I’d like to take this last opportunity to once more implore any anglers who haven’t already done so to fill out the online fisheries management surveys posted by the Mid Atlantic Fisheries Management Council on their website, www.mafmc.org/vision/.
The council has extended the survey period until March 1, so you have a little over a week to jump on it. It takes five minutes to fill out the general survey and if you want to fill out the species-specific surveys for the species you pursue, they each take another five minutes. Along with being helpful, the surveys are an interesting window into how these management agencies think, or are going to think in the future
These “vision” surveys, as the MAFMC is calling them, are going to guide the way the council sets and manages the fish species it is responsible for overseeing, setting quotas, making recommendations about apportionment between commercial and recreational, and tailoring seasons. Like any survey, your answers will be part of a large sample set, and the larger the sample set the more clear the picture the geeks who are analyzing will get of what is really important to fishermen. So regardless of what your priorities are when it comes to fishing—whether you think commercial fishermen are evil leeches or the most astute judges of fish populations, whether you see fish as a commodity put on this earth to be consumed by man for its pleasure and profit or living beings that must be protected from human gluttony; whether you think there are so many fluke that limits should be done away with altogether or think that continually upping the minimum size as the fish grow is reasonable—fill out these surveys; your answers will help.
Frankly, while surveys like this are not exactly revolutionary, the simple fact they are being employed in this way by the MAFMC and council’s recent efforts to involve users in the process of shaping their management approach is a refreshingly open-minded approach in that business to the issue of tailoring fisheries regulations to ease the sting. The MAFMC has shown that it clearly is trying to put down the baseball bat in exchange for the flyswatter when they need to tamp down the mortality of one species or another.
It’s an approach that, hopefully, will lead to new, actually innovative, methods of gauging how many fish are being caught, how many are being kept and the needs and priorities of anglers and commercial fishermen alike. It’s true that anglers and commercial crews do have the most direct view of how a fish species is doing, and incorporating their observations honestly and accurately into the scientific process of estimating a species’ stock size and mortality rates is the only way we’re ever going to end up with the sort of truly accurate data that is needed to have even a hope of long-term sustainability.
In line with this, it was good to see that federal managers have uncovered the stunning amount of illegal poaching of striped bass that has been going on for years, probably decades, around the Chesapeake Bay. All the honesty in the world by above-board anglers and commercials won’t do a damn bit of good if the crooks are running as rampant as they were down there.
Another week of gorgeous weather is upon us. The party and charter boats are stabbing out to the cod grounds almost every day it seems and while the fishing hasn’t exactly been wide-open it’s been more than good enough to be worth going.
Catch ‘em up. See you out there.