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Foster and enhance sustainable, healthy, and diverse recreational/non-commercial fisheries and public access to them through management.

See below for background information and comments received on this draft goal concept.

Background Information

Many factors influence the quantity and quality of fishing opportunities, including management decisions, resource health, available science, and social and economic considerations. While recreational fishery management tools (e.g., bag limits and seasons) often attract the most attention, the underlying management principles and approaches are worthy of consideration for how they affect the quality of a fishery.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What would you like us to know about this topic?
  2. How should we incorporate these considerations into the policy principles?

Some ideas suggested to NOAA Fisheries include:

Comments on Draft Goal

September 2014 Comments 

  • Goal 1 is the target of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, to ensure the sustainability of fisheries. Doing this through management should clearly spell out the Fishery Management Council’s authority for providing management recommendations. Any policy that is developed based on this goal should ensure that the Council process is not usurped. The Council process is a transparent process that includes public participation and discussion with state/territorial fishery agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other relevant agencies.
    Submitted September 13
  • As chair of the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management’s working group and a member of the Commission, I am submitting the following comments on behalf of the Commission and its working group regarding input for the National Saltwater Recreational Fishing Policy solicited by NOAA from the recreational fishing community. These comments are based on discussions conducted during the Commission workshops and working group meetings throughout 2013. Personally, I would like to thank NOAA staff for undertaking the effort to engage the public by conducting a series of meetings, webinars and seminars over the last four months. Many of the ideas discussed at these meetings reflect the sentiments and proposals that were suggested throughout the Commission’s workshops and have been made by the organizations supporting the Commission’s work. I and other Commissioners and working group members look forward to continuing to work with NOAA staff and the recreational fishing community at large as drafts of the policy and the final policy are developed.

    The Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fishing Management (Morris-Deal Commission) commends NOAA on its effort to engage the public and gather comments from anglers, charter captains and guides and the fishing and boating industry across our nation to help guide the formation of the National Saltwater Recreational Fishing Policy. The Commission and its supporting working group are also appreciative that NOAA personnel have recognized and credited the Commission and its recommendations made in the report “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries” as a primary driving force behind the effort to create this policy. As the Commission notes in its report, the creation of this policy is of vital importance because it will help the National Marine Fisheries Service continue to make progress towards elevating the importance of recreational fishing and recognizing the cultural and economic significance of recreational fishing to coastal communities and across America. Especially now, as lawmakers continue to advance their work and ramp up public engagement on a reauthorization of the Magnuson –Stevens Act, it is important that NOAA continue to incorporate saltwater angling into its policies and considerations of how to best manage our nation’s marine resources for the benefit of all Americans.

    The Commission’s comments are based on how the recommendations made in its Marine Vision report relate to the four policy draft goals listed in NOAA’s discussion guide distributed at the public engagement/town hall meetings.  It’s worth noting that many of the Commission’s comments regarding what a national recreational fishing policy should include have already been detailed in the draft goals and ideas suggested to NOAA listed in the discussion draft. Many of these ideas were discussed at length during the Commission workshops and have been presented by the various recreational fishing and conservation groups that organized the Commission’s work. It is the hope of the Commission that these ideas serve as the foundation of the policy as it continues to be developed.

    DRAFT GOAL #1: Foster and enhance sustainable, healthy and diverse recreational/non-commercial fisheries and public access to them:

    1a: Management
    Access to healthy and diverse stocks of fish is the most important element of recreational fishing. Recreational anglers want the opportunity to consistently access abundant fish stocks, the chance to catch a potential trophy fish, the opportunity to catch multiple species and the chance to keep a few to eat as well. Current management practices that try to manage harvest rates to maximum sustainable yield, annually shift seasons, close seasons abruptly and focus too intently on specific species rather than the ecosystem as a whole restrict that consistent access and can threaten the abundance needed for healthy recreational fisheries. Species that are on a strong path to recovery or have recovered continue to have access restricted especially due to the relative ease at which harvest quotas are estimated to be reached by anglers. Further, federal managers and regional management councils struggling to help accommodate increasingly frustrated segments of the recreational sector are turning to measures like sector separation and exempted fishing permits that benefit small groups of anglers but can have a detrimental effect on the access to the fish and the economy for the recreational fishery as a whole.

    The Commission recommended adopting the following: A revised approach to recreational fishing management; Allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation; and Codifying a process for cooperative management. As recommended by the Commission, adopting a revised approach to saltwater fisheries management that does not try to force angling effort and harvest into a system designed for commercial fishing would alleviate many of the problems with inconsistent seasons and attempts by segments of the recreational sector to separate themselves from the group as a whole. Also, allocating marine fisheries to the greatest benefit of the nation could potentially allow anglers more consistent access as the allocations begin to reflect the current state of fisheries as a whole rather than the recreational/commercial harvest from past decades. NOAA should be looking to coordinate efforts with state management agencies to better reflect the differences in regional and cultural approaches to recreational fishing. This approach would create more angler confidence in federal fisheries management and establish more consistency in access to the resource.

    1.b. Resource Conservation and Enhancement
    The suggestions already listed in the discussion guide, again, provide an excellent starting point to integrate better science, angler participation, artificial reefs and other habitats and stock enhancement into the recreational fishing policy. The recreational fishing community has spearheaded fisheries conservation efforts over the last century by investing in habitat restoration and creation and working with state agencies on suitable harvest levels to ensure sustainability. Anglers are a tremendous source of data and can be a valuable resource in helping determine fish stock size, health and distribution. The Commission urges NOAA to integrate methods of utilizing the information gathered by anglers in crafting management policies. Innovative conservation efforts such as barotrauma reduction devices and programs developed by the states and conservation groups that provide more accurate and timely data on fisheries effort and harvest should be considered by NOAA for use in developing better management practices.

