RE:Ammendment 6 Issue # 6
I would like to see it opened on a state by state basis to hook and line fishing only. There are about 40 miles of striper infested waters to the south of Chatham and east of Nantucket. It goes all the way out to 200 feet of water. To limit the fishery to the inshore 3 mile limit is unnecessary in Massachusetts. It is now so crowded out there (3 mile) that the quality of the fishing experience is getting tainted. Any of you that have seen the Monomoy flats on a crowded day can understand.
I have seen the rapid growth of congestion on the waters in the last 5 years. The stock market has given all the opportunity to buy a boat. Many are new fishermen, and have no idea about running over the fish with the boat or trolling the lines back into the rip taking up a section of a spot or worse, running to you when they see you with a bent rod.
The effort is there already, I would like to see it spread out over a larger area. If we need a sanctuary or reserve, where fishing is not allowed, then we can do that. Stellwagon and outside of 12 miles still provide an unfathomable area of striper grounds. I know that the charter boats of Nantucket, Marthas Vineyard and the whole south side of the Cape have fished these waters for years, including myself. Last year was the first year that it was enforced by the USCG. To start enforcement now will push those boats back in to the inshore areas further crowding the areas.
I would like to see a 12 mile limit put into effect, for a hook and line fishery only, no seines, gill nets or dragging allowed for the commercial guys. I have seen no proof that this area is where all the bigger fish are, so I don't buy the argument that it needs protection. I do know that this is where the cooler water is and when the inshore waters are 65-72 the fish move out.
This is an allocation issue unintentionally disguised as a protective measure. If we are taking too many big fish, lets change the size limits. Let us START to address hooking mortality. Let us act on commercial discards, which are huge, mostly from the areas that are now being shut down to the recreational fisherman and charter operator. If more guys were out there to see what the cod gillnetters and draggers throw away it might help. But lets not close the productive areas to the southeast of Cape Cod to recreational fishing because we assume that the reason we aren't seeing big ones on the beaches is because of the offshore fishermen.