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15 Comments by licfa

Proposed flounder rules threaten Montauk fleet

Just want to correct some errors:

I'm the executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, not the president of LIFA.

Regarding the winter flounder stock's rebuilding what was left out of the quote was the stock's rebuilding WITHIN the 10 year mandate of the Magnuson Stevens Act as amended by Congress in the SFA of 1996.

I never said that winter flounder stocks would not rebuild in toto, but within the 10-year timeline, the stock would have less than 1% and 1% probability. They will rebuild, but most probably not within ten years.

And yet, even with the present regulation, their populations have been improving dramatically. From the GARM III (Groundfish Assessment Review Meeting (GARM III), Northeast Fisheries Science Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, August 4-8, 2008 ) analysis:

"The 2007 SSB (Spawning stock biomass) is estimated at approximately 3508mt, which is more than twice the average estimated SSB over the last ten years. Fishing mortality has been declining since 2005 and it is at lowest levels observed in the time series." And winter flounder has the highest spawning stock biomass since 1991 http://www.nefsc.noaa.gov/nefsc/publications/crd/crd0815/garm3d.pdf Table D-12.

If one looks to other science being produced by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science's NEAMAP studies of 2007 & 2008, the numbers they show for winter flounder show a much larger population of winter flounder across all age classes than NMFS has shown or accepted into their scientific data. http://www.neamap.net/

All stocks of groundfish that are under federal fishery management plans are required to be rebuilt within 10 years according to the Magnuson Stevens Act. Legally, there is no room for rebuilding under more flexible guidelines allowing for longer than a ten-year deadline as long as the population continues to improve under the present law, and that is the driving the bus creating problems for the groundfish stocks in the Northeast, along with many other fisheries coast to coast.

Let’s say a fishery could rebuild to 100% in 12-15 years with some restrictive measures to fishermen and their communities, or 100% in 10 years but one must close down the fishery, which would you choose if you were the regulator?

Under present law, the regulators must choose the 10 year timeline even though the financial hardship it creates for fishermen and their communities could be devastating. Even if the stocks are rebuilding, growing, in some cases higher than they have been in years. There is no room for flexibility as long as populations continue to increase within Magnuson as it is presently written.

And for those who say limits don’t exist to commercial fishermen, they do through Days at Sea (DAS) permitting that federally licensed fishermen must have to allow them to catch groundfish including winter flounder, based on their prior catch history- but this is a limited access based on catch history and the amount of DAS is limited.

Initially when instituted the most DAS a fisherman had was 88; now the most they can have are 52. And that number was for only those who primarily groundfished, most federally permitted groundfish boats have much less.

You must have DAS to catch groundfish, it is not a derby style fishery. There are requirements regarding net size, allowing for juvenile fish to escape. There may have been no trip limit on DAS, but there is a limit to the amount of DAS that any federally licensed fishermen could have.

There are requirements regarding net size, allowing for juvenile fish to escape. There may have been no trip limit on a called out day at sea, but that does not mean that there were no limits on catch altogether.

Also, winter flounder catch and population is down for a variety of reasons that don’t at all point to commercial fishing, including non-point source pollution, predation, loss of estuary habitat to building and Millstone, which has been accused of destroying 4 million larvae every day.

Yet in spite of it all, the stock is still growing. And still, the burden is being put upon the commercial fishermen’s shoulders.

A better approach would be to accept the New England Fishery Management Council’s plan to have an 18% reduction in DAS along with reduced trip limits for several stocks, and target catch levels, with paybacks for exceeding catch levels in 2010. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (who regulates state waters) is also recommending a less dire choice, which would include trip limits and zero possession limits, something that has never been done before.

Commercial fishermen understand the need for conservation. But conservation should not have to equal closure, especially in light of growing fish stocks and increased regulation.

Bonnie Brady
Executive Director, LICFA" Feb 20, 09 5:50 PM

***Just realized that the information regarding spawning stock biomass that I wrote about regarding SNE winter flounder was in fact, in error, about SNE yellowtail flounder for the same time period.

