…the primary responsibility for managing striped bass and bluefish belong to two different fishery management bodies, that operate under different laws, take different approaches to fishery management, and have very different records of success.”
I am always on the look out for companies that do what they can to remove plastic from the waste stream and when a recent shipment from Umpqua Feather Merchants arrived I was delighted to see the were an innovative packing material.
My friend Brent Bauer director of product at Umpqua explained how it came to be:
“we have long had a policy against re-using boxes for shipping orders and would just recycle old boxes. A few years ago a supplier offered a machine that would turn our old boxes into packing material so now most of our used boxes end up inside a box.“
The scourge of plastic waste is daunting, but when companies like Umpqua look for, and implement alternatives to plastics they deserve applause and support.
In September of 2019, I was a guest on Dave Stewart’s Wet Fly Swing podcast.
Dave is great host and we chatted for over an hour. It was a wide ranging conversation and we covered a lot of ground!
- the history of the American Fly Fish Trade Association,
- why the upcoming International Fly Tackle Dealer Show in Denver is like Christmas,
- my work for the Marine Fish Conservation Network,
- my guiding for Mossy Creek Fly Fishing,
- why I think Tenkara is a great teaching tool and
- why fishing for brook trout is the most fun you can have with your clothes on…
Give it a listen and take a moment to like and share on your podcast deliver vehicle of choice!
On Tuesday, Aug. 26, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted to enact emergency regulations for the striped bass fishery. This is welcome leadership from the Commission and deserves the applause and support of striped bass anglers everywhere.
The emergency measures establish a bag limit of one fish per angler per day, with a maximum size limit of 36 inches. The emergency measures also establish a maximum gill net size of 9 inches for commercial fishing in the coastal fishery and 7 inches in the Chesapeake Bay fishery.
The saga of striped bass management by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is a sad one, to say the least. Repeated “can-kicking” of decisions and tepid responses to the looming crisis has led to terrible news for striped bass. We now know the striped bass stock is overfished, and overfishing is occurring.
“Poor management of striped bass over the past decade has caused significant economic harm to Virginians who depend on healthy fisheries for their livelihoods and has reduced opportunities for recreational anglers. I applaud the strong leadership shown today by the Marine Resources Commission and Commissioner Bowman on striped bass conservation and their commitment to restoring this iconic fishery,” said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew J. Strickler, “We need other states to follow our example and help rebuild the striped bass population starting immediately. Delay is unacceptable and the Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission must take decisive action that will ensure restoration of this fishery up and down the coast.”
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s decisive and forward-thinking action today is welcome news. As Strickler notes, more states should quickly follow suit and start taking steps on their own to protect striped bass.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
While Virginia’s leadership and actions are admirable it begs the question; what are the other states and more importantly, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission doing about it?
First, the other States can take actions similar to Virginia’s and should do so as soon as possible. Whether they have the political guts that Virginia has remains to be seen. Time will tell.
The big game is at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and that is where anglers who care about the future of striped bass can make a difference.
On August 8, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board approved the draft of Addendum VI to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. It is now available for public comment.
Public hearings going on from now until October 7, 2019. You can see the schedule on the FISSUES.org blog. You can offer your comments at those public hearings or providing written comments until 5 p.m. (EST) on Oct. 7, 2019. Send written comments to Max Appelman, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or at firstname.lastname@example.org (Subject line: Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI).
This problem for striped bass didn’t happen overnight. The “check engine” light has been on for a while, but it has been ignored. The red lights started flashing earlier this year, and now the ASMFC must act to keep from having a meltdown in the fishery.
Captain John McMurray president of the Atlantic Saltwater Guides Association does a great job of explaining the situation and the options. Rather than paraphrase here, in part, is what McMurray wrote:
“The Striped Bass Board voted at its May meeting to initiate an Addendum to get fishing mortality back on track. What was conspicuously missing was any mention of rebuilding the stock. Presumably, curbing fishing mortality to a suitable level, and preventing “overfishing” will rebuild the stock. And theoretically, it will. But it was not clear whether or not it would do so in 10 years or less.
So, to address the fishing mortality issue, in May the Commission’s Technical Committee (TC) determined that an 18 percent reduction in removals would get us back to a place where we were no longer “overfishing.” But again, it gave no guidance on rebuilding. That is mostly due to the fact that the board didn’t ask for that information.
At that May meeting the board moved to task the TC with developing a Draft Addendum that would contain a suite of management options (i.e., size and bag limits) that had a 50 percent probability getting us that 18 percent reduction.
Why only 50 percent? Well, that’s a long story, deserving of its own blog post. But the short version is that’s the minimal federal requirement for management actions and has kind of become the standard for the Commission.
Getting back to the rebuilding part, just getting the analysis of what it would take to rebuild was like pulling teeth. I thought I had asked for that at the May meeting, but the interpretation was how long it would take to rebuild with the aforementioned 18 percent reduction. They did do that analysis, and it turns out it will take 13 years instead of 10. Getting options in the Draft Addendum for a 10-year rebuilding time frame would have pushed the timeline back to a point where we wouldn’t be able to have new regulations in place for the 2020 fishing year, so that didn’t happen.”
You will see the options ASMFC is considering in the same article.
The 50 percent question
One thing that really got my attention in McMurray’s article was his line about the Addendum having “a 50 percent probability getting us that 18 percent reduction.”
As I told my friend Peter Jenkins at breakfast the morning of the meeting. “would you drive over the Newport bridge if they told you it had a 50 percent chance of falling down?” Peter, of course, said he would opt for the long way through Bristol, as any sensible person would do.
