NEWS is published
quarterly by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries to inform
and educate its constituents on matters relating to the conservation
and sustainable use of the Commonwealth's marine resources
Volume 17 Second Quarter May - July 1997
Honors Saltwater Derby Winners
Saltwater Derby Winners
Gamefish Tournament Monitoring and Upcoming 1997
Resource Inventory in Salem Sound
Releases '97 Sportfish Guide
bass Bioenergetics and Modelling
for a Better Hook
Builds new Middleboro Fish Ladder
River Fishway Stewardship
of Contents for Rules Update including Public
Hearings, Regulatory Updates, Q & A on Commercial Striped Bass
Fishing, and Fluke Quota in 1998
March 15, 1997 DMF hosted an "evening of fishing champions" at the
New England Aquarium _ a special ceremony held for the winners and
their guests of the 1996 Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing Derby. Director
Philip Coates presented awards to all 31 winners in attendance.
Each year from March 1 through November 30 DMF conducts the Derby
open to all fishermen. Fish must meet certain weight standards,
be caught on hook and line, and be measured at an official weigh
station on a certified scale. At the end of each Derby year, awards
are given to anglers who landed the heaviest fish in each species
category. Winners are chosen in three divisions _ men, women, and
junior (age 15 and younger).
The Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing Derby began in 1983 when DMF
took over the former Governor's Cup awards from the Division of
Tourism. Since that time, we have expanded the Derby year, added
eight species to the list of fish eligible for an award, and began
maintaining a list of state game fish records. Currently, nine state
records are world records.
Awards for 1996 included an engraved silver-plated Paul Revere bowl
and a distinctive print of seven fish species, signed by the artist
John Rice. The print has been produced into a poster and can be
seen at most derby weigh stations. Qualifying entrants in the 1996
derby also received a poster.
In addition to awards for heaviest fish, a new award was created
this year for the most Skillful Skipper. This award is presented
to the party or charter boat captain who puts his clients onto the
most derby-winning fish. Captain Tom Lukegord, Jr., this year's
Skillful Skipper, said he has been an advocate of the awards program
ever since winning his first Governor's Cup at age 11. He enjoys
seeing his clients receive recognition for their achievements.
Two new state records were set this year. Peter Bergin of Shrewsbury
broke the blue shark record which stood since 1960. Mr. Bergin's
fish weighed 454 lbs. An 8 lbs. 2 oz. winter flounder was taken
by Thomas Hillebrand of Claremont, NH on July 12th. He broke the
old record of 8 lbs. 1 oz. set in 1995. Eight species had no entries
this year: blue marlin, bluefin tuna, halibut, black sea bass, swordfish,
weakfish, white marlin, and yellowfin tuna.
One final note. Women and junior anglers please take note of the
absence of winners for certain species in your divisions. See you
next year? Contact DMF's Pocasset Office or your local tackle shop
for details on the Massachusetts Saltwater Fishing Derby.
Drew Kolek (Pocasset) Derby Coordinator
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Fish Species Weight
(min entry wt)Division (lbs-oz) Angler Where Caught
Bluefish Men 18-13 Donald Ballou Martha's Vineyard
(10 lbs.) Women 16-12 Linda Whitten Swampscott
Junior 15-0 Chris Sterling Cape Cod Bay
Blue Shark Men 454-0 Peter Bergin Fingers
Bonito Men 12-5 Paul Bergeron Martha's Vineyard
(7 lbs.) Women 10-9 Jackie Capute Hyannis
Junior 9-0 Jason French Horseshoe Shoal
Cod Men 68-7 Jeff Phillips Stellwagen Basin
(25 lbs.) Women 35-4 Bridjo Quinlan Stellwagen Bank
Junior 37-6 Casey McCadden Plymouth
Cusk Men 31-2 Richard Hincman Jeffreys Ledge
False Albacore Men 11-6 Gary Carter Martha'sVineyard
Fluke Men 9-0 David Boynton Buzzards Bay
Haddock Men 16-8 George Stoddard Stellwagen Bank
(8 lbs.) Junior 8-14 BJ Korlawski Tillies Basin
Mackerel Men 2-7 Rick MacKinney Newburyport
Mako Shark Women 177-0 Eileen Kane Atlantis Canyons
Pollock Men 31-2 Richard Crane Tilles Bank
Scup Men 3-4 Jim Koutalakis Hyannis
(3 lbs.) Women 2-8 Mary Davies Tire Reef
Striped bass Men 53-8 Maurice Saucier Martha's Vineyard
(30 lbs.) Women 40-12 Marie Hessessey Provincetown
Junior 47-0 Ryan Hudson Monomoy
Tautog Men 11-6 John Gallager Wareham
(8 lbs.) Women 10-7 Alice Ames Buzzards Bay
Junior 9-2 Derek Redgate Buzzards Bay
Winter Flounder Men 8-2 Tom Hillebrand Georges Bank
(2 lbs.) Women 7-9 Mary Davies Nantucket Sound
Wolffish Men 40-8 Walter Gutzan Stellwagen Bank
(20 lbs.) Women 26-12 Carole Loiacona Tilles Bank
Junior 24-10 Jesse Rackliff Jeffreys Ledge
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close proximity of Massachusetts to the cooler boreal waters in the
Gulf of Maine and the warmer temperate waters south of Cape Cod attracts
seasonal feeding aggregations of a variety of big game species. Extensive
offshore fisheries for tunas, sharks, and marlin occur off our coast
from June through October each year. Recreational anglers in private
and chartered vessels travel miles offshore to catch bluefin, yellowfin,
albacore, and bigeye tunas, blue, mako, and thresher sharks, and blue
and white marlin. The highly migratory nature, large size, and long
life span of these species render data acquisition and biological
studies expensive and difficult to execute. However, since 1987, DMF
Sportfisheries biologists have harnessed the efforts of tournament
fishermen to learn about the species and size composition, basic biology,
and relative abundance of big game species off our coast. Offshore
fishing tournaments not only provide catch data and biological samples
but estimates of effort which are often lacking for offshore recreational
There are about five to nine offshore tournaments in Massachusetts
annually with most located on the Cape and Islands. Some strictly
target sharks while the majority offer prizes for a variety of species.
