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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Interesting meeting tonight. I was there for a couple of hours, but missed the start and the end. I did catch the net discussions. Dave Sikorski of CCA had reserved some time to talk about nets and didn't waste it when he made a motion that DNR consider the impact of pound nets alongside their commitment to study gill nets. The motion passed unanimously.

I especially appreciated new commissioner Carol Stevenson's questions and comments about how we should look at striped bass management from an ecosystem perspective. The, umm, more experienced commissioners were quick to set her straight that they have to take one issue at a time and it's all very complicated, and once she's been around longer she'll understand, blah blah blah. Personally, I hope she'll keep asking those kinds of questions. She's looking at the situation the way we all should, except that we get so entrenched in politics that we often can't see the forest for the trees.

Another motion was made by Commissioner Sikorski that DNR study by-catch mortality brought on by pound nets, but it failed with only two votes in favor. They were Dave (CCA) and Bill Goldsborough (CBF). Ed O'Brien (MCBA) abstained. I was scratching my head on that one. It seemed like the rest of the commissioners felt like they might be bogging the department down with motions or something. I guess they missed the memo that nets are the most important issue in Maryland fisheries right now.

I had to leave, so maybe someone else could fill in the blanks. I came away with more of a "hmmm" than a "hurrah."
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I forgot about that amnesty motion. The other option DNR presented was to allow them to get their nets out but only under resource police supervision and all the nets and fish would be confiscated. I thought that was sort of creative anyway.
 

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I forgot about that amnesty motion. The other option DNR presented was to allow them to get their nets out but only under resource police supervision and all the nets and fish would be confiscated. I thought that was sort of creative anyway.
That's not going to happen. What incentive do they have to lead police to the nets and then have them confiscated?......unless NRP knows who's got them already. Would be nice though.........Gary
 

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Found this on my computer today while cleaning up my desktop. Wrote this on the plane on the way home from Mexico a week ago and forgot to post when I got back.
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Hi Shawn

Thanks for attending the meeting. Sorry for the delay responding, I have been out of the country and had limited access to the net. The following are my opinions only.

I voted against the motion to do a study on pound nets (and probably should have abstained) not because I have an issue with nets, I think my stance on nets is clear, but because I think before we make a formal request for the department to undertake a study we should do a lit review/some research and find out if there are any studies out there on a similar subject. When I asked if anyone had done a lit review to see what is out there the answer was no. Given that, I think we should take a look and see if there are any studies done already. If there are no studies then we should investigate doing a study. Whether or not we should spend the money to do a study I am a little conflicted about given the evidence from other coastal states that exists that demonstrates that when nets are removed from a fishery the fishing improves for everyone. That is science. Apparently over 7,000 concerned anglers think so who have so far signed a Maryland net ban petition.

We are faced with several issues in regards to nets:

1) We have rampant poaching going on that seems out of control. An argument could be made that poaching will go on regardless of if a net on bans occurs. Punt guns are outlawed and they probably get used by outlaws, but the ban on punt guns has decreased their use drastically, makes the case cut and dry, have a punt gun and it's illegal and has allowed better management of waterfowl to the point of having some healthy populations.

2) A situation with gill nets specifically where the department opened back up the season in Feb and to assure things were legal and no laws were broken it required a great amount of resources from NRP to man the water, check in stations etc… The question arises that given the budget and manpower constraints is this level of commitment of manpower and use of funds a sustainable system of which we can continue to allow a gill net season to continue?

3) We have more then one example where when states banned nets the fishing improved for everyone.

4) A question arises about the fees generated from the commercial net fishery and if it can support the enforcement costs necessary to police the fishery. There is still research to be done on this front, but if the commercial license fees do not support the cost of enforcement, an argument can easily be made that if the industry can not support the enforcement infrastructure then the business model is broken.

5) There is evidence out there that the striped bass population is not as healthy as it once was. Evidence to support this statement is that.

a) recruitment has been poor the last several years
b) catch rates east coast-wide has been going down the last several years
c) over half the striped bass in the Chesapeake have Myco and this fact is not accounted for in the striped bass population estimate. This opens all sorts of questions about the "real" striped bass population.

Given the above, we need to side on the side of caution. If we are going to take the time to invest so much time in something like PSCR, then it's only logical that we would take a conservative approach with our fishery and ban nets.

6) When poaching occurs with nets the order of magnitude is great. Evidence of this is the nets that have been found this past winter with as many big fish as they had in them. Additionally the bust that happened last year in the lower Maryland portion of the Chesapeake.

Some will argue that poaching in the recreational sector also happens. That is the valid point, but the order of magnitude when it happens with nets is not even comparable. One net pull in the right spot at the right time can pull thousands of pounds. Catching thousands of pounds with hook and line takes a heck of a lot more time.

