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

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


Background Information

NOAA is the federal agency responsible for the stewardship of our nation’s living marine resources. Both NOAA and
the fishing public make important contributions to the conservation of these natural resources, resources which form
the basis of sustainable, enjoyable recreational fisheries.

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 suggestions shared with NOAA Fisheries include:


Comments on Draft Goal

September 2014 Comments

  • What has been done to this point is obviously not working to preserve the diversity of life that will ultimately contribute to our own survival. Since thinking in the short term is not working, hard decisions have to be made and enforced particularly in the commercial fishing sector to cease the further degradation of our remaining resources.
    Submitted September 12
  • Conservation, as a goal, may differ depending on the species and region. This goal should clarify that conservation be used “where needed” as it may not be applicable to all areas.
    Submitted September 12
  • See comment regarding previous goal. The suggestions above to “empower anglers . . . .” and to “support science based conservation and restoration. . .” seem like good ones. Aquaculture is an important issue for society, writ large, to supply our growing population with a stable source of protein. However, with regard to recreational fisheries management, “stock enhancement” should not displace sound management of wild fish.

    And regarding habitat enhancement, greater emphasis should be placed on restoring and protecting spawning areas and estuarine habitats, in addition to adding and creating new artificial habitats. In general, a recreational policy should take a more holistic approach to fisheries management, actively addressing the various environmental components that impact fisheries, including habitat, forage, and water quality and temperature.
    Submitted September 12
  • Conservation - there is clear benefit to managing for abundance. Conservation, through appropriate seasons and limits that are more obtainable for the majority of anglers, leads to abundance and more opportunity.

    Conservation quotas - the federal councils need to stop reallocating uncaught recreational quota to the commercial sector. Quit penalizing us for not catching all the fish we possibly can!

    Enhancement - states like North Carolina no longer spend money on their artificial reef programs even though the money is federal in origin. Where this money goes is a good question because it's not towards artificial reefs! Where this money is spent needs to be heavily researched and it needs to be put back where it needs to be - enhancing reefs and hence opportunity.
    Submitted September 12
  • Restoration and conservation of fishery resources should be NMFS' primary concern, for in the long term, it is impossible to maintain healthy recreational and commercial fisheries without healthy fish populations.

    For the most part, throughout most of the country, NMFS has been doing a pretty good job. New England may be the only real exception to that rule; the Greater Atlantic Fisheries Regional Office (formerly the Northeast Region) failed to adequately supervise the New England Fishery Management Council, in that it allowed too many years of input controls, rather than hard quotas, to further deplete already overfished groundfish stocks, instead of rejecting Council management plans as inadequate to recover such stocks.

    It is an unfortunate truth that some anglers will whine, kick and scream like ill-tempered two-year-olds when their ability to kill fish is restricted. The red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico is a case in point. But it is also true that the same fishermen who once condemned management measures as overly restrictive will quickly embrace the final result; the current summer flounder, scup and black sea bass fisheries in the northeast demonstrate that fact quite clearly. Thus, NMFS must stand firm and assume the role of the "parent" when anglers and their representative organizations act like pouting and recalcitrant children; the agency must not succumb to demands that science be ignored, overfishing be tolerated or overfished stocks be rebuilt slower than reasonably possible. In the end, both the fish and the fishermen will benefit from such stalwart behavior.

    In most cases, hard quotas are necessary to adequately protect fish stocks. Hard quotas are admittedly difficult to administer in recreational fisheries, because recreational fishermen are too abundant and diverse to census directly, and even the best estimate will be surrounded by fairly broad confidence intervals. Thus, every species must be managed with an Annual Catch Target that includes a buffer to allow for management uncertainty. As we have seen in the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery, elimination of such buffers will lead to unfortunate results.

    Accountability measures are also problematic, because of such management uncertainty. However, at least in fisheries such as Gulf red snapper, which have a history of recreational overfishing, the impositions of such measures are probably necessary. Ideally, rather than pound-for-pound paybacks, accountability measures for restored fisheries should probably take the form of an expanded buffer recognizing that management uncertainty was greater than previously thought. However, in the case of overfished or still-recovering species, pound-for-pound paybacks make sense; in fact, for overfished species, it may make even greater sense to require paybacks that are, for example, 125% of the overage to account for the loss of production, as well as the mere loss of biomass. Such enhance paybacks would also likely have a beneficial effect on recreational members of regional fishery management councils, who would be less likely to manage at the very edge of the permissible envelope if they knew that adverse consequences could ensue if an overage occurred.

    As far as enhancement is concerned, NMFS should take the position that the need for aquacultured/hatchery fish is evidence of a failure of fisheries management, and the proper response is to fix the management problem and so create a permanent solution, and not to employ the band-aid of enhancement that, in the end, leaves the baseline problem unsolved. We have seen far too often in fresh water fisheries situations where "enhancement" programs effectively replaced naturally spawned fish, destroyed genetic diversity, etc. It also eats up financing that could be used for more deserving projects of real scientific value that will have a far more beneficial long-term impact.

    With respect to artificial reefs, I am an agnostic. I fish on them at times, but also try to avoid them, as they tend to be a magnet for anglers who quickly reduce the number of available fish. However, before any sort of artificial reef is created, managers should be sure that its creation will actually enhance the biomass of the most affected species, and not merely provide the equivalent of a fish aggregating device that merely allows anglers to remove more fish from the existing population.
    Submitted September 12
  • One fish, minimum size 36" is more than enough.
    Submitted September 12
  • Recreational conservation is frequently the basis for reallocation to the commercial sector. Take bluefish as the prime example. A recreational ethic evolved to prevent the destruction of uneaten bluefish and the management response was to allocate a large portion of the savings for commercial harvest. While this is the most blatant example, it should also be recognized that recreational fisheries are the first to suffer as stocks get compromised (striped bass today) and the last to benefit as socks recover. With more efficient gear and huge trip limits, commercial fishermen can maintain their catch levels deeper into a decline and benefit immediately from any successful recruitment.
    Submitted September 11
  • This is a one sided approach. The approach must be a WHOLE concept, not a piece meal. Meaning, not just recreational, but commercial and world wide agreements. Recreational is reasonable 1 fish a person, commercial as in the whole not just one ship, should not be able to remove more than 1/3 of population, and the same for world wide fishing. Commercial should be limited more than recreational.
    Submitted September 11
  • Conservation should include reducing mercury and other pollutants that impair survival and reproduction.
    Submitted September 11
  • I agree with the comments made by Stripers Forever:

    NOAA must stand up in the fishery management process for recreational fishing. On a local basis it is very difficult for recreational fishing to get the consideration it is due because commercial fishing has historically been seen as the more important use of the resource. Politicians are very slow to take new and forward thinking positions that they do not thoroughly understand, and these politicians control the appointment process for all aspects of local fishery management.

