Are You Actually Investing in the Future of Recreational Fishing?

PaulE

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Mar 10, 2021
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First-time poster on this site. I've been reading along for a couple of months now, and although I see a lot of discussion on these boards about management issues, I don't see it translated into actual productive activity in the process.

Roccus posted about the Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment early on... Public hearings finished up last week, didn't hear a whole lot from individual recreational fishermen, but written public comment is open until the 23rd of this month. Learn more here and submit your thoughts.

The Summer Flounder Management Strategy Initiative is looking to make changes in the way the recreational summer flounder fishery is managed, especially in reducing discards, and turning dead discards into landings. From the input at three earlier workshops, a working group of recreational fishermen will be put together to refine the process as it moves forward. The preliminary workshops were dominated by NJ fishermen, who represented over 80% of participants. Kudos to whomever in NJ got the word out to their fishermen, they will be guiding this process.

The Recreational Reform Initiative is a comprehensive process intended to "fix" the issues with recreational fisheries management- Accounting the uncertainty of MRIP (recreational harvest estimate) better, moving dates around to allow states more time to develop regs, and developing guidelines to better stabilize regulations from year to year. Also, concepts for the separation of the for-hire and private sectors will be developed. This train is just leaving the station, but it is going to pick up speed quickly, and will pass you by if you don't get on it early.

The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Commercial/Recreational Allocation Amendment is well in progress and is scheduled to go to final action in December. During the public hearings, commercial fishermen overwhelmingly dominated the comments, which is not good for the recreational sector. It is mentioned in other threads here about how recreational and commercial fishermen blame each other for what's wrong with the stock status of many species, but it seems that the commercial view is dominating the comments in the management inputs.

Finally, for those of you that really think you have a good handle on what is gong on, and ideas on how to fix things, applications are being solicited for seats on the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Councils various Advisory Panels. They will be accepting applications until April 23rd.
 
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BoatGuy

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Feb 8, 2019
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You are right that more recreational fisherman attending meeting on fishing related issues may make a difference, especially early on in the discussions. I went to a meeting at Stony Brook college with Crabby (Joe), Hunt n' Fish (Chris) and Captain Paul. While I was there to observe as a recreational fisherman, most of the attending were professionals (party boat, charter boat and store owners) there to protect their interests.

After the meeting I mentioned to Captain Paul that there was not many recreational fishermen there. His reply was “those who do not have a financial interest in it, don't make the effort.”

I met the above gentlemen at Chili’s before the meeting and I was much more comfortable going with them. Maybe if members on this board have interest and we went as a group…..there might be more participation.
 

BennyV

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Dec 21, 2018
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First-time poster on this site. I've been reading along for a couple of months now, and although I see a lot of discussion on these boards about management issues, I don't see it translated into actual productive activity in the process.

Roccus posted about the Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment early on... Public hearings finished up last week, didn't hear a whole lot from individual recreational fishermen, but written public comment is open until the 23rd of this month. Learn more here and submit your thoughts.

The Summer Flounder Management Strategy Initiative is looking to make changes in the way the recreational summer flounder fishery is managed, especially in reducing discards, and turning dead discards into landings. From the input at three earlier workshops, a working group of recreational fishermen will be put together to refine the process as it moves forward. The preliminary workshops were dominated by NJ fishermen, who represented over 80% of participants. Kudos to whomever in NJ got the word out to their fishermen, they will be guiding this process.

The Recreational Reform Initiative is a comprehensive process intended to "fix" the issues with recreational fisheries management- Accounting the uncertainty of MRIP (recreational harvest estimate) better, moving dates around to allow states more time to develop regs, and developing guidelines to better stabilize regulations from year to year. Also, concepts for the separation of the for-hire and private sectors will be developed. This train is just leaving the station, but it is going to pick up speed quickly, and will pass you by if you don't get on it early.

