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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some info on cobia.

I called the phone number listed on the VMRC page regarding "News for Cobia".

http://www.mrc.state.va.us/…/2…/2016-02-17_News_on_Cobia.pdf
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I was directed to Kim Iverson, Public Information Officer, SAFMC and spoke with her at length. Cobia (part of the Mackerel committee) is on the agenda for 10 March.

http://safmc.net/…/03_2…/Mack/MackerelCommAgenda_Mar2016.pdf

The cobia meeting on 10 March is not where the public can make comment. Kim said the public can make comment on 9 March at 5:30 pm on this or any topics on the agenda. The public can listen via webinar but can only listen, not participate via webinar. So the only way to make comments is to show in person in Georgia for the meeting or write letters ahead of time. Kim said if we wrote to her, she would ensure all is included in the briefing package for the meeting. So the public can submit comments prior to the meeting to:

Kim Iverson, Public Information Officer, SAFMC (phone: 843-302-8440)
4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201
North Charleston SC 29405
or by email: [email protected]

Briefing material 7 a and b are not available yet but 7 c is available but really just spells out a framework for changes that will impact 2017.

http://safmc.net/sites/default/file.../Att7c_AtlCobia_PotentialFramework_021716.pdf

She did say that a closure in federal waters is inevitable. The public can make comment about the 2016 closure but will likely not impact the decision as it is required by law. The date of 15 June should not have been released as the closure date has not been determined. She did say the closure will be for federal waters, not state waters. It will be up to the states to determine how to ensure the ACL is not exceeded for 2016. She did say most states follow the federal closure notice but sometimes they do not if the case can be made. So this gives me a least a glimmer of hope that we can have at least some retention in state waters even if significantly reduced. This only affect rec limits, not comm limits.

What is disheartening in all this is our fishery management process allows us to get in this kind of situation that requires a complete closure. What I would expect of the process is tweaks to the limits along the way as we approach our ACLs. Not wait until we busted them then force a total closure for the entire coast. I just don't understand how or why we put management processes in place that allows this occur. There are just so many tools available like slots, seasons, sizes so why can't our fishery managers in SERO and SAFMC and ASMFS put these in place before we get to a total closure.

Feeling frustrated but not giving up. We'll get some letters and emails together using our VSSA network to do what we can.

Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association (VSSA)
ifishva.org
joinvssa.org
https://www.facebook.com/groups/IfishVA/
 

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Good info Mike. In the letters, we need to stress the desire for regulators to be more proactive. As much as I hate to say that, you have to be careful what you ask for when talking about govt regulation. Unfortunately, the entire fishing community over decades has proven pretty much incapable of self regulating, me included.
 

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In the six years I have been launching at crab creek, never ever seen anyone doing a catch survey for any species. Often wonder how they come up with the numbers. Do they just count the number of tower boats they see floating around and assume they are all catching? Count the number of fish posted on Facebook and extrapolate? All for using the science but find it hard to believe they can accurately estimate the landings down to the tens year after year.
 

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While I know I have done little damage to cobia--- I'm on the water 3 x a week. They have looked at my cooler maybe 2 times in 10 yrs. I too can't help but think they really take a wild guess.
I may just be lucky..
one time while rockfishing on another guys boat we were checked , and 15min or less they stopped us again! After 3-4 minutes, they finally figured out they had checked us just minutes before. That same boat was checked often while fishing Rapp river, flounder , spot and rock fishing. I know one eldery couple that seems to be checked often. BUT, The guys i know that cobia fish are never checked
 

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I don't doubt the catch was up last year and trend is higher due to shear number of boats fishing for them and lack of other popular targets such as spades and flounder. But those numbers posted below seem way too erratic and have to be way off the mark.
 

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I don't doubt the catch was up last year and trend is higher due to shear number of boats fishing for them and lack of other popular targets such as spades and flounder. But those numbers posted below seem way too erratic and have to be way off the mark.
Yes, there was a huge increase in the effort put into cobia fishing last year. The number of trips where Cobia was the primary target increased 40% from 2014 to 2015:

Year Primary Target Trips
2015 92,740
2014 65,235
2013 56,063

I was stopped last year for a MRIP survey (and was actually cobia fishing that day) for the second time in the 20 years I've been fishing the bay. I did not have any cobia to add to the survey. The gentleman conducting the survey had spent the previous day in Poquoson and in Cape Charles prior to that- he had seen lots of cobia.

