PDA

View Full Version : Miami Herald Article on Alleged Overfishing


kitefisherman
12-07-2005, 12:40 PM
Today I received a copy of this article that was previously published by the Miami Herald. It was part of the December update for the the Southeast Florida Coral Reef Initiative (SEFCRI). If anyone wants a full copy of the December Update (34 pages), please PM me your email address.

FISHED OUT
MANY SALTWATER FISH FACE UNCERTAIN FUTURES FROM OVERFISHING,
POLLUTION AND HABITAT DESTRUCTION
Miami Herald
November 16, 2005
BY GEORGIA TASKER
gtasker@herald.com

Here in Florida, the Fishing Capital of the World, the fish are fewer and smaller every year.
A 50-year worldwide fishing frenzy has wiped out the best fish, and many we eat today would have
been rejected as trash a generation ago. Much of the fish we eat in Florida is not caught here, but
comes from other countries.
In the waters off the Florida Keys, 13 of 16 kinds of groupers can't reproduce fast enough to keep
their populations at sustainable levels. Eight of 14 kinds of snappers in the Keys can't maintain their
populations, and many fish are half the size they were 50 years ago.
''If I were to fish in the 1930s or '40s for black grouper in the Keys, the average fish would be 40 to
50 pounds and 45 inches or so long,'' says Jerry Ault, a biologist with the Rosenstiel School of
Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami. ``Today, the average black grouper is
25 inches and 8 pounds.''
Florida reflects what's happening to fish in oceans around the globe: Large fish of many species have
disappeared, vanishing into cavernous nets or dangling from longlines. Populations of top predators
such as tuna, marlins and sharks have been reduced to mere remnants.

COD COLLAPSE
The cod industry collapsed a decade ago in parts of the Atlantic. Sea bass are threatened in Chile,
sturgeon are endangered by the caviar industry in the landlocked Caspian Sea between Asia and
Europe, orange roughy have declined in Australia and Tasmania.
''Fleets have become so numerous and technologically sophisticated that they can catch almost all
the fish of any species,'' reported Science News in June. ``The result has been globally diminished
stocks of desirable fish.''
Many of the fish we eat, such as pollock and dogfish, are those we would have discarded four or five
decades ago. Even spiny dogfish are in danger and considered threatened by the World
Conservation Union, a coalition of 181 countries trying to save biological diversity.
If fishing continues at such levels, we are facing ''a wave of ocean extinctions,'' says Ellen Pikitch,
executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science at the University of Miami. ``Since 1972,
16 marine species have become extinct, with dozens more in danger of extinction in regions around
the globe.''

ADULTS MISSING
''If you were to go fishing for some of the 120 kinds of fish found in Florida Bay today, 70 of them
would be juveniles because that's their nursery. The reproducing adults are missing,'' Ault said.
Only in recent decades have scientists discovered that deepwater fish, such as orange roughy and
cod, take 15 to 20 years to reach reproductive age. Undisturbed, they can live 100 or 150 years.
By all accounts, the oceans are in a crisis. Among the reasons:
High-tech fishing equipment makes it possible for commercial and recreational fishermen to catch
more fish in a shorter period of time, including many caught by accident and discarded.
More people are fishing. In Florida, host to nearly 25 percent of the nation's recreational fishing,
the number of boats registered has soared from 127,000 in 1964 to just under one million in 2003.
That same year, recreational anglers in the Gulf of Mexico (excluding those from Texas) made about
24 million fishing trips, snagging 38 percent of the catch.
Pollution and the destruction of wetlands and mangroves for development means young fish have
fewer places to grow up.
Warmer oceans are contributing to the destruction of coral reefs, important habitats for reef fish,
such as groupers and snappers. In just the seven years between 1996 and 2003, 30 percent of the
living coral in the Florida Keys was lost, according to a 2005 report by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration.
Demand for fish has increased, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects it will climb by 26
percent between 2000 and 2020, as demographics change and aging baby boomers seek to follow
the American Heart Association's recommendation to eat fish at least twice a week, for heart-healthy
Omega 3 fatty acids.
The precipitous spiral in ocean fish began after World War II, when new technology was developed
that enabled commercial fishers to greatly increase their catches, Pikitch said.
Today, experts say, the world's high-tech fishing fleet has the capacity to catch 2.5 times the number
of fish that could be caught sustainably.
Starting in the 1960s, bottom trawlers were able to scoop up 75 tons of fish and sea creatures at
once. The '70s brought longlines, hooked devices many miles long that catches anything that comes
by, including sea turtles and sharks.
For every four pounds of fish caught, fishermen around the world discard a pound of other sea
creatures, says The Ocean Conservancy, a 30-year-old environmental advocacy organization.
Commercial fishing is declining in Florida as coastal development makes land costly for small
fishermen who make up the bulk of Florida's commercial industry, as regulations increase and
cheaper imports drive down local prices.
But the impact of recreational fishing in Florida waters continues to increase.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita badly hurt shrimping, an industry mainly in Louisiana, Mississippi and
Alabama, with a small portion on the Florida west coast. Yet shrimp boats annually snag 25 to 45
million immature red snappers as they scoop up shrimp.