The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Commercial/Recreational Allocation Amendment is well in progress and is scheduled to go to final action in December. During the public hearings, commercial fishermen overwhelmingly dominated the comments, which is not good for the recreational sector. It is mentioned in other threads here about how recreational and commercial fishermen blame each other for what's wrong with the stock status of many species, but it seems that the commercial view is dominating the comments in the management inputs.

Finally, for those of you that really think you have a good handle on what is gong on, and ideas on how to fix things, applications are being solicited for seats on the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Councils various Advisory Panels. They will be accepting applications until April 23rd.
I applied. Let’s see what happens. Been working on party boats on the LIS for 22+ years.
 
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PaulE

New Angler
Mar 10, 2021
5
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3
You are right that more recreational fisherman attending meeting on fishing related issues may make a difference, especially early on in the discussions. I went to a meeting at Stony Brook college with Crabby (Joe), Hunt n' Fish (Chris) and Captain Paul. While I was there to observe as a recreational fisherman, most of the attending were professionals (party boat, charter boat and store owners) there to protect their interests.

After the meeting I mentioned to Captain Paul that there was not many recreational fishermen there. His reply was “those who do not have a financial interest in it, don't make the effort.”

I met the above gentlemen at Chili’s before the meeting and I was much more comfortable going with them. Maybe if members on this board have interest and we went as a group…..there might be more participation.
Good points... This past COVID year, everything has been online- no traveling, no awkwardness (outwardly displayed anyway), and the opportunity to raise your hand, recite a short written comment, or even simply reiterate something another person already said. Hopefully, alongside in-person hearings and meetings moving forward (as they come back), there will be one or two virtual meeting to simplify general participation. We have found that virtual meetings leave an awful lot to be desired, but there are one or two advantages to them.

Also, do not discount the value of a thoughtfully, respectfully written letter (email) submitted during the public comment period. EVERY letter submitted during the prescribed time period is included in the breifing document distributed to councilors and commissioners, and becomes a part of the public record. If you look at this section for the Comm/Rec Allocation Amendment, you will find sixteen pages describing the public hearings and the comments made, as well as about two hundred emails and mailed letters on the topic. So, although the comments from public hearings are quantified in summaries, individual written comments are very well represented as well. And a lot of pages of petition-style comment... Not as effective but still presented. By scanning through this link, you hopefully can see how managers will give better attention to comments that have facts, personal choices, and calm thoughts over emotional, angry outbursts.
 
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BoatGuy

Angler
Feb 8, 2019
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Sound Beach
Good points... This past COVID year, everything has been online- no traveling, no awkwardness (outwardly displayed anyway), and the opportunity to raise your hand, recite a short written comment, or even simply reiterate something another person already said. Hopefully, alongside in-person hearings and meetings moving forward (as they come back), there will be one or two virtual meeting to simplify general participation. We have found that virtual meetings leave an awful lot to be desired, but there are one or two advantages to them.

Also, do not discount the value of a thoughtfully, respectfully written letter (email) submitted during the public comment period. EVERY letter submitted during the prescribed time period is included in the breifing document distributed to councilors and commissioners, and becomes a part of the public record. If you look at this section for the Comm/Rec Allocation Amendment, you will find sixteen pages describing the public hearings and the comments made, as well as about two hundred emails and mailed letters on the topic. So, although the comments from public hearings are quantified in summaries, individual written comments are very well represented as well. And a lot of pages of petition-style comment... Not as effective but still presented. By scanning through this link, you hopefully can see how managers will give better attention to comments that have facts, personal choices, and calm thoughts over emotional, angry outbursts.
This seems thread seems to have stalled and I was hoping to hear what thoughts others had.

I will aske PaulE what recommendations he thinks will help. I looked at the Advisory Panel link. I am not sure if someone like myself would be valued added.

Reading through this: link: https://static1.squarespace.com/sta...n+Am+PUBLIC+Comment+Summary_FINAL_Mar2021.pdf

I read the NY section, not all 188 pages. I found the comments interesting. The experience of some is impressive.

