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ASMFC Weakfish Board Approves Addendum II
Addendum to Control Expansion of the Fishery

The Commission's Weakfish Management Board approved Addendum II to Amendment 4 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Weakfish. Under the Addendum, the states of Massachusetts through North Carolina will be required to implement a six fish creel limit at their current size limit for the recreational fishery. South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, because of their insignificant weakfish landings, will maintain their current creel and size limits. The Addendum establishes a coast wide commercial landings limit of approximately 3.7 million pounds (based on the average landings for 2000-2004). The Addendum also reduces the allowable by catch limit from 300 pounds to 150 pounds per day or trip.

The Board's action was taken in response to a significant decline in stock abundance and increasing total mortality since 1999. As a result of the stock's over fished status, the Board is required under Amendment 4 to adjust the management program to help rebuild spawning stock biomass. This issue is compounded by the fact that natural mortality, rather than fishing mortality, has been indicated as the lead cause for stock decline.

In order to provide a greater probability of the stock rebounding, the Board has implemented a more conservative recreational creel limit, a commercial by catch limit, and an annual commercial landings limit. These management measures will be re-evaluated when either the coast wide commercial landings equal or exceed 80 percent of the commercial landings limit or any single state's landings exceed its five-year mean by more than 25 percent in any single year.

States are required to fully implement the Addendum by October 29, 2007. Copies of the final Addendum will be available by March via the Commission's website at www.asmfc.org under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at (202) 289-6400.

The Board also approved sending forward for public comment Draft Addendum III. This Addendum addresses an inconsistency in by catch reduction device requirements between the Commission's FMP and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Shrimp Amendment 6. A press release announcing the document's availability and schedule for public hearings will be distributed over the next few weeks.

For more information, please contact Nichola Meserve, Weakfish Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at (202)289-6400 or [email protected]

Ele
 

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While I agree with the creel reductions, does ASMFC really think that Weakfish are overfished -- by recs? Don't you have to actually catch Weakfish to overfish them? In the past three years, I caught two and kept one. And I think I did better than most.

The whole Weakfish saga underscores for me how little we know about fish stocks. One year they're declared healthy and on the rebound, the next year they're all but gone and, three years into the decline, nobody seems to know why.
 

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What is a Weakfish?

I have not seen one in several years.

Seems as the measure is too little way too late.
 

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They,ve been trying to increase the Weakfish stocks for years. The truth is. there is nothing they can do to increase them but lower the population of Stripers. and thats not going to happen. everyone only cares about increasing the striper populations more and more. which will only mean less trout
 

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So prior to the days of people controlling Striped Bass populations, Weakfish did not exist? Were Weakfish some sudden evolutionary creation of the Striper moritorium?

I'm not suggesting that Stripers don't eat Weakfish, but I'm not buying the theory that the current Striper population is primarily responsible for the Weakfish collapse.
 

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ZAM-

Maybe there is something that can be done. You are implying the stripers eat all the trout. I am sure they eat plenty but if they had more menhaden to eat would they eat so many small trout?
 

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This issue is compounded by the fact that natural mortality, rather than fishing mortality, has been indicated as the lead cause for stock decline.

I'm not real sure I quite understand what there saying here.Natural mortality as in being preyed upon by other fish?
 

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So prior to the days of people controlling Striped Bass populations, Weakfish did not exist? Were Weakfish some sudden evolutionary creation of the Striper moritorium?

I'm not suggesting that Stripers don't eat Weakfish, but I'm not buying the theory that the current Striper population is primarily responsible for the Weakfish collapse.
This last large disappearance is attributed to a disease not Stripers.
 

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I dont necessarily think the reason for the weakfish crash was stripers. I do beleive that the reason they haven,t been able to rebound is the high population of stripers though. trout go through cycles of high and low populations just like all fish do (including stripers). but man seems to be trying to keep the striper populations high, and even raising them more and more. which will only keep the population of weakfish low, especially if some of their other prey like menhadden are also low. I think the main reason fish go through cycles of low and high population is because of increased predation. Theres alot of people that beleive that the striper crash in the 80s was atleast partly because of the high population of big blues. alot of people dont even know that there was also a striper crash in the late 1800s.
 

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Disease? Is this thought to relate to all the dead Croakers that were washing up on beaches? I had heard theories on the Weakfish decline being attributed to a bad winter in the Carolinas some years ago, but since Weakfish grow fast, you'd think they would have recovered from that by now. ZAM, are there any ideas about the cause of the 19th century Striper crash? Excluding a few years of overlap, I wonder if there has ever been a prolonged period in which Stripers, Weakfish and Blues were all abundant on the east coast?

But going back to your assertion that man is keeping the Striper population high, I don't see how that can be so. Man harvests many, many Stripers each year. This begs the question of how these various species balanced out before man intervened to attempt to do the balancing for them. My own thought is that we're seeing the results of an inbalance caused by our managing fisheries for maximum harvest, without fully taking into account the remaining ecosystem's need for a population of a certain size. I would also not be surprised if many of our gamefish, even though not specifically targeted by massive commercial opperations (bottom trawling, dift netting, etc.), are signifcantly impacted by the general inbalance in which all of our oceans have been placed.
 

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Thanks Ele,

At least ASMFC might be helping the Bay fishery in this case? Haven't seen a boated one of those critters (amongst flounder and big blues) in quite a while. I'd like to. They're pretty tasy and a nice fight ; ) I can say we haven't seriously targeted these species (with the one exception of blues) in a while either.
 

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OK...not being a smart arse...Who caught a legal one? I caught plenty of 'em trayt thangs..notta stinkin' one over 12"(most unda 9"). There was buttloads of them in the Bay.

Maybe Calp'n took 'em all.

(Newbie duckin' fer cover)

Tight Lines,
Jim
 

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They net the heck outta them in the ocean. I saw some from N.C. in a fish market in Cambridge the other week. Flounder too.....big ones. I suppose there net'm now out in the ocean. From what I hear they fill the commercial flounder quota while their spawn'n offshore in about a week or so. Best time to cath'm is while there schooled up right? Seems that may be the proper time to protect'm a little. But surely the fish managers now how to manage the stiocks. They'd never do anything to hurt the stock. thats the way they make their living right?
 

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I think harvesting may have something to do with their decline. the biggest problem is that no one seems to care about anything but stripers. you see it on this board all the time. people being chastised for everything from the time of year fishing for stripers, methods, stlyes of fishing for them, ect... and some of the same people would keep a seatrout or flounder in a second if they caught one. to me thats insane. I think the same mentality that may have helped to cause a decline in the striper population in the 80s is still present today when it comes to other species. people just went from one extreme to the next. I think a heathy bay is a balanced bay. the problem with fish like seatrout is that its basically to late. the trouts population is to low, and the stripers are to high (when compaired to other species). Its sort of like having 1000 lions in a jungle with only 100 wildebeests, theres not much of a chance of the wildebeests population rising no matter how hard man tries (without eliminating some of the lions).
 

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Haven't been able to jig for them in the fall around stone rock in years. That was fun. It was as if they disapeared all at once in my mind. I wonder when the netting started?
 

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I think bycatch is a BIG part of the problem I dont think stripers eating weakies is significant. Stripers would rather eat mullet/menhaden
 
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