All of the events self-impose minimum sizes and bag limits while
promoting tag and release. Points can be garnered in most cases
by weighing fish and by releasing them.
The number of tournaments held in Massachusetts fluctuates from
year to year depending on the economic climate and nature of the
fisheries. Nonetheless, traditional tournaments like the Nantucket
Billfish Tournament (28 years), the Green Harbor Tuna Tournament
(25 years), the Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament (10 years),
and the Falmouth Grand Prix (7 years) have evolved over the years
to changing economies and shifting fisheries providing valuable
time series data for the DMF Tournament Program.
Although tournament data have been traditionally used by several
states and the federal government to monitor landings data in offshore
recreational fisheries, the Massachusetts Tournament Program is
unique. While most of these entities collect data on fish that are
landed, the DMF program attempts to collect total catch data including
fish that are boated, tagged, released, or lost. By working closely
with tournament sponsors and tournament participants, DMF biologists
assist in the development of the event and facilitate complete data
From 1987 through 1996, DMF personnel collected data at 67 big game
tournaments representing 3,136 boat hours of fishing effort. Over
this period, 7,616 fish of 17 species were tallied by the Program.
The dominant offshore species in the database was the blue shark
representing 66% of the tournament catch. Other species in the catch
included but were not limited to: yellowfin tuna (12%), white marlin
(8%), bluefin tuna (4%), albacore tuna (3%), and mako shark (3%).
As expected, the number of fish released by tournament anglers during
this period differed greatly by species, ranging from 41% for the
albacore tuna to 96% for the blue shark. Overall, only 20% were
boated, while 61% were released and 20% were tagged when released.
Annual estimates of catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE) can be calculated
to show trends in fishing success. Drastic fluctuations in CPUE
may be indicative of changes in regional fish abundance caused by
corresponding changes in prey availability, fish population size,
and/or environmental factors. For example, the 10-year CPUE trends
for several tuna species, depicted in the figure, shows that the
yellowfin index was strong in 1993 and 1994, peaked in 1995, and
dropped out in 1996. Size composition data from weighed fish showed
that the 1993 catch was represented by small one-year old yellowfin,
while those in 1994 and 1995 were dominated by two-year old fish.
Offshore observations by tournament anglers coupled with the analysis
of satellite temperature images revealed that offshore waters on
the traditional fishing grounds were much cooler in 1996 when compared
to other years. This environmental feature is the probable cause
of poor fishing success for this species in Massachusetts last year.
Like the yellowfin tuna, the white marlin is a tropical species
whose northern range extends to waters south of Cape Cod. The CPUE
trend for this species shows a dramatic decline in 1996 as well
due to lower offshore water temperatures.
Although bluefin tuna is well represented in New England, few tournaments
now target this species. Last year was the first year in the time
series that no giant bluefin tournaments were held in Massachusetts.
Regulatory changes designed for effort control and accelerated catches
in the General Category have made it difficult to schedule giant
tuna tournaments. This is an unfortunate loss of a traditional component
of the New England giant fishery and a data series that showed a
clear increasing trend in CPUE over seven years of 100% coverage.
The CPUE trend represents only small bluefin caught during mixed
species tournaments. These are primarily small school-sized fish
released by tournament fishermen. CPUE indices are relatively constant
over the 10 year period with the exception of those in 1990 and
1995. Again, size composition data from tournament participants
show that these catches were dominated by one-year bluefin. These
trends clearly show that 1990 and 1994 produced dominant year classes
that moved through our offshore fishery.
The Massachusetts Sportfishing Tournament Monitoring Program also
collects catch data at the month-long Martha's Vineyard Striped
Bass and Bluefish Derby. These data allow for the delineation of
trends in the inshore abundance of striped bass, bluefish, false
albacore, and Atlantic bonito.
The comprehensive catch and effort data collected by the Tournament
Program are forwarded annually to the National Marine Fisheries
Service for inclusion in their national statistics. Well-founded
fisheries management decisions must be based on a thorough understanding
of the fisheries themselves. The Massachusetts Sportfishing Tournament
Monitoring Program provides valuable information about our fisheries
that contributes to such a foundation. Tournament organizers and
those interested in additional information about the program should
contact our Martha's Vineyard Sportfisheries Office.
