The First Indicator – Looking Back. The 2nd indicator, looking forward.



Let me say first off, no one ever accused me of being smart, not even me. I learned at an early age what a stupid son of a bitch was, and I learned it the hard way.

Working as a grunt laborer in my early twenties, I was trying to skid a heavy crate across the eye level deck of a large truck. I was using a wrecking bar, sliding the tapered end under the crate. It was heavy enough to allow me to pull myself up and hanging from the bar, I started trying to bounce the crate up and down, hoping to at least move it. To where? Hadn’t thought about that. 1st indicator.

Bouncing up and down, under this steel bar, the tapered end allowed the bar to start walking out from under the crate with each bounce until as fate would have it, the bar slipped out from under the crate, and when it did, that steel bar with all my weight bouncing, came down across the top of my head with such force I saw stars and screamed, “you stupid son of a bitch”!, then fell to my knees.

I never did that again!

The big buzz in New England besides the Fishery Disaster Aid is the announcement of the from Out in Left Field stock assessment update that faces peer review at the end of the month. No one saw this coming. It just showed up.

Obviously, someone been very busy!

“This is pretty dire,” said Russell Brown, deputy science and research director of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the branch of NOAA that did the research.

Naturally, the dire situation of Gulf of Maine Cod is what it’s really all about

Of all the Fishery Management meetings I listen to, I seem to get the most out of the Mid Atlantic meetings.

John Bullard Commandant, GARFO/NOAAFISHERIES is always in attendance and can be counted on to provide some, at times, entertaining commentary.

One of my favorite’s was following the presentation of the climate change seminar that scared the bejesus out of many that were there, or listening by webinar. John Bullard, “Wow, now that’s,,,Jeez,,,I’m speechless,,,,,,,, I uh,,,,,

The meeting, which was absolutely fabulous, and should have provided a clue to everyone listening was, these fish are on the move, because the conditions are unfavorable to their biological preference.

What I found interesting about this battery of comments and questions was some are not discussing regime shift, but looking at the situation as a mortality situation. The cod don’t move along, they die, and I don’t think they get that someone else is moving in!

A tag line that stands out in my mind is, when asked by Jim Wienberger of the presenter about uncertainty, “What can we do, if we can do anything about this?

The answer was a metaphoric reply. “Smoke ’em if ya got ’em.” Here @ 0:43:22 In other words catch them while the catching is good, because they may not be there to catch, and as a matter of fact, that is the reality!

Listening to the Black Sea Bass presentation of the MAFMC in DC the other day, a discussion I found interesting was the State of Maine will trying to get a piece of allocation for the Black Sea Bass in the Gulf of Maine, Cod Country, because as the cod disappear, or (eyes shifting side to side) as they die off, new tenants are moving in!

1st indicator. Looking back.

There was a talking point that I enjoyed using profusely and continuously like a broken record when talking about the New England ground fishery leading up to the first indicator that something was amiss. There was something wrong with Gulf of Maine Cod, and  we must include yellowtail flounder. We can’t forget the yellowtail!

Gulf of Maine Cod was on track to be rebuilt by 2014. Remember that?

Then, a dismal stock assessment caused sensational headlines, finger pointing between the fishing industry, the scientist, regulators, some fishermen pointing fingers at other fishermen, and a sensational statement by Bill Karp, relatively new to New England, and as far as this outside observer is concerned, finally, a welcome and refreshing addition to the NESC from the successful Alaska region.

“There is something wrong out there, we just don’t know what it is.”

“This is pretty dire,” said Russell Brown, deputy science and research director of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, the branch of NOAA that did the research.

The yellowtail issue brought workshops attended by the big guns, to include Sam Rauch, AA, NOAA Fisheries, NMFS, and a lot of industry heavy hitters.

There were statements, presentations, explanations, even some very interesting situations!

Russ “Pretty Dire “Brown, not a panelist but in attendance, found himself in one of the interesting situation moments when, following a thorough grilling of NOAA R/V Henry B. Bigelow R 225 and its trawl data which was being scrutinized, analyzed, and cannibalized was asked if he could clarify some of the methodology used in collecting the data fed into computer models that, by the way, do NOT include changes in the ocean environment, nor predator/prey relationships!

2nd indicator, looking forward.

Mr. Brown and his impromptu answer was shocking to some of us, vindication for others, and telling of an agency not doing fish stock assessments, but eco system assessments.

In other words, if Henry B Bigelow was a sailor in Subic Bay, he couldn’t catch the clap, Let alone a yellow tail on Georges.

We had so much hope for Bigelow, too.

The net that the government spent all that money on, equipped with a cookie sweep, or a roller sweep, designed by some of East Coast’s best and most productive fishermen, tested in a flume tank in Canada, was not rigged to do its intended job, but was now being used for something totally different. That change of mission, and change of NOAA philosophy warrants its own investigation.

