Editor’s Log: Random Thoughts - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Random Thoughts

So, bored billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are competing for headlines to be first to offer six-figure joyrides into outer space. Meanwhile back here on planet earth the average cost of gas at the pump is nearly $3.25 a gallon while politicians fall all over themselves pledging “carbon free emission” for everyday Americans within 30 years.  So let me get this straight, you don’t want me using propane at my BBQ or natural gas in my kitchen – and I’ll have to sail back and forth to the Triple Wrecks by 2050 – but using twice our individual annual carbon budget (as recommended to meet the objectives of the dopey Paris climate accord) so wealthy people can send postcards from outer space, that’s okay?

October is National Seafood Month, and according to NOAA Fisheries it’s a fitting time to celebrate U.S. leadership in sustainable seafood.  “NOAA Fisheries works to advance and export sustainable management practices internationally,” the agency says at their website, boasting of their efforts to “level the playing field for our fishermen and fish farmers.”  That “playing field” has typically left recreational fishermen on the bench ever since NOAA Fisheries was first established as the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries back in 1969.  That one-sided ballgame seems to continue to this day.  A recent NOAA Fisheries piece on fresh seafood suggested that readers “Remember to check labels or ask the clerk at the seafood counter where a product originated. All seafood sold in the United States is required to have a country of origin label right on the package.”

Hey NOAA, recreational fishermen catch seafood too you know!  That’s the basic premise of an email I sent to Russ Dunn, National Policy Advisor for Recreational Fisheries at NOAA Fisheries, asking for a subtle reminder to the folks in Silver Spring, MD that run the old Bureau of Commercial Fisheries.  Russ said he spoke with the communications staff and said “It was recognized that rec is often overlooked when seafood is discussed.  So we are discussing a few ideas, including a rec-centric seafood piece in the celebration of National Seafood month.”  I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out!

In the Great Lakes region, folks are having a serious problem with invasive “Asian carp” wreaking havoc on local waterways.  There are actually four species described collectively as Asian carp — bighead, silver, grass and black carp — which were brought from China 50 years ago to manage algae in aquaculture ponds before they eventually escaped into the wild.  Recently an Asian business delegation arrived in Minnesota where they encountered a sign at the airport that read “Kill Asian Carp,” prompting legislators to try to soften the message.  Understandably, in light of the recent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is changing its official designation of these fish to “invasive carp,” but one has to wonder if the Asian crab is next?

The Asian shore crab was accidentally introduced to our region by ships from Asia emptying their ballast tanks in coastal water.  According to researchers the first record of this crab outside of its native range was from Townsends Inlet in Cape May County in 1988.  It has since become increasingly common, found from eastern Maine to North Carolina living in intertidal areas round hard and rocky bottom where it has become a popular blackfish bait over the past 20 years.  I know, I probably shouldn’t touch upon topics of political correctness here; it’s just a random observation is all.

By the way, don’t forget that tautog is back in place this week.  Sure, it’s only a one-fish bag limit in New Jersey, but it’s a great option for jetty jocks; which means you won’t have to dust off that four-masted schooner to get on them in the future!

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