Please find below the correct statistics fro the SNE/MA winter flounder populations.

The 2007 SSB (Spawning stock biomass) is estimated at approximately 3,368 MT (Metric Tons), up from a record low of 2,098 mt in 2005, and the estimated 2007 year class is more than twice the size of the 2006 year class. And while SSB is still at 9% of total MSY, it is the highest SSB since 2003. For almost 20 years, winter flounder SSB has remained within 5000-2100 MT range." Feb 24, 09 10:01 AM

Need to add one more comment because I was slightly misquoted in yesterdays' press, and a bit more background of what groundfish is and who regulates it.:

I may have said a catch is down "because there are quotas on certain fish and trip limits on certain fish," but was trying, perhaps badly, to explain to your reporter past errors in reporting of quota-based fisheries fish populations, not the winter flounder (WF) fishery. In quota-based fisheries, overall catch is related to quotas, and often smaller catch has been misinterpreted as equaling smaller population levels. My apologies for not being clear enough.

LICFA does not fear the ban will make it impossible for trawler captains to harvest other groundfish, we know it will.

Groundfish is actually a term for a stock of thirteen different fish, including those you mentioned such as cod, yellowtail flounder and haddock. The Groundfish stock is required to be rebuilt 100% within 10 years according to the Magnuson Stevens Act (MSA.) As the MSA is written, even if fish populations continue to improve, there is no flexibility allowing for a longer than ten-year deadline.

Groundfish is regulated federally by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and it’s advisory board for the region is the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC.) New York State does not have a seat on the NEFMC, even though we have several fisheries, including groundfish and whiting, that NEFMC regulates.

" Feb 26, 09 1:46 PM

Trawling for answers to dwindling fish counts

Our thanks to your reporter Beth Young for covering the NEAMAP research trawl survey last week in Montauk; we hope the Press continues to monitor the progress of the Darana R data.

Just as a matter of clarification, federal interim rules were put in place on May 1st that put a moratorium on the catching of three groundfish species in Southern New England (SNE), winter flounder, windowpane flounder and ocean pout, while Amendment 16 is in the public hearing process prior to it’s implementation in 2010.

While initially calling for a full moratorium on all groundfish in SNE as part of the interim ruling, placing a moratorium on winter flounder in essence is virtually the same as a full groundfish moratorium on Long Island when noting that 80% of last year’s groundfish revenue came from winter flounder, which cannot now be landed in federal waters.

Long Island’s winter flounder landings by federally permitted vessels were responsible for $800,000 in revenue out of a total of $1.06 million in groundfish revenues in 2008.

While NMFS science, as was relayed via the GARM III report, said that the spawning stock biomass of SNE winter flounder was at only 9% of it's sustainable level, SNE fishermen have long said that the research data accumulated via the NMFS trawl surveys has been inadequate.

"Trawlgate" refers to the discrepancy in tow wires found on the NMFS otter trawl boat the Albatross back in 2000 http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/green/greenblog/2008/11/from_trawling_to_trawlgate_con_1.html which seriously put into question the validity of trawl surveys by the Albatross--those same trawl surveys were used as the basis for determining population levels for many species of groundfish for the last 30 years.

For years, commercial fishermen have fought stock assessments that often are regulating fisheries based on 4, 5, even 8 year-old-data, and with the discovery of irregularities with "Trawlgate," all government trawl surveys became suspect. The uneven tow wires meant the net wasn’t fully open when it was towing. Kind of hard to catch fish (and determine population levels for those fish) when they can’t get into the net.

Fish gone in 2048? Not so. Pelagic scientists from the University of Hawaii, Pacific New Caledonia, and NMFS have already debunked the infamous Myers & Worm "fish gone in 2048," letter to Science in , calling the metadata used faulty and the sampling far too narrow for it to be considered real science. http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/PFRP/large_pelagics/Myers_comments.pdf

Unfortunately for those who proved Myers & Worm's work to be advocacy, not science, they were not funded by Pew Charitable Trusts, or it's army of anti-commercial fishing advocacy groups as Myers and Worm were. One would have thought there should have been an equal media interest in reporting the faulty science which led to the original headlines, but instead there was a great silence, not so much as a footnote in any major daily, weekly, or magazine, or tv news blurb. People remember the headline....the truth has shown itself to be a poor second.

