since 2009

a sorry sight for fishermen


[do yourself a favor and turn the sound off. for real.]

this video has been making the rounds on the surf fishing boards today. pods of hundreds, if not thousands of dead striped bass are showing up by the Oregon Inlet on Cape Hatteras off the coast of the Outer Banks in North Carolina. This is what happens with trawlers (but hardly the only negative effect, however) with what’s called by-catch, in which boats toss the smaller fish to keep under the state regulated 50 tags, meaning they’re technically in compliance with the law since it doesn’t take into account the hundreds (or thousands) of dead fish the boats are tossing; just the fish they keep. Fish are tossed out dead or dying to end up like this. Trawlers are wiping out schools of fish, not just bass, but menhaden and herring and other fish that are vital to the fishery’s ecosystem. NC boat captains are reporting MILES of dead bass like this within three miles of the coast. From an article by the Charlotte Fish and Wildlife Policy Examiner:
Captain Kelly said that the day before the video was shot he and the members of his charter followed one trawler for five miles leaving a long wake of dead stripers.

“It’s like they have an endless quota,” he said. “Under the actual numbers are so many dead fish. It’s a frightful waste.”

The striper trawling season is not set to close until this Saturday, January 20. The fishery can be closed earlier if a certain quota is reached, but the quota does not count the thousands of dead discards.

There are lots of problems with this system, from the tag limit for trawlers to enforcement of the law, which really is what lead to sights such as this one. It’s awful to see and the coast guard is basically powerless to do anything about it, aside from possibly fining the boats for polluting, because this kind of culling the ocean is legal, and so is the dumping. The whole system needs a closer look and complete overhaul. Like Corey Arnold was quoted in a previous post, “Those fish, the bycatch, are not allowed to be retained and therefore go back over the side, usually dead. This is one of the many problems that the industry faces today. Fisherman tend to get the blame for overfishing worldwide, but it more often the problem lies in a lack of management creativity.” This is something anglers everywhere need to be involved in and be aware is happening, not just off the coast of North Carolina but all over the ocean.

I know most of us don’t consider ourselves activists, but one of the things we’re trying to promote with the BKUAA is responsibility, and for the most part people involved in the derby and fishermen we’ve met through it fishing the NYC waters practice a good sense of responsibility to the fishery. There’s some who are keeping shorts and they know who they are, and if they don’t then it’s up to people like us to let them know it’s not okay. You don’t need to get into a confrontation; you can call the NYC Parks Department or the DEC. But watching the above video is disheartening in a different sense when I think about all the bass we released this past fall that may have met a fate like this, just to get tossed overboard dead in spawning waters. It requires a bigger commitment as fishermen to help put an end to this, but it can be as simple as sending an email to the people in charge.

Director’s Office
Louis Daniel – Director
Dee Lupton – Deputy Director
Catherine Blum – Contact
Morehead City Office – (252) 808-8013 or 1-800-682-2632
Via E-mail: Catherine.Blum@ncdenr.gov

Fisheries Management
David Taylor
Morehead City Office – (252) 808-8074 or 1-800-682-2632
Via E-mail: David.L.Taylor@ncdenr.gov

Lead Bioligist: Striped Bass, Central/Southern
Katy West
Washington
(252) 946-6481
Katy.West@ncdenr.gov

This week I’ll try to get up a form letter we can copy, paste, and sign and send to these characters.
—mkl

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3 responses

  1. Ian

    horrible.

    January 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm

  2. Pingback: Trawler Season Open! or, In Which NC Has Learned Nothing « Brooklyn Urban Anglers Association

  3. Pingback: Trawler Season Open! In Which NC Has Learned Nothing « Brooklyn Urban Anglers Association

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