What I can personally do is become more knowledgeable. To that end I have set up meeting with people I know to be more knowledgeable, ask questions and listen to the answer. I have found with all of them that an open discussion with an open mind is appreciated.

I will also research organizations that may be worthy of support like the Recreational Fishing Alliance or the International Game Fish Association. I know very little about them. Comments on those are welcome.
 
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george

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We also have the New York Sportfishing Federation, which is respected in the Governor's office. They do need help from local anglers to get input on what we would like to see.
 
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PaulE

New Angler
Mar 10, 2021
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3
This seems thread seems to have stalled and I was hoping to hear what thoughts others had.

I will aske PaulE what recommendations he thinks will help. I looked at the Advisory Panel link. I am not sure if someone like myself would be valued added.

Reading through this: link: https://static1.squarespace.com/sta...n+Am+PUBLIC+Comment+Summary_FINAL_Mar2021.pdf

I read the NY section, not all 188 pages. I found the comments interesting. The experience of some is impressive.

What I can personally do is become more knowledgeable. To that end I have set up meeting with people I know to be more knowledgeable, ask questions and listen to the answer. I have found with all of them that an open discussion with an open mind is appreciated.

I will also research organizations that may be worthy of support like the Recreational Fishing Alliance or the International Game Fish Association. I know very little about them. Comments on those are welcome.
So, the lack of response is the more likely of the two results I expected from this thread. The other would be a string of negative comments about the management process. It is far easier to say that the process doesn't work, rather than engage in a conversation of facts and observations. I notice the popularity of other threads that are mostly based on the premise that management is inept, or some other sector is responsible for the lack of success and fulfillment that each individual or group is experiencing.

I didn't post to change anyone's beliefs, I posted to encourage those that aren't mired in negativity to explore the potential that exists for them to participate in the process, or at the very least get a basic understanding of how it works, what matters, and what doesn't.

There are a few organizations that are worthwhile to support, they all do some good work, and many do some work that isn't very productive and supportive of the process. However, aside from giving them your signature and some of your money, understand that your comments, whether in the form of speaking at a hearing, writing an email or a letter, or even contacting a councilor or commissioner, does have some level of weight in the process. Of course this depends on many other factors, but I have seen several state and federal level decisions made on the basis of overwhelming public comment. Understand that allowing an advocacy group make comments for you is okay, especially when they are in alignment with ho=w you think, most frequently when staff provides an overview of public comment made at hearings and through correspondence, they count individual comments. That means that a group representing 100 or 1,500 anglers is one comment, and ten people from that group making similar comments is ten comments. Also, when managers read their briefing books, they get a transcript containing every comment made at hearings and a copy of every email or mailed letter submitted during the comment period. And they read each one , at least to get a sense of how that commenter feels and what they want.

Right now is a very volatile time in fisheries management. For those that feel the bureaucratic process cannot move effectively to make significant change, that is exactly what is happening. In 2018, MRIP (the method of estimating recreational catch) revised their time series of catch and harvest estimates based on adjustments for a revised angler intercept methodology and a new effort estimation methodology. This resulted in much higher recreational catch estimates compared to previous estimates, affecting the entire time series of data going back to 1981. These revisions have serious implications not only on the current way fisheries are managed, but the retrospective adjustment calls into question the original allocations between commercial and recreational fisheries. That means that the council and commission are in the process of seriously looking at potentially changing the distributions set based on forty year old data, possibly significantly. This can affect blues, fluke, scup, and sea bass either by resulting in wildly stricter recreational regs (if sea bass remains unchanged), to more relaxed fluke regs (if the allocation is shifted significantly in favor of the recreational sector). Recreational fishermen who sit back and ignore this process should keep an eye out for a good set of golf clubs to buy, a set that will hold up to heavy use over the next ten or twenty summers.