Greg Skomal (Martha's Vineyard) and Brad Chase (Gloucester)
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21: 6th Annual Striped Bass Flyrod Catch and Release Tournament,
Martha's Vineyard Rod & Gun Club, 508-627-3909
July 24-26: 11th Annual Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament,
Boston Big Game Fishing Club, 610-706-0301
July 31- Aug 23rd: Annual Scituate Invitational Shark Tornament,
Nick Emord, 617-740-4514
Aug 3-8: 29th Annual Nantucket Billfish Tournament, Nantucket
Angler's Club, 508-228-2299
August 14-16: 3rd Annual Shark's Landing Shootout, Shark's
Landing Bait and Tackle, Oak Bluffs Harbor, 508-696-8272
August 21-23: 8th Annual Falmouth Grand Prix Noel Almeida,
August 28-30: 4th Annual Fairhaven Shark Frenzy Boston Big
Game Fishing Club, Seaport Inn 508-992-7985
Sept. 6-7: Atlantic Striper Classic Tournament Essex County
Sept. 11-13: Boston Whaler Owner's Tournament Dick's Bait and
Tackle, New York Avenue Oak Bluffs, MA 02557, 508-693-7669
Sept.16-Oct.18: 52nd Annual Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass
& Bluefish Derby, Box 2101, Edgartown, MA 02539, 508-627-8342
October 1-31: Octoberfish Larry's Tackle Shop, 141 Main Street
Edgartown, MA 02539, 508-627-5088
Dates subject to change. Double check with derby sponsors.
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1997, DMF Sportfisheries Biologists will team up with Salem Sound
2000, a local coalition of citizens interested in natural resource
conservation, to inventory the marine resources of Salem Sound. The
project will be a cooperative effort with assistance from Massachusetts
Audubon, Salem State College, and local volunteers organized through
Salem Sound 2000. Also, a grant was received from the DEP 104B (3)
program to assist with the analysis of nutrient samples.
Salem Sound was last surveyed in 1967 as part of DMF's Estuarine
Research Program that produced reports on 17 Massachusetts estuaries
and embayments in the 1960s and 1970s. These reports still remain
important references. The Program was a major contribution to the
1967 marine resource management study.
Why study Salem Sound again, 30 years later? Salem Sound provides
many commercial and recreational opportunities in a highly populated
region on the North Shore of Massachusetts. The harbors of Marblehead,
Salem, Beverly, Manchester, and the Danvers River have an illustrious
maritime tradition and continue to support important fishing and
boating industries. These businesses and recreational activities
depend on healthy marine resources. Concerns have been growing over
the status of certain marine species and habitats in recent years.
At the same time, interest in improving water and resource quality
has been rising. Salem Sound was selected to address these issues
and to serve as a pilot for evaluating future DMF efforts.
The study is well timed because: (1) additional financial resources
will be available as the Watershed Initiative of the Massachusetts
Department of Environmental Protection conducts the research and
assessment phase of the North Coastal Basin in 1997; (2) much of
the study will serve as a pre-operational baseline to the start-up
of the South Essex Sewer District secondary sewerage treatment facility
later in 1997; and (3) Salem Sound 2000 is primed to make a big
contribution as they approach their celebratory year.
In the 1967 study, DMF conducted monthly seine and trawl net samples
at selected locations in Salem Sound to document the status of fishery
resources. This will be done again at most of the same locations
with the same gear, although trawling frequency will be increased
and alternative gears will be deployed.
The DMF Sportfisheries Program will lead the finfish sampling as
well as enhanced water quality sampling. Basic water chemistry parameters
will be measured during each location visit, and nutrient measurements
will be made at three marine stations and six freshwater inputs
to the sound.
Salem Sound 2000 will lead a scuba survey, shellfish sampling, and
a citizen water quality monitoring program of the Sound's harbors
from May to October. The scuba survey will involve many dedicated
volunteer divers and offer much to the study by profiling benthic
resources that may not be well represented in the seining or trawling.
In addition, at least six associated projects will be conducted
by local undergraduates on fish, invertebrate and marine algae samples
collected during the course of the study.
Collectively, this is a very exciting cooperative effort that will
put a tremendous amount of information in the hands of local, state
and federal resource managers and increase environmental awareness
of citizens on the North Shore. Five months of sampling has been
completed. So far, 25 species of finfish and 11 species of invertebrates
have been identified in catches. Sampling will run through the calendar
year of 1997 and a report will follow.
Brad Chase (Gloucester)
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the most effective "user-pays, user benefits" program in the nation
- The Sport Fish Restoration Act - anglers and boaters provide vital
financial support for state fisheries management, boating access,
and other related programs. Originally passed in 1950 and strongly
supported by anglers throughout the nation, the Dingell-Johnson/Sport
Fish Restoration Act placed a 10% excise tax on fishing rods, reels,
lures, fishing line, and related fishing equipment.
In 1984 Congress passed the Wallop-Breaux amendment to the Act,
also widely supported by resource users, which included import duties
on fishing equipment, yachts and a motorboat fuel tax. As a result
of important partnerships formed during the 1984 amendments, each
state now spends at least 12.5% of Sport Fish Restoration Funds
on boating access.
