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Old 10-10-2011, 02:11 PM   #1
ralphthehalibut
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A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheephead

I had posted this in the other thread, but will be deleting it so that the thread can be about the science, or lack thereof, as Kels intended.

Sheri, Thankyou for stating the IUSAs rationale for their decision.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and what you do, and for the IUSA in general, but I have no respect whatsoever for the decision to make Ca SH ineligible. The following is the issues I have with the rationale set forth by the IUSA and is not a personal attack. Please do not take it as such.


.1)"Per our process, fish that have been recognized by the scientific community as "endangered" were automatically added to the list, as we do not want to encourage people to kill endangered species."

I can see this as a valid reason for making a species ineligible, however, California Sheepshead are NOT NOT NOT recognized by the scientific community as "endangered". PERIOD. There is a huge difference between "could be exploited", indicating that the possibility exits that it might happen in the future but has not happened, nor is certain to happen. To that effect, there is not a single fishery out there that could NOT be exploited, so if the potential to overfish is a rational for making a species ineligible, then you must make ALL species ineligible.

2) A few other fish are on the list due to different criteria ... these include ... California Sheephead -- and the decision for these fish was admittedly more subjective in nature.

This is the BIG issue. The "subjective nature" you speak of appears to be based solely on the words of a couple of apparently ill informed members of the IUSA board, and not at all from any substantiative or well reviewed scientific opinions, and certainly not from an open dialogue with the spearfishing community.

That wouldn't be a problem, except for the potentially grave implications that any condemnation by a respected body such as the IUSA of taking non endangered species has upon the spearfishing community when viewed in the light of the recent MLPA process in Ca, and in the looming shadow of the upcoming federal MLMA process.

To put it simply, if you are going to make subjective decisions that affect the future of spearfishing, you need to consider the future of spearfishing and how such subjective decisions may hurt said future.

3) (a)very large (world-record) size ones (SH) have become rare and (b)are important in maintaining the health of kelp forests

(a) there is no dearth of WR size California Sheepshead. I don't know where or from whom the IUSA is getting it's info, but that is simply an untrue statement. Keep in mind some of the same "scientists" that have provided you with that "fact" also claim the WSB population is down. If the IUSA board had bothered to have the dialogue with the spearfishing community it claims it does on it's website, it would know that there are many large sheepshead.

and
(b) This is again pure conjecture. Ca SH live in areas with no kelp forest, they live in areas with spotty kelp forests, and they live in areas with thick kelp forests. There is no direct association between the two. Beyond that, there are many areas beyond the SH range with healthy kelp forests (example is northern Ca - even in areas without otters), as well as areas that have historically had small to no sheepshead populations, regardless of fishing pressure, with healthy kelp forests (example is the frontside of catalina).

Once again, the subjective arguement for making SH ineligible fails the test.

4) fishing has greatly reduced large lobsters and large Sheephead

Landing numbers do not bear that statement out, nor do surveys of fish populations, nor does anecdotal accounts from divers with decades of experience observing the Ca SH population, nor does the fact that the WR keeps getting broken again and again. Brandi recently shot a womens WR that was considerably heavier than the mens WR. If these fish were all fished out, this wouldn't be happening.

Again, I must ask: Where exactly is the "evidence" for these claims coming from?

5) Small to medium Sheephead cannot eat urchins of significant size or numbers

Nor do WR ones if you look at in the context of the other subjective claims being made about Ca SH. This arguement fails the logic test. If the large ones are as rare as is being claimed, and only a few reach large size, even unfished, their population would not amount to numbers large enough to keep urchins in check anyways. Something that is also being neglected is that as SH attain larger size, their diet appears in my experience to become much more varied and include a larger amount of crabs, molluscs, and even baitfish as they can fit more in their mouth. Again this is subjective, but hey, this is about a subjective decision, right?

6) in addition, a large Sheephead is 50+ years old --

How well proven is this statement? It is well documented that different fish within the same species can grow at dramatically different rates depending on local conditions, food availability, water temp, etc etc..



7) those fish take so long to reach a size where they can eat significant numbers of urchins that they are essentially irreplaceable in our lifetime.

This is agin not proven ... how well documented is the amount that say a 10 or 15 pound SH eats vs a 20 pounder? I believe in many cases that smaller fish actually eat relatively more in relation to their body weight as their biological focus is more on growth...

and much more importantly

8)those fish take so long to reach a size ... that they are essentially irreplaceable in our lifetime.

Can't this same arguement can be made about many, if not the vast majority, of fish that continue to be eligible for WR take?

For example, a WR Calico Bass is somewhere in the 30+ year age range as well, and the large ones produce a massively greater number of eggs than the small ones, so the arguement could be made that by killing one of them for a WR, we are taking out a fish necessary for the species survival, a fish that is, as you say "essentially irreplaceable in our lifetime"... Yet, Calico remain open. WHY?

The same could be said for white seabass, many snapper, grouper, etc.... Marlin have been aged at over 30 years yet they remain elegible, etc. WHY?

