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The Post article is very interesting, and does a good job of explaining the results of the underlying articles.

The journal Science (published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science...AAAS) is widely considered one of the premier worldwide academic journals in science, and covers all branches of scientific inquiry.

There are 2 related articles in the current issue of Science. One is a technical science research article, and the other is a perspective article (sort of a "what it all means" type of article with more info added)
"The unique ecology of human predators"[/I] by Darimont et al.
"A most unusual (super)predator: Effects of human hunting and fishing differ fundamentally from those of other predators" by Boris Worm.

While all of the articles in Science (as with most academic journals) are copyrighted and available only to subscribers or at a pretty hefty price, each issue Science makes a few articles of particular importance or widespread interest available for free online. Both of these articles are free online articles.

The link to the Darimont et al. article is
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6250/858.full
or the PDF version for downloading is at
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6250/858.full.pdf

The link to the Worm article is
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6250/784.full.pdf

In addition to the article and abstract, the editors of Science also provide a summary (again, indicating their opinion of the importance or high profile of this article). Clearly the Post article was largely taken from the Editors Summary:

An anomalous and unbalanced predator

In the past century, humans have become the dominant predator across many systems. The species that we target are thus far in considerable decline; however, predators in the wild generally achieve a balance with their prey populations such that both persist. Darimont et al. found several specific differences between how humans and other predatory species target prey populations (see the Perspective by Worm). In marine environments, for example, we regularly prey on other predator species. These differences may contribute to our much larger ecological impact when compared with other predators.

Science, this issue p. 858; see also p. 784
 

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A most interesting article indeed.

It reminds me of an article I read a number of years ago in the National Fisherman. I believe that the lengthy article was primarily about how some fisheries management plans seemed to work fairly well and many were worthless. (Keep in mind, this is a publication aimed at professional fisherman and the seafood industry.) The part that's stayed with me most was mention of a respected marine biologist who had developed a theory that we are going about fisheries management back-a$$wards. He said that by taking only the larger, presently viable breeders and leaving those that will PROBABLY make it to breeding age we're taking a huge risk. I believe he didn't find much traction among fisheries management types. Guess maybe he was ahead of his time.

Another point that he made, that really got my attention, was that by taking only the very largest fish caught on any given outing* we would eventually modify the gene pool to produce smaller fish in general. The example cited in the article was that if you wanted to grow an NBA team from scratch, what type of parents would you be likely to enlist? Maybe, the tallest ones you could find?

Bob
Grady 20

*In days past of better striped bass fishing, in many areas, charter boats (and some privates as well) routinely culled their catch by keeping caught fish in large "live wells" so as to throw back smaller legal fish if/when larger ones are caught. (Can you say stressed fish?) It's not as common nowadays because there are generally less rockfish available and the practice has been outlawed in some states. However, when those rare spells of outstanding striper fishing occur, culling is still pretty widespread.
 

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an absolutely fascinating book that is right on point to what BoLin wrote is The Secret Life of Lobsters: How Fishermen and Scientists Are Unraveling the Mysteries of Our Favorite Crustacean by Trevor Corson. (pub. 2005).

The book alternates between exploring Maine lobstermen and their communities, and lobster and their lives/habits/sex lives/foodetc. Corson, a journalist, does a great job explaining how regulators and scientists got some things dead wrong for a long time, ignoring all evidence (or not bothering to even collect much evidence). He also shows how lobstermen also got things dead wrong, and didn't bother gathering evidence.

Example # 1: Lobstermen always checked their traps every 24 hours, believing that it took lobsters a long time to find them and go in. When scientists actually went to the trouble of diving down and watching them, and filming them, they found lobsters wandered in and out of the traps constantly. There were just as many lobsters in a trap after 1 hour as there were after 24 hours. Why did lobstermen think it was 24 hours??? Mostly because thats how daddy did it, and also because thats what they are accustomed to...run your trap lines once a day then go back to port and have a beer. Apparently nobody ever thought of maybe if they checked them twice a day...or 5 times a day...they might actually get more lobsters. # times checking a day was never regulated...lobstermen just didn't do it more than once.
Example #2: lobster regulators always aimed at protecting the young lobsters, with minimum size regulations. Lobstermen totally disagreed...and were right. The most important lobsters to protect are (a) females that have been proven to be fertile, and also (b) the older the more important. Entirely on their own lobstermen started cutting a notch in the tail of every female with eggs they threw back (always illegal to keep a lobster with eggs). If that lobster was ever caught again, even if they didn't have eggs then the lobstermen put them back. Also they started not keeping lobsters over 2.5 pounds. These 2 changes the lobstermen came up with had more to do with stabilizing the population than all the min size restrictions/open-and-closed seasons/gear restrictions the state regulators put in.