Another potential action is the possible separation of the for-hire sector from private anglers. Whether this is a good or bad thing is up to you to decide. There are many ways that are being considered, and unless the whole thing is dismissed, a separation of sectors will change the experience for both sectors in some fashion.

The Recreational Reform Initiative is an attempt to make sweeping modifications to how the recreational fishery is managed. Different groups have very different ideas of what this will look like, and if recreational fishermen do not take a hold of this process, there is a good chance that this will turn out being a constraining force on several aspects of recreational management and fishing.

In summary, reading all of the comments isn't necessary. But understanding the issues, by reading overviews on council and commission information pages, and investing time in the process (say a quarter of the time you spend on here on researching, and a tenth formulating and submitting comments) gives you the satisfaction of taking an active interest in your own future, and prevents you from being completely surprised when fluke goes to two fish at 22", sea bas is a sixty day season with 16" fish and a two fish bag, and brings you to a place where you may have a decent understanding of the management process, so when you complain about current situations and actions, you actually have some factual evidence to cite when you offer opinions.
 
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Roccus7

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^^^^^^^^^^^^ Nicely said @PaulE As the years go on, I'm more convinced that your comment below becomes something we have to come with grips with:

Another potential action is the possible separation of the for-hire sector from private anglers. Whether this is a good or bad thing is up to you to decide. There are many ways that are being considered, and unless the whole thing is dismissed, a separation of sectors will change the experience for both sectors in some fashion.

There are many issues that may cause schisms in the "Recreational Sector", but IMO the inclusion of the For Hire sector is probably the biggest source of friction, since one group depends on a regulatory environment that enables them to make a living, as opposed to the other group which utilizes a fishery for enjoyment and maybe to have a reasonable chance to put some nice fresh fish on the table. I'm totally in favor of a 3 sector approach, Commercial, For Hire and Recreational, each with their own rules and quotas.

In case no one hasn't realized, regulators have already leaning towards this split up. The For Hire Sector has different rules than pure Recreational Fisherman for many species on the Federal Level, including two "Blue Fish", Bluefin Tuna and Bluefish. I believe that some states have different regs; I remember a few years ago that NY allowed For Hire boats to keep 2 stripers per fare per day, when recreational fisherman were only allowed 1. And remember that Pseudo-Science thing in the past where the Party Boats got a special NY permit to keep smaller or more fluke and sea bass? I can't remember what it was called, but what was that all about???

However, IF the For Hire sector was recognized as a separate group, the Recreational Sector would lose its most vocal and impactful voices. More fisherman would have to step up and voice their opinions, attend meetings, and get appointed for representation on the different commissions and committees. With influence comes responsibility, so we must be careful for what we wish for, or we can be hit by a truck without getting its license number...
 

BoatGuy

Angler
Feb 8, 2019
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Sound Beach
explore the potential that exists for them to participate in the process, or at the very least get a basic understanding of how it works, what matters, and what doesn't.
On this site, fisherman may be more knowledgeable than the average fisherman. I have walked on the docks where you run into fisherman. Some have no idea there is are fishing regulations. Some know and don't care.

Here is where others can offer some help. I am not sure where to start. If more knowledgeable fisherman here can help us get a basic understanding of the process to increase understanding, it believe it might help. Announce meeting we can attend or participate
There are a few organizations that are worthwhile to support, they all do some good work, and many do some work that isn't very productive and supportive of the process. However, aside from giving them your signature and some of your money, understand that your comments, whether in the form of speaking at a hearing, writing an email or a letter, or even contacting a councilor or commissioner, does have some level of weight in the process.

Agreed. I think it may help to list them here. Forum members may want to consider going to their website and pick one to support.

Recreational Fishing Alliance
New York Sportfishing Federation
International Game Fish Association

But as PaulE mentions, participation and your comments is even a stronger way to make your thoughts known.
 

