Posted by finfan on August 30, 2002 at 09:51:23:
In Reply to: Re: How do you expect to be taken seriously? posted by Brad on August 29, 2002 at 20:43:29:
To be honest - I think it will take a combination of three things. The rockfish recreational take limits are a start (they still need to be enforced). Second and I think the most important thing will be an island hatchery program. Very similar to the ones that (personally I think) are a big reason why the seabass and halibut fishery has shown such positive signs over the last few years. Lastly, as a collective whole, we still have a long way to go on the pollution factor in the SCB area.
I think a big problem has been that with the reduced numbers of both rockfish and even worse, baitfish any new hatch is subject to a very low mortality rate. Any controlled hatchery program is bound to have significantly higher reproduction and mortality rates than those in open waters. Imagine how much faster the stocks could replenish if instead of a few rockfish surviving a hatch if thousands of fingerling rockfish could be re-introduced in a particular spot.
I put pollution control in there because I'm a big believer that our greatest impact has been in habitat damage. Worse, I think pollution impacts have literally changed the food chain along the entire SCB area. Forget the silt issue in the SCB area (natural or man made),if we don't control the near shore pollution where anchovies, sardines, herring and other natural baitfish breed then we will never see a return of those stocks to the offshore islands. Without that, other preditors will always end up focusing on the hatch of what ever fish is in those waters. That is one of the biggest reasons why I don't believe reserves large or small are the only answer. I think without kelp replantings (for the hatch to hide in and increased bait stocks the natural preditors would never allow for very high numbers of mortality in the rockfish population.
Ultimately I think, for you and me to see any substantial difference though, F&G needs to find supplemental ways to improve the hatch rate (the hatchery model already has shown some good results).
We stopped the gill netting way to late and after they did some significant damage to existing resident populations. I know we will probably disagree on this point, but I believe the remaining stocks could have handled the recreational take pressure had they had the baitfish and kelp cover to keep up mortality rates. Unfortunately, reduced stocks due to gill nets, recreational pressure, and lower mortality rates on a remaining breeding population has left us with exactly what you have stated - desimated rockfish populations along the entire SCB.
I believe it will take more than the reserves and I worry that the reserves will be a convenient way for F&S game to lose focus of what really needs to happen to fix this problem. The real problem is that rockfish are not as glamorous or sought after as much as seabass or halibut so gettingthem to spend dollars on a hatchery specific to rockfish will be a hugh battle. I've always wondered why the seaworlds and long beach aquariums of the world couldn't play a part here.
I really think the reserves are F&G political response just to say we did something and buy some time. The equation is probably even more complex then I have given it credit and F&G needs more time to really figure it out. My guess is they feel the reserves are a way to buy some of that time. I only hope that is the case and it just purely isn't a guess on their part or done purely for political purposes.
On an off subject - why is Clemente the land of the shorts (lobster that is)? Sounds like you spend a lot of time there and I have always wondered why it seems there is a well established population, but a ton of those always seem to be under the legal take size. The other islands in the SCB area don't seem to follow that same pattern. It fits in my food chain change theory, that lobsters have become a primary source of food for something that Clemente has more of then the other islands, but I'm not sure I could ever support that theory with what that something else might be. Any thoughts?
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