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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A local recreational leader has suggested conservation measures for Cobia. I ask you to chew on this for a couple of weeks and make comments of support...or change...or rejection. I did not make these suggestions, they are made by someone much smarter than me.

They are:
1. A boat limit of 6 cobia per vessel (this includes Recs and Charters
> and matches the Commercial H&L regs),

2. An exclusion of the Charter
> Captain and Crew from the calculation of possession limit,

3. The creation
> of a Cobia Landing Permit with a reporting requirement (Free and Online
> issue). All of these are easy steps that while not being dramatic, all are
> positive steps for the fishery. A landing permit and reporting of kept and
> released fish, as well as, the ability to phone survey those who've
> demonstrated they're interested in fishing cobia will only aid VMRC in
> capturing data on our fishery.

Dr. Bob Allen, Hampton VA
 

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This is a poorly thought out proposal. it will NOT help the problem. i applaud Dr Allen's efforts to bring attention to what is happening with cobia. This was not his proposal. There is an effort from people that fish for cobia to come up with a plan to ensue we have a great cobia fishery for many years to come.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you
Wes, you are correct, this is NOT my plan, but the discussion must begin somewhere, or there will be NO discussion or no conservation at all.

I request that any that have suggestions, please come aboard and comment....good or bad. or alternative measures.

Bob Allen, Hampton (not a cobia angler)
 

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Wes , will you explain why you think it is Lacking?
( to help us -- better understand the subject . )

Just a quick read, it looks like it is trying to limit 6pk charters to 1 fish limit, and create a landing permit.

It should be 1 per angler (rec or charter) - until we see how they hold up to increased pressure.
 

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All well and good. Bob, thanks for starting the process. What are they doing in NC? If they continue to slaughter them, what we do won't matter as much. I am not Rip Cunningham- who never met a regulation he did not like; but since they are pelagic shouldn't the Mid Atlantic Council be looking at this? I think everyone believes that 1 per person is enough. When I ran charters that was my self imposed limit; and we usually stopped before that and targeted other species. Why would you need more than that? A 40 lb'r split between 2 folks is about 13 lbs. of meat per person. That is a lot of fish tacos.
 

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This does leave a lot of grey area the way it's so blunt. The way I kind of took it was.
1.One fish per person
2. Max of 6 per boat (which I still think is more then enough)
3. A reporting system
If your a hunter and hunt migratory birds, you. Are required to have a HIP# (harvest information program) it's free and required. When you call to get your number they make you take brief survey of the previous years harvest.
As for the boat limit- if a charter captain has a four paying customers and a mate the boat limit should still be four but that could get slimy and would have to be managed mostly by the charter captains.
In the end, these fish are fun to catch, just like the big grey trout were fun and the big chopper blues. What went wrong?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
tconner sr: the ASMFC and NMFS do not know much about Cobia. To do tagging and stock assessments takes years. Rumors are that the stocks in SC Georgia and NC have been fished hard and are not as plentiful these last two years. Cobia are found worldwide; there are some who believe that the fish may migrate east and west and not so much up and down the coast. ?? No one has documentation. But while states to the south seem to see a decline in cobia catches, VA had more cobia this year than in many years previously--be it they were as large as years past...most caught in Va were smaller than normal are caught? I am of the "peronsal" belief that we need to have a full court press to begin an enthusiastic , and recreational supported tagging program of cobia in VA--that way we begin our own assessment without waiting for the Feds--who are slow to move.

A tagging program could be funded by our recreational license money at RFAB through a request from VIMS. The doctoral students at VIMS are always looking for money and a study -- We need open discussion.....and we must come to some agreement. Finfish Committee and VMRC will enact more restrictive measures, but we cannot approach VMRC with several options or several paths....the recreationals must agree on one course of action...get it approved by Finfish and then VMRC will act....but they will not support measures that are not approved and supported by the majority of recreational cobia anglers.

Bob Allen Hampton Va (not a cobia angler)
 

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Cobia are managed by the SAMFC not the ASMFC...this may soon change though. If you are searching for historical coast wide management info. SAMFC is the place to look. They are grouped with the migratory pelagics (king mackeral, spanish mackeral, cobia).
 

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tcannonsr; the two managing agencies for the two Cobia stock are: Atlantic Stock (GA to NY) the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (ASFMC) and for the Gulf of Mexico Stock (FL to TX) it's the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (GMFMC). Both agencies have established a 2 fish per person per day limit at a 33 inch fork length ( a 37 in total length is equivalent) for the EEZ fishery (3-200 nm). State agencies then set their own (0-3nm), either accepting the SAFMC/GMFMC regulation or adopting a more strict regulation.

The only state within the Atlantic Cobia Stock that is stricter than the established reg is Virginia at 1 fish per person per day at 37 inch total length. Florida also has a 1 fish limit and also a 6 fish boat limit.

Establishing a 6 fish boat limit would put the recreational and charter boats equal to the current commercial boat limit. Recreational and Charters (Inspected and OUPV) would still be held to the 1 fish per person regulation up to the 6 fish boat limit.

The challenge in managing a pelagic migrating species like Cobia is getting meaningful catch data and stock assessments. When speculation and emotion and take over the discussion little good comes from the outcome. A Free permit, similar to Tilefish/Grouper is easy to implement and comes with a reporting requirement of all fish caught, kept, and released. This information is extremely valuable to fisheries management. Permitting also provides a method to complete phone surveys, another valuable tool in management.
 

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I prefer 1 per person, max 4 per boat with one trophy fish over 48". For charters, capt/mate don't count. I don't see a large commercial fishery in VA so I don't really care their limits so long as the totals are tracked and a # quota is enforced.
 

