We Need To Groundtruth NMFS Data NOW - Pensacola Fishing Forum

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Old 08-24-2012, 01:54 AM   #1
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Default We Need To Groundtruth NMFS Data NOW

They say that we reached our red snapper quota faster ever since 2006 because the fish are twice as big.

What they conveniently "forget" to mention is that they also cut our DAILY bag limits by 1/2 (from 4 fish to 2 fish) since 2006.

So, even though the fish are double the weight now than in 2006, we can only bring home each day 1/2 of the former bag limit, so the size increase is a wash....it's a non-factor.

In 2006, we brought home, on average, 4 - 3.2 lb fish (12.8 lbs+_)
In 2011 we brought home, on average, 2 - 6.4 lb fish (12.8 lbs+_).

Yet, in 2006, we had 194 days to get this done to catch 4.2 million pounds.

In 2011, Crabtree and Co. claims that we caught the same poundage (actually more), but in only 48 days (with a reduction in access of over 75% AND a reduction in bag limits of 50%).

Remember, if the effort remained the same, it should have taken us the same 194 day season to catch that poundage, and I believe there is a valid argument that effort today is actually LESS than in 2006.

Remember that the CFH fleet has been shrinking, so we had less charter boats in 2011 than in 2006, so CFH effort is certainly less.

So, the only explanation left is that for every one (1) private recreational trip we took per season day in 2006, we took about four (4) trips per season day in 2011. Remember that it is illegal for a private rec to harvest multiple daily bag limits - it is a DAILY bag limit.

Anyone see 4x as many private rec boats on the water in 2011/2012 than in 2006?

We all need to DEMAND that the NMFS groundtruth their own data - using the generic saltwater fishing licenses, random phone calls, etc. are not providing data that is accurate enough to be using for offshore effort/landings data - in fact, this data is unverifiable and therefore easily manipulated to produce the desired results.

We need to DEMAND that they start requiring boat permits, similar to the HMS permit for all vessels fishing offshore, AND that they hail out every time they venture offshore. This would be across the board - private recs, cfh, and headboats. This could be done by calling in on a 1-800 number via cell phone, or with the iSnapper program via smart device - the time required to hail out would be less than a minute. A hail-in feature would also be required, giving catch data PRIOR to landing at the dock.

It is imperative that this be required (not voluntary) and and that violators are fined for non-compliance - that is the only way that this will work.

The data gleaned from this input should go into a database on a web server, accessible to all Americans. It would provide almost real-time data on the number of boats/anglers fishing offshore across the Gulf that could be queried in multiple ways...how many anglers fished in the ENTIRE Gulf of Mexico on June 22, 2013? How many were private rec, cfh, or headboat anglers? How many anglers fished out of Galveston, Texas in the month of July 2013? What type of information do you want, and how do you want it?

This type of data could be valuable in a variety of ways;
1) Monitor harvest real-time so we don't overfish
2) Allocation decisions relative to said harvest data
3) Regional management possibilities
4) Socio-economic data
5) Habitat enhancement needs based on effort demographics (refer Alabama reefs)

Unless we can groundtruth the number of boats fishing out of which ports on which days, we will continue to be victimized by the NMFS "creative accounting" designed to do one thing, and one thing only - reduce our fishing days, year after year. Unless this happens, it will not matter what "Plan" is put into place, we will continue to view the demise of our fishing access and our fishing heritage.

Capt. Thomas J. Hilton
713 530-2267
[email protected]
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Old 08-24-2012, 07:57 AM   #2
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Tom, always good info in your post, while i do agree that something needs/has to be done, the "hailing in/out', calling every time I go fishing not sure about those ideas, but willing to do what it takes to help out the NMFS so we get more time to fish.

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Old 08-24-2012, 08:17 AM   #3
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Tom, you are most correct. The NMFS is now pushing for VMS devices on any CFH boat that harvests red snapper. Why? Is it because they do not trust us? Maybe. I think it's because someone's brother-in-law owns a VMS device company. But that's all aside from the point that a Closed Circuit Video Camera installed at each pass would give a much better indication of who's fishing and when. I see many small boats attempt to leave on rough days, then 15 minutes of pounding later, they're coming back in. That camera would tell the tale on that.
Also, way back in when opening day came on April 15th, you could almost step from boat to boat. Not these days. Only on the Freighter and the Paradise Holes... the rest... 1 or 2 boats max.
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:36 AM   #4
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Lets look at this at a different angle. If the NMFS will not count red snapper on oil rigs and artificial reefs on their data collection, then why should i let them count the snapper i catch (on artificial reefs) count towards thier total? I have no problem reporting red snapper i catch if i am fishing THEIR natural reefs, but i have a problem letting them count MY fish on MY artificial reefs. What do ya'll think about that?!
Capt. Scott Byrd
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