To the Editor:
I find it interesting and somewhat disingenuous that letter writers keep choosing to hold up 2006 as the benchmark that striped bass populations should be. 2006 was the all-time highest biomass of stripers ever recorded, so it’s not really a good comparison to say that bass stocks have fallen from that mark. In fact, 2006 was such a phenomenon that the fisheries scientists say that it may never occur again, regardless of any human interactions. I’ve heard it called a perfect storm of conditions, which led to that banner season.
That aside, this perennial assault by Stripers Forever is getting stale. The same rhetoric is trumpeted over and over, to whoever will listen. “The recreational fishery worth a billion dollars a year” is probably the most often repeated, yet also the farthest from the truth. This is all a trick of math, known as extrapolation, and also is borrowing on some less than definite factors, like the economy and its effect on sportsmen’s spending abilities. But why let facts get in the way?
I see no mention made of how striped bass, for that matter all saltwater species, are managed with respect to the law. The Magnuson Stevens Act, the ultimate law by which all fisheries are managed, is foremost at issue with what Stripers Forever is attempting. By law, all fisheries must be managed to MSY, which stands for “maximum sustainable yield,” which means, by law, fish must be used, or caught, or at least be managed in a way that is likely to lead to them being caught. So, what Stripers Forever isn’t saying is that if Massachusetts were to make striped bass a gamefish, that the managers would then have to re-allocate the commercial quota elsewhere, either to other states with open commercial fisheries or to the recreational sector. There is no language in the law that allows for fish to be kept out of the equation, so to speak.
Stripers Forever knows this, but they don’t mention it. They aren’t really seeking to save stripers, they are merely seeking to remove an undesirable and competitive factor in the fishery, in order that the recreational industry would expand, and the very fish that they claim to be saving would just be caught, but by their clients.
About Stripers Forever, they are really the Coastal Conservation Association. CCA is backed by big oil. In fact, their founder, Walter Fondren Jr., was the head of Exxon. This group, Stripers Forever, is headed by a man named Brad Burns, who founded the Maine Chapter of CCA in 1991. Make no mistake, CCA and SF are really the same. In almost every area CCA is well established, they have funded and assisted sympathetic political candidates, who will streamline permitting and take down impediments to coastal development. This has led to losses of sensitive coastal habitats, and the resources CCA claims to be championing, have declined.
SF and CCA aren’t really trying to conserve anything. Rather, they are trying to and have reallocated resources to their contributors. One of the first things they always do, is to eliminate the most vocal of any opposition to their plans, namely local small scale commercial fishermen. This selfish call for gamefish, is no different.