    In many regions, artificial structures such as reefs, wrecks and oil and gas platforms have helped expand fish habitat and are heavily used by anglers. By not including those structures in fish population surveys, NOAA loses credibility with the angling community. Including stock analysis on artificial structures, especially when the fish harvested off those structures are counted as part of annual harvest quotas, is recommended in order to get a better picture of true stock sizes and gain credibility with anglers. NOAA should also work with other federal agencies, especially BOEMRE, to develop common policies mindful of fisheries habitat when it comes to removal of structures that have expanded habitat and access to the fish.

    The recreational fishing community, in general, is supportive of stock enhancement efforts as a way to alleviate pressure on wild stocks of fish by both commercial and recreational harvesters and to rebuild stocks that are suffering from lack of recruitment rather than lack of forage or proper habitat. The Commission recognizes that NOAA is already working to lessen its institutional discredit of stock enhancement. Further integrating stock enhancement as a strategy for long-term sustainability of marine resources is recommended.
    Submitted September 12
  • This goal is quite similar to the following except that it suggests a greater role for “management” as opposed to “conservation and enhancement."

    While it can be the case the “conservation and enhancement” are distinct from “management,” there is no reason that they should be distinct. Sound management should include conservation and enhancement. However, to the extent “conservation and enhancement” are handled outside of the fisheries management process (e.g. dam removal or pollution controls) all three are essential. “Sustainable, healthy and diverse recreational fisheries” require the effective use of all three strategies management, conservation and enhancement.

    Whether it is reducing release mortality, enhancing habitat, setting and enforcing conservative catch limits, or managing for abundance, recreational fisheries are served best by active participation and engagement by federal and state agencies. Under funded and laze faire agencies/managers lead to ultimately to limited fishing opportunities.
    Submitted September 12
  • Disproportionate Amount of council time spent on Commercial Fishing

    As I am involved in both MAFMC and SAFMC fisheries, I have attended several meetings and I am extremely discouraged by the lack of mention of recreational fishing in the fisheries process. The councils spent the vast majority of their time, and I think 80% is a conservative effort, discussing commercial fishing interests.

    This is an unfortunate misallocation of resources as our recreational fisheries are of such great economic importance. There seems to be little considerations of the needs of recreational fishermen.

    Abundance Based Management and Conservation Quotas

    With so little council time spent on recreational fishing topics and objectives

    We have been asked and trained through outreach to use circle hooks and we have been asked to use conservation in our harvests. Yet, in cases like bluefish, Spanish mackerel and gag grouper – the councils continually reallocate the uncaught recreational quota to the commercial sector. Why are we being penalized for not harvesting all that we can potentially harvest?

    Recreational fishermen value opportunity and abundance and continuing to allocate uncaught recreational quota to the commercial sector defies this general logic. Not only do such decision counter the basic wants of recreational fishermen (a good opportunity to expect to catch something!) but in many cases we are reallocating fish that are, economically, worth so much more when they are caught recreationally.

    We also need to consider the unintended bonuses of abundance-based management. I was use my own specific example. With the strict rebuilding guidelines of Magnuson-Stevens, gave us stricter limits on many south Atlantic grouper snapper species. While this was met with much controversy, many of us started catching fish (gag grouper, black seabass in particular) where we had not ever seen them before – in much shallower water in consistent numbers. Not only was a small boat operator like myself able to experience better quality fishing much closer to shore but I can now fish in shallow water where barotrama is of much less a concern. These are clear benefits.

    In the days of larger limits and year-round seasons grouper and black seabass required long boat rides in bigger vessels or the rare perfect weather day. In those recent years – those fish were really only accessible to bigger boats (more disposable income) and those who are the most knowledgeable and skilled (charter boats). Larger limits and long seasons may sound great for those who have such knowledge and monetary resources, but we need to ask if this is really want recreational fishermen want.

    It is paramount that abundance-based management be examined instead of pursuing the wants of a vocal few – large bag limits that are essentially unobtainable for the vast majority of recreational fishermen.
    Submitted September 12
  • Underwater lighting will become a big issue. Please assure there is away to create protective practices with this topic. Sonar is also a big issue and will become more important as the effects of underwater noise are studied. There needs to be a way to advise boaters when and how to use sonar. Also the frequencies used should be regulated.
    Submitted September 12
  • We should start out with the understanding that the United States' current federal fisheries management system is the most successful and most comprehensive such system in the world, and approach this question with the attitude of "First, do no harm."

    Having said that, there is a temptation, encouraged by various large angling industry trade groups and "anglers rights" organizations, to suggest that economic interests should trump conservation interests, and that rebuilding times should be made more "flexible," responsibility for managing certain recreationally important stocks should be handed over to the states (which are not bound by either the requirement that overfishing be ended or that overfished stocks must be rebuilt), that hard quotas should not be used, etc. Such suggestions must be rejected if depleted stocks are to be rebuilt and healthy stocks maintained (with the sole exception that, in the case of fully-recovered, data-rich stocks which are assessed, at least on a "turn-crank" basis, each year, a "soft" F-based target may replace a hard poundge quota if, and only if, a mechanism is in place to impose more restrictive regulations following any year in which such F target is exceeded.

    In all instances, the health of the fish stock must take precedence over the health of the fishing industry, for without abundant fish stocks, the fishing industry will inevitably suffer in the long run.

    The recreational fishing community should not be balkanized; special quotas for the for-hire industry place undue burdens on the private-boat angler, unless such quotas are allowed to "float" and are adjusted annually based on the number of trips made by each sector. Locking a sector in quotas reflecting past angling activity can warp the future landings structure and not allow it to develop naturally, in accord with the preferences and performance of the anglers themselves.

