Releases – July 6, 2017
The Onslow Bay Artificial Reef Association has announced a Southern Flounder Stock Enhancement Workshop on July 12.
The NC Wildlife Resources Commission has achieved tremendous stock enhancement success with striped bass and white shad, along with many other fresh water species produced for stocking in large numbers. With the global technology of growing southern flounder fingerlings (born here in North Carolina), why would flounder stock enhancement not work in North Carolina as it does in Texas?
The public is invited to come out to the New Hanover County Public Library on Wednesday, July 12, at 9:30 am to hear what the experts have to say regarding the potential for (large scale) southern flounder stock enhancement using hatchery-raised flounder.
Dr. Harry Daniels (NCSU), Scott Batsavage (NCDMF), and Dr. Robert Vega (Texas A&M, Texas Parks and Recreation, and consultant to California White Sea Bass Stock Enhancement Program) are among the foremost authorities on southern flounder stock enhancement in the country, and they will be the keynote speakers at the July 12 meeting.
CCA NC and the popular coastal apparel company Hook and Bones are excited to announce they are teaming up once again for the 2nd Annual “Fishing for the Future” Youth Tournament. This free catch and release tournament will be held in conjunction with the Hook and Bones Redfish Open on August 12 in beautiful, historic Swansboro.
Kids will compete in separate age categories (12 and under, and 13 to 17) for multiple prize packages including: First Fish of the Day, Most Fish Caught, Most Unusual Fish, Top Lady Angler, Longest Redfish, Longest Flounder, and many more. Because the tournament is catch and release, kids may fish from any location, provided they sign a release form at the Captain’s Party the night prior.
Last year, every child that participated received a free tournament t-shirt, rod and reel combo, ready to fish tackle box, and captain’s bag filled with swag from our tournament sponsors. This year, as an added bonus, the first 50 participants to register will have their name placed into a special drawing for a Fathom Prize Pack that will include Fathom apparel, a 4-foot cast net, and additional rewards.
Kids are not only in for a fun day of fishing on August 12, they will also be treated to a Conservation Expo that will take place in the Swansboro Town Square prior to the awards ceremony. Kids will enjoy an up-close encounter as exhibitors from the local wildlife and conservation community will be on hand with touch tanks, marine animals, wildlife, games, and more. The day will conclude with an awards ceremony that takes place on the big stage alongside the Redfish Open’s anglers. This will allow kids to experience the same pomp and circumstance that is characteristic of a professional tournament.
Sponsorships are still available for interested parties, with all donations going directly towards costs associated with the tournament. Donors will receive recognition on the tournament website and Facebook page and have their name or logo included with materials in the captain’s bag and at the tournament check-in table. Donors who provide $400 or more in cash, goods, or services will have their logos placed on any printed materials (including t-shirts).
For more information and to register please visit the tournament website at www.ccancfishingforthefuture.com.
Members of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council gathered in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where red snapper and cobia fisheries continued to dominate discussions. The harvest of red snapper is currently prohibited in federal waters ranging from three to 200 miles off the South Atlantic coast as the stock continues to rebuild. The recreational fishery for Atlantic cobia (Georgia to New York) closed in federal waters earlier this year as a result of harvest estimates from NOAA Fisheries showing the annual catch limit was exceeded in 2016.
The Council received a presentation by NOAA Fisheries during this week’s meeting showing that the estimated number of red snapper removed (landings plus dead discards) exceeded the acceptable biological catch in 2016, a situation that has kept the fishery closed for the past two years under the current management plan. The removals are primarily associated with the recreational fishery where red snapper are captured and released while fishermen target other co-occurring species. Approximately 28% of the fish released by recreational anglers are estimated to die primarily due to barotrauma, the physical damage to body tissues caused by differences in pressure as the fish is being retrieved.
Meanwhile, Council members, with representatives from both commercial and recreational fisheries, focused on how to allow limited harvest of red snapper beginning in 2018. “Council members and members of the public have repeatedly expressed their frustration at the increasing numbers of red snapper that are being released as this stock recovers,” said Council Chair Dr. Michelle Duval. “While we explore measures to allow limited harvest we must also be cautionary in our approach to not allow overfishing to occur should the fishery reopen next year.”
After lengthy discussion, the Council approved modifying draft Amendment 43 to the Snapper Grouper Fishery Management Plan to include a single action to revise annual catch limits for red snapper. The draft amendment would remove the current process and equation used to specify the annual catch limit and includes alternatives for establishing an annual catch limit for 2018 ranging from approximately 23,600 to 76,000 fish. The intent is to expedite the amendment by holding public hearings via webinar in August, in-person hearings at the Council’s September meeting, and approving the amendment for Secretarial review at that time. The new measures could be in place in time to allow limited harvest beginning in July of 2018.
Earlier in the week, the Council hosted a workshop on “Improving the Survival of Released Fish.” Eight speakers presented on best practices for reducing discard mortality, including the use of various descending devices, minimizing handling, and other practices. “These best fishing practices show the cumulative positive affects recreational anglers can have in reducing mortality of fish that are released,” stated Council member Chester Brewer, a recreational representative from West Palm Beach, Florida. “It is imperative that anglers learn about these tools and put them to good use.” Workshop information and the presentations are available from the Council’s website at: http://safmc.net/briefing-books/2017-june-council-meeting-briefing-book/.
Council members continued to address management of Atlantic cobia, including a request from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission that the Council consider transferring management authority to the Commission. The move would allow additional flexibility between the states for management of the fishery, which primarily occurs in state waters off the northeastern coast of North Carolina and Virginia. The Council decided to move forward to develop an amendment with options for transferring management authority as well as complementary management with the ASMFC.
The Council decided not to pursue taking emergency action to change the management boundary and annual catch limits for Atlantic cobia but did request that NOAA Fisheries recalculate the recreational harvest estimates for 2015 and 2016 as reported through the Marine Recreational Information Program. Fishermen and others have expressed considerable doubt in the estimates, especially for landings off the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia. The Council plans to hold a workshop in collaboration with the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council in November of this year to address recreational data collection and estimates. A stock assessment for cobia is scheduled to begin in 2018.