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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings All!

Got the following contact from Angel Bolinger of MD DNR for those of us tired of catching malnourished stripers. Address your questions about the bay's bunker population to:

William T. Windley, Jr who is a Sport Fish Advisory Commission (SFAC)
link

member and he chairs the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC) Advisory panel for menhaden.

William T. Windley, Jr.
512 Bethel Church Road
North East, MD 21901
Home: 410-287-6993
Fax: 410-398-0528
E-mail: [email protected]

I will be sending pictures of big headed, skinny-bellied rock. Maybe we CAN make a difference....
 

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Jake,

Thanks for the link. Md. and Va. are two of the few states that still allow the bunker industry to flourish. It killed me to watch spotter planes and factory ships off the Va. coach swallow entire schools.

The Va. boys are onboard with the cause--maybe we can spend this winter organizing to push them out. Anybody interested in helping?

And if you doubt the importance of bunker, read this.
 

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Manayunk Jake,as a VA boy I appreciate ya keeping th heat on th issue as something needs to be done. Maybe a post on th open forum as well?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Greetings Sand Flea!

You have my support! I've already fired off an e-mail to Mr Windley, and I will post the reply (if any) to the board.

I used the same argument as the author of the bunker article: malnourished stripers/rockfish are more likely to succumb to disease. What's the use of spawning huge year classes if they're going to die before reaching sexual maturity? Those hollow-bellied 18-26 inch "schoolies" don't leave the bay, and can't make use of outside food sources. On the other hand, migratory "spawners" look great when they return to the Chesapeake.

MD and VA fishermen who are members of the RFA can try to get their respective state chapters involved. I'll contact the fledgling PA chapter, since about half of them fish the Chesapeake.

Maybe you can move this thread to the open forum to generate more ideas. Any input would be welcomed.

I'm also a member of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and I'll contact them about their stand on the menhaden fishery. My only concern is that I'm not sure if the CBF differentiates between recreational and commercial fishing. The RFA has recently experienced problems with "allied" organizations leaning towards recreational fishing bans.

Looks like this could shape up into a fine winter project....
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Greetings Cdog!

I originally posted under the MD board because I felt this was a local problem with menhaden netters working inside the bay. I also knew from previous posts and replies that most VA fishermen who use this BB routinely read the MD page. (Hell, some visit the NJ board -- see Winter Flounder II.) However, in light of Sand Flea's suggestion to turn this into a group project, I'll leave it up to him about whether to move the thread.

I'm sure Mr Windley has a VA counterpart, and a little poking and prodding might flush him out....

Thanks for the feedback!
 

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Please to clear my brain on this issue. I thought that the taking of bunker INSIDE the bay was illegal by MD netters and that the real problem was the VA netters taking bunker just inside the Bay on the VA side.

Who's got the legal info on this? :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Greetings Sandcrab!

I'm on the case. I searched the MD DNR Commercial Fishing page but could find nothing on Menhaden regulations. I sent the following e-mail to the director:

I was wondering if you could provide me with any information on Menhaden stocks inside the Chesapeake Bay. I would also like to know whether commercial fishing (netting) of menhaden is legal inside the bay, and if so, to what extent. Finally, I would like to know if Virginia regulations on commercial fishing for menhaden inside the bay vary from Maryland regulations.

I received the following response:

I am forwarding your email to one of our resident experts. To answer your question about regulations, we do not regulate menhaden in Maryland.

Apparently netting menhaden is not illegal in Maryland. I will post more as the responses come in....

One thing that DID surprise me was that commercial fishing is allowed for stripers(rockfish). I thought the gamefish status precluded commercial fishing, and that all stripers sold in MD were pond raised. (I was once told that was the reason for he metal tag on the lip of stripers sold in fish markets in MD.) However, according to the MD regulations, stripers are taken in pound nets, floating gill nets, and even by hook and line commercial fishermen. The commercial fisherman must then report their catch at weigh stations. Apparently this is where the tag is attached. Live and learn....
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Greetings All!

As promised, the reply from MD DNR Commercial Fisheries Division:

Mr. Fellman:

Thanks for your interest in menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay. Harvest regulations between MD and VA do differ significantly. Maryland permits commercial harvest of menhaden, which occurs on a limited basis primarily through pound nets (stationary nets permitted at periodic distances along the shoreline.)

The Virginia fishery is dramatically larger and is pursued primarily through haul seines, which are deployed by large ships and encircle schools of fish. Marylnd catches are used mostly for bait in other fisheries, while the Virginia catches are primarily processed as fish meal and fish oil.

Chesapeake Bay stocks are dependent upon offshore reproductive success. Recent recruitment failures remain of concern coastally and within the Chesapeake Bay. Despite poor recruitment, some years are better than others in the Bay due to poorly understoood migration pattern differences.

Menhaden are managed through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Considerably more information can be obtained from recent managment plans and stock assessments by contacting the ASMFC at asmfc.org.

sincerely,

Eric Schwaab

I have a little problem believing that "Chesapeake Bay stocks are dependent upon offshore reproductive success...." when "The Virginia fishery is dramatically larger and is pursued primarily through haul seines...." To me it appears that plenty of menhaden are entering the Bay, but many of these fish fall victim to these "haul seines, which are deployed by large ships and encircle schools of fish....(which) are primarily processed as fish meal and fish oil."