    Abundance and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the size of the fish available is generally more important to anglers than the number of fish that they can take home. Thus, to best manage a recreational fishery, target biomass should be set significantly above Bmsy, and target fishing mortality should be set significantly below Fmsy, in order to allow anglers to encounter more and larger fish. Such a management approach is also better for the fish stock involved, as it allows the stock to develop a better age and size structure, with more adult year classes represented in the population.
    Submitted September 12
  • For species sought by commercial and recreational fisheries, recreational access and harvest should take priority. Allowing 14" commercial flounder while restricting recreational harvest to larger fish is unreasonable. The model should be to set reasonable size, season and possession limits for recreational species and LEAVE THEM SET unless there is a catastrophic decline in the species. Each year, set commercial harvest limits based upon the biomass available after the previous year's recreational harvest is tallied. After all, commercial fisheries have almost all the hake, tilefish, pollock, oysters, clams, scallops, many species of crab and many other species. (For finfish alone, commercial harvest of recreationally important species is 5 BILLION pounds compared to a mere 200 million pound for the recreational section. How does that meet the Sustainable Fishery Act mandates?) Give the recreational community the same advantage on those species we seek. I'd go so far to say that commercial limits on recreationally important species should be the same as recreational limits. Why should a person get more because he sells them?
    Submitted September 11
  • This is concept is piece mealed. It does not look at the WHOLE impact of ALL types of fishing. My other comment applies the same here.
    Submitted September 11
  • It is generally accepted that the guiding principle in fishery conservation is the concept of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) e.g. a target representing a specific amount of catch of a given species that will maintain biomass at specific reference levels. It is the job of science to periodically study and analyze fish population specifically with a view toward achieving, while incorporating the most up to date scientific research, a reasonable measurement of fish biomass, to recommend goals and propose total allowable catch levels taking into account the objective of MSY. It is the job of fishery managers to adhere closely to this scientific advice.

    To aid the scientists in their task, it is the responsibility of the fishery managers to establish and maintain fishery-dependent and fishery-independent indices of abundance and to regularly collect and provide this data to the scientists.

    Most Federal fisheries are managed on an annualized quota allocation system. Under the quota system, it is the responsibility of the participants, the user groups, to report catch accurately and with alacrity. It is the responsibility of the fishery managers to ensure that each user group is fully aware of existing regulations (outreach). It is the responsibility of fishery enforcement to ensure that regulations are adhered to.

    Therefore, if conservation is to be achieved, each user group in a given fishery must meet identical standards as regards reporting of catch and adhering to regulations regarding catch retention, etc.

    I am a commercial fisherman. I fish in a “multi-species” format, exclusively in Federal waters. Often, I fish in the same waters and at the same time as recreational fishermen and some of these fishermen are my friends. I target tropical tunas (Bigeye, Yellowfin and Albacore), Swordfish, Mahi and Golden Tilefish, using handgear. The fishing gear that I use is identical to the fishing gear used by recreational fisherman who participate in these fisheries.

    It is my observation that there is a problem with reporting and with adherence to daily/trip retention limits among the participants in the recreational user groups in these fisheries. This is curious because many of these selfsame individuals will willingly and assiduously adhere to specified bag limits at other times of year when they are hunting for terra-based species (deer, elk, duck, etc). I think it may be important for NMFS to identify possible reasons for this disparity in approach by the recreational component in marine and terra-based hunting activities. I suspect that there may be a higher tolerance level as regards compliance by NMFS as compared with that which is maintained by government agencies responsible for managing hunting of terra-based species.

    Therefore, I would advocate for NMFS to consider taking steps that will significantly raise the level of compliance among recreational fishermen who target species in Federal waters. This is critical to long-term conservation goals. My sense is that an outreach program, intended to educate recreational fishermen regarding fishery regulations, would be of importance.

    By illustration, the Highly Migratory Species Management Division of NOAA has recently succeeded in creating a “shark placard” (printed on waterproof paper) that contains nearly all the critically important regulations relating to several shark species, including key data enabling correct species identification, all on one sheet of paper. It is an excellent tool and very easy to understand. However, they have fallen drastically short in getting this placard into the hands of the recreational fishermen who target shark.

    One of the mechanisms used by fishery management is to make regulations available for printout at the time of online ordering of a permit. I assume that the assumption is that if the regulations are available for printout, the fishermen will avail themselves of the opportunity and print and read a copy. In my view, we should consider these regulations as we would, generic “fine print”. Most of us, when faced with a lot of “fine print” and asked to acknowledge that we have read and accept this “fine print”, will simply click or sign without bothering to read the “fine print”. Fishermen are no different.

    There are some fisheries in which nearly all the participants are aware of daily bag limits, size limits, etc., and others in which most fishermen are unaware of these requirements. So, we are not looking for a “one shoe fits all” solution. By illustration, in my view, recreational fishermen who target Striped Bass tend to know the key regulations relating to this species but most recreational fishermen who target Bluefin, Yellowfin, Bigeye and Albacore, do not. Clearly, the challenge regarding compliance is far greater in tunas fisheries in this illustration. Compliance with reporting requirements is so lax in these fisheries, NOAA is compelled to undertake to call a random selection of 10% of the recreational permit holders each year to obtain catch information that will be used as a proxy for catch for the entire fishery. I needn’t remind whoever is reading this that, when asked how many fish were caught in a given season, most recreational fishermen will reflexively underestimate.

    If NMFS intends to inform, to raise the level of awareness of recreational fishery regulations through issuance of printed guidelines, they should consider, 1/ that the document should be dramatically reduced to the most basic information, requiring very little reading, and, 2/ should undertake an outreach program to disseminate this information through typical sites that are a locus of recreational fishing activity (bait and tackle shops, marinas, etc.).