I know it was a subjective decision, but as has been mentioned, when making a subjective decision, you need to consider the sources of the opinions you are getting. Why would some people say that one species that reaches 30+ years old should be ineligible because of it's long lifespan, but another species that reaches the same 30+ years, that coincidentally that particular person likes to hunt, should remain eligible? Something smells, pardon the pun, fishy here.

Beyond that, the arguement that SH is integral to the ecosystem is valid, but ALL fish are part of the ecosystem. Remove ANY of them and you have the potential to throw it out of whack if it is not done in a managed manner. The thing is, OUR FISHERIES ARE MANAGED TO PREVENT THAT. the reason we are allowed to take large SH is because the environment and fishery can sustain it without any negative effects.


9) the Board decided that promoting the take of trophy-size Sheephead was not the right thing to do at this time.

This is the worst part. If ever there WAS a time to promote the sustainable take of a well managed species like the Ca Sheepshead, NOW IS THE TIME. See, this is where the IUSA as an organization has the ability and opportunity to lead from the front and make the bold statement that spearos should not be ashamed to take trophy fish from well managed, non threatened species like the Ca Sheepshead. This is where the IUSA as an organization has the ability and opportunity to lead from the front and instead of condemning it's own kind, say "NO!!" loudly and clearly to biased, poor "science" paid for by environmental extremist groups.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheri View Post
Thanks to those of you who brought this thread to my attention. As President, I'd like to make a statement on behalf of the IUSA. For those that may not be aware, we are still recovering from the tragic loss of our leader, Larry Carter. He "raised the bar" at the IUSA with his energy and enthusiasm. I took his place about a year ago, and we strive to keep what he built -- a respected and service-oriented organization run by volunteers. Fortunately, I am surrounded by a very capable and long-standing Board.

To answer some of the questions here -- we updated the "ineligible list" about a month ago. Per our process, fish that have been recognized by the scientific community as "endangered" were automatically added to the list, as we do not want to encourage people to kill endangered species. This was a clear-cut process and added a few species to the list. A few other fish are on the list due to different criteria (quoted in previous posts) -- these include sharks, rays, mola mola, tarpon, and California Sheephead -- and the decision for these fish was admittedly more subjective in nature.

We received the following input from scientists:
California Sheephead are not "endangered" or at risk of extinction. However, the very large (world-record) size ones have become rare and are important in maintaining the health of kelp forests. Kelp forests in Southern California and Baja fluctuate in size for several reasons, including water temperature. However, it is a known fact that in places where sea urchins are not kept in check by predators, kelp beds cease to exist and the areas become urchin barrens due to the destructive grazing of these kelp beds and forests. Sea urchins had three predators that kept their populations in check, thus keeping the kelp abundant when conditions were favorable (years with cool, nutrient-rich water). These predators (sea otters, large lobsters, and large Sheephead) have largely disappeared in Southern California and parts of Baja. Fur traders eliminated sea otters, and fishing has greatly reduced large lobsters and large Sheephead. Small to medium Sheephead cannot eat urchins of significant size or numbers. In addition, a large Sheephead is 50+ years old -- those fish take so long to reach a size where they can eat significant numbers of urchins that they are essentially irreplaceable in our lifetime. To summarize, due to their ecological importance, the Board decided that promoting the take of trophy-size Sheephead was not the right thing to do at this time.

We have already agreed to make periodic reviews of the ineligible species list to see if any fish should be taken off the list, and it's entirely possible that Sheephead and other fish will be eligible in the future. We've not taken this decision lightly, we based it on input from the scientific community, and we do not expect to add more species in the foreseeable future. You may not agree with our decision, and you can certainly continue to spear large Sheephead (within local laws). We are always open to input and willing to discuss changes, but I would ask that you stop the personal attacks on Board members who have volunteered countless hours of their time -- that only serves to bring everyone down a few notches and does nothing for the image of the sport. Due to the tone already set on this forum, I am not going to discuss it here any further, but I welcome your e-mails at sheri.daye@yahoo.com.

We stand by the fact that spearfishing is a selective, honorable, and ethical way of hunting, and we hope it can be enjoyed for generations to come.
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:13 PM   #2
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

From a PM received.. restates one of the points I made better than i could have...

"For decades now the kelp beds off Sonoma County and Mendocino counties, for example, having had almost no sea otters (there are none north of San Francisco), about zero sheephead and absolutely zero lobsters (too cold for them--except an odd one or two found way south in Monterey during El Nino years), didn't get the memo about sheephead. And oh yes, they have sea urchins up there. The scars in my hand will testify to that--I lived there for about 15 years.

According to the "scientific" papers and IUSA logic and other individuals then, these kelp forests were supposed to become barren, but they keep growing in the past few decades and are so thick that they are almost impossible to swim through this past few summers. Somebody forgot to tell them.

I hope that the IUSA board members and other individuals find some other species to exclude to "save" these Norcal kelp forests off California's north coast. Quick."
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:26 PM   #3
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphthehalibut View Post
From a PM received.. restates one of the points I made better than i could have...

