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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I sent an email to VDGIF when the “one fish over 32” rule was announced. I got a call today from a VDGIF Fish Biologist. Very nice guy. We taked for about 20 minutes. First let me say that with every interaction I have with our VA Game department they impress me more with their professionalism and willingness to help. I wish I had todays conversation recorded because I could not digest all the good info I received.

Regarding the one fish over 32” rule. VDGIF governs us recreational guys. VMRC governs the commercial guys. VMRC has told VDGIF(verbally) that the 32” rule will effect commercial guys. The timing is up in the air right now. They do not follow the timeline for changes that the VDGIF does. There is no current “Start” date for the rule to effect commercial guys. The biologist said that in talking with his VMRC counterpart, he sees no drastic reaction from the commercial guys. So far, no one on the VMRC list of licensed commercials has expressed any negative opinion on the issues. Due mainly to the fact that very few if any commercials target larger fish and the biologist knows of no real market for the larger fish (other than taking medium sized fish to other states to put in ponds for pay as you go fishing, where many people would pay to catch the size fish VA residents take for granted). So, the intent is there for the rule to be across the board. When?, not sure.

Next. About 1.3 million pounds of catfish are harvested by commercials in VA waters per year. About 1 million of this is from the James river. They are small fish. Commercial gear can target size classed of fish, but I don’t know much about that. The biologist said that the taking of this number of fish is, in his opinion, healthy for the James. He said that the James is a healthy and productive fisheries river, but the size class of fish is not increasing at as fast a rate as in the past. The graph would be beginning to level off. Taking the small fish will allow for the growth rate of the larger fish to begin to increase again. I didn’t get all the numbers but the James river catfishes food base is mainly gizzard shad. Once the cats get big enough to eat gizzards (which can reach 2+ pounds each) their growth rate explodes. They can put on 10 pounds per year.

Next: I asked where these 1.3 million pounds of fish go. Short answer: grocery stores and kitchen tables. I asked “but what about the eating advisories on the James that basically say, do not consume blue catfish from the James.” Well, the “advisories” are set by EPA/DEQ guidelines (speaking specifically about PCBs now) which are 50 parts per (million or billion, I am not sure which). Once sampling results show levels above that advisories are issued. The FDA set the limits by which commercial fisheries can process table fare. The FDA limit is 2000 parts per (again million or billion, but the limits share the same units). As long as the targeted fish testing shows below the FDA limits the fish are free to go to supermarkets and our tables (note that these fish are small, young and may not hold high levels of PCBs. I have personally seen the fish in the commercial boats’ tubs/livewells at Hopewell marina on the Appomatox/James river, and they are small fish. Just peaking, I have not seen a fish approach 5 pounds). Perfectly legal. I will leave the opinions up to each of you individually.

We talked mostly about VA rivers because that is really all I asked about. I live close by and generally only fish the James. He did tell me that the next big boom will be the Potomac river. Healthy and thriving. Lagging behind the James in years, but has the water, gizzard shad food base and everything else needed for the sizes of fish to explode in the near future.

We chatted about herring, hickory shad, American shad and yellow/ring perch as well but I won’t bore you with that.

I purposely am not including the Biologists’ name at this time. That is my decision. He did not asked me to. He was very straight forward and candid with me today. And I will give everyone time to digest the above information before his personal office gets flooded with calls. I don’t want him to regret the information he gave me today.

I will post more info should I receive it.

Dayton
 

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VDGIF called me about the 32

The biologist you talked to is the one who spearheaded the new regulations. He's the one who has been doing the studies on the catfish. We are lucky to have him working in our state.

the commercial guys use hoop nets with small openings to only let the smaller fish in. There are about three main guys who work the river on a daily basis. They are all good guys and just making a living. As long as there is not a market for the bigger fish then then our rivers will be fine. But it sounds like the new regulations will effect them in the near future so we won't have to worry about it.

On a side note..........in the spring some striper commercial guys are placing their nets next to the benjamin harrison bridge. I was told by another biologist that there are regulations against this during the spawning period. I don't know the exact distances that must be kept but it is something to report if any of you witness this.
 

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VDGIF called me about the 32

I am sorry for the rant. I'm just sick of hearing answers that don't protect the general public from industrial abuse. Every one is out to make a living but selling fish from these waters is wrong. Thats just how I feel. If I spoke out of turn before, I have edited the post so please forgive me. I will keep practicing CPR on my boat so I should not say anymore. See you on the river---jonnycat
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Jonnycat, we probably agree on the issues. But, please don't judge the biologist. I was very impressed with him. He didn't BS me. He talked to me just like you and I would talk on the phone. He answered all my questions. I think he did not try to mislead me on anything. Granted, you can't be sure of everything, but I have been around my share of BSers. Have been know to shoot a bit myself. I really enjoyed talking with him. Very knowledgeable and helpful, while not talking over my head.

I look forward to talking with him again.

Dayton
 

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Thanks Dayton. It's about time that DGIF got a TEENY bit of positive feedback. Ever since the scandal broke it's been nothing but negative **** on a constant basis. See, there are good people watching over your resources....
 

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Thanks for the report Dayton.It sounds positive,from a recreational fishermans point of view.I sure do like the James River and the CPR philosophy which most fishernan practice down there.
 

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JohnnyCat, I agree that it is wrong to not warn people about potentialy harmful fish such as those on the James but our grocery stores are filled with seafood that is loaded with harmful bacteria, pcbs, mercury, etc. And none of these contain warnings. I've just gotten envolved with an environmental club and it has been eyepopping to learn what we are being sold to consume. Plus, a lot of the packaging that goes with the products are also causing some health concerns. I looked in to the selling of the James cats about a year ago and I just got the run around. Every time I called a number I was referred to another number...then another number. Nobody wants to take responsibility, ruffle another departments feathers, or even worse take the time to look in to the problem.
 

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I will just leave it alone from now on. Don't take me wrong, GTB, I know the old run around also. That offer still stands anytime you like. I headed to Batimore City today to get me some shad for the Potomac tomorrow. As I was pulling into the parking lot at the Harbor Hospital, there was a man pulling in a fish off of the little piers beside the ramps. Turned out to be a 12lb striped bass on poles from Christmas used for the first time. I literally mean it was his first cast. He was a bundle of nerves over that fish. He helped me get some bait fish and I was gone. Tomorrow I am taking a fellow from the other board for some eyeopening fishing in site of the Nations's Capital. It is gonna be windy but 2 decent fish will change that negative thought. Yesterday it was raining but the wind was not too noticeable. I am hoping we can hide a little bit from the worst of the breeze. Later for now---jonnycat
 
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