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.
    Submitted September 10
  • Industrial mid-water trawl fleet is taking a toll on many species on the Atlantic Coast. The massive nets of these vessels kill millions of river herring and, increasingly, the juveniles of some commercially important ground fish such as haddock. The recreation fishing the last three years in the Essex River has been terrible – there are no bait fish left to attract predator fish. The lack of bait-fish in the rivers coincides with the increase in the mid-water trawlers decimating the herring population. Please stop the mid-water trawlers now!!
    Submitted September 10
  • Improve data collection by more communication with fishers. Provide an input method for accounting of population health of popular species.
    Submitted September 10
  • The National Professional Anglers Association supports this goal, but the management for the recreational fishery must be combined with the management of the commercial fishery to be effective. Public access to the waters goes hand in hand with good management practices, and is a critical component to a viable future for recreational angling.
    Submitted September 10
  • Regarding Striped Bass management, I would recommend the following:

    1. That recreation limits be as follow:
    - Daily limit- 1 fish per person
    - Size - slot limit of 1 fish between 26-36 inches

    2. Commercial season- July 1 –August 31- closed earlier if quota is reached
    - Quota: 1 million pounds
    - Size limit- slot limit of between 34-44 inches
    - Mondays and Thursdays only
    - 15-fish daily limit to fishermen with commercial lobster or boat permit with striped bass endorsement
    - Eliminate- 2-fish daily limit striped bass endorsement.
    - Continue Striped Bass Tagging Program introduced for primary buyers. All primary buyers of striped bass must affix a valid, Massachusetts-issued ID Tag to each striped bass at the place of primary purchase and prior to transit. The tags must also accompany the fillets while in possession for re-sale and remain on premises of retail seafood dealers and other seafood businesses until all fillets are sold.

    3. Mandatory stiffer penalties for fishermen selling fish caught in out of state waters and buyers who purchase fish that do not meet the commercial criteria. More consistent monitoring by EPO’s of most active commercial areas e.g.- North Shore, Provincetown, Chatham,  Monomoy rips, Cape Cod Bay between Canal, and Barnstable etc. and points of purchase.

    4. Work with all states that stripers migrate to (Florida to Maine) and create a comprehensive SINGLE management plan to oversee the future of this fish.
    Submitted September 10
  • It is my feeling that if I am fishing recreational and I have regulations that stop me from keeping fish that we would eat for dinner there should be no commercial fishing allowed for the same species. It is wrong that one person can catch and sell for profit and another can't even keep dinner. Recreational fisherman travel and support the overall economy by doing so they pay road tolls, taxes on their fishing gear and fuel they spend even more on food and drinks for the day, the wear and tear on their vehicle causes repairs. The commercial fisherman only pays income taxes on the catches that they report. It really is a shame how this system works. You can buy it in the supermarket but if you catch it you have to throw it back.
    Submitted September 8
  • If you're going to manage commercial and sport fishing separately, use the 'separate but equal' method, not the 'divide and conquer' method. No 'legislation without representation'.
    Submitted September 7
  • I will be looking for another place to spend my vacations solely because of your snap decisions and fickle management as it disrupts my plans for deep sea fishing year after year.
    Submitted September 7
  • Let's not follow the errors of our neighbors in Canada and react too late to this issue. Closing the fishery AFTER the fish are gone is insane. Set an example and restrict the fishery to whatever level the best available data demands. We owe it to future generations.

    There is no inherent right of any angler, recreational or commercial to a public natural resource. If we cannot sustain it, we do not deserve to use it.
    Submitted September 6
  • Public access to the NWHI Coral Reef Ecosystem/Papahanaumokuakea is not encouraged. Our goal is to bring the place to the people, not the people to the place. There is an elaborate permitting process to obtain access, mostly for research and cultural practitioners. The policy needs to be very clear that it does not supersede existing access policies and regulations.
    Submitted September 5
  • Recreational 25% Reduction (1) fish per day 32" and above Commercial Quota 25% reduction 34" size and above.
    Submitted September 5
  • Allow strippers 24" to 30" only to be taken 1 a day for non-commercial. This will save the big breeders! Allow a free fishing license

    (2 day) online for all those who miss free fishing weekend. Remember many are deployed out of the country and do not get a chance to take advantage of the free fishing weekend.
    Submitted September 4
  • As the operator of a bait shop on Cape Cod I have had the opportunity to discuss the state of the striped bass fishing with a lot of people. The overwhelming majority of folks I have spoken to are experiencing very poor fishing with many serious fishermen failing to catch even a single "keeper" all year. This decline in fishing has happened steadily over the last 3-5 years with 2014 being far and away the worst. Sadly, the future of this great fish is not looking very good and if drastic action is not taken soon it is easy to imagine another total collapse of the fishery. Lets hope that does not happen.
    Submitted September 4
  • This sounds like you're ready to regulate Sportfishing, and allow commercial fishing to be regulated by the greed of the politicians. and big companies. What gives? Oh could it be that the anglers are easier to manage than the big corporations? I'm horrified that the wording "management" is all about controlling the anglers. Do you really believe that the sport fishing industry is harvesting the fisheries more than the commercial industry? Who provides more employment to the local economy? Ever since this MLPA started managing the sport fishing industry here in California, recreational fishing has been on a stand still and I have seen so many Boat Owners, and operators loose their boats, business, homes..etc, for what? Management of fisheries that lack a true scientific, professional, and experience studies. A bunch of scientists went fishing for rockfish using the wrong bait, and was not able to produce the numbers they thought are healthy, and started to put a moratorium on the fishing industry. Yes, this has been settled in the courts. And guess who wins in the court of law? Those that have infinite monetary support. Before you manage the fishing industry, please get experienced fact based data, and not from individuals who think they know fishing.
    Submitted September 3
  • Public Access to all ocean areas. No in perpetuity preservation MPAs denying public access. All MPA are to be science based and conservation driven. If closed for conservation will open to access upon goal attainment.
    Submitted September 3
  • This one seems pretty straightforward to me -- on its prima facia case, I believe most people would want enhanced 'sustainable, healthy, and diverse recreational/non-commercial fisheries and public access to them'. The issue always seems to arise from the conservative side of the discussion when one adds - 'through management.' Personally, I look at this in the similar way I run my small business, or in a way governments should run countries -- without any "management", there is no productivity, progress or enhancements. Of course, we need management. People left to their own devices are notoriously wasteful. Must be part of the human condition…Anyway, enough on that one
    Submitted September 3
  • Stop all harvest for 5 yrs. Worst bass year in 10 yrs in Buzzards Bay/Islands. No commercial harvest period.
    Submitted September 3
  • The ocean should be considered primarily a public resource. Fair public access to such a public resource should be the first consideration when managing fisheries. If there is any fishery at all, at a minimum someone should be able to catch a fish for themselves to eat; if they can't then it shouldn't be found in the supermarket.