    The federal government often has a different view of wildlife management than the states because it is not as easily controlled by small segments of the public. The history of waterfowl management provides one of the clearest examples of how the influence of the federal government was needed to change the fishery management practices within the states. Action by the federal government could now be very important in improving recreational fishing opportunities, and this would overall be very beneficial.

    There are a number of strong justifications for giving a great deal more consideration to recreational fishing than it currently receives.

    I. Issues that justify greater allocations and management consideration for recreational fishing.

    A. Personal Use Allocations

    SF sees recreational fishing as members of the public directly accessing for their own personal use and enjoyment a resource that all citizens have an equal right to. The precedents are clear in wildlife management that this individual right has the highest primacy when compared to other harvesting.

    In many cases today we see commercial fishing quotas taking such a bite out of a scarce resource that a reasonable personal use harvest is not possible, and this is simply wrong. NMFS should stand up for the rights of individual citizens to have a fair harvest allocation before commercial fishing harvests the surplus – if in fact there is any surplus.

    B. Conservation

    Because of the comparatively inefficient and non-invasive equipment used by recreational fishers they do not take large percentages of a fish population from a defined area at any one time. Recreational equipment also tends to be far less harmful to the environment than commercial gathering techniques such as bottom dragging, nor does it cause ghost fishing issues that take place with the use of gill nets. Also, because there is no profit motive fishing will generally not occur beyond taking the bag limit. The greater conservation values in recreational fishing activity when compared to commercial fishing should be recognized and supported. If, for instance, a fishery or a fishing location cannot support commercial fishing activity recreational activities should not be automatically banned just because commercial fishing activities are not appropriate.

    C. Economics

    In most or perhaps all fisheries that are participated in by recreational anglers the public benefits by receiving a greater amount of economic activity than if the same fish were taken by commercial fishing. There is no justification for harvesting the fish commercially if it generates less economic activity than would be available through recreational fishing. In spite of rhetoric about providing seafood for people, all commercial harvest does when confronted with a limited resource is to take fish away from those willing to harvest their own and sell them to someone else. No additional seafood can be created, and less economic activity and jobs are produced in the process.

    D. Social Benefits

    The great American conservationist Gifford Pinchot said: “Conservation is the foresighted utilization, preservation and/or renewal of forests, waters, lands and minerals, for the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time.” Surely our continued management of fish to fulfill the desires of the small number of people within the commercial fishing industry provides benefits for less people than a recreational fishery with many times the participants. For those fish enjoyed by recreational fishing it is obvious that the greatest social benefits can be achieved by optimizing the populations of those species to get the most public participation in the fishery.

    E. Right Thing To Do

    It is obvious to all thinking individuals that we should not destroy our populations of ocean fish, yet that is exactly what we have done. Commercial fishing interests have been able to leverage local politicians and on up the political ladder to have the greatest influence of any user group on the fishery management process. The result has been the essential destruction of our marine fish populations. Clearly these practices have to end and we need to rebuild our fishery populations. It will not be possible to do this and manage them allowing as much commercial harvest as we have in the past. NOAA has the ability to greatly influence the fishery management process for the better by adopting and promoting policies that recognize the rights of recreational anglers and the benefits of recreational salt water angling. Typically local fishery management has no guiding policies of any kind, and NOAA’s policies will become the benchmark.

    II. Additional issues that must be addressed to improve recreational fishing experiences and enjoy the associated benefits.

    1. “Willingness to Pay (WTP)” must be replaced with some other more practical allocation metric – one that the managers can understand and apply today. The fact that each individual recreational participant is a citizen with equal rights to all others must be recognized.

    2. Minimum standards for recreational fisheries must be established – a hard catch per unit effort (CPUE) should be set where possible to ensure an acceptable probability of catching a fish.

    3. Abundance must be evaluated in terms of the minimum catch per unit effort established for a “successful” recreational fishery in recognition of the fact that it takes more fish to have a successful recreational fishery. For fisheries participated in by recreational anglers it must be formally recognized that maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is not an appropriate concept.

    4. Better effort data must be continuously collected for the recreational fishery. MRFSS and MRIP have been relied on for years, not because they provided the best data but because they were easiest to implement.

    5. Recreational participation in the management process at the council and commission level must be increased. These venues are traditionally saturated by commercial interests. For many jurisdictions, there is essentially very little recreational representation at the ASMFC.

    6. We need to stop hiding behind phrases like “fair and equitable,” and words like “reasonable” that are poorly defined in the context of fisheries. The federal recreational fisheries policy should either stop using these terms or give them some teeth in practical terms that can influence policies. When the law says that allocation policies shall “Not permit a particular individual, corporation, or other entity to acquire an excessive share of fishing privileges,” what does the word “excessive” mean?
    Submitted September 11
  • Please create a slot size for stripers. End commercial fishing. Raise them in a farm.
    Submitted September 10
  • Make Stripers a game fish for entire east coast. No commercial landings. The economic benefit to a broader array of entities is exponentially higher via the recreational fisherman.

    One fish, 28" to 34".

    NOAA should consult with fishing industry interests to formulate a catch and release educational/ promotional campaign to encourage catch and release. For example: fishing tournaments could be converted to catch and release. Take a photo, release the fish. All photos go into a pot. Winners are selected by a random draw or numbers of released fish. Just a thought. The sailfish management plan in Costa Rica has worked pretty well. Thousands of business and jobs were created thanks to the abundance of Sailfish, why not Stripers. It's a lot cheaper to buy farm raised Stripers at the market.
    Submitted September 10
  • I am a member of Stripers Forever and have been backing their efforts to bring striped bass back to the Kennebec River. Of course, we might never return to the bonanza fishing of the late 80's into the mid-90's, but the last few years have been very disappointing and discouraging, enough so that I rarely even go out any more. I'm sure this has a small economic impact, but multiplied by the many others who are staying off the river, it must be significant in terms of bait, equipment and fuel. Please help to turn this situation around.
    Submitted September 10
  • Recreational fishing has not gotten its fair share, please change that. Thanks.
    Submitted September 9
  • Reduce recreational catch to one fish over 28" per day per angler.
    Submitted September 9
  • Stripers Forever, a conservation and recreational advocacy organization focused on striped bass along the East Coast offers the following comments on NOAA recreational fishing policy.

    NOAA must stand up in the fishery management process for recreational fishing. On a local basis it is very difficult for recreational fishing to get the consideration it is due because commercial fishing has historically been seen as the more important use of the resource. Politicians are very slow to take new and forward thinking positions that they do not thoroughly understand, and these politicians control the appointment process for all aspects of local fishery management.

    The federal government often has a different view of wildlife management than the states because it is not as easily controlled by small segments of the public. The history of waterfowl management provides one of the clearest examples of how the influence of the federal government was needed to change the fishery management practices within the states. Action by the federal government could now be very important in improving recreational fishing opportunities, and this would overall be very beneficial.

