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Old 02-02-2006, 04:27 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Torrance, CA.
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Post 1/31/06 PFMC meeting recap

As some of you read I was in attendance of the Jan 31, 2006 PFMC meeting to address the upcoming 07?08 regulations concerning nearshore rockfish. We had members from the sport boat and commercial industry in attendance. Along with members of NOAA, the DFG, CRFS and limited members of the public (5 total including me). The meeting started with a basic run down of the agenda for the evening and overview of what was in the info a packet we were given.
One of the items discussed was lingcod. The species has been declared rebuilt statewide but in southern Calif it?s still below the 40% threshold to be considered rebuilt in that management area. Now we discussed, do we want to try to expand the season or bag limit state wide and face a possible sanction to do over fishing in the southern zone or manage them in the southern zone aside from the state wide. Most of us felt that keeping them managed under the southern zone guidelines would be better for us as it will help avoid a in season closure or stiffer regulations in the future. We also asked for a slot limit to be looked into. The ranges went from 20??28? to 24?-36?. Capt. David Bacon and I made the input in this matter. Mr. Bacon said he?d like to have a lower limit then the current one for his customers because as we all know there?s a lot of 20? lings caught every year, but he doesn?t want to be harvesting pre-spawn age fish. After hearing his input I had to agree that the 20?-28? slot I proposed needed to but modified to a 24?-36? as suggested. I pointed out the fact that Alaska has used the same type of slot limit and have had a huge increase in the quantity of fish landed as well as quality. Another person suggested trophy tags for those who want to keep a fish over the slot limit. This was widely accepted by all of us. Trophy tags would allow you to keep a over limit fish for a price and the money would be put into more research. As far as the season goes it will probably remain closed dec-march for the spawning period and bag limits will probably remain the same as we want to avoid further closures in the southern zone.
Scorpionfish aka Sculpin was another species that have been deemed healthy and was removed from the nearshore rock fish mgmt plan. What this means is the Sculpin season should fall in line with the rockfish season now. This should go into effect as of march 1st. Along with the possibility that we can target them year round, if the target area during closure months for rockfish is not causing by-catch of rockfish and the annual harvest doesn?t exceed federal limits. We were talking about a 60? max depth as a possibility in areas deemed safe. This was based on the fact that when sand bass (for example) are the target fish Sculpin are also part of the catch but rarely are rockfish caught.
Most of the rock fish regulations will remain the same. With the exception of Bocaccio which they are finding has a healthier stock then previously assessed. What changes will be made are unclear as of yet. There are some no-take species and others are on the bubble for being considered depleted which means a health status of 25%-40%. That means those species might have some restrictions lifted. But there are a few northern species that are getting a second look. In Oregon and Washington they will be seeing some very strict regulations concerning Yelloweye rock fish because of the low assessment counts. This has no effect on most of Calif or our regulations as it will be viewed as a separate issue on the federal level.
If you are wondering how they deem what the yearly catch can be; here?s a quick view. This is all regulated by federal rules under the Magnuson-Stevens act of 1976. Researchers tally data from commercial logs, sport boat logs, private boaters, shore based anglers & CRFS. This tally it?s based against stock assessments and a yearly optimum yield is figured in a computer program that takes into account many variables. As the technology improves they will be using GPS numbers, water temp, moon phase, tidal movements, etc in the calculations. They?re starting to use ?hotspots? to try and avoid overfishing of species. Hotspots will be areas where reports of certain fish deemed critical are being caught more often then other areas. What this will do is allow the MPA?s and no-fish zones to be adjusted to fit the reality of the situation. What they need most is the data from the private boaters, i.e. if you get a cowcod, lingcod, yellowtail, tuna, etc and release or keep it let them know where it was caught, depth, GPS numbers, weight, length, girth, etc. For the more information they can get the better data they have to use for the future regulation changes and in-season updates which in turn can mean more time on the water for us, just like what?s going on with the changes in the Sculpin regulations to our benefit and the opening of the Cowcod conservation area to shallow water fishing. I will get the information for where to send your reports and post it later. If we all help out we can create a better fishery for everyone. This is very important when you understand that if no valid assessment is available for a certain species (rockfish mainly) then the federal rules state that only 50% of the previous 2 years optimum yield will be allowed in the future until a valid assessment is made. When it concerns species like tuna, bass, barracuda, white seabass, etc. it imposes smaller bag limits. This is what got us to the point we are at now with the MLPA, the MPA?s and stiff regulations. So don?t view them as the enemy but as possible allies. After spending the evening with them it really changed my views of the process and the people. If we work with them we can regain our fisheries for the future of our children.
I brought up the subject of license monies and funding for research. There are big changes being made in the transparency of where the money goes and it?s being mandated by the state legislature. Currently 85% (est.) of the state money goes into salaries/Administrative costs which leaves very little to fund research. Then add in the state/federal mandate that makes the state and DFG replenish trout stocks due to the environmental damage done by dams, pollution, lack of habitat, population boom into the outlying regions, etc. This is part of why we have to pay for a freshwater license whether you want it or not and was brought about by a lawsuit involving pro-trout groups and eco-types. Now the big problem is that SEA GRANT which is the federal funding the state gets to do the required federal mandated research is minimal compared to what the east coast fisheries get. Because we on the west coast are weak in using our voices, not pro-active in the issues, choose not to go to public meetings and fail to contact our state and federal representatives on these matters we are overlooked when it comes to the allocation of funds. So what we need to do is take the time to go to a meeting, write a letter to your local state and federal representatives, and get involved in a group like the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), United Anglers of Southern California (UASC) or some local fishing club that is working to change things. The RFA has been a big influence on the east coast for gaining federal funds for the local fisheries via their lobbyist efforts and the people they have connected in Washington DC and they are now trying to gain a foothold on the west coast to help us also.
As for the rest of what went on I?d be writing for weeks to give you all the info about the commercial vs. recreational fisheries, all the variables in how the total quotas are conceived, how they separate the federal waters from state waters when setting yearly quotas, how the state waters are divided, what fisheries are most important to what region and fishing group. I?ll give you a quick view of how it breaks down in the pacific region. This is the allocation of total tonnage per year allowed to harvest and how the fish caught in said areas relate to the economy in terms of mainly a commercially sold fish with no recreational value vs. fish that have a larger impact on recreational anglers and sport boats with less commercial value.
Nearshore areas; 80% recreational ? 20% commercial
Shelf areas; 50% recreational ? 50% commercial
Slope areas; mainly commercial

If you have any questions about this or need more info please feel free to contact me and I?ll do my best to help you out or get you a contact that can better answer your questions.
Stay informed on the fishing/political scene that's affecting you.

TEAM MOF ~ the fish hunters cometh
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Old 02-05-2006, 12:47 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Fort Bragg
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Great Report, Navy!

We had a similar meeting in Oakland regarding North-central regional issues. Our big concern was deeper water access.

You can read my report here:
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