"For decades now the kelp beds off Sonoma County and Mendocino counties, for example, having had almost no sea otters (there are none north of San Francisco), about zero sheephead and absolutely zero lobsters (too cold for them--except an odd one or two found way south in Monterey during El Nino years), didn't get the memo about sheephead. And oh yes, they have sea urchins up there. The scars in my hand will testify to that--I lived there for about 15 years.

According to the "scientific" papers and IUSA logic and other individuals then, these kelp forests were supposed to become barren, but they keep growing in the past few decades and are so thick that they are almost impossible to swim through this past few summers. Somebody forgot to tell them.

I hope that the IUSA board members and other individuals find some other species to exclude to "save" these Norcal kelp forests off California's north coast. Quick."
I agree with this. I think this pokes a pretty big hole through the bogus rationale used to discourage/inhibit the spearfishing take of sheephead. I think Phil mentioned it first in another thread.

Most who defended the IUSA (or at least not condemn) focused on how irrelevant such a decision by a private organization is to California's spearos spearfishing activities. I think they miss the point but they are right in another sense.

I think the IUSA board got hoodwinked and now they can't back out gracefully. If they are so bonehead as to not recognize the poor timing and symbolic meaning of this action and how it affects the plight of California spearos (who are in the midst of closure actions coming from different directions), then the IUSA is truly irrelevant to the vast majority of spearos.

I miss the old IUSA.
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Old 10-10-2011, 02:30 PM   #4
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

Quote:
Originally Posted by zenspearo View Post

I think the IUSA board got hoodwinked and now they can't back out gracefully. If they are so bonehead as to not recognize the poor timing and symbolic meaning of this action and how it affects the plight of California spearos (who are in the midst of closure actions coming from different directions), then the IUSA is truly irrelevant to the vast majority of spearos.

I miss the old IUSA.
They CAN back out gracefully - the way to do so is on their website in the form of their desire to "maintain a dialogue with the community" (paraphrasing).

They tried it, had a dialogue with us, truly LISTENED, and can decide it was not such a great idea..
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Old 10-10-2011, 03:16 PM   #5
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphthehalibut View Post
This argument fails the logic test. If the large ones are as rare as is being claimed, and only a few reach large size, even unfished, their population would not amount to numbers large enough to keep urchins in check anyways.
Excellent point
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Old 10-10-2011, 04:50 PM   #6
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

Very well articulated points by Dave and Joe N above. I would like to echo all of your sentiments and also thank you for taking a stand on this...
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Old 10-10-2011, 05:08 PM   #7
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

Very well said guys, great points!
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Old 10-10-2011, 05:15 PM   #8
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphthehalibut View Post
According to the "scientific" papers and IUSA logic and other individuals then, these kelp forests were supposed to become barren, but they keep growing in the past few decades and are so thick that they are almost impossible to swim through this past few summers. Somebody forgot to tell them.

I hope that the IUSA board members and other individuals find some other species to exclude to "save" these Norcal kelp forests off California's north coast. Quick."
I would think this is because urchin don't just eat kelp they eat all alge, and subsiquently kelp is an Alge.

In laguna, most Urchin barrens happen in 0-20ft of water... Is this because of more/less alge growth from pollution? Cresent, Shaw's, Montage, Aliso. In areas of Urchin barrens there is no alge, but in Kelp forests that you see lots of urchin, there are tons of dif species of alge.
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Old 10-10-2011, 05:17 PM   #9
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

Thanks Dave for laying out all the facts and their bogus reasoning.
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Old 10-10-2011, 05:36 PM   #10
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

I agree with Dave and Joe. IUSA is out of touch with the condition of sheephead population. The fact that the someone catches a bigger SH than the current "World Record" and posts on here almost every month should show that. I consistently see 20+lb SH everytime I go out looking for them.
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Old 10-10-2011, 07:01 PM   #11
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

x2 ,,,,Joe


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kingspear View Post
I agree with Dave and Joe. IUSA is out of touch with the condition of sheephead population. The fact that the someone catches a bigger SH than the current "World Record" and posts on here almost every month should show that. I consistently see 20+lb SH everytime I go out looking for them.
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Old 10-10-2011, 07:10 PM   #12
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

x3 ... RTH should email the post or the link to Sheri.
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Old 10-10-2011, 08:28 PM   #13
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

Dave,

Thank you for a well thought out and organized post. I commend you on laying out the facts here without making any attacks.

I encourage anyone who can express their feelings on this matter to send your comments directly to the IUSA. As a world record holder, my money goes towards keeping the organization alive. They effectively represent me. But their decisions also affect the greater community.

If anyone wants, I will volunteer to print out your letters and comments and mail them in directly myself. You can also email them to each board member.

Their contact info is found here:

http://www.iusarecords.com/board.htm

Thank you guys for keeping the discussion civil.
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Old 10-10-2011, 08:43 PM   #14
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

I have to give Dave credit on this one,
well worded and straight forward, without hearsay or speculation.
I agree whole heartedly with you. Hopefully Sheri will rethink their position on this.
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Old 10-10-2011, 08:49 PM   #15
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Re: A response to the IUSA statement on Ca Sheepshead

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Thank you guys for keeping the discussion civil.
Amen to that.
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