    If there is abundance to allow for a sustainable commercial fishery then there should be one. When stocks are depleted such that in practical terms a recreational fishery can no longer exist, be it due to regulatory requirements or lack of fish availability, commercial fisheries should be halted.

    The idea that a recreational fishery gets a percentage of the quota is a good one, however as went the way of commercial hunting, during difficult times the public should be given 100% of the available resource (as opposed to a smaller/negligible quota such to allow continued commercial fishing).

    In the northeast industrial type commercial fisheries for groundfish continue (albeit in a very limited manner); by industrial mostly I mean trawling, which is very indiscriminate and intended to efficiently catch huge numbers of fish. While such commercial fisheries continue, the same recreational fisheries now have closed seasons and extremely restrictive regulations. There are times when I am not even allowed to legally catch a cod but those same fish are being dragged up and sold at the supermarket.. I understand the history and how things ended up this way, however the end result is unfair.

    Lastly, local abundance needs to be considered as part of public access. If near shore grounds are swept of life, no matter what populations of fish exist elsewhere, the public will have no access.
    Submitted September 3
  • I do not understand how recreational and commercial fisheries can be separated from a policy point of view. Here in the Chesapeake Bay, they overlap completely. For instance, while one may think of the Menhaden industry not overlapping with recreational fishing, the total disappearance of bait fish after the menhaden ships pass means a total disappearance of predator fish for recreational fishing for a while after the passing. Also, gill netters clash directly with the recreational fish availability. The policies should be coordinated and integrated.

    What does "public access to the fishery" mean and to what facilities does it apply. For instance both "public" and privately maintained boat ramps provide access. The private ones do charge a nominal fee, but usually provide additional services - and all provide access to the public to recreational waters.
    Submitted September 3
  • I have noted over the past 25 years a steady decline in small striped bass (schoolies). I mostly fish in estuaries off Cape Cod. I urge the Commission to explore ways to reduce the amount of fish caught and taken commercially. I have taken a few charter boats over the years and the captains and mates end up taking quite a few fish. Better to release these fish and let them reproduce. Thank you.
    Submitted September 1
  • I have been fishing with a 20' Wellcraft for the past 20 years in Boston harbor. I have noted a marked decline in striped bass particularly in 2014 but we also have not enjoyed the fall run for the past four or five years. By that I mean many, many, schoolies busting with birds diving at all times of the day in Boston Harbor. It was not unusual to catch a fish with every three casts. In 2014 the fishing has been terrible. Mackerel have been plentiful but fishing the usual haunts has produced almost no action. I have heard from fisherman in Gloucester, Boston Harbor, Plymouth, and the Cape saying fishing is not good. Experienced fishermen going out before sun up appear to be having success but those not willing to go out at this hour are complaining.

    For my two cents worth, I think an all out effort should be made to increase the stock. Bite the bullet, no fooling around. The fishery is too important to take a risk on half measures. Increasing the hatch in the Chesapeake appears to be the key. What's causing the low production? Also the past few years many fish had lesions on them. Did this cause mortality or less production?
    Submitted September 1
  • As a recreational fisherman I have noted a dramatic decline in menhaden stocks in Mass, with a corresponding decline in the striped bass fishery. There are other fish stocks which can be used for cat food, and Omega protein should not be permitted to continue their current quotas. Regarding striped bass size limits....would favor a uniform commercial size limit of 34 inches across all states, and 30 inches minimum for recreational purposes, with corresponding decreases in the overall mortality rates.
    Submitted September 1
  • I would like to see the size limit raised to 36". That way we can enjoy catching more larger fish even though most would have to be released. It would also serve to build up the total fish population. I remember how the stripper population dwindled badly when the limit was 16" and the fish came back strong when the limit was raised. I am against the commercial fishing for strippers.
    Submitted September 1

August 2014 Comments 

  • I was wondering if a slot system in which you can keep catch smaller and larger bass. and leave the stronger breeding fish out of the quota?
    Submitted August 31
  • Shut it down and at the very least one fish 36".
    Submitted August 30
  • Ultimately I believe it's over commercial fishing that is harming stocks most significantly - with regard to Striped Bass that is. Commercial boats site over a school and clean it out in an evening. If commercial quotas aren't radically cut or commercial fishing for S.B. is not put on a moratorium with addition one fish quota put on recreational anglers, I predict the stock will malinger for years to come. I started commercial fishing stripers years ago and when I saw the numbers radically start to decline I stopped commercial fishing and did something else. Don't allow another stock plummet to occur.
    Submitted August 30
  • I have read the topics of discussion and suggested criteria and solution implementation. To put it very simply so everyone can understand it.....

