I got a call from Capt. Dennis Kanyuk of the Princess Marine in Point Lookout who is DEEPLY involved in this management process and fiasco facing NY State this 2004 season.
This was an exclusive interview this morning (3/25) at 9:30 that no one else has...yet...I am sure it will be taken from here and perhaps put elsewhere...but you got it first here and it is copyrighted material...even if it is on the Internet.
If you want to direct people on your boards or website back here that is greatly appreciated.. but please do not copy this or any part of this info without due credit to our site.
I also want to put everyone on notice as well that porgies deserve just as much pressure as the fluke problem...and we should put tremendous pressure our state reps who sit on the MAMFC and the AFMFC boards and the individuals who serve on them as well. I will list the names and phones number of this that need to have pressure put on them at the end of this piece.
The data used for the adjustments and for making regulations changes is complied by the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey (MRFS). In 2004 they said we over fished our quotas in NYS by 110% on fluke and 150% for porgies. This is how we are in the situation we are in as discussed in these forums. Now for some insightful info
We all know these numbers can in no way be accurate with the bad weather and poor trip reporting last year in the 2003 season. At the meeting in VA last month, Gordon Colvin of the DEC who has fought very hard for us recreational fishermen the last few months on this...brought up the question and formally asked for a review or in house review of the "numbers" MRFS supplied the MAFMC. They agreed to look...but doing their own "in house" review of the data of course found nothing wrong with any of it. This in a nutshell is the government checking on the government...so of course they found nothing wrong. They did this to justify their own numbers and cover their own ass.
MRFS also admitted their is something wrong with their 2002 phone intercepts in the 2nd and 3rd "waves." A wave is a 2-month period of information gathering. In one year there are six (6) waves so to speak. So this bad info dealt with the March through July wave period and there may have been problem with the next wave of July & August as well. MRFS also says their 02' numbers are unreliable as well.
So we are having regulations made on wrong and bad data info and numbers. MRFS even went back and in this review quoted numbers from 02' 01' or 00' when they needed justification of their number gathering.
RELIABLE INFO: At these meetings in Wilmington, DE (the TV episode we taped) and in VA, the party boat industry (United Boatman's Assoc UBA) along with the tackle shop industry presented numbers and information they gathered from their own records or what I would classify as "evidence" to the contrary of what MRFS is trying to tell us. This info included detailed graphs of trips taken, people sailed, bait and tackle sales along with wholesale tackle sales in 2003.
This info presented to the MAMFC & ASMFC at these meetings by the UBA & the tackle association showed a 20% decline in number of trips sailed by party and charter boats, a 25% decline in the number of anglers that sailed on these boats, a 20-25% decline in the bait and tackle sales and a 20% decline in the wholesale bait & tackle industry over the period of 2002 to 2003.
There has been a steady downward spiral in all of these industries over the last 5 years this info proves.
They also presented the weather information gathered over the 2003 season (we also had it at http://www.thefishingline.com/20031.htm) and the consensus opinion by everybody in the industry...and off the record by some who sit on these boards...was how can MRFS come up with numbers like this with such drastic and extreme over fishing by NYS when everyone else is proving them wrong?
How can they come up with such numbers? We can reason how they can come with the numbers of anglers that sailed...that's easy enough, but the numbers of fish caught is inexcusable, improbable and impossible.
One thing that shows how numbers can be overblown is that in good weather everyone goes fishing...so some catch fish. In bad weather the die-hards go fishing and in most cases die-hards are above average or very good anglers and therefore if they are intercepted by MRFS for a survey...have high catch rates even in poor weather conditions. This sees a higher catch per angler and if interviewed that number is multiplied and overblown. The same goes for scup...it was hard not to catch scup in 2003 they were so thick and a few good catches blows the numbers out of proportion.
I cannot name names at this point...but some in important places have admitted they see major problems with MRFS shore based angler surveys.
In 2003 MRFS says the increase in effort caused and adjustment of fish per angler. The MRFS "clipboard" survey is an intercept method of talking to anglers at the dock after they return from a fishing trip. This gives them a basis and gets the number of fish caught by that angler.
They then take the average catch per angler (anglers talked to then add all the fish caught, divided by the number of anglers gives you the average catch per angler) and multiply that by the number of trips taken in NYS from phone intercepts done through a random drawing of the population within 25 miles of coastal waters (anyone ever been called?) off pier, boat and party boats (3 categories) and this is how MRFS come up with their numbers.
The question was asked...is there a dock sampling too small to be used? The answer was no...so every sample ever taken is used and thus helps to blow numbers out of proportion.
DOUBTS WE HAVE. We have many doubts on this subject and how they gather info. According to the plan...NYS needs a 48% reduction in the fluke catch and 57% in the porgy catch recreationally.
OPTIONS WE HAVE. We have several options in this matter.
1. Do what we are supposed to do and take drastic and unrealistic cutbacks that can do major harm to the industries on Long Island.
2. Sue the government and MRFS on several fronts
a. Sue on the incorrectness of the MRFS data itself
b. Sue because MRFS data was originally intended to be used on a coast wide basis to show trends in fish numbers
c. It was never intended to be done on a state-by-state basis and is now doing so anyway.
d. It was never intended to be used for quota management and is.
NYS can sue if they wanted to but they do not want to spend the money to do so. NYS and the current administration from the Governor down through the ranks to the DEC Commissioner Ms. Crotty....has a freshwater mentality. Ms. Crotty has been quoted as saying..."Why do we need to be changing these saltwater reg's al the time when we don't do it in freshwater.