BIG BUSINESS
The total economic value of commercial fishing in Florida is an estimated $1.2 billion a year. Here,
recreational fishing is the really big business, rivaling the $9 billion citrus industry. Recreational
fishing expenditures are $8.3 billion, including everything from food, lodging, bait, charter,
equipment and gas, says Vishwanie Maharaj, staff economist with the South Atlantic Fisheries
Management Council.
People move to Florida and want to fish as a way to interact with the environment, says marine
biologist Felicia Coleman at Florida State University.
But as the number of recreational anglers grows and the equipment they use gets more
sophisticated, they also catch more fish.
When we think of recreational fishing, Coleman says, ``We typically think of a Winslow Homer
painting -- or me and Bob, a six-pack and a few sandwiches, coming back with no gear, no bait and
we haven't caught a damn thing.
''The reality is that I can pay for a charter boat and do no wrong. The captain gets me right on top of
the fish. Professional boats have GPS systems, and an enormous number of weekend fishermen
have all the electronic gear,'' she says. ``Even if they do what's allowed, the cumulative effect is
great.''
Recreational fishermen catch as many of the popular eating fish as commercial fishermen, and more
of such fish as red drum and red snapper, Coleman said.
In the Gulf of Mexico, anglers landed twice their legal limit of red grouper in 2004, hauling in three
million pounds instead of the 1.25 million pounds allowed, says the Gulf Fisheries Management
Council.
''Recreational fishing may seem small, but not when you look at individual species,'' Coleman says.
``The rules limit what an individual fisherman can take. But there's no limit to the number of
recreational fishermen.''
Ted Forsgren, executive director of Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, the recreational
lobbying group, maintains last year was an ''odd blip'' in the numbers, and should indicate more fish
in the oceans rather than more excessive catch.
''Commercial fishery [boats] are required to report what they catch, filling out a form on pounds and
everything else,'' Forsgren said. ``That process is impossible with recreational fishermen.''
Total recreational catches are estimates, he says, and ``there sometimes are unusual blips, which we
believe happened. They show a 130 percent increase last year -- in a year when we had four
hurricanes. That made no sense at all. ''

2004 STUDY
FSU's Coleman and colleagues published a study in 2004 showing that anglers took 64 percent of
the groupers and certain other overfished stocks from the Gulf of Mexico, another number
Forsgren disputes.
Coastal development has also created enormous stress on the fish's environment.
So much oily pollution in storm-water runoff washes into our waterways from our streets around
the country that every eight months we release the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez oil spill, according
to the Pew Oceans Commission.
In South Florida, flood control canals provide a direct runway for agricultural and urban runoff to
reach the bays, Everglades and ocean. Nutrient overloads from fertilizers and septic tanks feed
invasive exotic plants and algae.
Algae can smother sea grasses and corals, and turn into giant blooms or red tides that are toxic to
fish.
The rising temperature of the oceans is also a factor, says UM's Ault. The most extreme warming
would prevent corals from forming calcium carbonate, their skeletal structures, degrading the homes
of the reef fish.
''There are a lot of stresses in the system,'' Ault says. ``It's death by a thousand cuts.''