    I live in western mass. and fish freshwater as well as salt water in and on the coast of Massachusetts. I have witnessed the following gross violations of every Mass Div. of wildlife and fisheries guideline:

    1. I have encountered countless people at freshwater as well as saltwater shore fishing locations.... none have bothered to buy the required proper fishing license because they know no one will challenge them.

    2. Those same people keep everything they catch..... regardless of size or variety while those true sportsmen(and sportswomen) not only purchase the required license and adhere to the size/limit guidelines.

    3. I purposely keep 50 gal. trash bags in my car because I generally fill them with litter when I leave the fishing site. It has gotten much worse as of late.

    4. Those same unlicensed people go to our local state parks after the park closes while all the law abiding people adhere to the posted hours of operation. Those same people keep everything they catch and grossly surpass the limit of fish allowed to keep .... according the mass fish/wildlife guidelines. They have bonfires on the beach, and again, don't clean up and leave the park with litter, beer bottles on state park beaches.

    In summary, while certain groups of people feel the Guidelines don't apply to them and wipe out the stocked trout, keep undersized striped bass, keep protected species, grossly surpass the daily creel amounts of fish.... all the true Massachusetts sportsmen and women adhere to all the guidelines.

    Creating more laws and guidelines is not the answer since they don't follow the basic laws and guidelines anyway.

    We need more ENFORCEMENT!! Take the extra five dollars the law abiding sportsmen and women are required to pay upon application and apply it towards hiring and training new, aggressive armed Environmental Police and enforcement equipment. Forget the senseless state house governor's office upgrade and spend that same money on our natural resources legacy to pass on to our children.

    Our State's natural resources are being drained and efforts on the part of our Mass. Div. of Fisheries and Wildlife are being wasted due to, in a large part, gross abuse of those who feel they are 'above the law'.
    Submitted August 30
  • Go to a tag system for comms and recs. for striped bass. Commercial fishing should be drastically reduced to actual full timers/full livelihood. The population is being raped by thousands of people who get a license just to pay for their seasons gas.  Limit recs to 5 fish per season.
    Submitted August 29
  • I suggest that a 1-bag limit be imposed for striped bass fishing in New England. I have been a recreational fisherman for 14 years and have never seen stock so low.

    I believe that a 1-bag limit is a very reasonable management approach that makes sense. Personally, I have always found that me and my guests are always satisfied by taking no more than a single fish each. I would strongly recommend this approach.
    Submitted August 29
  • I don't think that a fish with a recreational limit of one or two fish should be commercially sold. Recreational harvested have also dropped 90% over past 10 years.
    Submitted August 28
  • Hi, maybe I'm crazy here but; during spawning season have a closed season for a period of three weeks - including freshwater (just like it was for trout in the late 70's and early 80's) or maybe 3 months depending on water temp. Stop all the draggers; during the spawning run. Replant if needed the Eel grass in the bays; to boost the micro food chain. I think the same could be applied to the flounder situation, too. Fishermen have to realize that there are other fish out there. Just a few thoughts!
    Submitted August 28
  • I agree with the comments made about trying to balance the sportsman and the commercial. I enjoy a good seafood dinner at a restaurant and I wouldn't mind paying a bit more if the commercial catch was lessened. When I do fish it is mostly from a head boat and the cod/haddock catch has gotten less and less and the sizes have been also smaller. My last trip the whole boat threw more fish back, that were too short, than any one of us kept. When I do surf cast, which is rare, anything I do catch is released.

    How you can handle this discrepancy between commercial and recreational aims is, to say the least, daunting and the only thing I ask is that you make it fair. I am all in favor of the Saltwater licensing, only if any collected fees are used to help solve this dilemma.
    Submitted August 28
  • The problem lies with commercial over catch, like always you will over regulate the recreational fisherman and let the commercial fishermen do as they please. I believe there should be no bycatch or hi-grading as I always see the draggers in my fishing areas do. Every few hours the mates are shoveling hundreds of pounds of dead shorts and nontargeted species on each boat. of course the fish cannot survive with this practice. No matter how much you regulate the recreational fisherman the commercial guys will ruin it for all.
    Submitted August 28
  • Remove striped bass from commercial fishing and enforce catch limits for recreational fishing. Reduce the commercial limits on river herring.
    Submitted August 28
  • I am a recreational fisherman in MA. I am not against commercial fishing, but over the years have seen the destruction and depletion of stocks many of them have caused. I can no longer catch cod, haddock, and a decent sized flounder here. I have not seen a pogie in Boston harbor for many years. I believe factory ships and commercial fishing is responsible for this. I also find fault with commercial fisherman receiving large subsidies when quota cuts into their business. Any other small businessman get large assistance from the gov. if they fold? Find another line of work! Just like anyone else who loses their jobs. Recreational fisheries supports way more jobs and does much less damage to fish stocks.