    There are a number of strong justifications for giving a great deal more consideration to recreational fishing than it currently receives.

    I.Issues that justify greater allocations and management consideration for recreational fishing.
    A. Personal Use Allocations

    SF sees recreational fishing as members of the public directly accessing for their own personal use and enjoyment a resource that all citizens have an equal right to. The precedents are clear in wildlife management that this individual right has the highest primacy when compared to other harvesting.

    In many cases today we see commercial fishing quotas taking such a bite out of a scarce resource that a reasonable personal use harvest is not possible, and this is simply wrong. NMFS should stand up for the rights of individual citizens to have a fair harvest allocation before commercial fishing harvests the surplus – if in fact there is any surplus.

    B. Conservation

    Because of the comparatively inefficient and non-invasive equipment used by recreational fishers they do not take large percentages of a fish population from a defined area at any one time. Recreational equipment also tends to be far less harmful to the environment than commercial gathering techniques such as bottom dragging, nor does it cause ghost fishing issues that take place with the use of gill nets. Also, because there is no profit motive fishing will generally not occur beyond taking the bag limit. The greater conservation values in recreational fishing activity when compared to commercial fishing should be recognized and supported. If, for instance, a fishery or a fishing location cannot support commercial fishing activity recreational activities should not be automatically banned just because commercial fishing activities are not appropriate.

    C. Economics

    In most or perhaps all fisheries that are participated in by recreational anglers the public benefits by receiving a greater amount of economic activity than if the same fish were taken by commercial fishing. There is no justification for harvesting the fish commercially if it generates less economic activity than would be available through recreational fishing. In spite of rhetoric about providing seafood for people, all commercial harvest does when confronted with a limited resource is to take fish away from those willing to harvest their own and sell them to someone else. No additional seafood can be created, and less economic activity and jobs are produced in the process.

    D. Social Benefits

    The great American conservationist Gifford Pinchot said: “Conservation is the foresighted utilization, preservation and/or renewal of forests, waters, lands and minerals, for the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time.” Surely our continued management of fish to fulfill the desires of the small number of people within the commercial fishing industry provides benefits for less people than a recreational fishery with many times the participants. For those fish enjoyed by recreational fishing it is obvious that the greatest social benefits can be achieved by optimizing the populations of those species to get the most public participation in the fishery.

    E. Right Thing To Do

    It is obvious to all thinking individuals that we should not destroy our populations of ocean fish, yet that is exactly what we have done. Commercial fishing interests have been able to leverage local politicians and on up the political ladder to have the greatest influence of any user group on the fishery management process. The result has been the essential destruction of our marine fish populations. Clearly these practices have to end and we need to rebuild our fishery populations. It will not be possible to do this and manage them allowing as much commercial harvest as we have in the past. NOAA has the ability to greatly influence the fishery management process for the better by adopting and promoting policies that recognize the rights of recreational anglers and the benefits of recreational salt water angling. Typically local fishery management has no guiding policies of any kind, and NOAA’s policies will become the benchmark.

    II. Additional issues that must be addressed to improve recreational fishing experiences and enjoy the associated benefits.

    1. “Willingness to Pay (WTP)” must be replaced with some other more practical allocation metric – one that the managers can understand and apply today. The fact that each individual recreational participant is a citizen with equal rights to all others must be recognized.

    2. Minimum standards for recreational fisheries must be established – a hard catch per unit effort (CPUE) should be set where possible to ensure an acceptable probability of catching a fish.

    3. Abundance must be evaluated in terms of the minimum catch per unit effort established for a “successful” recreational fishery in recognition of the fact that it takes more fish to have a successful recreational fishery. For fisheries participated in by recreational anglers it must be formally recognized that maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is not an appropriate concept.

    4. Better effort data must be continuously collected for the recreational fishery. MRFSS and MRIP have been relied on for years, not because they provided the best data but because they were easiest to implement.

    5. Recreational participation in the management process at the council and commission level must be increased. These venues are traditionally saturated by commercial interests. For many jurisdictions, there is essentially very little recreational representation at the ASMFC.