This serious business and a 50 percent chance of failure as a standard is an insult to any sensible person. At this point, as my friend Charles Witek told me, none of the options proposed have much more than a 50% probability and no new, more restrictive regulations will be considered in October.
So, while there in nothing to be done at this time, this bitter pill sticks in the throat. At some point we need to ask the managers to do better. When and where remains to be seen, but I am not the only one who is talking about this.
Keep your eyes out for suggested comments and more information from the Atlantic Saltwater Guides Association, FISSUES and others. Now is the time to get involved and do all we can so future generations enjoy fishing for striped bass as much as we do.
This article originally appeared September 1, in Moldy Chum.
Ten years go by fast. For so many reasons I wish Jim was alive today. But I do know this, he would be proud of how his wisdom has lived on and of those who fight the good fight, they are true keepers of his faith.
The following is a tribute I wrote for the News Virginian in 2009. I don’t think I can do any better today and still have tears in my eyes. May his wisdom live on in all of us.
There are some columns one would prefer never to write. This is one of them.
Please indulge me as I reflect on two people who are no longer with us. Not to mourn their loss so much as to celebrate their lives.
On Tuesday morning one of my very closest friends lost his battle with cancer.
He was like a brother to me. The best man in my wedding, a hunting and fishing partner of many years and the voice on the other end of the phone keeping me strong when trouble came. And oh, the whiskey we drank.
Many of you have never heard of James D. Range. But all of you have been touched by his work. He was a conservation hero. Embodying a conservation ethic on the scale of Roosevelt, Leopold, Muir and Pinchot.
One of my most cherished memories, from many years ago, is standing with him in my dining room one night. We got choked up looking out at the fields and woods where I lived.
He told me that not a lot of folks were willing to protect the things he, I and many of you love so much like fish, wildlife and the wild things of this earth. He said, “Tommy we have to protect the wild things. If we don’t do it, it won’t get done.”
Tears streamed down our faces. Big men do cry.
Range was a modern architect of natural resource conservation. A skilled bipartisan policy and political genius with an extraordinary network of friends and contacts.
Range had wonderful oratorical gifts, a way of always speaking from his heart, sometimes in language not fit for a family newspaper. You may not have liked what he said but you surely knew what he thought.
He was the personification of “if they don’t see the light, we can surely make them feel the heat.”
Range’s fingerprints are all over the nation’s conservation laws, including the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act. His championing of conservation tax incentives earned him a profile in Time magazine.
He ably chaired the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Board of Directors pouring his enormous energy into its resurrection.
He served with distinction and candor on the Board’s of Trout Unlimited, the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association, Ducks Unlimited, the American Bird Conservancy, the Pacific Forest Trust, the Valles Caldera Trust and the Yellowstone Park Foundation.
Range was an original board member of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, helping to chart the outstanding course it is on today. He also held presidential appointments to the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin and the Sportfishing and Boating Partnership Council.
In 2003, Range received the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Great Blue Heron Award, the highest honor given to an individual at the national level by the Department.
He was also awarded the 2003 Outdoor Life Magazine Conservationist of the Year Award and the Norville Prosser Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sportfishing Association.
Range’s greatest love was the outdoors. He fished and hunted all over the world. I suspect he was happiest however, at his place on the Missouri River near Craig, Mont.
Flyway Ranch was his sanctuary. A sanctuary, which, in typical Range fashion, he shared with friends and colleagues so they too could enjoy a respite from challenges both personal and professional.
Beside his multitude of friends and admirers, Range is survived by his father, Dr. James Range of Johnson City, Tenn., brothers John Neel, Harry and Peter, twin daughters Allison and Kimberly, and loyal bird dogs Plague, Tench and Sky.
Range may be gone but we will be telling stories about him for the rest of our lives.
The Valley lost another friend recently as well. She was one of Range’s favorite people and the mother of his girlfriend Anni.
Jean Marion Gregory Ince, died on Jan. 12 at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville. She and her husband Eugene St. Clair Ince, Jr. and her beloved golden retriever “Meg” were residents of Madison.
Like Range, Jean Ince was a giver. She and Meg, a certified therapy dog, worked with patients at the Kluge Children’s Rehabilitation Center in Charlottesville and at the Augusta Medical Center in Fishersville.
Anni told me her mom, like Range, loved the outdoors and animals, particularly horses and dogs. She said that love was passed on to her children and grandchildren as well.
Jean and Bud enjoyed a special relationship. They wrote about it in the December 1978 issue of GOURMET Magazine. An Evening at the Waldorf chronicles the evening of their engagement.
It is a wonderfully engaging story of a young couple, a special hotel, and a time when doing for others was a common practice.
I hope you will take a moment to read it. It is a gift that will make any day a better one.
You can find a copy of An Evening at the Waldorf at http://www.usna.org/family/waldorf.html.
Jim Range and Jean Ince have made our world a better place. Their friends and families miss them but their memories will warm our hearts forever.
Patagonia says “let’s be first.” This time to save the planet.
This past week Patagonia came out with a new mission statement:
“Patagonia is in business to save our home planet.”
“We’re losing the planet because of climate change, that’s the elephant in the room. Society is basically working on symptoms. Save the polar bear? If you want to save the polar bear, you got to save the planet,” Chouinard says. “Forget about the polar bear, they’re toast anyway. So I decided to make a very simple statement, because in reality, if we want to save the planet, every single company in the world has to do the same thing. And I thought, well, let’s be the first.”
Patagonia will focus on three key areas: agriculture, politics, and protected lands.
They can count me in.
Read about it here > Patagonia’s new company mission is to save the planet