PaulE

New Angler
Mar 10, 2021
5
4
3
^^^^^^^^^^^^ Nicely said @PaulE As the years go on, I'm more convinced that your comment below becomes something we have to come with grips with:

Another potential action is the possible separation of the for-hire sector from private anglers. Whether this is a good or bad thing is up to you to decide. There are many ways that are being considered, and unless the whole thing is dismissed, a separation of sectors will change the experience for both sectors in some fashion.

There are many issues that may cause schisms in the "Recreational Sector", but IMO the inclusion of the For Hire sector is probably the biggest source of friction, since one group depends on a regulatory environment that enables them to make a living, as opposed to the other group which utilizes a fishery for enjoyment and maybe to have a reasonable chance to put some nice fresh fish on the table. I'm totally in favor of a 3 sector approach, Commercial, For Hire and Recreational, each with their own rules and quotas.

In case no one hasn't realized, regulators have already leaning towards this split up. The For Hire Sector has different rules than pure Recreational Fisherman for many species on the Federal Level, including two "Blue Fish", Bluefin Tuna and Bluefish. I believe that some states have different regs; I remember a few years ago that NY allowed For Hire boats to keep 2 stripers per fare per day, when recreational fisherman were only allowed 1. And remember that Pseudo-Science thing in the past where the Party Boats got a special NY permit to keep smaller or more fluke and sea bass? I can't remember what it was called, but what was that all about???

However, IF the For Hire sector was recognized as a separate group, the Recreational Sector would lose its most vocal and impactful voices. More fisherman would have to step up and voice their opinions, attend meetings, and get appointed for representation on the different commissions and committees. With influence comes responsibility, so we must be careful for what we wish for, or we can be hit by a truck without getting its license number...
So, yes, there is the imminent potential of the private sector losing the collateral advocacy of the for-hire sector. But that isn't so significant- en=ven without concerted representation, the process will not completely forsake the private sector. However, what is more concerning for the private sector are the various other options for separation... Complete severance of the private and for-hire sectors is, of course, of concern for the reasons you cited. But think about the two sectors staying in the same allocation, but for-hire having different regs, as you mentioned... Now, in the end, in reality the for-hire sector is such a small percentage of the rec sector that giving them beneficial regs won't cause significant strain on the private sector, but it will create significant resentment.

In another view, giving the for-hire sector beneficial regs could cause a glut of new permits in that sector, with private anglers trying to take advantage of the better regs and no limited access. This would crash the for-hire sector's sub-allocation if they were completely separated, or crash the entire rec sector's allocation if they didn't separate.

By the way, many regulators aren't leaning towards this separation, but there is a significant movement in the rec sector for it to happen.

As for that truck, the license number, color, make, and model are readily available to everyone, and have been for months or longer. Just that most people don't look before they cross. All of those links have summaries, history, and future actions simply and well defined in them.
 

PaulE

New Angler
Mar 10, 2021
5
4
3
On this site, fisherman may be more knowledgeable than the average fisherman. I have walked on the docks where you run into fisherman. Some have no idea there is are fishing regulations. Some know and don't care.

Here is where others can offer some help. I am not sure where to start. If more knowledgeable fisherman here can help us get a basic understanding of the process to increase understanding, it believe it might help. Announce meeting we can attend or participate


Agreed. I think it may help to list them here. Forum members may want to consider going to their website and pick one to support.

Recreational Fishing Alliance
New York Sportfishing Federation
International Game Fish Association

But as PaulE mentions, participation and your comments is even a stronger way to make your thoughts known.
Boatguy, each of those links carries detailed info as to history, intent, and future actions in them. Google MAFMC or ASMFC and you can find links to calendars that have all sorts of meetings and comment deadlines, or current issues that you can scroll through to find out what is of interest to you.
 

george

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Paul,

Welcome to the site and thanks for your thought-provoking post!