    6. We need to stop hiding behind phrases like “fair and equitable,” and words like “reasonable” that are poorly defined in the context of fisheries. The federal recreational fisheries policy should either stop using these terms or give them some teeth in practical terms that can influence policies. When the law says that allocation policies shall “Not permit a particular individual, corporation, or other entity to acquire an excessive share of fishing privileges,” what does the word “excessive” mean?
    Submitted September 8
  • I have watched the fishery degrade consistently for several year. This change should be considered non-negotiable - without it, the fishery will collapse. Let's not waste time debating whether this is a worthwhile idea or not. Do it now so our generation and the ones beyond ours can reap the benefits.
    Submitted September 8
  • I fish the head of the Chesapeake Bay, a vital breeding ground for striped bass in North America. Populations of fish this year are reduced and the fishery is in need of better management and conservation. Please give stripers the status of a recreational fish and help save the Bay.
    Submitted September 8
  • A consistent, state to state, size limit needs to be set Striped Bass, and further limitation on the commercial fishery. As you well know these are migratory fish; as were Salmon, Shad, etc. I prefer a slot limit on smaller fish (20-28") with a recreation tag or two a year on fish over 28", but a 36" limit also makes some sense, given the loose of spawning productivity in the larger fish. Trawling inshore also needs further limitation - our seas are critical to the health of the planet, and in my opinion out rank the commercial interests.
    Submitted September 8
  • Please, less about the politics, more about the stated goal of saving our fishery for our future. Better late than never gentlemen.
    Submitted September 8
  • I stand in support of recreational fishing, as expressed by the Organization "Stripers Forever".
    Submitted September 8
  • Please help all fish and water ways, marsh lands and sea shores before it's too late. It could be to late already.all fish should be able to spawn freely it's not right that they can't Please stop over fishing.
    Submitted September 8
  • Regarding Striped Bass regulations, clearly there are declining stocks of these fish. I feel this is both a commercial as well as recreational issue. It has become quite easy here in NJ as well as other places along the coast to catch multiple large bass, primarily from boat but occasionally from shore with the resurgence of Bunker. Snag and drop is causing prolonged stress on the breeding stock. I know there are large fish outside the 3 mile limit but these fish are not accessible to fisherman. I feel a limit to the size and number of fish needs to be implemented, not just for those large fish but also for the 8-15 pound fish that are caught from shore in the fall. One fish of this size is more than enough per day, actually per week. I'm tired of reading the weigh ins from tackle shops with the same individual keeping two fish per day every day of the week. Fish from 34 inches and bigger need to be completely protected, catch and release single hook tackle. One fish from 28-34 inches per day is plenty of fish for a meal, you must admit on a daily basis this is much more than anyone could possibly consume. We can make the mistake of overprotecting these fish for a few years, we cannot and should not allow this important population of fish to severely decline due to lack of protection. Thanks for listening and I wish you luck, we all depend on your decision.
    Submitted September 7
  • The resource has to come first. Commercial fishing interests as well as those of sport fishing must come behind the long term well being of the fishery. Please stand-up to the lobbying interests of both factions for the good of the fish. In the end, all parties will come out ahead.
    Submitted September 7
  • Striped bass are migratory fish yet each state has different rules and regulations. We need to treat them like migratory water fowl with uniform conservation rules.
    Submitted September 7
  • I believe striped bass populations are declining. I support cutting commercial harvesting by 50% and making recreational fishing for stripers catch and release only to see if we can get these populations back to harvestable levels once again. This fish needs to be protected.
    Submitted September 7
  • We need a slot fish again and circle hooks when bait fishing.
    Submitted September 7
  • I am an artist and a fisherman and these are my thoughts on the Striped Bass issue at hand. I fish for Striped Bass. I catch and successfully release most all of the fish I catch. In the past 10 years, I believe I only took one fish of 20 lbs., which I caught on a fly rod and with one of my own hand tied flies. Besides eating the fish, I created 20 original artworks (jetiiiart.com) with it as well. So, that one fish went much farther than most. I am distressed by fisherman taking so many fish out of the ocean, not only that, but I am distressed by Charter boats and Party boats at the number of fish they take out of the ocean. They fish most of the day and night and can clean out a place rather quickly. I fish now in Atlantic Highlands and even though there are plenty of small short fish, anything larger gets taken out of the ocean. The party boats should have a strict catch and release only policy. At most, maybe a one fish per species limit there. If they complain, then why are they making a living by killing fish. Go get a real job instead of relying on the environment for your living. There are also certain locations where Striped Bass come in close proximity to the shoreline and mass in great numbers. Fisherman fishing from the shoreline can literally strip them from the ocean, ex. in places like Montauk on Long Island. The way commercial fishing has stripped the ocean of fish is not right either. Governments fund themselves with profits seen from fishing, both recreational and commercial. This tying of monies received for fish, is to me, not ethical either. If you wish a fish for dinner you should have to actually fish for it yourself. There should be strict limits as to the numbers and size of the fish involved as well. People go fishing in order to catch a trophy fish and there should be a special allowance for a trophy fish, but taking all the breeders out, destroys a population as these are the best specimens for the continuation of the species. Feeding your entire family (and neighbors families) on fish you catch all year long is also not right. The high cost of gas and oil, fishing equipment and boat costs make people wish a strong return on their investment. They want to bring as many fish home to make up for this expense. I fish because I love to fish. I fish with a fly rod because it give the fish much more of a sporting chance. I let them go, because I want to keeping catching them. I would rather bring my wife a small fish occasionally for dinner than huge ones, but if I were to catch a really huge one on the fly rod I would probably greatly appreciate the chance to show it off.
    Submitted September 7
  • There have been many good suggestions but in my opinion making striped bass a GAME FISH will have the greatest impact on saving this fishery.
    Submitted September 7
  • I have been a fishermen for 35 years. I live in Montauk New York. I am in full support of strict management of the striper population. I have witnessed first hand the rapid decrease of stripers in the water while diving. I also have caught less fish over the last three years. When I say less, I can give you exactly the amounts via my fishing log which I have kept for over 20 years.

    In the last three years, I have seen my annual catch decrease by:
    - 2011: 34% from 2010
    - 2012: 18% from 2011
    - 2013: 44% from 2012
    *Please note I am a catch and release fisherman

    These numbers are on track again in 2014.

    If we continue the lax approach that has seemed to dominate the thinking of managers, I can guarantee we end up with a species struggling for survival.

    Do not let the special interests of the commercial fishermen tell you all is fine and nothing needs to be done.
    I may not have a degree in marine biology but I spent many years in the water watching the species fall into near extinction and then when it was managed properly by this body, came back to healthy levels.

    I also want to stress the importance of the striped bass in the overall food chain. As a top predator species the fish needs to be healthy and in great numbers for the health of the Atlantic aquatic food chain.

    Please take the route of preserving this wonderful natural resource.
    Submitted September 7
  • You can not achieve the goal outlined above as long as you put recreational fishing first in your priorities. Or commercial fishing which is oddly missing from your statement. THE FISH NEED TO BE OUR FIRST PRIORITY. The data does not support any taking of striped bass by any constituency. What the data supports is, "leave the fish alone and let them stabilize." How painful can 5 years off be? You can not take ANY chances at this critical juncture that your policies may decimate and already problematic population. That was your policy the last time the stock was resuscitated. Do it again, now, before it is too late - and too late could be just around the corner. Why chance it?
    Submitted September 7
  • Massachusetts has a commercial season for striped bass. This targets bass over 34" and without question these are our best breeders, large fish with a large number of eggs and probably a long history of breeding. Any business that targets (eliminates) their best breeders is sure to fail. If we were raising horses, cows, chickens, goats or any other animal we would never consider killing our best breeders. We encourage our best fishermen to eliminate our best breeders. I urge you to enact as soon as possible the maximum protection for striped bass.
    Submitted September 7
  • I think it's about time that we are taking a serious look into this issue.
    My suggestions

    1) slot limit no fish under 28, no fish under 34.
    2) 1 fish bag limit. At this size, why would you need more than one.
    3) no fish kept at all during spawning season. In fact spawning areas should be off limits to fishing totally during spawning.
    4) make striped bass a game fish.
    Submitted September 7
  • Please consider restricting commercial harvesting of all types (full-time to casual) to species that have the capacity for long-term, sustainable regeneration. Reserve sufficient amounts of all resources to support quality recreational fishing demand. Minimize or eliminate commercial fishing of species with extraordinary recreational demand for which there are no suitable substitutes for maintaining a high level of recreational fishing. A prime example is the striped bass along the North Atlantic coast. Excessive market fishing for high-value recreational species such as striped bass is folly. Tens of millions of dollars of economic value added will be lost if an adequate level of striped bass are not reserved for recreational fishery.
    Submitted September 7
  • As a lifelong female fisherman in Long Island Sound as well as Narragansett Bay, I have personally watched the changes in the striped bass population for the past 50 years. When I participated in a tagging session out of Galilee, RI last year, it was shocking how sparse the fish and how small the average we caught.

    I grew up in the area of Connecticut where currently award winning sized bass are being caught. It is important to establish effective legal brackets for the harvesting of striped bass, a high level predator in the Atlantic coast food chain, and the tagging program is an integral legal and scientific tool in determining the best way to perpetuate the species for sport and commercial fishermen into the future.

