According to the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, on Saturday, January 15th, 2011, the NC commercial trawling vessel "Jamie Lynn" from NC accidentally netted between 3 to 4 thousand Striped Bass. The haul was so large that the captain of the ship decided to "dump" or release all of the fish except the 50 he was legally allowed to keep. Since that day, the internet and public media has been flooded with photos like the one attached, and video like this
What has not gotten much attention though is the overlooked math that this event produces, and the ultimate reward that was given to the very fishermen who caused all this waste. Let's look at the "math" a little more closely:
4,000 Stripers Killed in one pull by one trawler on one day
Multiply that by the poundage of one mature Striper, lets say, 20 pounds average
4,000 X 20 pounds = 80,000 pounds!
Now we have one boat, on one pull, on one day, that kills 80,000 pounds of mature stripers!
Why is this math important? NC commercial fishermen are restricted to a total annual harvest of 480,480 pounds of Striped Bass. This limit is set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which is a governing body that oversees fish like Striped Bass that migrate up and down the Atlantic Seaboard, and are shared by multiple coastal states.
Of that 480,480 pounds that NC is allowed for annual harvest, only 160,660 pounds of that is allowable by the commercial trawling fleet. So, in one day, one trawler, on one pull, killed 50% (fifty percent) of the total allowable harvest for the trawling fleet here in NC! Of that 80,000 pounds of dead Striper, the boat only kept 50 fish, and dumped and estimated 79,000 pounds of Striped Bass back into the ocean!
Now this is the story that the NC DMF isn't telling. That it was one boat, and an "isolated" incident. But that is not what seasoned commercial captains are saying. They are saying that this is a reoccurring event on the outer banks each winter, and that this year there were many more eyes on the water to witness it. Many of these captains are professional charter boat operators, and many have seen enough of the wanton waste that this trawl fishery produces!
In one pull, this trawler not only killed 50% of the allowable catch for trawlers, it also killed over 20% of the total allowable Striper harvest for all commercial methods!
The Striped Bass is of tremendous economic importance to much of the Atlantic coastal states. If the ASMFC has agreed to allow NC commercial fishermen to harvest 480,480 pounds of Striped Bass, and trawlers kill 80,000 pounds of fish to keep 1,000 pounds, what will the final tally on wasted dead stripers be when the carnage is over?
Now the daily limit of 50 fish for these trawlers has been replaced with a 2,000 pound per day limit. Those 50 fish they were keeping must have weighed 40 pounds a piece? And what about the by-catch they can't keep? The minimum size limit is 28 inches. How many 28 inch fish will be killed in the process?
How much waste will be created by 10, 20, or 50 trawlers?
Once again, NC fisheries management is the laughing stock of the entire nation. You have to laugh to keep from crying!