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Posted by Curt Billings on March 24, 2001 at 11:28:02:

I was reading Steve Clarks post
where he said the following:
I do have a problem regarding the impact on a local population of fish when there is a tournament like the Dr. Death Invitational. Here you have assembled a large group of the best hunters in one spot all going after the biggest fish. I imagine that a successful tournament could put a significant dent in a local population of say Yellowtail.

Let me try to clarify what he wrote and add my own point to subject of no take zones.

Dr. Death is a lobster trip the occurs for just two days of the season. The fish take is inconsequential. The trip is limited to 20 divers, 2/3 the load of 28-32 during the early weeks of lobster season on the same boat. The hunters are more experienced, but not everybody limits out on lobster. The total take for the boat averages 220-250+. The take for the opening 3 day trip on the same boat averages 400. Per fishing day the take is the nearly the same. If they are lucky on Dr.
Death, a few (3) fish are taken at Tanner where they make one dive. The majority of the divers are not spearfishing.

Steve was thinking about a different trip if he was addressing Yellowtail.

If he was concerned about the impact to lobster then I will say the trip is no more significant than any other. The Dr. Death name sounds menacing, the impact is not.

On Dr. Death they do catch more per person but there are also less divers. 20 experienced divers do not necessarily do more impact then a load of 30 less experienced divers. They cover more area but they can't cover every square foot at the breakneck speeds they swim. They swim further out and their radius of influence from the boat becomes larger. As they swim father out, the area between each diver widens and more is left untouched. Therefore, the lobster take is less
concentrated and spread out over a greater area. If you focus on the Lobster traps that operate every day of the season and the number of traps that far exceeds lobster divers then you should be concerned with the bigger impact.

After the first week when the traps are allowed to be baited the numbers of lobsters taken by the inexperienced diver drops drastically. For the experienced diver the diving locations that are not trapped, for example the Catalina front side, portions of Talcott, and LA bay, limits of lobsters are taken during the entire season.
These non commercial zones are sustainable in their present state despite the increased diving pressure. They simply need to be enlarged to keep up with the population growth or they to will have to become no take zones.

The complaints from the inexperienced lobster diver that can't find or catch lobster is just rhetoric. Get a hoop net and some bait and grab yourself a limit. But do so before the commercail trappers get there first. Because if you could trap in the no-commercial take zones you would find plenty.

The greatest impact is the abundance of traps and their saturation of lobster producing reefs. This is the barn we all must see, to focus on the haystack, a tournament, it is irrelevant to the issue.
Curt Billings

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