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