I'm in the camp that management is inept and always will be as long as it's based on votes by appointed members with their own agenda. In addition, I'm am well aware that everything is based on data. And then that data is twisted and turned to fit the needs of each state. As you mentioned we're now suggesting that the last 30 years of data were wrong and we now use a new slicing of the pie so to speak. I know they work with the best they have, but some of it is obviously wrong yet it lands on the records. IE; I can't recall the exact year but there was a time when the State of New York showed 150-pounds of total landings on weakfish. It just so happened that year weak fishing was pretty good and the number of ridiculous. But their hands are tied and that number still stands today. That's where they fail. How about the year that the entire scup landings were based on 74 intercepts. 1/2 Million anglers and we're using 74 intercepts.

There are many cases like this. You do bring up some great points about what's happening in the background right now as we keep silent. This happened in the last bluefish bill that cost the recs the fishery because we agreed to transfer what we didn't catch to the comms.

The issues you mentioned are the most serious I have seen in years. And your assessment of the individual email/letter is spot on. Social Media has changed fisheries management. Managers can now see and hear exactly what the average angler feels is best. I think the days of the organized group speaking for a large group is not as effective as an angler taking the time to let our fisheries managers how we feel. And that's coming from the founding president of CCA-NY.

I do think it's too late to keep for-hire and recs on the same page as there are already separate regs on boats for hire on striped bass, scup, and bluefish. Recs showed no concern over this issue so every year we add one more.

As Paul mentioned, it is more important than ever to make your thought heard. Before it's too late.
 
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MakoMike

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Dec 30, 2018
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I don't get around here as much as I would like. But I'm an advisor to the MAFMC ad ASMFC for Fluke sea bass and scup, I'm an advisor to ASMFC for striped bass and I sit on the NEFMC's recreational advisory panel.
 

Roccus7

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Dec 22, 2018
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I do think it's too late to keep for-hire and recs on the same page as there are already separate regs on boats for hire on striped bass, scup, and bluefish. Recs showed no concern over this issue so every year we add one more.
I know that you're not concerned by separate Rec/For Hire regulations under the Recreational Catch umbrella, but I sincerely doubt your comment about "recs showed no concern" is true, as there are many folks that complain about this differentiation, including yours truly. Every year, when porgy and/or sea bass regs/seasons are different, there are complaints from multiple folks, and it isn't just me.

You're OK with different striper regs in Maryland between recs and the for-hire fleet?
 

BoatGuy

Angler
Feb 8, 2019
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I sincerely doubt your comment about "recs showed no concern" is true, as there are many folks that complain about this differentiation, including yours truly.

I have to agree on some of the points George makes. I think the point is complaining does little. Attending meetings on issues or sending letters to state your own comments for the public record is important.

I touched on this (see #2). I have not attended too many meetings on issues in person or virtually. My experience is recreational fisherman are a small percent. Your experience may be different.

If you look at the end of this document (https://static1.squarespace.com/sta...n+Am+PUBLIC+Comment+Summary_FINAL_Mar2021.pdf). There are interesting comments, observations and recommendations. These comments are a written record that can be referred to in the future.

MakoMike: You mentioned you are an advisor to the MAFMC and ASMFC for Fluke sea bass and scup. Plus an advisor to ASMFC for striped bass and you sit on the NEFMC's recreational advisory panel. How many recreational fishermen are active?

Maybe I am wrong. I will have to start becoming more active myself and see if more recreational fishermen are involved.
 

Roccus7

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Maine had a great Striped Bass stakeholder virtual meeting last week. I've attached the slides.
 

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MakoMike

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Dec 30, 2018
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MakoMike: You mentioned you are an advisor to the MAFMC and ASMFC for Fluke sea bass and scup. Plus an advisor to ASMFC for striped bass and you sit on the NEFMC's recreational advisory panel. How many recreational fishermen are active?
Not a lot. On the NEFMC RAP there are only about 4 of us who are NOT running a charter business. On the MAFMC and ASMFC advisory panels I would guesstimate that about 1/2 of the advisors are recreational fishermen with many of them also running a charter business.
 

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