The Bigelow, built to replace the Albatross in 2008, has it’s own set of issues. It was built too big for inshore surveys (draft too big) and even for it's own home port mooring- NMFS had to dynamite the Bigelow's inlet to bring the boat in.

Cooperative fisheries research between commercial fishermen and scientists, that which is being done on the NEAMAP survey program with the Darana R and VIMS through the research set-aside program of the Mid Atlantic Fishery Management Council, and in New England through cooperative research efforts with the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) in Massachusetts, creates the best case scenario for both industry and science, and ultimately the resource itself. Commercial fishermen find the fish, and scientists collect the data necessary to make the best available population data better.

If the true goal of fisheries management is to get the best available data to make decisions that affect both fish and fishermen positively long into the 21 st century, it is sincerely the hope of LICFA that the NEAMAP program, and others like it, perhaps a coastwide fleet of NEAMAP boats, continues to be funded through 2048 and beyond." May 19, 09 9:03 PM

New arrangement an efficient and environmentally friendly boost, fishermen say

Freeing them to fish in calm weather is a fallacy perpetuated by EDF and the like from their catch share story in the fiction aisle. Fish prices are decided by supply and demand, if it is blowing 30 and the price is good, they will go. This idea that they would choose calmer seas is ridiculous- if they only have one day a week to land their fish, they will do so on the day that is being offered the best price by a fish buyer." Feb 11, 10 9:06 AM

Need to correct the above comment- for the inshore fleet of draggers in the winter time, they are more guided by pockets of good weather to travel to the offshore grounds.

WIthout good weather, many don't have a big enough boat to go, so for them, weather becomes the main consideration and for them good weather and a larger quota works best.

The offshore fleet, while also benefiting from a higher weekly quota as being fuel efficient and creating less regulatory discards, will fish independent of the weather with price per pound being more of an impetus.

Broad stroking however that a larger quota will make fishermen choose to fish in better weather is not accurate for all members of the various user groups" Feb 11, 10 3:28 PM

Um...gosh sometimes it's surprising there is so much misinformation still being spewed against commercial fishermen. Unfortunately so much of it is based on false science and media and conservangelist spin. The truth is out there if you actually take the time to look through the data yourself, don't trust an enviro-advocacy group to do it for you...you are being had.

78% not overfished, 82 % no overfishing, all sustainable and on fishery management plans p 3 http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/statusoffisheries/booklet_status_of_us_fisheries08.pdf

Fishermen in NY are allowed 1200lbs once a week (hence an explanation to your comment "all those fluke jammed into a basket" during this weekly pilot program of the NYSDEC for the fluke winter fishery for a resource that is neither experiencing overfished or overfished status. At present the biomass is estimated at 77% of it's sustainable spawning stock biomass target, due to be achieved by 2013.

The laundry basket is an actual fishing "basket" to hold fish. http://alariobros.com/graphics/Mvc-425fa.jpg

" Feb 13, 10 11:20 AM

Truth is out there- just have to be willing to read it- or .....you could just continue to spout falsehoods and hope no once notices...

Science and Statistical Committee of NMFS, in this case the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole

From the above link

Spawning stock biomass (SSB) decreased from about 25,000 mt in the early 1980s to about 7,000 mt in 1989, then increased to above 40,000 mt by 2002 (Table 53, Figure 21, Figure 22). SSB was estimated to be 46,029 in 2008, about 77% of the SSB35% = SSBMSY target reference point = 60,074 mt (Table 53, Figure 26). There is a 50% chance that SSB in 2008 was between 46,632 and 49,357 mt (Figure 23).

