Tuesday, January 21, 2014

'My Limit is One' Slowly Gaining Pubicity

Via The Capital Gazette:

By: Chris D. Dollar

The other day a friend said conflicts about game fish in Maryland are fairly straightforward. He’s right, it’s a short list, a very short list: Striped bass, yellow perch and, most recently, speckled trout. Compared to warm-weather states such as Florida, which has scores of saltwater game fish species, one might even argue we’re a one-trick pony (stripers).
Sure, intense squabbles have erupted over crabs, menhaden and oysters, but only one of those — crabs — is caught in any appreciable number by amateurs. The heavyweight bouts are fought over our state fish, the rockfish, better known as striped bass most everywhere else. That’s not to say Free State anglers aren’t passionate about fishing issues, it’s just that the ones with seven stripes dominate the debates.
The bell rang for the latest round after the Department of Natural Resource’s Fisheries Service quietly announced last fall its intention to increase in 2014 the overall striper harvest by 14 percent, which I thought was an almost shameful decision, a “fish grab” of sorts the year before it’s expected the multi-state coastal fisheries commission will cut the overall harvest.
Rather than wait on state-driven conservation action (or is that inaction?) or waste time beating on the governor and legislature to step in (they won’t), the Maryland chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association recently launched a voluntary, angler-driven campaign called “My Limit is One.” The premise is simple: Limit your personal harvest to one rockfish per day; don’t keep rockfish less than 24 inches or longer than 36 inches.
“We didn’t want to turn this into a commercial versus sport fisher issue,” said Tony Friedrich, CCA-MD executive director, explaining why it’s non-compulsory and aimed only at recreational fishermen. “Our goal is to get people to think and talk more about conserving stripers.”
Curious what others thought, I pinged 15 friends, hardcore fishermen that include some who either operate a large charter boat or run a guide service. Overwhelmingly, all supported the concept in theory, though as you’d expect the opinions varied on details, in particular what size should be protected. I’ve been a staunch supporter of releasing all big fish, which for me in recent years means putting back any rockfish greater than 27 inches. That’s my only quibble with the CCA-MD program — lower the top range to say 32 inches and allow for smaller fish to be taken, say 18-24 inches. Of course, this fits in well with my shallow-water, light-tackle game, and I pretty much do it now anyway.
Several sport anglers also say they’re very concerned with protecting the abundant 2011 year class of stripers, most of which will be 18 inches and legal for harvest this year. This is the last “great” spawning class in the past decade, fish that are the key to a healthy fishery in coming years. Taking just one striper per day from this class can only help the stock. Others expressed concerns about poaching.

If I learned anything from the Great Recession it’s that when times are lean, cut way back on spending and don’t rack up debt on credit. For those rockfish nuts who want to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, “My Limit is One” is a sound plan worth considering, and not just for the short term.


No comments:

Post a Comment