    Bycatch is a non issue and the survival rate I am sure is much higher for releases. I know commercial fishermen that use rod and reel. I have no problem with that. Draggers and netters! These do most damage. Any regs. should be aimed at them.Thank you.
    Submitted August 28
  • The goal needs to expand the "management" to "management of all extractive fisheries and environmental factors". Setting bag and size limits is insufficient to ensure the survival of stocks. So far I have seen no evidence of integration of environmental improvements (such as freshwater dam removals and anadromous fish runs) which heavily impact Striped Bass survival. Others have also mentioned that charter boats should not be included as non-commercial, they clearly are and are responsible for the millions of pounds of stripers harvested each year.
    Submitted August 28
  • There's only one thing worse than no regulation, and that is bad regulation. Let's not allow one interest group - namely the Coastal Conservation Association - to hijack and/or derail what is meant to be a NATIONAL policy. Please do not be swayed by their mendacious and specious claims that we do not need quota-based management systems in our national waters. Please implement management systems that will allow us to replenish and rebuild the failing stocks of popular and important gamefish across all of the nation's waters.
    Submitted August 25
  • I have been here in Florida for 13 years, and all I ever hear is about how the recreational fisherman is over fishing. I come from the Great Lakes Region and I can remember when gill nets were banned ad fish populations increased. Here everything is given to the commercial fishing concerns and where the economy is concerned, the recreational fishing industry contributes more than commercial industries. IF you would REALLY look at what you all are trying to do and stop listening to these radical groups who do not want the sportsman to partake in any out door activities, then you would see where the money really is. Unless you start cutting commercial interests, you will be putting thousands out of work and there will be no tax monies coming in to support any of your research and jobs. Better think long and hard before you start cutting the recreational fishing industry and passing inaccurate regulations.
    Submitted August 25
  • It is a concern of mine that the fishing regulators are way too heavy handed on recreational fishing. There are folks like me who have limited access, limited time to go fishing offshore. Time must be spent in planning and organizing a trip with a private guide. Now you're telling me that Red Grouper is closed, and you may close Gag grouper?

    I'm very concerned about the weight of government, and it's policy making. I'm about to spend $1000.00 on a fishing trip, that I may have to cancel because I can't keep what we may catch, yet commercial fishermen decimate fish population by the tons, and you look the other way.

    If I cancel my trip, think of the trickle effect on the boat owner/captain and the ripple on down the financial line. Now, what about the hundreds of other folks?

    We don't decimate fish populations or stocks, we don't destroy reefs by dragging nets, we don't kill by catch, we just want to spend a day on the water, and enjoy Gods abundance.
    Submitted August 25
  • I think the commercial fisherman do a great deal of damage to all our fish not only amberjacks. The commercial fisherman take more fish in one draw than we sportsman take all season. I have been taking offshore trips and it seems like it gets worse each time we book a trip due to the commercial fisherman taking too many fish. Florida makes it's money by sportsman not commercial fisherman. It seems like every time we have a season you shorten it but not for the commercial side of things.
    Submitted August 16
  • Recreational fisheries should be given primacy over commercial interests generally. It is a perception that the commercial guys get their way 90% of the time, and the recreational angler is left with "the scraps". How is it fair that a commercial fisherman can legally take in a single trawl many times what a recreational angler might take in an entire season, and how can imposing strict limits on the recreational angler be considered fair (in particular, being a New England angler, this applies to Cod, Haddock, and Flounder regulations)? I am all for limits if they are part of an approach that fairly balances the recreational interests with those of the commercial fishermen.
    Submitted August 1

July 2014 Comments

  • I have lived on Block Island R.I. for over 30 years and have been a striper fisherman that entire time. I have seen it first hand. Please act now for our beloved bass is in dire need of our help. Please proceed to game fish status now before it is to late. Stop the killing of these majestic game fish so my children can enjoy the fishery the way it should be. It is in your hands and I don't feel very good about that. Don't let the dollar bill run this department like many other government run agency's. Thank you for allowing my comments.
    Submitted July 28
  • To call this a "Goal" is completely in-accurate. A goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. What you have proposed does not meet the definition of a "SMART" goal. This is what we get when politicians and environmentalists are in charge of NOAA. Your stated goal gives no recognition to the economic impact of recreational fishing.
    Submitted July 25
  • The Atlantic menhaden, the largest fishery in the USA has been fished down to less than 1% of its unfished biomass. How does NMFS think our east coast food web, centered on and bioregulated by menhaden can withstand this style of mindless industrial fishing abuse. All to export menhaden based fish food pellets to China and make cat and dog food. NMFS apparently lacks any biologists who took  an Ecology 101 course. If it weren't  that this destruction of our food web is so devastating for all species involved it would be laughable. How does this behavior amongst our  fisheries managers persist? If the food web is ulcerated and coming apart what do you expect to happen? If you can't leave enough food fish in the water our fisheries here are finished. How about a menhaden FMP for federal waters?
    Submitted July 24
  • Aloha-I live within the jurisdiction of the NOAA Pacific Islands Regional Office and respectfully request that NOAA consider the dynamics that surround each particular region. Here in the Pacific, our communities have continued traditional forms of management including traditional ecological knowledge about their marine resources. It would be beneficial for NOAA as well as local communities to address the need for co-management of our primary source of protein. We donʻt always have science that addresses each island, which can be entirely different. Mahalo
    Submitted July 22
  • I do not like your regulation on halibut size limit in Alaska. I flew a long way and spent  a considerable amount of money to fish halibut in Alaska. I was forced to keep very small fish, under 29", because of your regulations. Seems like you are taking care of the commercial fleet at the expense of the recreational fishery. please reconsider this regulation.
    Submitted July 15
  • "Foster and enhance" is excellent for the outer layer but we need to peel this onion deeper. We need to define programs to bring in Families and especially youth (i.e. pry the video game out of their hands and replace w/ rod-n-reel). These programs should provide:

    - Low cost fishing opportunities by partnering w/ the sportfishing communities, boat owner associations, municipalities, counties, etc.
    - Education/how-to seminars as well as mentor programs
    - Inner city fishing clubs. Start new ones or partner w/ existing clubs e.g. Boy/Girl scouts, Boys/Girls Clubs
    - RESOURCES (!!!) - sponsorship for necessary funds/tackle/etc. for youth programs

    This is just and few ideas for the inner layers. Partnering with the communities, sportfishing industry, and other associated organizations will fully define. However, their needs to be a strong central leader. I congratulate NOAA if they take this on a lead the way
    Submitted July 7
  • My perception as an angler is that fisheries are only managed for commercial interests. I live in Massachusetts and fish from shore and kayak and have 3 species available for saltwater fishing:

    - Cod which have been managed for commercial interests and the in shore fishery has been absolutely devastated with very few fish available.
    - Winter flounder which have been managed for commercial fishing, they once had an amazing abundance in shore and are now available during a short season, as they become more abundant, I expect that the commercial sector will take enough fish to make them unfishable again.
    - Striped bass which have been managed primarily for charter boats, While they are primarily a recreational fish, the charter boats are a commercial interest and have consistently voted against responsible management.