In otherwords, more than 100 million pounds of fluke in the SSB for 2008. SSB only includes sexually mature fish, there are more fish in the total population. Fluke mature at age 2.

More than twice the SSB of the 1980s." Feb 15, 10 2:20 PM

Luxor, silly rabbit.... this isn't MRFSS data, this is NEFSC data, the big boys.

Including, but not limited to trawl survey data on the Albatross, observer otolith determinations via landings, NEAMAP trawl survey data, point of sale scientific data collected at Hunts Point. You know, dissection, mapping, cross referencing, then adding data to models to prove data to a 75% confidence level...let me know if I'm typing too slow for you..... google PMAFS for a clue.

I would kindly advise you before you "step in it" any further to remember the words of Mark Twain.

"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt"" Feb 17, 10 2:31 AM

Whale killed with bullet; experts defend how beaching was handled

Seems that the Riverhead center has rec'd US gov't grant funds to the tune of $100gs in 2009 for Operational Support to Enhance Resources for Response, Treatment, and Data Collection from Living and Dead Stranded Marine Mammals Recovered in New York State

Almost one million $ from the feds in fact, if you do the math, through the Prescott Grant since 2001

What is the Prescott Grant program of NOAA?
The John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program, or Prescott Grant Program, provides grants or cooperative agreements to eligible stranding network participants for:

* recovery and treatment (i.e., rehabilitation) of stranded marine mammals,
* data collection from living or dead stranded marine mammals, and
* facility upgrades, operation costs, and staffing needs directly related to the recovery and treatment of stranded marine mammals and collection of data from living or dead stranded marine mammals

So much for not having the resources~Guess that money was going toward, um......wonder what that money was going for?

ps Hello Mr. Sadove, thank you for your insight.

." Apr 11, 10 12:12 AM

Wilkinson concedes that dock sale is off the table

While not an exact count, several local fish markets do purchase locally landed seafood for resale either to local restaurants on the East End or at seafood shops.

Depending on the time of year, some catches are sent straight to Hunts Point (formerly Fulton) market because of the specific kind of catch, time of year and volume. Example, scup in the winter 1 period are 30,000 lbs one trip twice a month. There is no market in the winter locally for that kind of volume, so it would be sent to Hunts Point for distribution.

In the summer, local quotas are often smaller because there are many more participants in the fishery, and migratory fish are closer to shore, so that the local restaurants are all ordering from the seafood markets, giving local fishermen the ability to sell locally.

Supply and demand (and time of year) are key.

Overall, Montauk is the 50th largest port in the US based on landings of fish and dollars, $12 million dollars worth of fish landed in 2009, with an economic multiplier of 4.5, that's $54 million dollars to the local Town of East Hampton economy year round, with most of the $ spent locally.

Re the costs versus the income, I am not sure the maintenance/repairs is an accurate count of the last ten years as it related to the two Montauk docks specifically. Two years ago, a patch job, at I believe a cost of $250gs was done, but that was the first time in many many years any work was done by the town to the dock. Also, the $45/foot base dockage figure is based on size and tonnage, according to someone from the Town Clerk's office today, actual dock costs range from $45 to $80 a foot/ based on tonnage, and the dock costs more than doubled from 2001 to 2009.

If you look at the cost of commercial dock space up and down the northeast, you will find that EH ranks on the higher end. Gloucester $4/foot. New Bedford $10 foot, Southampton $50 foot.

Recreational marinas charge a higher price because they only, usually lease space for 4-6 months out of the year." May 21, 10 5:13 PM

According to this website, not exactly privately owned http://www.newbedford-ma.gov/PortofNewBedford/hdc/about.html

The Massachusetts General Court created the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission (HDC) in 1957. The chairman of the HDC is the Mayor of New Bedford, ex officio. The HDC has jurisdiction over all the waters in New Bedford, including the entire coastline of the peninsula, the harbor, and north along the Acushnet River to the city’s boundaries. The HDC manages city property on the waterfront, including Homer’s, Leonard’s, Steamship, Coal Pocket and Fisherman’s Wharves and a 198-slip recreational marina at Pope’s Island. The HDC also assigns moorings and enforces rules regarding use of piers, wharves, and adjacent parking areas under its jurisdiction. The Harbormaster acts as an agent of the HDC.