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And to note we didn't have more fish than years past. Just more anglers targeting and more charters posting on Facebook. There were less fish then the years past. I have been sight fishing for 13 years
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Someone will help me with this: there was a limited discussion about Cobia at the Finfish Committee meeting...had more interested anglers attended, the discussion may have been more interactive (I was only angler in audience)...but from the VMRC staff presentation, I got the impression that the reported catch of Cobia in VA was at a high level ( a lot of fish killed) --but that few large fish were caught. Even from cobia anglers, I was told all summer that there were a lot of small cobia in Ches Bay--and with all the pressure, the cobia guys wanted to protect (for future years) the resource, since other targeted species have not been as plentiful. Also historically, Cobia have been caught way up in the Bay--that has not been true for many years, but anglers reported cobia way up north in the Bay again this year??

Why not a tagging program? What about more emphases on catch, tag and release?

BobAllen
 

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Again not true. Fish have traveled way up the bay every year I have fished. This fishery is just getting a lot of exposure due to the regression in targeting other species of fish.
 

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I prefer 1 per person, max 4 per boat with one trophy fish over 48". For charters, capt/mate don't count. I don't see a large commercial fishery in VA so I don't really care their limits so long as the totals are tracked and a # quota is enforced.
Overall the commercial sector of the Cobia fishery is about 10% leave the other 90% recreational. The challenge with a charter having a lower boat limit is when a bunch of strangers fish a OUPV (6 pack) charter and then everyone doesn't get to take home "their fish". I wouldn't want to place that burden on our Charter Captains. One fish per person is enough and a boat limit of 6 would keep their customers with their fish. Place too tight a restriction on the Charter guys and their customers will head south. I'm sure none of us want that, especially of the regs are less down south.
 

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Guys the cobia numbers here in Nc has not changed in 20 years. Just the amount of boats. This slaughter you talk about was happening before the Internet and Facebook. You just didn't know about it.
 

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Overall the commercial sector of the Cobia fishery is about 10% leave the other 90% recreational. The challenge with a charter having a lower boat limit is when a bunch of strangers fish a OUPV (6 pack) charter and then everyone doesn't get to take home "their fish". I wouldn't want to place that burden on our Charter Captains. One fish per person is enough and a boat limit of 6 would keep their customers with their fish. Place too tight a restriction on the Charter guys and their customers will head south. I'm sure none of us want that, especially of the regs are less down south.
I dont think so, from what i know some charters feel a smaller limit is less pressure on them. this way they dont have to produce higher numbers of kill fish for dock shots. People wanna catch fish for the experience alot of the time. I drove 11 hours to salmon fish last weekend along with probably 10000 other people .My spot sunday was stricktly catch and release and the river was lined shoulder to shoulder. This whole town survives on fishing even though alot of it is c&r, its amazing. I also have spent thousands of dollars b.f.t. fishing over the years knowing that the boat already had its giant, and i was most likey coming home empty handed. Yet, i still would go because its not always about how much you can kill when you have "fissues". Those cobia limits are not strong enough watch and see when your riding around in your tower chasing yearlings.
 

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A lot of fish have been caught because the number of boats and fisherman targeting these fish have skyrocketed, almost starting to resemble ocean striper season out there in the summer. I support, one per angler, (exclude capt and mate) up to a four fish boat limit. Doubt this will hurt the charters at all because the best part of this fishery is spotting, hooking and landing, a six pack will go home with plenty of meat from four fish and feel good about the ones they released for another day. Can't go south for cobia, because the cobia are up here all summer. Need to get NC down to one per angler as well. Good to see the regulators at least considering being proactive, hope something happens soon so everyone can continue to experience this awesome fishery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
mwill98--" Good to see the regulators at least considering being proactive,"
This initiative was not begun by regulators, but by the cobia fishermen themselves who do not want to see the great cobia fishijng in VA destroyed as many other fisheries have because of mismanagement .

Bob Allen (not a cobia fisherman)
 

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It's not my proposal but I think it's a great place to start the discussion and here is why:

1. It will be a modest reduction, baby steps are better than big cuts. Take the baby steps now and see where it goes. We can always tweak later.

2. Boat limits are good idea but not all boats are the same. Hard to treat an 18 foot CC the same as a 50 foot sportfisher. OUPV are often called 6 pack because 6 is the max customers than be carried on a trip so I think 6 for a boat limit sounds reasonable. This covers all 6 pack operators allowing each customer to take home 1 fish. We will need to have exceptions for inspected boats that can carry many more passengers. An inspected boat that can carry 20 passengers should not be limited to 4 or 6 cobia. A 6 fish limit for boats stands a more reasonable chance for approval than 4 so let's take the baby steps.

3. Excluding the Capt and Mate is a good idea. Most already do this anyways.

4. I'm not a big fan of mandatory reporting. Charters already have to report every fish landed via a VTR. Recs want don't mandatory reporting.

Anglers need to get involved. And I'm sorry to say but VMRC does not count TF or FB comments as getting involved. Letters, emails, and showing up to meetings is getting involved.

Mike
 

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4 MAX

I prefer 1 per person, max 4 per boat with one trophy fish over 48". For charters, capt/mate don't count. I don't see a large commercial fishery in VA so I don't really care their limits so long as the totals are tracked and a # quota is enforced.
This is the best/most realistic proposal I have seen in my opinion.

4 fish in the boat is still one hell of a good day, I don't think anyone should be mad at that. Heck, I'm happy with 2 fish in the cooler and then pictures of the rest.
 
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