Anyone else out there have an opinion?
 

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M Jake,

They are starving the stripers! Until the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC) Advisory panel realizes this and takes drastic measures to protect menhaden, our striper population will suffer. I think this is politically driven by the fish oil companies, chicken feed companies, and the vitamin companies who desperately need the menhaden oil to stay in business. :eek:

This Summer I was catching lots of bunker at SPSP on a Stingsilvers and a teaser fly (small white maribou) combo off the jetties. Had I decided to keep them, I could have filled a 5 gal bucket! :D

Find bunker and the stripers and blues are not far behind! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Greetings Sandcrab!

You are 100 percent correct. According to each reply, the Atlantic stock of Menhaden is "healthy", and the problem in the Chesapeake Bay is "recruitment." However, if you read between the lines, you can almost see MD pointing their fingers at Virginia. Read the following reply and judge for yourself:

Mr. Fellman,

There is a single Atlantic menhaden stock that migrates along the coast. Management is coordinated by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). The ASMFC considers the stock healthy, based on stock size, age-diversity, and spawning stock biomass levels. However, they do concede that measures of poor reproductive success are troubling.

The Chesapeake Bay Juvenile Striped Bass Survey has documented poor reproductive success for Atlantic menhaden for several years:
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/juvindex/index.html

A menhaden fact sheet is also available on-line:
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/education/menhaden/menhaden.html

Maryland's Chesapeake Bay commercial landings have averaged close to 4 million pounds per year for the last several years:
http://mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/mdcomfish/mdcomfishery.html

The Chesapeake Bay region dominates coastal landings. In Virginia's portion of the Bay, menhaden are harvested by purse seine vessels and pound nets. One large menhaden reduction plant is still in operation in Reedville, Virginia. Purse seines are not legal in Maryland, where pound nets are the primary method of harvest.

Hope that answers your questions.

Eric Q. Durell
Fisheries Biologist
MD DNR Fisheries Service
410.260.8308

In fact, it raises more questions. I'm afraid starving stripers are only the beginning....
 

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Just a brief note here: as most of you guys know, I fish Va. quite a bit during the season. Several times this year, I witnessed massive factory operations off the Va. coast involving multiple factory ships and spotter planes that vacuumed entire schools. This may seem a bit dramatic to Va. folks who are used to seeing it, but if you've never witnessed it in person you have no idea how hard these companies are going after the bunker stocks. It's the kind of thing that makes you take off your hat, scratch your head, and say, "What the hell?"
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Greetings sand flea!

I get the feeling that a lot of fishermen who use the board don't realize how serious the issue is. However, I will keep the thread "alive" in the hope that some folks out there are taking action. Below you'll find some good/bad news for VA fisherman.

The RFA newsletter "Making Waves" has published a short piece concerning blacktip sharks and menhaden. The Fall 2002 edition is not yet avalable on line, but here's the gist of it:

A study of blacktip sharks in the Gulf of Mexico revealed that "the rapid growth rate of blacktip sharks needed to be supported by a constant supply of food, primarily menhaden." So what does this have to do with VA? Read on:

According to Richard Condrey, associate professor of oceanography and coastal studies at Louisianna State University, "shark attacks in the Virginia Beach area may have been connected to the decline in (the Atlantic stock of) menhaden." According to Condrey, "Virginia Beach is right next to what is considered a primary nursing ground for menhaden, which is Chesapeake Bay. The reduction in availability of menhaden for Atlantic sharks may have resulted in a change in foraging strategy." The result? "Overfishing of shark prey in the Atlantic Ocean means sharks are coming closer to shore to find food, and may mistake swimmers for a meal...."

So here's a chance for Va fishermen, who were accused of "attracting" more sharks close to the beach by fishing for them, to get a little payback. Let the VA legislators know that it is the dwindling menhaden stock, and not your cut bait and chum, that is drawing the sharks in close to their bathing beaches.

I'll be posting this on the VA board, too! Hopefully a few of the VA boys will take the next step and find out who is responsible for the current menhaden regulations (or lack of), and send a wake-up call to Richmond and Washington DC. Hey, sand flea agrees this is an important issue. Maybe 1500 plus e-mails might get noticed!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Greetings All!

Just a quick update -- no reply as of this date from William T. Windley, Jr who is a Sport Fish Advisory Commission (SFAC) member and chairs the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASFMC) Advisory panel for menhaden.

There's still time to contact Mr William T. Windley, Jr at:

512 Bethel Church Road
North East, MD 21901
Home: 410-287-6993
Fax: 410-398-0528
E-mail: [email protected]

The Recreational Fishing Alliance web site will also help you find the names of your federal and state senators and congressmen.
www.savefish.com

Thanks for taking the time to read these posts, and especially for acting on them!
 

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It seems like the size of Menhaden are getting smaller,but I've seen bigger Menhaden in the open bay.It seems like there's pleanty;whats the uses of Bunker oher than for fish food.Maybe thats why Blue Crab populations are low,because Striped bass live off of Menhaden.If bunker populations dwendle the Stripers eat other things like Crabs.That's why nobody in Maryland or Deleware had Peelers last spring,but some places around still sold them.Peelers were hard to find last year. :rolleyes:
 
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