The HDC represents a wide array of harbor interests and one of its primary roles is to support economic development along the waterfront. The HDC has planning, developing, and financing authority for city properties within the Port. For over 40 years, the HDC has overseen private development on the waterfront and has actively developed locations for marine industrial use, including North Terminal, South Terminal, and the New Bedford Ferry Terminal at State Pier.

The HDC assesses user charges and fees for vessels that use its facilities. The HDC also leases properties, usually involving long-term arrangements. Revenues are used to operate and maintain the city’s waterfront property. With the City Council’s approval, the HDC may borrow and issue municipal bonds for capital improvements. Through its close relationship with the city’s Redevelopment Authority, the HDC also has access to other financial means for redeveloping harbor property.

http://www.newbedford-ma.gov/PortofNewBedford/hdc/policies.html" May 23, 10 11:51 AM

The quote being referenced as to selling our beds was actually a quote at the meeting that described if the docks were sold, where the boats "sleep" would be sold, hence the analogy of the Town "selling our (the boats') beds. "

The Town's commercial docks are set up so that many boats of different sizes can be accomodated, based on first come first served basis- As far as I'm aware, there is no waiting list.

Commercial dock space via the town dock is median price for the Mid-Atlantic, slightly higher compared with the Northeast. Town dock prices vary between $45-80 per foot, based on tonnage.

Inlet Seafood's dock spaces are also different sizes. Iit's primary focus is as a fish packing house, and more than half the slips cannot accomodate boats with a large draft or boats the size of the majority of the offshore fleet.

Spaces in the front of the dock along the harbor are reserved for packing fish. If those spaces were used as berths, there would be no ability for other boats to pack their fish, which is the main focus.

The Town-owned docks actually cost more annually than Inlet for dockage, but for a majority of the commercial fleet, the size of the boat requires them to use the Town docks. Without the town docks, there would be no other place for the majority of the commercial fleet to "sleep."

The LWRP, under Publicly-Owned Waterfront-Dependent Uses and Facilities states that "existing publicly-owned water-dependent uses and facilities including beaches, parks, boat ramps, boat clubs, nature preserves, marinas and docks shall remain in public ownership and be maintained or improved.”

Approved in 1999 by the Town Board and then in 2007 by New York State and 2008 by the feds, the LWRP is the law. It was a 10 year process to create the LWRP with much input from all stakeholders through public meetings throughout the town of East Hampton with funding from New York State.

" May 27, 10 4:00 PM

Major Changes Waiting In Wings For Montauk Harbor

I attended all of the meetings and found the overall tone of the some of the planners as somewhat patronizing. As a year-round resident and member of the fishing community, I made clear that before any of the changes were to even be thought of, those that live and work in the area MUST be included in the discussions. 30 people in a room cannot and should not be the final decision makers for the future of our 3000+ year round resident town. Five days of consecutive meetings at night left out substantial portions of the year-round community, the families from Montauk School and EHHS, the working members of our community, restaurant and hotel industry, the tradesmen and the fishing community, and the senior citizens who bring a wealth of knowledge of Montauk's past to the table.
Personally, the traffic component I felt was highly inadequate, instead of making it an ideas format, the plan as envisioned by the group was shown, and then when other viewpoints were offered, they were argued by the planners, who frankly their job should be to take down input, not force their vision upon us.
They should be made to come back to Montauk in October for a series of meetings at different times of day and specialized meetings for the Senior Cititzens center, the AARP meeting, the MFD- all members, not just the chiefs,the PTA. " Sep 22, 16 11:46 AM

and the members of the charter, headboat and recreational community down at the Harbor. Without appropriate buy-in from all sectors of our community, forcing an agenda benefits no one." Sep 22, 16 11:48 AM