350 years of experience

15 captains showed up today in Gloucester, Mass., and their total experience together was over 350 years of knowledge. We discussed the white hake issue. They say the biomass isn’t the problem they’re just not seeing small hake.

Well, fishermen don’t see small white hake very often due to us using 6.5″ diamond cod ends. The fish are small and slimy they slide right out the meshes. Hell, a medium pollock can swim out the mesh’s and they are twice to three times the size of small hake. Besides the point is a regulatory community that has never asked anyone in the room anything about fishing, have never asked what we were seeing, nor our thoughts about any species.

All fishermen unanimously agreed we were all going out of our way trying not to catch hake, changing our fishing patterns to work around known hot spots to duck and dodge hake. But we still seem to be catching an abundance of hake still, but the concern is there’s no smalls. Well, where did all these extra hake that are in these areas that don’t usually have hake doing there?

Meanwhile I look at the assessment tows seem to tackle the coastline but not much effort above Cape Ann, in Massachusetts. Seems they don’t check the coast of Maine. Maybe small juvenile fish stay along the coast till they branch out to deeper water. Makes sense bigger predator fish live outside that’s why we see larger hake in deeper water. But the fact is we all agreed on hot spots the surveys were avoiding as shown. We all unanimously agreed we’d take the time to work with the scientists and assist with the help of our 350 years of experience to work together.

Falling on deaf ears. I’ve called many people in the last week no real answers back and I’ll push it to the higher ups and no response. Even if they come out and say there’s no problem with the hake their still not going to change anything. But even though there’s nothing wrong with the biomass they want to cut the allowable catch again next year on a guess!  Thats right folks a damn guess. The same information they are receiving from the research vessel with no real fishermen or use of their insight or input on the trawl tows which are 20 minute tows.

What would 350 years of experience teach researchers about fishing?

Hell, it takes 20 minutes for your gear to get on bottom and the doors to spread right to open the mouth of the net, then comes the speed in which you tow you’re gear. All these things matter to the size of you’re frame ,cable lengths, depth to wire ratio and speed. If any one of these things are wrong allow me to tell you, you’ll catch nothing to very, very little.

So, a computer prints tows out that tells the research vessel where to tow. But tide, slack water the difference in daylight to night tow they don’t check, its one and done and on to the next. Don’t even get me started with moon cycles and fish habits. Why are there no real survey trails in the deep water? Neither were in the 2019 survey nor the spring 2022 and the same areas off Maine and down east known hake bottom to fishermen have very little efforts. Like I said 350 years of knowledge all agreed where to look, but very different spots then some computer program.

Observer data? Well, that isn’t even looked at in the management level to assess the allocation of the specie. So, observers are there primarily in the northeast to watch what we do, but not use the information they gather to check against the survey tows. Total nonsense. 350 years of experience telling you the only problem they are seeing is the government not working with the industry.

We asked if we the fishermen could make an assessment of our own, again that’s a no no. Makes no sense at all.

Well, I guess a college degree means it outranks 350 years of experience. This means we’ll struggle on till we can’t. When the groundfish boats stop the bait line stops for the lobstermen. Besides they say there’s no small juvenile fish in abundance and they want to allow a wind farms power cables along the bottom which could wipe out these young rebuilding fish stocks. Makes no sense I tell you. Gulf of Maine haddock reduction by 80% next year, say there’s no small hake.

But they will run power lines under the main vein of the heart of the Gulf of Maine which could wipe out an entire ecosystem. How in the blue blazes of hell is that green?!!

I haven’t even gotten started with the economic problems this will start. Could you imagine every boat and fish wharf and shop up the coast of New England empty, broke and no income for anyone to make a payment on any of this infastructure or families and homes . Don’t think the banks could float that much money. Then a real possibility of an ecological disaster like we’ve never known while being in the poor house.

We the fishermen are willing to work with the science to get the best data. Hell the western US fleet does assessments with the fishermen but won’t let the New England fishermen. Makes no damn sense at all. We’ll just have to keep the faith. I’m calling on the fishermen and friends to get on board and spread the word we are united in this mismanagement fight. It’s not the scientist’s fault if the biased management team is misdirecting them based on a model that doesn’t work. We can fix this but it’s going to take everyone this is our nations heritage, and many have forgotten that. FISH ON MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS. Jerry Leeman

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