The whole time this was happening, I started paying attention to the Canadian fishing industry.

The science driving Canadian fish policy is as bad or even worse than ours.

Jamie Baker, the host of the Fisheries Broadcast mentioned he thought our science was well advanced comparatively.

I cannot agree knowing that the two key missing pieces in the computer model, pred/prey, and the assumption that the environment is non changing results in direct contrast of what is happening here, a mass exodus of Cod, and what is happening in Canada, a Cod Renaissance.

If you listen to the noteworthy scientist of Canada, there is denial of this, while Canadian fishermen are talking about it.

Canadian fishermen are very concerned that our refugees from the Gulf of Maine will eat the shrimp and crab stocks that they prefer to catch because of value, and not to mention the infrastructure to catch and process cod has vanished, while those same codfish are worth about .70 cents ex vessel price. Our bad boys are not welcome there, but, Nature prevails!

An earlier post,  Does Newfoundland Fisherman Tony Doyle have the answer NOAA Doesn’t?

It’s a huge mystery to NOAA scientists. Where have the fish gone? The ENGO bunch seems happy to say that the New England fishing fleet has depleted the resource. Is that true, or have they done what the fishermen have said? They moved? Newfoundland Fisherman Tony Doyle says as far as ground fish go, he’s never seen anything like it in forty years of fishing! Listen to this audio, and key the broadcast to 13:40. His interview starts at 07:16 of the podcast. I enjoyed hearing his description!

 The new assessment relied on new catch, survey, and age data, Brown said. But some fishermen have cast doubt on NOAA’s surveys and questioned the latest report.

“My number one concern is that it doesn’t match with what we’re seeing on the water,” said Terry Alexander, a council member and a fisherman from Harpswell, Maine, who has caught cod for nearly 40 years. He argued that some of the catch data might be inaccurate, as a result of the low fishing quotas. “I’m going to look at this all with a cautious eye,” Alexander said. “The implications could be huge.”

I believe both of these men with a combined 80 years of experience. But I also believe Terry Alexander could put together a trip no matter what. And why would Mr Doyle say what he said, were it not true? It’s not to say there are some real issues. There are.

Dear Interested Parties:

The New England Fishery Management Council is hosting a peer review for the recent stock assessment update developed by NOAA Fisheries for Gulf of Maine cod. The two-day meeting will be open to the public and held at the Sheraton Harborside Hotel, 250 Market Street, in Portsmouth, NH on Thursday and Friday, August 28 and 29, 2014. It will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday and 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Click for more information.

Listen to the Climate Change audio, remember who asked what, what they had said, and what they were told when you listen or attend the peer review of the Gulf of Maine Cod that will not include temperature data, or predator/prey.

Maybe these guys need to move a crate to see those stars and hear themselves say these words, “you stupid son of a bitch!”

The real issue is an agency in transition, not doing stock assessments that include all the pertinent data needed to give us the real picture, and an agency that is fooling themselves, and the public.

We have an agency that is forcing fishermen to throw megatons of fish back into the sea as regulatory discards, based on nothing, other than what they describe as management, and wasting our food fish. Not their food fish, our food fish.

That, my friends is a huge implication.

I have something coming up next for a couple of real stupid sons of bitches from Pew and CLF.

Best Regards.



Something else caught my eye in another seal article, speaking of predators.

 As numbers of gray seals rise, so do conflicts

Some also believe the seals’ negative impact on fishing is overstated. Brian Sharp, the manager of marine mammal rescue for the Cape Cod-based International Fund for Animal Welfare, said gray seals feed mostly on fish species of little commercial value, like sand lance.

Naturally Seal Advocate Brian Sharp would make the statement he made because as we know seals are people too! Love, love. Cute cuddly,,,,, What he did say in that statement is astounding, now that we know the last group of Cod in the area that fooled guys like Terry Alexander into believing what he sees <sarc>.

He said there was little commercial value to the sand lance!

Changes in forage fish abundance alter Atlantic cod distribution, affect success of the fishery

A shift in the prey available to Atlantic cod in the Gulf of Maine that began nearly a decade ago contributed to the controversy that surrounded the 2011 assessment for this stock. A recent study of how this occurred may help fishery managers, scientists, and the industry understand and resolve apparent conflicts between assessment results and the experiences of the fishing industry.

Well. Now that we know that Cod have changed their diet away from, damn near anything the could inhale to almost exclusively dining on sand lance as the research shows, I’d say Brian needs to come up with a better talking point in defense of this out of control, unregulated fishing community that needs to be brought back to levels of when MMPA was implemented.

Climate Change and Fishery Science Workshop


Out of Nowhere Comes an Updated Stock Assessment on Cod!