    To allow commercial fishermen to continue harvesting as they do now serves neither them nor their children, or my sport fishing children. Striped bass migrate along much of the Atlantic Coast, and all Atlantic states must join in protecting the future of this limited resource.

    Our nation's citizens have endured financial hardship over the past 6 years due to the lax regulation in the financial markets as well as individual's actions motivated by short term personal gain. Is this the model our fisheries managers want to follow? Or can we look at this and many other examples of lazy governance as models to shun in our pursuit of the management of our national fishery resources.

    One law should be obeyed by all citizens, regardless of their financial interest. Our fisheries belong to all the American people. Commercial interests are NOT more entitled to access than individual fishermen.

    The negative impact on our local economies by a collapsing striped bass population is felt much more by those businesses supported by the sport fishing industry than the commercial fishing industry as sport fishing has a broader and more diversified base.

    Please take the time to understand this complex issue and help our citizens today and in the future keep this amazing fish viable. Let us not follow the example of the codfish and its demise.
    Submitted September 7
  • Reductions in striped bass quotas are needed to conserve the greatest number of large fish in the shortest amount of time. It has taken way too long to get a commitment to conservation while the harvesting limits have stayed level in spite of a documented decline in the species.... especially the large breeders. I support the 25% reduction in quota in one year.
    Submitted September 7
  • Suggestion summary

    - Slot limit 26-30 and one fish per day for rec fisherman; protect the breeding fish!
    - Reduce number of commercial licenses available with priority given to those who make it their livelihood
    - Charter boats should also be classed as a commercial operation as they are responsible for a significant part of the "non-commercial" catch.
    - Protect the species at the spawning source
    Submitted September 7
  • I think you should make striped bass a game fish period. Recreational fishermen spend much more money in their local and not so local areas to catch stripers when compared to commercial interests. But if you can't bring yourselves to do this because of intense pressure from commercial interests, you should at least find a way to account for and penalize the people who break all the rules. You are aware of many cases of large scale harvesting of illegal bass, these people should be put out of business permanently, and those fish should be taken from the next years quota, maybe then the fishermen might police their own better.
    Submitted September 7
  • As an active kayak/surf angler who targets Stripers I would advocate a reduction in both recreational and commercial daily catch limits and size. I have read about the dramatic reduction in Striper numbers since 2006 and have also experienced it. Certainly a one fish per day for recreational anglers would be a good start and a slot size similar to Maine is worth evaluating. Killing large breeder stock should be stopped. Obviously the total tonnage currently allowed by commercial fisherman should be reduced to sustainable numbers. NOAA and other agencies are doing a good job alerting the fishing community about mortality rates due to mishandling of Stripers and that should be continued.
    Submitted September 7
  • Your goals of "foster and enhance sustainable, healthy, and diverse recreational/non-commercial fisheries" sheds a light on part of the problem. Your goals are amorphous, without any true definition and not quantifiable. The problems of the decline in the Striper fishery have been well known for two decades: an unfettered large commercial fishery and lack of any meaningful oversight based on recent numbers. This needs boots on the ground now and at reasonable intervals in the future. Thank you.
    Submitted September 7
  • Considerable data exists that suggest management strategies that are now used recreationally and commercially promote the consumption of species that contain concentrations of contaminants (PCB's and MeHG) above the EPA action level. Furthermore, through food frequency questionnaires it has been established that fish consumers, in particular recreational anglers, may display consumption habits that put them at risk of exceeding the EPA RfD for MeHg. NOAA should:

    1) along with the FDA and EPA create a partnership to limit the exposure to contaminated seafood
    2) create a more efficient public outreach system to inform the public of contamination of seafood that includes a mandatory consumption warning system that must be issued by the state
    3) establish regulations that promote conservation and healthy consumption. For example, slot limits can minimize the potential exposure to contaminants while conserving the breeding stock of a fishery.

    This should not be limited to recreational fisheries as commercial fisheries provide the same harmful products to the unknowing consumer.
    Submitted September 6
  • I lived through the striper decline and don't want to do it again. The big cows should be released to spawn. Keeping a slot fish for the table is my vote. No sales of stripers should be permitted. No bycatch should be sold.
    Submitted September 6
  • Stop the insanity and make it a game fish. Look at the snook, redfish and sea trout recoveries. Multi million tournament trails, motels, marinas, tackle shops and local guides and community's boating industry ,restaurant and food venues...just plain good business sense for all. If the guys running the show over at the marine fishery's don't see this then its time to remove the bums. They are a disservice to us all, heave them over the side and get some folks who really understand fishery economics.
    Submitted September 6
  • I remember the last CRASH and I'm watching the train wreck happen all over AGAIN... after the Striped Bass breeders are decimated, the folks who caused the disaster will line up for their federal aid...
    Submitted September 6
  • Commercial fishing is what decimated the red fish population in the south and commercial fishing is what our fisheries managers have allowed to decimate the striped bass population not once, but twice. Striped bass should be managed like red fish. No commercial fishing.

    Had that been done in the 1980's, we'd still have a thriving bass fishery today.
    Submitted September 6
  • I believe that reductions in striped bass quotas should conserve the greatest number of large fish in the shortest amount of time. It has taken way too long to get a commitment to conservation while the harvesting limits have stayed level in spite of a documented decline in the species.... especially the large breeders. Stripers Forever supports the 25% reduction in quota in one year, the elimination of all trophy seasons, and conservative maximum size restrictions protecting fish over 34" in length.
    Submitted September 6
  • NOAA must stand up in the fishery management process for recreational fishing. On a local basis it is very difficult for recreational fishing to get the consideration it is due because commercial fishing has historically been seen as the more important use of the resource. Politicians are very slow to take new and forward thinking positions that they do not thoroughly understand, and these politicians control the appointment process for all aspects of local fishery management.

    The federal government often has a different view of wildlife management than the states because it is not as easily controlled by small segments of the public. The history of waterfowl management provides one of the clearest examples of how the influence of the federal government was needed to change the fishery management practices within the states. Action by the federal government could now be very important in improving recreational fishing opportunities, and this would overall be very beneficial.

    There are a number of strong justifications for giving a great deal more consideration to recreational fishing than it currently receives.

    I. Issues that justify greater allocations and management consideration for recreational fishing.
    Personal Use Allocations

    SF sees recreational fishing as members of the public directly accessing for their own personal use and enjoyment a resource that all citizens have an equal right to. The precedents are clear in wildlife management that this individual right has the highest primacy when compared to other harvesting.

    In many cases today we see commercial fishing quotas taking such a bite out of a scarce resource that a reasonable personal use harvest is not possible, and this is simply wrong. NMFS should stand up for the rights of individual citizens to have a fair harvest allocation before commercial fishing harvests the surplus – if in fact there is any surplus.