Last year over $200 million was apportioned to the states. Sport
Fish Restoration funds are distributed depending upon the size of
land and water area in the state and the number of licensed anglers,
with no state receiving more than 5% or less than 1%. Massachusetts
receives 1% which is shared evenly between its two state fisheries
agencies, DMF and DFW. The Act also mandates that every three dollars
collected under the taxes be matched by one dollar from state governments.
Much of DMF's work described later in this newsletter received principal
financial support from the Sport Fish Restoration Act. This program
provides a valuable investment in the maintenance and enhancement
of our natural resources and the tremendous economic benefits they
generate for the future. Please refer any detailed questions about
the Act and how the Commonwealth benefits by it to Paul Diodati,
Sport Fisheries Program Director, (617) 727-3193 ext. 364.
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Sportfisheries Program has produced a new and improved version of
its popular "Massachusetts Saltwater Sportfishing Guide." As in previous
years, the guide contains current information on launching sites,
tackle shops, charter and party boats, fish profiles, and fishing
tournaments to assist you in enjoying our spectacular array of fishing
opportunities from shore or by boat. We've arranged the guide information
geographically starting from Salisbury (N.H. border) following the
coastline south and west to the towns of Swansea, Somerset and Seekonk
along Narragansett Bay. Then the guide takes you east to Cape Cod
and the Islands. Look for the coastal map centerfold for orientation.
Of special note, this year we have new detailed color fish illustrations,
and the guide has improved overall visually. Victor Young, an accomplished
artist from New Hampshire, was commissioned to illustrate the 25
fish highlighted in our guide. To say the least, Victor has outdone
himself. If you would like to receive a guide, visit one of our
offices or field stations or write to DMF at 100 Cambridge St. Boston,
02202. The phone number is 617-727-3193.
Karen Rypka (Pocasset) Guide Editor
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stripers are here...but what and how much will they eat?)
Resurgence of striped bass stocks along the east coast is well documented
and undeniably is the most successful fishery recovery effort for
any single species. Record numbers of these "opportunistic" predators
have migrated northward this spring coming from as far south as
North Carolina. Their trek brings them to summer feeding grounds
which extend up into the Canadian maritimes.
implies that stripers will consume whatever prey they encounter,
but undoubtedly they have preferences. A list of species found in
the stomachs of striped bass would be a "who's who" of fish and
invertebrates. There being enough food for this burgeoning pop-ulation
may be a legitimate concern for fishery managers.
For the past 15 years DMF biologists have studied striped bass growth
among fish caught along Massachusetts and have noted an apparent
decline in average weight at age. Likewise, the appearance of 'thin'
fish in their catches has been reported repeatedly by striper fishermen
in recent years. As a result, DMF's Sportfisheries Program will
begin a long-term study this summer to address the issue of striped
bass forage needs and the impacts of striped bass consumption on
forage species. We expect this work to be ongoing for at least two
years. The project will require strong collaborations with the federal
fisheries agencies, fisheries agencies of other states, and universities.
We will collect information about striped bass diet and predator-prey
relationships which we will use to develop a computer-based model
that will help determine the current food needs of striped bass
stocks. This field of study is commonly referred to as bioenergetics.
Bioenergetics models, widely used in fisheries management and studies
of fish ecology, are mathematical representations of energy balance:
energy consumed by fish should equal energy spent on growth, respiration,
and waste elimination. Since growth rates can be estimated from
measuring fish, and respiration and waste elimination can be estimated
from laboratory work, consumption requirments can then be calculated.
A rudimentary bioenergetics model for striped bass, including respiration
and waste parameters, was developed by University of Maryland scientists
a few years ago. However, no application of such models has been
developed for the Atlantic coastwide striped bass population, mainly
due to lack of diet data on striped bass. This DMF research project
is designed to: (1) consolidate information derived by field samples
with available data from published literature, and (2) build a bioenergetics
model for the entire striped bass population. The model will allow
us to estimate consumption rates of striped bass for any particular
food item, such as river herring,menhaden,and even the commercially
Furthermore, this project will clarify whether rapid population
growth since 1989 and a possible scarcity of food is responsible
for apparent decreases in weight-at-age. Both historic and present
growth rates will be examined using data collected by DMF and fisheries
agencies of other states. We expect growth rates in the past few
years to be lower than rates in the mid-1980s.
Dr. Xi Hi (Gloucester)
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summer DMF Sportfisheries Program biologists from the Pocasset facility
will be working on a rather unique research project using live striped
bass as experimental subjects. This study entitled, "A comparison
of catch and release mortality rates for striped bass between baited
circle- and J-style hooks," will test the assumption that stripers
caught on circle-style hooks are more likely to survive after being
caught and released.
Striped bass catch-and-release fishing in Massachusetts is extremely
popular due to high abundance and availability of stripers in our
waters, a conservative bag limit, a relatively large minimum size,
and a strong conservation ethic in our recreational fishing community.
Nevertheless, it is a well-known fact that all released fish don't
survive, so good estimates of release mortality rates are needed
by fisheries managers.