PatMyGreen
12-07-2005, 01:02 PM
Coleman and Ault. Felicia's argument that ``The rules limit what an individual fisherman can take. But there's no limit to the number of recreational fishermen.''
While true is deliberately misleading. The same studies that determine how much rec anglers are catching use some method for determining effort, or number of fisherman. That is a factor in determining the bag limits and she knows it. Number of saltwater liscense sales don't get overlooked in fisheries management! :confused:

I hate scientists with agendas. :mad:

I also love the way it is implied that mere ownership of a GPS means you will find and catch big fish. Mine must be defective or came without all those preloaded magic numbers that theirs must have come with. Does anyone know where I can purchase that special bluechart by garmin that takes you stright to 50# gags everytime? I can't find it on their website. :rolleyes:

Ed Walker
12-07-2005, 01:58 PM
The world according to Jerry. Not that there arent legitimate concerns and overfishing taking place in many places, but that guy is just on a mission to stop fishing period regardless of the true state of a given fishery. His MO is to dive and count fish in the most overfished places he can find, like his hometown, then say that the population statewide is in dire straights, exactly what he tried with the hogfish. His claim on blacks is disputed by most veteran guides in the Keys who agree that the population of blacks is quite healthy. I seriously doubt that 40 to 50 pounds was ever the average size.
To my knowledge our boy has never done a study that did not conclude that the species of the moment was totally overfished and could be facing extinction. This even goes for his current work with bonefish and tarpon, which nobody even harvests. Big surprise.
I forget the exact numbers but back in the hogfish wars I found a quote from him that said in something like 90 dives in Biscayne Bay he and his research staff they never saw a legal sized fish of any kind. Thats either really poor diving or a flat out lie and yet here is comes again.
If your fish hug group ever needs a study to show that your favorite fish is all but wiped out you know who to call. Im sure he has not forgotten what happend to him, his study, and his cred last time he tried to force some bogus report over on the recreational community.
I can assure you that all of his glaring mistakes in the 82 page hogfish assessment (lack of geographic coverage in his observations, inaccurate landings data, ect...) will be brought up again if he pushes to shut down another rec fishery. IMO it demonstrates that he is anything but an objective scientist. You south Fl guys should point that out to the author of that article or expect to see more of the same down the road. Sometimes thats all it takes, Im sure the writer has no idea.

Marcus
12-07-2005, 02:51 PM
I don't think he's a scientist at all, just one of PETA's puppets.

Ed Walker
12-07-2005, 03:43 PM
Commercial fishing is declining in Florida

Recreational fishermen catch as many of the popular eating fish as commercial fishermen, Coleman said.



Wow.

PatMyGreen
12-07-2005, 04:46 PM
Tell me those words aren't from someone with an agenda! Didn't the commercial sector reach its grouper quota even earlier this year than ever before? Number of active reef fish permits must be the only way to figure commercial effort. BS. That lady makes it harder to admit I'm a Nole than the whooping UF gave us.

TheMackDaddy
12-07-2005, 06:28 PM
Maybe if they enforced the laws more in miami they wouldn't have this problem....go to homestead bayfront park or matheson and look in ppls coolers when they walking to pick up thier trialer....you'll find alot of undersized fish, they sure aren't going to be filleting them at the dock.