Agreed that it is a estimate, and is not 100% accurate. In general, assuming the survey methods have remained constant throughout the years (not necessarily true- big conversion from MRFSS to MRIP that needs to be accounted for), even if the values are not perfect, a lot can be learned from the trends.

NOAA is doing a lot of work to better explain this system and how it works- please visit their website and read about the statistics and methodologies: http://www.st.nmfs.noaa.gov/recreational-fisheries/index

Putting the data aside, I for one can see the rationale behind a extraordinary increase in catches during 2015- how many threads were on TF from fellow anglers discussing the increased catches last July (and asking anglers to self-police themselves and release some)? Places as far up the bay as Windmill Pt (and further N) were attracting crowds that made it look like Bluefish Rock...and this was only VA's fishery that we watched...much less the rest of the coast.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
More info on cobia. The meeting with the SAFMC is on 10 March 2016. The first step is to try to influence the decision makers at this meeting. We ask that you review the VSSA cobia letter and let us know if you think the wording and message are appropriate. We intend to send the letter on 29 Feb so we can accept your comments up to that date. We also ask that you send a letter of your own in your own words. You can send to the same address listed on the letter but please use your own words to strengthen the message. The second step will be to influence the VMRC at the next VMRC meeting scheduled for March 23rd. In discussions with VMRC officials, even with low boat limits, Virginia may be faced with a closure in both state and federal waters. But there is a chance that low boat limits could extend our season longer but the angling public must let our voice be heard. One proposal floating around some of the fishing clubs is 3 per boat with 1 cobia over 50 inches. Thoughts on that proposal are welcome ([email protected]).

There was a good discussion about cobia at the 23 Feb VMRC meeting. You can listen to the 30 minute audio here.

http://www.mrc.state.va.us/Commiss…/…/2016-02-23-item-10.mp3

[FONT=&#10]Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association (VSSA)[/FONT]
email: [email protected]
ifishva.org
joinvssa.org
https://www.facebook.com/groups/IfishVA/
 

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VA alone landed 862,000 lbs according this statement. So if you figure an average of 30lbs per fish, a season of 120 days from May-sept of which 80 are fishable (optimistically). That would equate to 360 fish landed per day at one per angler? That's a whole lot of six pack charters and rec boats catching limits, EVERYDAY!

Does this makes sense? I hope to call and get more info on this when back in town.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

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I typically don't get involved in these discussions but after looking out my window and seeing my boat I came to the realization that I'm possibly looking at a $40,000 croaker rig. My intent is not to point fingers but when are we going to start policing ourselves when it comes to our fishery. I truly believe that the commercial fishing industry is killing the bay, but the recreational guys aren't far behind in the onslaught. Everyone is questioning where these catch numbers are coming from...look at cobia discussions here, Facebook and any other form of social media and you're sure to find a number of people posting countless pictures of giant dead cobia on the deck. These pictures are usually huge egg laying females!!!! In a day where we (Americans)are screaming for less government, it's sad that the government has to step in-yet again- to save another fishery.
 

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Shouldn't this action effectively HELP the Chesapeake cobia fishery?

Just my perspective that they get slaughtered by states with higher daily limits on their migration up the coast to the bay. Wouldn't the coastal closure leave more fish for the bay if they aren't getting bombarded the whole way up here?? Or am I mistaken?

I personally am just fine with a 1-2 fish boat limit. I love taking pictures and releasing big fish, and one keeper sized cobia feeds me for almost a week!
 

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300+fish every day in Va waters? On weekend , Yeh. Not so sure on weekdays.
I understand what you saying about the Government. I want less government! But it is often overused simplistic statement. The government is involved . Whether we ask for them or not.
I think when we say we want smaller government, we are saying stop spending money on things like , studies on why a turtle has a tail. Or things like, supplying free phones for drug dealers on welfare.

(at least we can tell children when they are in that asking "Why phase" )
 

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That was an incredible email by Mr. French. He did a lot of work questioning the data and rightfully so. My question is do we need to be contacting NMFS (Nat'l Marine Fisheries Service, part of NOAA) as it sounds like they are the ones implementing the closure for 2016? Just another example why we need to vote Trump and gut some of these government agencies, too many councils/commission/bureaucrats creating too much red tape and not enough local control and decision making.
 
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