    From the perspective of a MA angler, fisheries management is a trainwreck. You might want to do something about that.
    Submitted July 4
  • A successful recreational fishery is based on the premise of abundance. Commercial fisheries need to be aggressively reigned in, even if it means higher prices for consumers. Same with party boats. And menhaden harvesting needs massive restrictions put in place now and for the near future.
    Submitted July 3
  • I would like to see daily bag limits on all species of saltwater fish. Also a no kill season during the 2-3 mo. spawning season in all the rivers that striped bass spawn in. A new daily limit on the entire east coast of 1 striped bass 30"
    Submitted July 3

June 2014 Comments

  • 1) Representative of at least the island communities of the Western Pacific, the recognition and importance of subsistence fishing and how it differs fundamentally from recreational fishing (ie. primarily catch and release) is of utmost importance. Our community members generally do not "play with their food." We rely heavily upon fishing (not just with a rod-and-reel but spear fishing, net fishing, etc.) to feed our families/friends and to perpetuate our cultural customs and heritage.

    2) The recognition and inclusion of shellfish as well as finfish in management policy objectives is crucial due to the significant degree of effort and take of species such as crabs, lobsters, octopus, and various bivalves and univalves to name a few. An ecosystem-based approach is essential to the effective management of the various species complexes that are exploited by island communities.

    3) Catch allocation strategies for non-commercial fisheries, at least in the Western Pacific, would be totally ineffective. Allocating resources would be very difficult to enforce, create more distrust between the non-commercial fishing community and government, and severely limit non-commercial fishery monitoring efforts such as creel surveys which rely heavily upon established relationships between surveyors and fishers. Unlike communities in the continental US that are typically characterized by large population centers, island communities have relatively small populations where repeated interactions by surveyors with regulars at a given site are typical.
    Submitted June 30
  • The primary requirement for a successful recreational fishery is abundance. This is contrary to the needs of the commercial sector that looks to maximize yield while remaining sustainable. A fishery can remain in a depleted state for a long time while still maximizing the yield but staying above thresholds that would cause it to be "over-fished" I agree with the stated goal and would like to see more enforceable management standards put in place to foster and enhance the diverse and ABUNDANT fish populations. One such management issue that I would like to see enacted is a re-classification of party boats or charters carrying over a certain amount of people. These boats are not much different than a commercial boat with it's fairs looking to limit out and everyone on board take home a fish or two. These class of boats and their share of the catch should be re-distributed to the commercial quota. I would also see the Magnuson Stevens Act re-authorized with out exception. I believe the 2006 document is a strong one that favors rebuilding fisheries. What is not needed is more "flexibility" to delay that rebuilding.
    Submitted June 26
  • The limit on mutton snappers in Florida is just too high. The current limit of ten fish per person and no max limit per boat is ridiculous. There are non-commercial boats going out as we speak and slaughtering the spawning grounds at night. Boats are going out with five people and catching 40 to 50 muttons each and every night. No one needs that many fish and the fishery cannot be sustained with this type of reckless fishing. Ask any responsible captain in the Florida Keys and they will tell you that two to three Muttons per person is more than plenty. We have already seen the incredible decline of groupers, please don't let Mutton snappers be the next on the list.
    Submitted June 24
  • Thank you first, for recognizing the need for management of our saltwater fisheries. That is the start of any management planning. However, I will say that BEFORE you tackle any issue regarding recreational fishing, you should first tackle the problem of over fishing to the extreme by factory ships. Why is you feel that recreational fishing is causing any problems with salt water stocks? Explain to us all how you can measure any effect that we may have on these fisheries absent these monster ships and how much they are destroying our oceans? In statistics, you have to control for variables that you don't want to measure. Explain how you are controlling for factory ships and their enormous take every day? Explain, in other words, how you can even measure the effect that recreational fishing is having on our oceans with these large factory ships demolishing the oceans and our coastal fisheries? IN fact, if you could measure the effects of recreational fisheries on the coastal stocks and "deep sea" fisheries, what would those effects be? My guess is you cannot accurately measure any affects at all. You would be hard pressed to show that you could. All you CAN do is count catch per effort rates and "bag surveys" and show a change in that. But, again that is without controlling for the effects of factory ships. I have seen the stocks of deep ocean fish (pelagic or open water, for those that are managers dreaming up this stuff) and coastal fisheries dropping precipitously in the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California for those back east), and sport fishing has been going on for many, many decades, and it was basically fine, up until the Mexican government started allowing factory ships into the Sea and also, and more devastatingly, sit at the mouth of the Sea and deplete stocks as they migrate into the Sea to reproduce and feed. Not until that happened, fishing was always great and productive. As I'm sure you know, line fishing has no effect what so ever on ocean fisheries. You know that as a fact and yet you are stirring up this supposed need for management of "sport" fishing. Again, manage the factory ships, out of existence in my view, and then worry about managing us sport fishermen. Think about it and I hope you answer my questions. I hope you also put this topic on any agendas and comments you have so that you can at least show you are being honest and bringing everything to the table that is affecting our oceans. Thank you.
    Submitted June 19