Past studies on numerous species, including a DMF study on striped
bass, found that the anatomical site of hooking (and wounding) is
a major factor contributing to hook-and-release mortality. These
studies suggested that hooking at potentially lethal sites (e.g.
gills, esophagus, or stomach) occurs more frequently with baited
hooks. Furthermore, baited-hook comparisons in experiments on cod
showed that circle-hooks resulted in a higher proportion of jaw-hooked
DMF, with the assistance of volunteer anglers, plans to use baited
circle- and J-style hooks to capture stripers and release them into
separate sea cages. After a 48-hour holding period, cages will be
emptied, individual fish accounted for, the condition of each fish
recorded, and the hooking site examined. Resulting data will be
statistically analyzed to determine if fish captured on circle-hooks
have a reduced mortality rate. Should the rate be significantly
different, both fishermen and managers will have another device
in their "tool box" to reduce waste in this valuable fishery.
Paul Caruso (Pocasset)
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than one million alewives ascending the Nemasket River this spring
encountered a newly designed and reconstructed fishway at the Wareham
St. dam in Middleborough center. The existing fishway had deteriorated
to the point where passage to the spawning grounds was on the verge
of being blocked and the existence of the population, arguably the
largest in the Commonwealth, was threatened. At the request of the
Town of Middleborough, DMF's fishway construction crew completely
redesigned and rebuilt the structure during the summer and fall of
1996, allowing the fish to pass the obstructing dam more quickly and
with less stress.
Among the new features incorporated into the ladder are a relocated
and reconfigured entrance, an extended exit section to accommodate
an electric counter, widened and deepened resting pools which will
handle more fish, adjustable wooden baffles which allow for operation
in a wider range of water levels and a 10-foot wide bridge over
the ladder which allows heavy equipment access to the far side of
the structure. The new fishway is 6 feet wide and 160 feet long
requiring 180 cubic yards of concrete.
DMF has been designing and constructing fishways since 1937 with
the result that Massachusetts has more ladders, approximately 200,
than any other Atlantic coastal state and has over 100 distinct
river herring populations. Currently operating in a reconstruction
and maintenance mode, the DMF construction crew is composed of a
foreman and two laborers working under the supervision of a Senior
Biologist. Fishway work scheduling is, in part, based on a priority
list established during a survey conducted during the late 1960's.
The purpose of the survey was to determine the anadromous fish development
potential for every coastal stream in the Commonwealth. While the
results of this work are important in determining which construction
project will be taken on, the primary criteria is the availability
Funding for construction materials and contracting of heavy equipment
if needed is provided by the owner of the obstructing dam or, as
in most cases, by the town which contains the herring run. Since
much of the cost in fishway construction is generated in design
work, labor and profit realization, DMF can provide an extremely
economic alternative to contracted work by utilizing simple, generic
plans and providing labor, with no profit margins. The result is
that many more ladders have been built or reconstructed than would
otherwise be possible given the financial limitations of most towns.
In addition to constructing fishways, DMF has been encouraging volunteer
groups to build prefabricated wooden Denil style ladders to be used
in locations where spawning area size does not justify an expensive
permanent structure. DMF provides generic plans, technical advice
and assists in the installation at the site. Ladders of this type
have been successfully utilized in the West Branch of the Westport
River, the Parker River in Georgetown and a third is planned for
the Three Mile River in Dighton.
The DMF construction crew provides another important service in
developing and maintaining river herring populations. When access
to a spawning area has been gained either through ladder construction
or by some other means of eliminating an obstruction, the new site
is stocked with adult herring collected from a well established
population. The offspring of these fish will be imprinted on the
new spawning grounds and return as mature adults in three to five
years. In order to maintain a continuity of year classes, stocking
is typically carried on for four or five years. This system of creating
and enhancing Massachusetts river herring populations has had a
long history of success and has been used as a model for restoration
programs in several other states.
Ken Reback (Pocasset)
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Parker River, which runs through the North Shore communities of Georgetown
and Newbury, has long supported a spawning run of anadromous alewives.
Mature alewives return each spring to the Parker in an effort to reach
their spawning grounds in Pentucket Pond, Georgetown. To successfully
reach Pentucket Pond, returning spawners must negotiate six dams by
means of old deteriorating fishways. Most of the Parker River fishways,
constructed in the 1930's with the aid of WPA funds, are now showing
their age and the last upstream fishway located at the outlet of Pentucket
Pd. was totally washed out in 1988.
Concerned sportsmen of the Essex County Sportsmans Association (ECSA)
of Newburyport approached the Division to offer their help in cleaning,
maintaining and assisting with fishway repairs. A formal Fishway
Stewardship Program agreement between DMF, DFWELE Riverways Program,
and ECSA was completed in 1994 and gave the North Shore its first
official fishway "Stewards". The volunteer work provided in the
past few years by this group of sportsmen is responsible for saving
an alewife run on the verge of collapse due to deteriorated fishways.
This spring members of the ECSA built and installed a wooden Denil
style ladder at the Pentucket Pond Dam. Utilizing plans provided
by DMF, volunteers from the ECSA purchased materials with club funds
and met at Charlie Eichers' workshop in Byfield on April 12th and
constructed a wooden fish ladder. The following Sunday the group
got together again and installed the ladder at the dam in Georgetown.
Due to this volunteer project alewives have successfully reached
Pentucket Pond to spawn.
DMF Sportfisferies Biologist Rusty Iwanowicz assisted with the construction
and installation of the ladder and provided technical advice. DMF
would like to thank the Essex County Sportsmans Association for
a job well done and also extend a special thanks to volunteers Charlie
Eicher, Fred Hanson, Tim & Costa Talas and Al Price.
