Redfish Assessment Raises Red Flag

The long-awaited red drum stock assessment was recently presented to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and initial results show cause for concern.

The spawning potential ratio (SPR) for the southern portion of the stock (Florida, Georgia and South Carolina) and the northern portion (North Carolina and points north) should be at least 30 percent of an unfished stock, but the estimates show the SPRs in both regions are considerably lower, just 17 percent and 9.1 percent respectively.

These estimates, if correct, indicate Atlantic Coast redfish populations could be slipping below a level needed to maintain healthy stocks. Anglers across the region now worry about the status of the red drum popula­tion, but ASMFC commissioners are not yet ready to take action. The stock assessment model used has never been applied to red drum before. It has been problematic since the begin­ning, requiring extensive collaboration between the reviewers and assessment scientists to complete, delaying the stock assessment results for months due to pervasive questions.

The ASMFC’s South Atlantic Board voted unanimously (10-0) to not accept the stock assessment until the ASMFC Technical Committee meets again to answer some questions, a clear indica­tion of the uncertainty of the results.

“If the assessment is close to accu­rate, it’ll be imperative for the ASMFC and the states to work together to enact regulations that set the red drum stock back on a path to sustainability as quickly as possible,” says Richen Brame, regional fisheries director for the Coastal Conservation Association.

Something Missing?

The mako photo, page 57 in the May issue, looks odd. The swivel seems to be attached to an extra invisible hook, or a carefully Photoshopped hook. Something just ain’t right. I still like your publication!

Billy McKee Walton County, Florida

Spot On

Having watched George Poveromo’s show for many years and sub­scribed to Sait Water Sportsman magazine, I would like to commend you on the recent article you pro­vided on solunar tables. I have fished fresh and salt water since I was a kid growing up along the coast in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and started keep­ing logs of each fishing trip since 1979, which also included the solu­nar activities of the fish (and deer, hogs, etc.), which I validated many years ago. I am now retired and get to fish three to five days a week here in Virginia, and the historical data from my logs has proven to be invaluable when used in conjunc­tion with the tides/ solunar tables as I schedule trips.

Michael E. Meier Fredericksburg, Virginia

The wire trace has been haywire-twisted through both the hook eye and a barrel swivel as part of the specialized rig. — Ed.

Roaming Charges

I thought Nick Honachefsky’s article “Tactics to Bag Flatfish on Both Sides of the Mason-Dixon Line” (March) was right on with using similar rigs to catch both species of flounder. But I must disagree where Nick draws the Mason-Dixon Line when it comes to the migration of southern flounder. Please note attached pictures of what appear to me as a mixed bag of both southern flounder and summer flounder caught in the New York Harbor last July while fishing aboard the boat South Paw. The single fisher­man with a southern flounder is Capt. Chris Beinert with the NYC skyline in the background, and the two gentlemen on the deck of South Paw are Frank Schirripa and Kerry Smith (myself, on the right), all members of the Staten Island Tuna Club. I have been catching both species since I can remember and believed that the fish changed their spots at will to camouflage their whereabouts. Thanks to Nick’s article, I’ll be re-educating fellow members at the SITC and the rest of my fishing friends about the presence of both species in our waters.

Kerry M. Smith Staten Island, New York


Fish Stock Factors

Excellent article by Rip Cunningham on shifting baselines with regard to evaluating fish stocks. Two factors overlooked, though, are changes to the environment with degrada­tion that affects nursery stocks and survival rates, and if fish are able to reproduce and have an adequate number of males and females, and also changes in fishing technology that enable factory trawlers to catch fish in ever deeper waters or drag the bottom with chains to cause perma­nent degradation of the ocean floor. We have problems in California with decreased water flow in the rivers, and mercury and PCBs entering the rivers and bays. To look at fish reproduction without looking at the colossal amount of environ­mental degradation is to miss the bigger picture.

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Florida Anglers Push for Water Management Changes

After well-documented algae blooms and fish kills, Florida’s angling commu­nity is demanding major changes to the state’s flawed water management strategy.

Massive ongoing fresh­water releases from Lake Okeechobee and runoff from the C-44 and C-43 basins have caused signifi­cant damage to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuar­ies while the Everglades and Florida Bay were deprived of much needed fresh water after an earlier drought. Consequently, the respec­tive ecosystems have been severely stressed.

The angling community urges state and local elected officials to control unabated and untreated storm-water

completion of existing projects to relieve the Everglades, St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee basins, Florida Bay and Indian River Lagoon, as well as the Next Steps Project to raise an additional 2.6 miles of the Tamiami Trail.

Florida anglers are also advocating for the review and update of the Army Corps of Engineers’ Inte­grated Delivery Schedule to expedite projects ready for construction and near-term projects designed to benefit water quality and manage­ment, and asking Everglades National Park managers to collaborate more efficiently with the state of Florida to manage water levels in the park affecting biodiversity discharges and eradicate septic tanks in coastal areas to eliminate their drainage into estuaries and bays, and it’s pushing for other changes that will provide relief to affected areas and begin the long healing process.

FLOWING MESS: Algae-laden water from the Indian River pushes out of Stuart Inlet as freshwater discharges continue.

Recommendations include accelerating federal authorization, funding and of water-dependent species and their habitats.

Coastal Conservation Association Florida, among those leading the charge, recently partnered with the Florida Oceanographic Society to help finance a project in the Indian River in Stuart and is ready to fund another oyster reef restoration in Lee County. In addition, CCAFL plans to start habitat restoration in the affected estuaries as soon as conditions allow.

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