The book has lots of info, and lots of examples of doing the absolute wrong things to try to protect the lobsters.

Plus it is a very fun read, even if you can't tell a lobster from a blue crab.
 

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BoLin said:

*In days past of better striped bass fishing, in many areas, charter boats (and some privates as well) routinely culled their catch by keeping caught fish in large "live wells" so as to throw back smaller legal fish if/when larger ones are caught. (Can you say stressed fish?) It's not as common nowadays because there are generally less rockfish available and the practice has been outlawed in some states. However, when those rare spells of outstanding striper fishing occur, culling is still pretty widespread.

Is that from the National Fisherman article or a personal observation? I'd love to hear the details.
 

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This has been a longtime debate that's been falling on deaf ears for many decades or more. That's why slot limits were put in place. You know you're getting old when new ideas are old ones.
 

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I agree with the article. I've had it out with most fishing people in FL. about the same thing. Eat the small ones. Release the large ones. All they could come up with was, release all fish. They just don't understand.
 

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T27 - Unfortunately it's a combination of personal observation and 1st person conversations with captains and fisherman who have been part of the practice. Without going into details, I can honestly say that it was once quite common throughout the Northeast. For public domain info, a number of years ago there was a charter boat that posted regularly on another board that would post pics showing them releasing numerous large striped bass at the dock. For a 6 man charter (when the legal limit was 2 fish/per) they'd often arrive at the dock with 15 or 20 fish and then take pics and videos of tossing the extras in at the dock in the harbor. Last I heard, that captain was no longer operating a fishing vessel.

Capt Nick - How true about old/new ideas.

Bob
Grady 20
 

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This is a good thread....Thank you, Mr Maguire, for posting. I think most of us old timers would agree as we've been around long enough to see the negative effects of "Killing Bubba". Hmmm.....Sounds like a good book title. I'm giving O'Reilly a call :))
 

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Hell, all I get out of this is I can now dub my friends with trophy mounts on their walls as "macho morons".

That, and from the pic in the article, that watermen can actually walk on water.
 

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An interesting premise but I find some issues with it.

If this premise were true (Humans are fishing and hunting animals that are the wrong size and age, in an unsustainable way that flies in the face of nature) we would not be continually catching and killing new records. If the end game of this is that our prey species will evolve to be smaller as the larger animals are deemed evolutionarily sp. deficient I would say the facts don't bear it out.

Wild predators are opportunistic - they have no problem killing mature prey should the chance present itself. But they also balance that with expending energy and the risk of injury. Man doesn't usually need to make that type of decision when harvesting game.

The mention of the cod fishery seems more a poor fishery management issue versus anything "evolutionary".

For the record, I release big fish so that I or someone else may have the opportunity to experience it again.
 

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As intriguing as the discussion is, unless there is a paradigm shift in the sportsman's mentality (not likely), it will always remain just that.
A discussion.
 

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As intriguing as the discussion is, unless there is a paradigm shift in the sportsman's mentality (not likely), it will always remain just that.
A discussion.
One way this issue can become far more than a mere discussion is if fishery regulations change in response to this theory. The main thrust of many fishery regulations now is minimum legal size. These articles imply protecting the older/larger members of a species is important. Obviously in the Bay rockfish are also protected by catch limits applying to large sizes, as well as the periodic slot limits (which I believe are a poorly designed regulatory tool). But many other species in the Bay (as well as elsewhere) do not have max size regulations; it is a mixed bag. I know recreational bluefin tuna have max limits (1 per year allowed any size), and headboats & charters have a max size limit. But other types of tuna don't (I don't think), as well as many other highly targeted game and food species. Maine has both a minimum and maximum size for all lobsters caught (3.25" min, 5" max, measured at the carapace). Mass. does not have the max limit. A 5" carapace lobster will weigh between 3 and 4 pounds. 20 pound and 3' (total length...not carapace) lobsters are caught periodically, and the Atlantic North American record is 44 lbs 6 oz off the coast of Nova Scotia (estimated to be >100 years old). So a 5" limit is protecting a lot of big lobsters.
 