Rusty Iwanowicz, DMF Biologist, Gloucester
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EDITORS: Dan McKiernan & David Pierce
GRAPHICS: David Gabriel
DMF receives state and federal funds to conduct research, management
and development of the Commonwealth's marine fishery resources.
Information in this publication in alternative formats is available.
Philip G. Coates, Director, DMF
John C. Phillips, Comm'nr DFWELE
Trudy Coxe, Secretary, EOEA
William F. Weld, Governor
Comments and suggestions for the newsletter are welcome. Please
contact the Editors at (617) 727-3193, or write to DMF, 100 Cambridge
St., Boston, MA 02202.
Publication #17020-12-7000 6/97-$2030
Division of Marine Fisheries
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02202
Hearings / Regulations / Legislation
Volume 7 Number 2
of Contents for Rules Update....
of Public Hearings
Questions About Striped Bass Commercial Permitting and Size Limits
Quota System: Status Quo for 1998
of Public Hearings
for June 24, 25, and 26 1997
the provisions of G.L. c. 30A and pursuant to the authority found
in G.L. c 130 ss. 17A, 80, 100A, and 104, the Marine Fisheries Commission
has scheduled hearings on the following:
) DMF proposals to regulate groundfish to complement federal actions
on the following:
(a) 1000 lbs. cod trip limit for any vessel fishing within state
waters; and (b) Requirement that all vessels fishing for multispecies
groundfish in state waters use only 6" diamond mesh (square mesh
prohibited) to optimize escapement of winter flounder. This measure
would be enacted once similar federal rules are adopted.
( 2 ) DMF proposal to eliminate the pot limit regulation 322CMR
10.02(2) where fishermen who deploy both lobster pots and other
fish or conch pots are limited to the pot limit of that fishery
with the lowest limit.
( 3 ) DMF proposal to cease the issuance of generic ("John Doe")
striped bass special permits after 1997 to charters boat operators
to cover the commercial bass fishing activities of their customers.
( 4 ) DMF will solicit comments from the public regarding whether
to allow the transfer of pot fishery permits for conch, scup,
& sea bass. These are limited-entry fisheries with no current allowance
for new entrants.
petitions also will be heard:
Petition from Massachusetts Commercial Fishermen's Assoc. to:
(a) Set aside areas for mobile gear access in Massachusetts and
Cape Cod Bays, and (b) Modify the current mobile gear closure to
allow trawling for scup in Nantucket Sound until midnight.
Petition from Massachusetts Coastal Conservation Association
to reduce the bluefish recreational bag limit to 3 fish and enact
a commercial bag limit of 100 lbs. plus one fish. These measures
are proposed by CCA to address a decline of bluefish stocks.
hearings have been scheduled:
Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. June 24, Fuller School in Gloucester;
Wednesday 7:00 p.m. June 25, Mass. Maritime Academy, Buzzards Bay;
Thursday June 26 at 1:00 p.m. at Tisbury Town Hall Martha's Vineyard.
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the period March - May, 1997, the following decisions were made by
DMF and MFC.
bass rule changes: To prevent "high-grading," the practice of
discarding of legal-sized smaller bass (dead) when anglers catch
a larger bass, it is unlawful for any fishermen to discard dead,
fishery: Minimum size limit dropped from 34" to 28" but the
1 fish bag limit maintained (despite the two fish daily limit allowed
under the interstate bass plan). The 28" size limit is now consistent
with rules in all neighboring states to our south extending to North
Carolina. Anglers who travel north should take note that New Hampshire
has maintained its 32" minimum size (with one fish per day) while
Maine has adopted a 'slot limit' where one fish is allowed between
20" and 26" and a second fish is allowed if 40" or greater. Contact
those states for details.
fishery: Similar to 1995 and 1996, the commercial quota of 750,000
lbs and the 34" minimum size will be maintained for 1997. Also the
3-week open, 1-week closed schedule will remain in effect. However,
commercial season opening will be delayed until July 7. The Commission
and DMF debated, but did not adopt, means of extending the season
as well as the possibility of lowering the commercial minimum size
to 28". Also, commercial fishermen engaged in commercial fishing
for striped bass cannot possess fish less than 34," and when the
number of fish aboard exceeds the number of permitted commercial
anglers, then all fish in possession must be greater than 34". Fishermen
are reminded that when engaged in commercial fishing operations,
all persons aboard the boat must be properly permitted. Contact
DMF for details.
recreational and commercial bag limits lowered. Recreational
bag limit lowered from 8 to 6 fish and the commercial bag limit
lowered from 50 to 40 fish.
flounder (fluke): Recreational fishery: Recreational
rules will change slightly this season effective June: minimum size
will be increased from 14 to 14 «", the bag limit will be raised
from 8 to 10 fish and the closed fishing season of November 1 -
May 14 will be eliminated. We regret this late change that must
be made for Massachusetts to be in compliance with the ASMFC/ Mid-Atl.
Council summer flounder plan.
fishery: There will be no changes to this summer's fishery.
On June 17, the trip limit will be raised from 100 to 300 lbs. The
fishery is expected to close during August once the quota is filled.