TheMackDaddy
12-07-2005, 06:33 PM
''If I were to fish in the 1930s or '40s for black grouper in the Keys, the average fish would be 40 to
50 pounds and 45 inches or so long,'' says Jerry Ault, a biologist with the Rosenstiel School of
Marine and Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami. ``Today, the average black grouper is
25 inches and 8 pounds.''
Florida reflects what's happening to fish in oceans around the globe: Large fish of many species have
disappeared, vanishing into cavernous nets or dangling from longlines. Populations of top predators
such as tuna, marlins and sharks have been reduced to mere remnants.


this is true, to say that there is not a problem with over fishing (not saying rec or commercial) is just lying to yourself. yea the laws are set up to have a sustainable fishery...but you're mostly gonna be fishing for babies that are barley legal.

Speargun
12-08-2005, 10:20 AM
The world according to Jerry. Not that there arent legitimate concerns and overfishing taking place in many places, but that guy is just on a mission to stop fishing period regardless of the true state of a given fishery.....
That may be part of his mission, but I think the real mission is to keep his job and gather as much grant money as he possibly can. His 83 page hogfish study was filled with scientific "wordiness" so that most people will just skim over it and take his summery on the matter. In other words "If you can't dazzle em with brilliance, baffle em with bullshit!" Everything I have read written by this man is written using lots of big words and takes a phd to decode.
Here is an example:
===============================
http://www.gulfbase.org/person/view.php?uid=jault
Dr. Jerald S. Ault
Associate Professor of Marine Biology and Fisheries

My research centers on theoretical and applied population and community dynamics for fishery assessment and management in tropical marine ecosystems. Requirements for fishery management have fundamentally changed so that fruitful areas of research now transcend the bounds of traditional assessment theory and new approaches must be explored. The fishery management system is a new approach to integrate quantitative techniques in sampling design, fish stock assessment, operations research and management science, biometrics, numerical modeling, and scientific visualization in a computer-based expert decision support system to provide cost-effective high-precision estimates of fish stock abundance for assessments and short-term fishery forecasts. In support of my analytical approach, I conduct regional fishery-independent field assessment studies on multispecies coral reef fish communities, pink shrimp, bonefish, tarpon, billfishes and tunas that are focused on the biophysical linkages reflected in fish ontogenetic migratory behaviors to better quantify optimal sampling surveys and define underlying empirical mechanisms in population dynamics and spatial grouping. I am also interested in exploring means of taking structure into account in population and community models and building spatially-explicit coupled biological-physical models of coastal ocean ecosystems both to understand the forces driving recruitment variability and to improve resource prediction and the prospects for sustainability.
==========================
I guess it sounds better than "I count fish and try to guess as to how many there are." :rolleyes:

For more wordiness, dribble, and outright lies, check out some of the links from Google. :D
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22jerry+ault%22&btnG=Google+Search

PatMyGreen
12-08-2005, 12:28 PM
SpearoPimp- I agree that some species have been, and some still are, over fished. Most rational people will believe that. But to believe that the Average sized grouper would have been 50#s is straining credibility. The number of juveniles in a population of fish must be signifigantly large in wild population given that most will be lunch for somebody on the reef/estuary before they reach maturity. Growth is affeted by many factors and many individual groupers of the same species will attain different sizes at the same age and nobody is too sure why, but temp and availability of food are assumed to be among the key factors. I am quite sure that there were more large groupers back in the day, but to say they were more likely to be 50# than 10#s strains belief and he has no science to back his assertion up. Anecdotal evidence will for his side will be old pfotos of large numbers of big fish on docks. No one brags about small fish so there are less pictures of those days and why fish for the small ones when you can catch big ones so less effort was spent on the small guys too until they were severly depleted.

El Cid
12-08-2005, 07:50 PM
She's gonna study tarpon? Believe me, they're freakin' fine! All summer whenever I went in the water I felt like I was walking down the wrong side of the street in Tijuana. 8+ of those bastards would pop outta the murk from my blind side and make me do my human octopus impression! She needs to get laid...but that's my opinion. I'll let one of her toadies do the study on that!