7) Maybe as importantly, its clear through a net ban petition that is going on with over 7,000 signatures and growing every day, that people do not wants nets in the bay anymore. People are speaking up, it's time to listen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
Thanks for responding, Brandon. I'd love to hear something from the other members of the commission who voted NO on this motion as well. Okay, so um, whenever whoever gets the, um, "lit review" done does this mean you'll vote YES for a by-catch mortality survey?

Who is in the best position to do a "lit review?" Sports fish advisory commissioners or scientists within the department of natural resources? (insert very long pause) Is it too much to ask that the people who make the policy review the negative impact on the resource? (insert 'nuther pause) I'm not a fan of big government, but it seems to me that when our government has a charge to protect our natural resources we should hold them accountable for doing it.

Greg, this is right down your alley. Are you really going to let these guys get away with "we need a lit review?"
 

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Shawn
When I show up for a business meeting and make a proposal it's expected that I have done some research on the subject. I guess I could show up and just make a suggestion and expect someone else to do it because a business is charged with making money. After a while of doing that I'd probably be asked to do some work on ideas or keep quiet because otherwise everyone could show up and make suggestions. Maybe I expect too much, at the same token if everyone on the commission gets to just make a suggestion for a study and expect that it is going to get done under the idea DNR is tasked with protecting the resource, then DNR will be running around doing studies all the time. That would be nice but it's not realistic because DNR does not have the money or resources to do everything requested.

We implemented PSCR with a lot less evidence and did not do any studies. I personally asked for them based on none had been done nor could be referenced. Manpower and money prevented them from being done. In the case of nets it's clear we have some serious problems and there are plenty of states along the coast that we can look to and see when nets are banned there are more fish for everyone. The states that banned nets did the "study", it clearly works. Do we really want to sit around and debate a pound net study and wait another two years for anything to get done? Now we just need action and the nets banned now IMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
We're on the same side here, I'm just looking for the most efficient way to achieve the goals. It took over 300,000 registered voters to sign the petition in Florida to ban nets. If you think we have enough in Maryland, I say let's go for it. Otherwise, I think we have to work within the system we have. As it stands right now, DNR has the authority to regulate gear. Why not ask them to do it?
 

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I do not think we have enough signed petitions.....yet. Although I will say I have not seen any effort by any fishing organization in Maryland get over 7000 signatures in four weeks. That's not a crack at any organization, but rather an indication to me people really care and want nets banned. We should embrace this concern. Given the petition has been driven by one guy I have to believe that if we all chip in we can get a LOT more.

This not a normal get a regulation changed thing, this is going against a segment of the commercial fishermen. Traditionally we as recs have lost big battles with the commercial sector working through the traditional system. Ask the Florida guys what happpened when they tried to simply work through FL Fish and Game. To get this done we need the support of many Manyland residents who care about the bay. I say if we really want nets banned sooner then later then we need to help drive signatures for the petition. We all know how political decisions can be and in those cases voters matter. IMHO it's going to only make the case stronger and lead to a much faster resolution.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You can bet that I asked the Florida guys that question. In fact, I traveled a couple of thousand miles to do it in person last weekend. You're right, Florida didn't get anywhere with the Fish & Game Department. Maryland isn't Florida and there isn't a legal avenue to amend the constitution here short of a constitutional convention. I strongly commend everyone involved in the net ban petition. I'm signature number 191. Unfortunately, a grass-roots petition with out-of-state signatures isn't going to get the job done in Maryland. It might carry some weight with a few delegates, but it won't sway the Eastern Shore block or get the attention it deserves in Annapolis until at least ten times more (registered voters) people sign. In my opinion, we have to play the cards we are dealt. That means working with the Department. It's not unreasonable to ask them to analyze pound net mortality. That's their job. Frankly, it should have been done decades ago. But we can't even get a majority vote to do it now on the Sports Fish Advisory Commission even though the motion is made by CCA and seconded by CBF? At the risk of overusing acronyms, WTF?

I think we're working toward the same goal, so probably no good reason to continue this discussion online, but I think the SFAC dropped the ball on this one.
 

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Shawn

Your point out some out of state signatures is valid. I'll do some analysis from which states the online petitions are from. Last I checked well over half were from Maryland. You say we need at least ten times what we have, OK, last I checked we have a few million people in Maryland. We have not even tapped the tip of the iceberg of potential of the signatures we can get in Maryland. What is needed is a new phase of the plan to get more signatures. My understanding is that that is in the works.

If you want to same results as other things then do the same thing. In Florida as you learned they had no success in the Fish the Game. How are we different here in MD? Still have a commercial fraction that is going to make it a political issue, not a science one. If we want to win in Maryland we need to get organized and get more signatures just like they did in Florida. We have plenty of Maryland residents to make it happen. Then maybe it makes sense to go through the system with that type of support behind us. Without that sort of support I think it can and probably will be seen as just another thing a few recs want to do to shut down some form of commercial fishing. We've seen how that approach works in the past.
 
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