Gillnetters want to ensnare anglers in their web of deceit

Ok here’s the deal, this came out today:

Date: May 13, 2013
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021
State Observers Out Gathering Information by Watching Anglers Fish
MOREHEAD CITY — Recreational anglers, who fish in Carteret County waters this spring and summer, may be asked to help state fisheries managers learn more about what they catch.
Staff with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Observer Program will be out in division-owned boats to watch people fish so that they can document catches of fish, fishing practices, effort and any interactions with protected species.
Observers will identify themselves to anglers, explain the project, ask the angler a few questions about their fishing practices, and observe them fishing from a safe distance.
The division’s Observer Program is designed to collect at-sea information about commercial and recreational catch and bycatch for use in fisheries management decisions, stock assessments, development of fishery management plans, and the conservation of protected species. Bycatch refers to species inadvertently caught by fishermen while they are targeting other fish.
The program has observed commercial fisheries for years, but just began observing recreational fisheries in 2010. Recreational observations will continue through the summer and possibly into the fall.
For more information, contact Protected Species Biologist Jacob Boyd at 252-808-8088 or Jacob.Boyd@ncdenr.gov.
Information about the Observer Program is also available on the division’s website at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/observers-program.

Seems legit right? Wrong. Let me tell you what this is all about. For years the gill netters in NC have been killing sea turtles. Problem was they never reported their “interactions” the way they were supposed to. The Feds finally figured out that something was not quite right and sent people down to do ride alongs on gill net boats, observers. Well what do you suppose they found out? yes, the gill netters were killing lots of turtles and they took action almost immediately. Flash forward… now they want to turn it around. They have been saying all along that hook and liners kill as many or more turtles as gill netters, I know right, that’s dumb isn’t it? Let me ask you this question: What is the percentage of hook and line anglers who have actually caught a sea turtle (green turtle, loggerhead turtle, leatherback turtle) on a baited hook? Of that percentage how many do you think actually died after releasing? I am betting a percentage so small as to be absolutely statistically irrelevant pursuant to the overall population (even though one is sad). Now, what do you suppose is the percentage of gill netters who have had turtles in their nets? According to the observers it’s almost every time. And how many were found in that net dead due to being unable to surface for air? Again according to the observers it is something akin to almost all of them. So you would think this “observation” of recreational anglers would be no problem right? Almost no anglers hook turtles and they won’t see anything to bother with. Well here’s the problem, the majority of sea turtle/angler interactions take place during the spring cobia fishery, where large hooks with large baits are strung out on stationary lines, exactly what the turtle eat. The overall percentage of this happening when compared to the general population of anglers is miniscule. But this is what they are going to observe and then paint the entire population of recreational anglers with one brush. Most folks don’t even do that fishing. I for one have been fishing for about all of my (soon to be) 48 years and have never hooked or even come close to hooking a sea turtle. But our DMF here in NC is so concerned with preserving the gill netters that they will do anything they can to make everybody else look bad. This could conceivably have far reaching ramifications to any states that have sea turtles. Oh wait, what’s that? All of them do? That’s right. When they bump these inflated/fake numbers to the Feds they will have to do something about it. Remember that 75% of televisions in ancient Sparta were found, after extensive research, to prefer cable over dish.

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