    Conservation

    Because of the comparatively inefficient and non-invasive equipment used by recreational fishers they do not take large percentages of a fish population from a defined area at any one time. Recreational equipment also tends to be far less harmful to the environment than commercial gathering techniques such as bottom dragging, nor does it cause ghost fishing issues that take place with the use of gill nets. Also, because there is no profit motive fishing will generally not occur beyond taking the bag limit. The greater conservation values in recreational fishing activity when compared to commercial fishing should be recognized and supported. If, for instance, a fishery or a fishing location cannot support commercial fishing activity recreational activities should not be automatically banned just because commercial fishing activities are not appropriate.

    Economics

    In most or perhaps all fisheries that are participated in by recreational anglers the public benefits by receiving a greater amount of economic activity than if the same fish were taken by commercial fishing. There is no justification for harvesting the fish commercially if it generates less economic activity than would be available through recreational fishing. In spite of rhetoric about providing seafood for people, all commercial harvest does when confronted with a limited resource is to take fish away from those willing to harvest their own and sell them to someone else. No additional seafood can be created, and less economic activity and jobs are produced in the process.

    Social Benefits

    The great American conservationist Gifford Pinchot said: “Conservation is the foresighted utilization, preservation and/or renewal of forests, waters, lands and minerals, for the greatest good of the greatest number for the longest time.” Surely our continued management of fish to fulfill the desires of the small number of people within the commercial fishing industry provides benefits for less people than a recreational fishery with many times the participants. For those fish enjoyed by recreational fishing it is obvious that the greatest social benefits can be achieved by optimizing the populations of those species to get the most public participation in the fishery.

    Right Thing To Do

    It is obvious to all thinking individuals that we should not destroy our populations of ocean fish, yet that is exactly what we have done. Commercial fishing interests have been able to leverage local politicians and on up the political ladder to have the greatest influence of any user group on the fishery management process. The result has been the essential destruction of our marine fish populations. Clearly these practices have to end and we need to rebuild our fishery populations. It will not be possible to do this and manage them allowing as much commercial harvest as we have in the past. NOAA has the ability to greatly influence the fishery management process for the better by adopting and promoting policies that recognize the rights of recreational anglers and the benefits of recreational salt water angling. Typically local fishery management has no guiding policies of any kind, and NOAA’s policies will become the benchmark.

    II. Additional issues that must be addressed to improve recreational fishing experiences and enjoy the associated benefits.

    “Willingness to Pay (WTP)” must be replaced with some other more practical allocation metric – one that the managers can understand and apply today. The fact that each individual recreational participant is a citizen with equal rights to all others must be recognized.

    Minimum standards for recreational fisheries must be established – a hard catch per unit effort (CPUE) should be set where possible to ensure an acceptable probability of catching a fish.

    Abundance must be evaluated in terms of the minimum catch per unit effort established for a “successful” recreational fishery in recognition of the fact that it takes more fish to have a successful recreational fishery. For fisheries participated in by recreational anglers it must be formally recognized that maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is not an appropriate concept.

    Better effort data must be continuously collected for the recreational fishery. MRFSS and MRIP have been relied on for years, not because they provided the best data but because they were easiest to implement.

    Recreational participation in the management process at the council and commission level must be increased. These venues are traditionally saturated by commercial interests. For many jurisdictions, there is essentially very little recreational representation at the ASMFC.

    We need to stop hiding behind phrases like “fair and equitable,” and words like “reasonable” that are poorly defined in the context of fisheries. The federal recreational fisheries policy should either stop using these terms or give them some teeth in practical terms that can influence policies. When the law says that allocation policies shall “Not permit a particular individual, corporation, or other entity to acquire an excessive share of fishing privileges,” what does the word “excessive” mean?
    Submitted September 6
  • As a Cape Cod resident and author of several books and a Cape Cod fishing column, I have closely monitored the season to season status of striped bass in MA waters. It is clear that the commercial fishing has exacerbated the grave decline of female fish, resulting in a substantial loss of recreational fishing activity and its concomitant economic impact on the state.

    The economic impact of recreational striped bass fishing far outweighs that of the commercial fishery. Yet the management of the fishery focuses almost entirely on supporting the commercial fishers.

    Every day, I see the loss of jobs and related impact from the decline in recreational fishing.

    It is time to mange the sf fishery for the greatest good, for the most anglers and that is scientifically documented as the recreational anglers with equal rights to access to this natural resource belonging to all of us, not the relative handful of commercial fishermen. It is past time to correct the historical and warped view of managing this fishery, now, while there is time to save it.
    Submitted September 6
  • I have been striped bass fisherman for over 60 years and, as such, I have witnessed the tragic decline of the fishery in the 70, and 80's and I fear that if we do not act swiftly and decisively we will be accused of not learning from past mistakes.

    Ultimately, we need to make the striped bass a game fish only but in the meantime drastic reductions for both commercial and recreational takes must be implemented before we go by the point of no return and not even know it. if not I fear my grandchildren will never know any meaningful connection to this magnificent fish. Thank you.
    Submitted September 6
  • As a Maine recreational striper fisherman for many years, I have personally witnessed a SIGNIFICANT reduction in the numbers of stripers in our area. WAY too many breeders are being taken out of the breeding YG stocks by the states allowing high commercial quotas. It is well established that these fish are much more valuable as a recreational species, and steps MUST be taken to protect this game fish.
    Submitted September 6
  • Please stop commercial striped bass fishing on the Atlantic Coast and restrict recreational bag limits to allow a sustainable stock of striped bass to rebuild as measured by spawn success using the YOY index. To recover from current stock decline a YOY index of 15 or more for 3 consecutive years will be necessary.

    Restrict recreational fisherman to the use of circle hooks to increase survival rates of fish stocks caught by catch and release anglers like myself. I enjoy catching stripped bass, not eating them. Also, it is the larger Cow stripped bass who are critical to spawning success and rebuilding the species. Large fish should be released and keepers should be the smaller sizes like 28 to 35 inches. it is counter intuitive, but protecting the larger fish is more important.

    http://www.stripers247.com/Spawning-Stripers.php

    http://chesapeakebay.noaa.gov/fish-facts/striped-bass

    I am horrified by the drop the past few years in stripped bass populations off Martha's Vineyard, which must be reflective of the species in other areas as well. Being in touch with many kayak anglers, it is clear this is a universal experience on the islands and the north shore of Massachusetts.

    http://www.providencejournal.com/sports/content/20140903-fishing-report-striped-bass-regulation-changes-are-vital-issue.ece

    Complex systems like ecosystems have many inter-related variables, as I learned in Systems dynamics at MIT, for example:
    However, you can manage the striped Bass till the cows come home (no pun intended) and not make any significant impact on population levels if nothing is done to protect the bread basket of striper production meaning the Chesapeake Bay. The overall health of the bay has been in serious decline for several years now, I’m not completely clear on the main problem but it appears to be large “dead ” zones in the bay. These dead areas are basically water with oxygen levels too low to support life. the main problem seems to be runoff high in nitrogen causing excessive algae blooms from I believe huge chicken farms located in close proximity to the bay. These inter-relating systems variables need to be part of the debate, and the interest groups related to all areas impacting this fishery and the health of the bay need to be brought together to jointly work on meaningful change initiatives.