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I agree, Abter.
But, for that to happen a complete change in the mindset of the vaaaaast majority of sportsmen would need to occur, which is what I find so unlikely.
Heck, here in MD the MSSA would fight tooth and nail against it.
Even if you could get the organizations behind it, at the end of the day, you'd still need to convince the majority of anglers. In every state. As we've seen, just because someone is a member of an organization, that doesn't mean they agree with or will follow the mantra.

"Trophy" season would be no more.
We've all been out on opening day, or seen the surge of boats out during the tourneys.
And every single one is out there looking for that fish of a lifetime.
The method fishermen that are out there for the simple pleasure of hooking up are very much in the minority.
 

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Another point worth mentioning is the Myco problem we have in Stipers. We keep the "healthiest looking fish and release the obviously sick looking fish" Eventually, what could that lead to?
 

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buckshot; I agree with everything you wrote, and appreciate you helping this interesting thread grow.

I too am pessimistic that enough sportsmen, and Bay fishermen in particular, will evolve their individual points of view so that the overall opinions will change. The discussions we have had here at TF over the past few years about pre-season regulations, catch-and-release over 40" (and not as a reg...just as a behavior change), and circle hooks all are examples of resistance to change that might impinge on what individuals want to do themselves. On the other hand the amount of summertime chumming has drastically gone down and been replaced by live lining (in decent spot years at least :(( ). There are multiple reasons for the chum/livelining switch, but all are basically individuals changing what they want to do, and not from regulation (or even a strong specter of possible regulation). So change can happen, just as the Maine lobstermen started cutting notches in the tails of fertile females to protect the species long before the regulations got there.

Even fishermen can evolve...it just seems to take eons, and often involves a whole lot of shouting and theatrics along the way.
 

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I too would like to thank Piscophile for starting this thread and all those who have posted. This is a very interesting and (so far) refreshingly civil discussion so far.

A few thoughts if I may …

- When I read in the article that wild animals prey on the young, weak, etc it was a DUH! moment. As blinddog mentioned earlier, there are very good reasons for that and I don't believe a direct comparison to human behavior really makes sense. That doesn't mean I don't think larger prey shouldn't be protected, I do, but that comparing the behavior of a million fisherman, each equipped with amazingly effective electronics, to fish with two eyes and 1 mouth is an odd way of getting there. (Yes, I've caught my share of 30 and 40 lb stripers in the past (never got that elusive 50#er) and I loved doing it. But with the condition of the fishery I'm really questioning that practice.)

- Speaking of electronics, particularly todays sonar, I believe it has much to do with the fact of the number and size of fish being caught. Many may not realize that great stretches of previously good fishing grounds were believed to have become dead zones before Mr Lowrance came along with his amazing "toy". Added to that is the tremendous increase in boat ownership in the last 30 years putting lots and lots more lines in the water.

- In the past it has not been unknown on this board for "coms" to get bashed for every ill in the fishing world. (I'll be the last one to stand up for coms without caveats because I've seen some of the bad ones (the great minority) do some really bad things.) Yet as Abter has pointed out the lobster coms he refers to took it upon themselves to return lobsters (read $) to the water in order to maintain the population. Of course it was an effort to maintain their livelihood but, hey, give credit where credit is due.

- As far as change in attitude / behavior is concerned I'd be VERY surprised if a shift to protecting larger specimens (i.e.: slots) could ever happen without gov't regulations. I spent almost 10 years of my misspent youth working fishing boats in Montauk, NY. 90% was on party (head) boats with the occasional dabble in charters and a total of 1 commercial trip. Having made well over 1,000 offshore trips my personal observation is that when most fishermen spend their money (be it a fare or expenses on their own boat) they want to catch as many and as big of fish as they can. And they really don't want to hear s**t about it from anybody. I've maintained contact with a number of people in and affiliated with the fishing business and it doesn't seem that that attitude has changed much for the majority of fisherman.

Bob
Grady 20
 
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