Capt. Dennis, others and myself want to praise Gordon Colvin Director of the Dec and we do so strongly because at these last few meetings Mr. Colvin stood tall and fought hard for NY recreational anglers. Mr. Colvin put forth a plan that would lock NYS into a three-year deal of 17-inch fluke and three (3) fish per person and this gave NYS a 20% reduction in fluke mortality right away... which was a 3 year average of the MRFS data itself. This would give us a season of early May to Sept. 6 or so.
Even if we found out from MRFS we were entitled to more the fish anytime in that 3-year period we would not take them. This was a promise by NYS to the boards. Of course it was voted down and NYS was told quite bluntly...it is NY's turn to bite the bullet and take the hammer.
What kind of management is this?
THE TRICKY PART: NY can go out of compliance...in other words fish outside the parameter of the boards' recommendations. This is what MA did with their porgy industry and they got a way with it. You see...if you fish out of compliance...once the Fed's find out you are doing so...you then have two months to correct it or face the consequences. Say your reg's go into effect May 1...you fish out of compliance and he Fed's find out about it at a meeting in August...you now have two months to correct the out of compliance situation. If not the Fed's will cut the federal funding to NYS.
This did not bother MA because their best months for porgy fishing are May and June...so by the time the Fed's found out it was way after that. So while they were out of compliance they caught 9-inch porgies and the limit was 100 per man. When they cam back into compliance...their main porgy season was over so they didn't mind or care that they went back to 20 porgies or so per man.
If we were to lose Federal funding...NYS would lose about 7.5 million dollars and would devastate the DEC as their budget at the DEC marine on Long Island consists of $250,000 from the state general fund with the rest of the money coming in Wallup-Breaux monies, $$'s from licensing and fees from both recreational an commercial anglers and fees from the tickets and violations DEC law enforcement writes.
Capt. Dennis also said it takes about 2 to 3 years or more for changes in reg's to come about in all the East Coast states because of cumbersome way government works and how long it takes to get things done.
MRFS data is that far behind. Dennis and others have suggested using a three year average which levels out the drastic up's and down's you see in fish populations and fishing. Some even argue we should thrown out the extreme high and low numbers as we do in figure skating competition which also levels the lines of data.
One of the main complaints by our fishing industries...and rightfully so in my opinion and those of the party and charter boat captains is the industry has provided MRFS with the hard data they need by those that are out on the water...every day! But MRFS does not consider any of this data at the meetings when they should be. We should be using 3-year trends in our management or at least use this industry data as supporting industry to the MRFS numbers...which they admit is flawed, but the best we have. These 3-year trends can be used as checks and balances..., which you need in any government, but they discard this info.
Our fisheries are rebuilding Dennis said and the data supports this as well. Instead of doing what we are...we should be using 02' numbers to manage our fisheries in 04', as the 03' numbers are not accurate or complete...until the end of April or early May of 04'.
We already know the 03' data is a disaster with inaccuracies.
We should be managing on a 6-month lag system and since the fisheries are rebuilding and recovering, we can manage on a lag system as current and correct numbers become available. This 6-month lag system allows us to find mistakes.
No one has any idea what the number of sea bass and porgies swimming in the ocean is that's for sure...but we know we're seeing more of each over the last few years than we eve have.
In essence we are managing our fisheries with inaccurate info and data so absurd that we end up managing our fisheries with bad science!
Then we find out that everything seemed to be fine...until we found out that in NYS only... MRFS changed their system of intercepting anglers to gather information. NYS was the only state where this method changed and we are the only state that was over our fluke quota by more than a just few % points as most states were over as little as 5% or under by that or much more. NY was so far over it is absolutely impossible to believe what MRFS is telling us.
Is this just a coincidence? I doubt it, but this is just my humble opinion.
Did you know that about 66% of al MRFS intercepts of angler sis done in Suffolk County? That alone can throw this survey gathering way off because some say we tend to find a better chance of keeper fluke to the east and the same can be said of the porgy fishery as well. This blows the number of fish caught and the size of the fish per angler way out of whack.
One final note...Gordon Colvin and Pat Augustine are starting to believe and this is in
There is ongoing talk of an Amendment 13 to the fluke, sea bass and scup plan...that Mr. Colvin and Augustine would like to have all put back on the table...including the split in the commercial and recreational fisheries.
The rational on the scup side is that in the 03' year the comm's did not even fill their scup quota and so far in the winter of the 04' season they have not even reached 33% of their allowed landings, which could indicate they have too large of a percentage. At present it is 60/40 fluke, 78/22 or porgies and about a 50/50 split on sea bass with the commercial sector getting the lion's share of the fishery...when the info gathered to make these splits was done at a time when the fisheries was at its extreme low's. We also were using MRFS recreational fish landings numbers, which in all probability were just as inaccurate as they are today.
This entire MRFS survey gathering and the justification of their numbers sounds like a complete cover up.
Another problem is...and this is my opinion..., which is backed by Capt. Dennis, is the lack of aggressiveness on behalf of the recreational side of the table. The commercial reps who sit on these councils are very aggressive and push very hard for what they want...while our recreational reps are more "polite" and not as pushy as the commercials.
You NEED to call the following people and put ENORMOUS pressure on them and I have listed them in the order of the chain of command with the top of the food chain first.
Irwin M. Crotty
Denise Sheehan, Exec. Commissioner
Gerald Burnhart (Gordon Colvin's boss)