    Thanks for viewing my comments.
    Submitted September 6
  • I would be in favor of a 1 fish per day limit, 24 to 40 inches. No one needs more than 1 fish a day. This would also protect very large spawning stripers, are the most fit gene pool. I fished several year just priory to the moratorium and only caught 2 or 3 bass. After the moratorium I was easily catching 600 to 700 bass every season. Its obvious what conservation can do. This past season, I caught maybe a 100 bass. Not the trend any of us want to see. Something must be done now even if you error on the side of caution.
    Submitted September 6
  • NOAA should make every effort to ensure that estuaries such as the Breton Sound and Barataria estuary be protected from so called coastal restoration projects involving diversion of river water from the Mississippi River into these areas designated as Essential Fish Habitat. The Louisiana Master Plan for Coastal Restoration is proposing large scale river diversions, two in capacity of 250,000 CFS. This will be devastating to both commercial and recreational fishing in these areas.
    Submitted September 4
  • Currently fisheries managers have a limited tool box for managing fish stocks. Often times we see that by only limiting fishing mortality we are placing a band aid on a problem and ignoring many of the other contributing factors of stock decline. Ecosystem enhancement through restoration projects (SAV, marsh restoration/ mitigation, water quality, fish passages) as management tools must be used by state and federal fisheries managers to enhance stocks for future use.
    Submitted September 4
  • Conservation, and enhancement. Conservation, requires responsibilities that starts at the root. The Anglers. Regulations makes criminals, but education, provides knowledge. Is there some kind of reward for conserving our natural resources? YES ! It's future sustainability And how can we communicate these to the people that are working to feed and support families. Because Sportfishing is all about providing for families, not to get rich like the commercial industry. The harvest of sportfishing is only a small fraction of the commercial industry, but it seems you are focused on controlling recreational fishing. Enhancement. Is there even a study done?
    Submitted September 3
  • This seems to me to be an amalgamation or rewording of the first one…My feelings on this go as follows - how can we achieve the outlined goals above - 'through conservation and enhancement,' without proper "management." Aren't these qualities birds of a feather, or at least of the same flock…? Sound management can only enhance sustainable, healthy, and diverse fisheries - while conservation and enhancement can only serve to assist with management. I believe these two things need to go together, and most of it is about perception, positioning and politics. But then again I know you guys already know about all of this...
    Submitted September 3
  • Management of resource areas should be of immediate concern. As noted, there is degradation of water quality, prey populations, and loss of resource ares for juvenile and immature fish. Development for residential and commercial use must be curbed, areas of special concern should be increased, protected more thoroughly and permanently. We are losing wetlands to private interest in the New England region, we need more State and Federal protection for this species to thrive.
    Submitted September 2
  • Do it now, before it's too late.
    Submitted September 1
  • I am a resident of Marthas Vineyard, Ma. Each year there is less and less fish, from our ground fish to the pelagic species. Please enact a more stringent set of regulations to protect what we have. Given half a chance, most species will rebound. Protect the fish where they spawn, including the baitfish, like squid.
    Submitted September 1

August 2014 Comments

  • Striped bass fishery should be modified to protect breeding stock by implementing a maximum size allow to be kept (ie: 40") and reduce the minimum length lower than the existing 28" for a allowed catch to 25". Just a suggestion.
    Submitted August 31
  • So far you have a horrendous record of protecting fish stocks,because of catering to commercial interests. This view is held by all the fisherman I know and have talked to for the last 50 years.
    Submitted August 31
  • I'm 72 yrs. old and for the 2nd time in my life I've seen the fishery in serious decline. We need to take the politics out of the mix and make some real sacrifices. We need to make drastic changes and fast,stop the commercials and all the harvesting of the large fish. I think its to late but I hope not for my grand children's sake.
    Submitted August 29
  • Tag system needed to save stripers. 5 fish season for recs. No commercial fishing except by full timers / full livelihood. The weekend gas account "commercial" fishing is killing huge numbers of big breeders.
    Submitted August 29
  • We need better policing of commercial fishing. There are to many fisherman that cheat and take more than there limit. The under sized fish also suffer and many die from the hooks. Circle hooks should be the only hooks used in the ocean.
    Submitted August 29
  • I believe recreational size limit should be increased to 32", one (1) fish should be allowed, and circle hooks should be mandatory for bait fishing.
    Submitted August 28
  • Over the past 8 years I've witnessed a dramatic scarcity of striped bass and now bluefish. When a large body of fish is discovered the fishing pressure increases with one tide…due to the internet and cell phones. The poor fish don't have a chance…On the other hand, most people follow the rules…so, tighten the rules…One fish over 29 inches on bass, 3 fish any size for blues, 10 fish for 2 days for commercial….we need to be saved from ourselves!!! Sad but true.
    Submitted August 28
  • I agree with the other comments that the data should be independent and scientific rather than led by the wants of the commercial sector. "Sustainable" should be proven scientific sustainability, and re-evaluated annually. It also needs to incorporate the knock-on effects of harvesting a top predator on the local ecology. Bluefin Tuna should be categorized as an endangered species and possession of such fish and their by-products an offence. Charter boats should also be classed as a commercial operation as they are responsible for a significant part of the "non-commercial" catch.
    Submitted August 28
  • You folks have done a great job working with many people to enable the resources are utilized in a fair and equitable manner. Most commercial and recreation fisherman are doing what they love and care very much about the resource. A simple possible suggestion for protecting and bringing back the striped bass fishery may be to reduce the rec limit to one fish per day and reduce the commercial quota by a similar amount. If you introduce a slot limit ie 26-30 inches or so the older spawning fish would also have a chance to reproduce and the fishery would be much more sustainable in the long run. We have all seen the numbers of striped bass decline over the last ten years and realize your job is very difficult. The idea of minimal sustainable yield rather than maximum sustainable yield might make this much simpler in the future. Rec and commercial fisherman do not enjoy having to chase a species far offshore or spend countless hours catching fish due to the declining numbers. Commercial fisherman make money after expenses and would be much happier with a higher price per pound and smaller day/seasonal quota. The higher price per pound and reduced costs of catching the fish easily offsets the decline in quota. Rec fisherman just want to catch a fish. Striped bass as we all know are worth much more to the economy than a few dollars per pound. Florida has been a prime example of success in the fisheries with snook and sea trout,possibly copying there proven successful methods might make your job much simpler. Thanks for your time.
    Submitted August 28
  • Ten of the 19 nationally recognized fish habitat partnerships seek to protect, restore, and enhance fish habitats in coastal and marine environments through outreach, habitat restoration, scientific research, habitat assessments, coordination, sharing information, developing decision support tools, and securing, leveraging and distributing resources. These habitats support the productivity of our nation’s valuable recreational and commercial fisheries.