Options considered at the March public hearings to extend the season
were not supported by the industry or by the Commission for the
Scup: DMF has implemented a requirement that all fishermen
selling their scup must get a scup special permit. Dealers now must
acquire written authorization from DMF to purchase scup from commercial
fishermen. Commercial fishermen selling on consignment are considered
dealers subject to DMF permit and reporting requirements. Commercial
fishermen and dealers must report their scup catches and purchases
to DMF according to the procedure already in place for summer flounder.
These new rules and regulations are a consequence of Massachusetts
having to be in compliance with the ASMFC/Mid Atlantic Council Scup
whale conservation rules temporarily suspended. Given the early
departure of right whales from Cape Cod Bay, DMF enacted emergency
regulations to suspend fixed gear rules in Cape Cod Bay on May 7.
This action allowed the use of certain gear types nine days earlier
than scheduled. Effective May 7, fishermen with appropriate permits
and who fish in Cape Cod Bay Critical Habitat were allowed to set
single pots, deploy surface and sink gillnets, and use floating
line between pots in multi-pot trawls. This change will not be adopted
as a permanent regulation so it will expire after 90 days. Consequently,
next year the period when gear modifications are required in Critical
Habitat will remain the same as this year January 1 through May
whale conservation plan gear restrictions amended. The following
changes were enacted to DMF's right whale regulations that affect
recreational lobstermen as well as commercial lobstermen and gillnetters.
Some of the proposed restrictions for fixed gear (lobster pots and
gillnets) beyond May 15 and outside of Cape Cod Bay Critical Habitat
were not adopted. DMF and MFC plan to await the results of the upcoming
federal Large Whale Take Reduction Plan Regulations and adopt complementary
measures. Lobster gear and gillnet modifications will be the subject
of in-depth research, study, and debate in the months ahead as DMF
and NMFS work with industry to find operationally sound, inexpensive,
and enforceable gear modifications that minimize entanglement
risk, so fishermen should expect changes to the gear restrictions
in the future.
following five actions were taken:
Floating line west of Critical Habitat: Prohibition on the use
of floating line during January 1 - May 15 west of the critical
habitat (along the shores of Sagamore north to Scituate) has
been repealed. Whales have not historically been sighted in
this area, nor were they seen this past season by the various surveillance
efforts (helicopter, airplane, research vessels). DMF will consider
amending this rule in the future if surveillance reveals whales
frequenting the area. DMF recognized fishermen's concerns about
the need for floating line in this area that is primarily rocky
habitat and the arguments that traps fitted with sinking lines between
traps will become snagged and not retrievable. DMF will consider
adopting rules complementary to the federal rules for those areas
adjacent to Critical Habitat, when they are enacted later this year.
Buoy lines construction (sinking line): The prohibition on use
of floating line in buoy lines was amended. Floating line may be
used on the bottom of the buoy line not to exceed one third of the
total length of the line. Fishermen urged DMF to consider allowing
a short section of floating line at the bottom of the buoy line
to prevent buoy line chafing and/or wrapping around the trap during
turns of the tide cycles.
Experimental fishery permit process: Process established to
allow fishermen to fish non-conforming gear for the purposes of
devellping and testing new gear designs that would reduce entanglement
risk in critical habitat. The MFC requested DMF to allow fishermen
who deploy pots in the few rocky areas of Cape Cod Bay Critical
Habitat be given permission to test breakaway buoy lines on some
single pots on an experimental basis.
Proposal to require year-round sinking line: Proposal not enacted
in Critical Habitat and other state waters from Cape Cod north to
N.H. DMF, and the MFC awaits final rules for the federal Take Reduction
Plan and will consider complementary rules, where appropriate.
Proposal to limit the number of (300 ft.) sink gillnets allowed
per fishermen to 80 and a maximum number of buoys deployed to 20
was not approved. Many gillnet permits are either idle or are being
used by fishermen who are fishing far less than the limit of 80
nets. Furthermore, until DMF develops a tag system where nets can
be identified and counted, this measure would be unenforceable and
would not likely result in a decrease in number of nets fished.
For more information, contact Dan McKiernan.
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If I am fishing commercially and have harvested several fish for
market (all 34 inches and greater in size), can I take one smaller
bass (28 to 34 inches) home to eat? A: No, once you exceed
the recreational daily bag limit, your trip is considered to be a
commercial activity and all fish in your possession must measure 34
inches or greater.
If I hold a (blue) commercial boat permit and a (pink) striped
bass special permit, can I take some friends out fishing recreationally
during the commercial striped bass fishing season and retain fish
that are 28 inches and greater in length? A: Yes, as
long as no portion of your catch is sold and you do not exceed the
recreational daily bag limit of one fish per person per day.
If I hold a (blue) commercial boat permit and a (pink) striped bass
special permit but my wife (or friend) does not, can she accompany
me on my boat while I fish commercially for striped bass?
A: No, if you are fishing commercially then all parties onboard
must hold a striped bass special permit.
OK, I understand that my wife, as an adult, has the potential
to be able to fish commercially, so I understand the need for her
to be permitted. But can I bring my pre-teen kids with me on my
commercial fishing trip? A: Technically, no, but this
is an example of when officer discretion would be employed if the
kids were not fishing and were tots - not teens. The best advice
is make sure everyone on the boat is permitted when fishing commercially.
