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Project "FishSmart" research team goes after King Mackeral


Today my fishing buddies were David Secor, Michael Wilberg, and Tom Ihde who are research scientists at the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science who are part of the "Project FishSmart" workgroup whose goal statement is shown below in italics:

Project FishSmart is a partnership of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), researchers at the University of MarylandCenter for Environmental Science Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL), and facilitators at Florida State University (FSU). A national FishSmart Steering Committeeprovides guidance for the project and has endorsed the selection of the initial fishery casestudy, and will continue to be engaged in discovering the lessons learned from thestakeholder modeling approach and in future applications of the FishSmart process toother fisheries.The first application of the FishSmart collaborative process will be to the king mackerel fishery in the Atlantic. The project will involve developing, comparing, and ranking alternative options that you, the stakeholders, suggest and would like to see used to improve the fishery. Alternatives might include both voluntary and regulatory changes in fishing practices or management strategies. These could be traditional fisherymanagement tools such as size limits or bag limits, but could also be voluntary changes in fishing practices, such as adoption of techniques that reduce release mortality. Our role will be to provide a positive forum for you to interact with other stakeholders, brainstorm characteristics of a quality fishery, and identify options for realizing that vision. During this process, you will be a member of a team that will design a model that can forecast likely effects of alternative conservation options. This model will objectively rank the likely outcomes of the options that you recommend relative to your vision of a quality fishery. We may not be able to explicitly consider all of the options that you suggest, but will make every attempt to address ideas you are most interested in evaluating. We will achieve our goal of comparing and ranking your suggested conservation approaches during three intensive working meeting over the coming seven months. We have selected the king mackerel fishery in part because the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council will be assessing the status of the stock this year. This provides an opportunity to suggest options for management of this species directly through the management process. Our project will conclude in time to advise the Council of management alternatives that the stakeholders want to see employed, along with an evaluation of the likely effect of these alternatives on the stock relative to achieving stakeholder objectives. The FishSmart process will provide an innovative and constructive way to present a broad range of stakeholder knowledge and ideas to the Council management process.

I was lucky enough to be chosen as a member of the panel as a "stakeholder representative" for the "Charterboat/Headboat industry. Hopefully our involvement in this panel with the other stakeholder representatives can bring about a positive change in the way fisheries are managed. The link to the "Project Fishmart" web page is at:

Our research today proved very successful in that we were able to acquire pogies after a number of tosses of the cast net down near the steeples. We then proceeded to Pelican Flats and slow trolled them catching more than a limit of kings, bonito, barracuda, and sharks, most of which were safely released to fight another day. We kept only enough kingfish for immediate consumption and released the rest as a study in the "release mortality" of King Mackeral. Our research today was to show just how valuable the King Mackeral fishery is to the Charterboat/Headboat industry.

Action was steady for most of the day, plenty of research was conducted, and a good time was had by all with a fresh fish dinner.

Thanks "Project FishSmart"!

Final tally for the day:

15+ Kingfish to 12#, Four kept for the table and the rest released to fight another day.
2 Bonito released to fight again another day.
3 Barracuda released to fight another day.
2 Atlantic Sharpnose sharks released.
1 5 1/2 foot Lemon Shark released.


Tom with Kingfish ready for a successful release and
David already sending down the downrigger for another.

Mike Wilberg bowed up on a Kingfish.

Tom Ihde bowed up for 30 minutes on 20# spin to a mystery fish.

The mystery fish is a 5 1/2 foot Lemon Shark.


Michael Wilberg, David Secor and Tom Ihde with today's catch.