    The coastal fish habitat partnerships appreciate the opportunity to comment on NOAA’s proposed saltwater recreational fisheries policy. As we understand, the policy is intended to provide NOAA with guiding principles as it manages saltwater recreational fisheries and to formalize the agency’s institutional commitment to these important national resources.

    Specifically, we support the following policy goals within the Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy :

    - Increase public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of tidal habitat in the production and maintenance of healthy saltwater recreational fisheries.
    - Acknowledge and promote the social, economic, and ecological benefits that flow to coastal communities—and saltwater recreational fisheries—when estuaries and coastal habitat are conserved for marine fish.
    - Support research, at a variety of scales, to ensure that science-based management guides the conservation and restoration of shorelines and waters to sustain saltwater fish.
    - Work with partners to identify key threats and prioritize actions to protect, conserve, or restore habitat for saltwater fish.
    - Encourage national initiatives to support climate adaptation, resiliency planning, and collaborative engagement to restore habitat for saltwater fish.
    - Work with partners to conserve and restore fish habitat to sustain healthy populations of saltwater fish and support healthy saltwater recreational fisheries.

    The coastal fish habitat partnerships commend NOAA’s goal of developing a comprehensive, saltwater, recreational fisheries policy. If you have any questions about our recommended policy statements, we are available to provide clarification and, more importantly, assist you in realizing your long-term goals of ensuring productive populations of saltwater fish in US coastal waters and estuaries.
    Submitted August 1

July 2014 Comments

  • I am for recreational restrictions based on science for sustainable fisheries. Overabundance of fish that feed on juvenile fish should be eliminated one case in mind look how the spiny dogfish has decimated other stocks such as cod and whiting in the New York Bight area. In this case commercial fishing should be encouraged and perhaps help to develop a market. Also when a species is in decline strict recreational measures such as with the striped bass years ago which worked great should be enacted.
    Submitted July 23
  • Believe you should change your goal to read "... and public access to them through RESEARCH, SOUND SCIENCE, conservation, and enhancement."

    Believe that you should be at the forefront in leading RDT&E activities in this area. Also, you need viable, sound scientific guidance to be able to dismiss tainted science from both the rape/pillage commercial fisheries sector and the emotional bleeding heart Humane Society/Ghandi factions. NOAA should be the generator and promoter of good research and sound science. YOU MUST BE ADEQUATELY FUNDED FOR THIS ROLE!! You should also be fully partnered with other federal RDT&E sponsor organizations (e.g. NSF, etc.) to influence their spending portfolios to include full spectrum fisheries topics.
    BTW: love what you are doing here and your solicitation of public input!!!
    Submitted July 7
  • I think that the striped bass fishery needs to be managed for abundance. A low level sustainable population isn't in the interest of either commercial or recreational groups. The Chesapeake population needs better protection from harvest, both intentional and by-catch, particularly following sequential years of limited year class propagation. The sustainability of the Massachusetts commercial harvest numbers needs to be more carefully considered in the setting of declining stock.
    Submitted July 5
  • Stop commercial striped bass fishing on the Atlantic Coast and restrict recreational bag limits until a sustainable stock of striped bass rebuilds as measured by spawn success using the YOY index. To recover from current stock decline a YOY index of 15 or more for 3 consecutive years will be necessary. Please!
    Submitted July 4
  • Please manage for abundance by using hard quotas with no ability to delay rebuilding.
    Submitted July 3

June 2014 Comments

  • I think this should be the most important goal for NOAA. All of the policies should first and foremost consider conservation as their goal. There will be no fisheries if left to our own devises. It has played out time and time again throughout history. Our natural resources, especially those in the ocean are not infinite. Through out most of history we have treated the ocean as if it were. But with the increase of the world's population and the increased efficiency of modern technology, it is too easy for us to abuse and deplete the resource. Without the laws in place that require us to conserve our natural resources there would be nothing stopping us from emptying the oceans. Just look at the historic populations of any game fish from whales to Atlantic salmon, cod, or bluefin tuna. Conservation is enhancement and it is critical to the pursuits of recreational anglers and the jobs of those in the commercial sector as well.
    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
  • I for once like to encourage the actual government to work closely with those agencies developing the RIGS TO REEF program in the GOM. It's crucial that we preserve that healthy & reach ecosystem for future generations , and to preserve all the marine species living in that habitat.
    Submitted June 12
  • Our national fisheries policy for many decades has been a national disgrace. Because for so many years, the national fisheries were managed by the Commerce Department, our national policy has been very effective in destroying many fisheries -- in some cases, towards virtual extinction. Unfortunately, until recently, the recreational interests were not politically active nor organized, and the commercial interests used their considerable influence with Congress and the Commerce Department to cut sweetheart deals and to pillage the public resource for the benefit of the powerful few. Two egregious examples are the allowance of menhaden reduction for the benefit of Omega and the purse seine quota allowed for giant tuna. Wherever small progress has been made -- such as restoration of the Southern Florida swordfish population by the banning of long liners in their spawning zones -- the commercials have pushed back and NOAA has generally acceded to their pressure. The great comeback of the striped bass population is in terrible jeopardy because the NMFS can't get its act together and continues to allow commercial fisheries in Mass., NY, Virginia, and NC. Meanwhile, as an avid striper fisherman, I have seen the population distribution collapse and the numbers of stripers have plummeted. Winter flounder, which I used to catch in large quantities off of Long Island as a kid -- from March to November -- are nearly extinct. Meanwhile, because of ridiculously faulty "scientific" data, the healthy sea bass population cannot be harvested recreationally in NY until July 15, putting much more pressure on stripers, porgies and fluke. Basically, the whole system is a mess, and the NOAA has been a disgrace. Commercial fishing for bluefin tuna should be greatly curtailed, and no giant bluefin tuna should be allowed to be landed, either recreationally or commercially. Seeding efforts should be undertaken to build up winter flounder populations. Stripers should be granted gamefish status everywhere. Sadly, I am ashamed that the NOAA has been allowed to mismanage and destroy our fisheries. Going forward, aquaculture should be encouraged to protect our wild fish stock, wherever possible. Recreational interests should be given much higher priority, especially since the economic impact of recreational fishing exceeds that of commercial fisheries by many multiples. I hope there will still be good recreational fishing for my grandkids. That's why the NOAA needs to reprioritize and no longer kow-tow to commercial interests.
    Submitted June 10