But I fish commercially and I have a lot of friends who would
like to go out with me, how can I accommodate them? A.
The best way is to fish recreationally, one fish per person at 28
inches or larger. Most commercial fishermen have a regular crew
and they are covered by the boat permit/ bass permits requirement
described above. Part of the problem with striped bass is that everyone
(commercial and recreational) uses the same gear and prior to the
relatively recent permitting changes it was impossible to distinguish
between recreational and commercial fishermen. The new striped bass
plan, with quotas and other requirements, necessitates the more
rigorous permitting requirements.
If I buy only the (pink) striped bass special permit, can I legally
exceed the recreational bag limit of one per day and not sell the
fish? A. No. Commercial anglers must be fishing under
the authority of both a (blue) commercial permit and the (pink)
striped bass special permit. Furthermore, the commercial permits
should not be a means to allow recreational anglers to circumvent
the one-fish per day limit. Rather, the permits are designed to
enhance DMF's ability to account for bass caught and sold through
commercial outlets. To-date, recreational fishermen have strongly
supported the one fish per day limit.
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opposition from some states that have cried "foul" for four years
about their inadequate shares of the summer flounder (fluke) national
quota, the system will likely remain in place. Federal public hearings
were held last winter on a new amendment (#10) to the management plan
that considered alternatives to the current system, but these were
defeated both at the interstate (ASMFC Policy Board) level and at
the federal level (Mid-Atlantic Council).
The issue has captured the attention of the New England governors
who adopted a resolution urging that the annual state-by-state shares
be abandoned. Also, the New England Fishery Management Council supported
another quota approach, and it argued that many National Standards
of the Sustainable Fisheries Act would be violated if the status
quo was maintained.
Debate on the amendment created two camps within the interstate
(ASMFC) Fluke Board: the have's, those states with large shares
of the quota (such as North Carolina and Virginia), and the have-nots,
states (i.e., Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts) with inordinately
small shares of the quota. Alternatives were offered in the Amendment,
such as one that would create a national winter quota where federally-permitted
fishermen from any state would compete openly in federal waters
and a summer quota with percent shares to be allocated by states
as they see fit.
Early in May, the ASMFC Fluke Board vigorously debated with the
Council on this issue. Both groups decided to support the status
quo, with Massachusetts adamantly opposed. There's arguments on
both sides. Those demanding change have argued:
It's unfair for certain states' (CT, MA, NY) fishermen to fish
alongside other states' fishermen during the winter in federal
waters, but to be subjected to low landing limits or prohibitions
assigned by their home states.
The state-by-state quota approach for winter landings of fluke is
divisive and causes states to promote their own individual interests
at the expense of interstate, cooperative management of fluke.
Quotas and other restrictions of the last four years simply have
not worked to reduce fishing mortality. Fishing mortality is
still very high. Massachusetts and other states agreed to low percent
shares anticipating that when fluke abundance was rebuilt, quotas
would be increased ("a rising tide lifts all boats" logic). Surprisingly,
the commercial quota for 1997 is actually less than the first quota
set in 1993.
Those states opposing change have argued:
Without state-by-state quota shares, fishing will increase by fishermen
from states that currently are restrained by low quota shares.
Many New England vessels impacted by restrictive groundfish rules
might shift to the fluke fishery if all states fishermen were allowed
to operate on a level playing field during the winter. This does
not happen now. For example, Massachusetts' small percent share
of the annual commercial quota has forced DMF to allow landings
of fluke during winter for only a few weeks.
Competition would increase in the winter fishery. Vessels with
a small history of fluke fishing would join the crowded ranks of
vessels already targeting fluke. Also, with significant increases
in vessels, trip limits would be needed to slow down the catch,
and low trip limits are unacceptable economically to the winter
fishery that is prosecuted well offshore during multi-day trips.
many fluke fishermen in the Mid-Atlantic states have few other options.
Unlike many New England trawlermen who also have days-at-sea allocations
for scallops, many in the Mid-Atlantic have few groundfish days
and no scallop days.
The one dissenting New England state, Rhode Island receives a healthy
17% of the national quota, and argues that it has worked hard with
their fishermen to make the state-by-state quota share system work
for them. As a consequence, Rhode Island didn't want to take a chance
on another approach that might be worse than the existing situation.
To our dissatisfaction, the Policy Board, on a close vote, recommended
the Commission adopt Amendment 10 with the current state-by state
There was one positive development that might address long-standing
concerns about our allocation being unfairly low caused by our conservative
size limit (14") in place during the 1980's . The Policy Board agreed
that an analysis was needed to determine what the quota shares would
have been if all states had abided by the 1982 decision by ASMFC
to set a 14" minimum size limit. The Board voted to "proceed immediately
with an amendment to the Summer Flounder Fishery Management Plan
that would address the allocation of the states' quota shares to
be considered at the 1997 annual meeting..." This is a step in the
right direction, although the analyses will be difficult to perform.
By David Pierce
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is published quarterly to publicize regulatory matters affecting
Director: Philip G. Coates, DMF
Commissioner: John C. Phillips, DFWELE
Secretary: Trudy Coxe, EOEA
Governor: William F. Weld
Editor: Daniel J. McKiernan, DMF / Art Dir.: David G. Gabriel, DFWELE