CCA Annual Fish Stocking

CCA Annual Fish Stocking

Amber Capps – amberc@landings.org

Executive Assistant to the Public Works Director

Fishing in our lagoon system has undoubtedly become increasingly popular over the last several years and even more so during these quarantine times! The Skidaway Island Chapter of Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) volunteers have been a long-time partner of the Association who generously provide their time, expertise and donations towards lagoon programs, events, and projects.  Over the years, CCA has raised $400,000 in donations which has attributed to the growing number of residents who fish in the Landings’ lagoons.

Fish stocking is one of the annual programs that CCA volunteers participate in and fund which typically occurs in the spring or early summer when water temperatures are cooler and fewer predators such as otters and cormorants frequent the lagoons.  Last month, a total of 5,500 3-4-inch blue gills were stocked in the following lagoons: 14, 22, 26, 66, 106 and 149.

Prior to the selection of lagoons for the fish stocking program, the following programs are completed to collect the appropriate data for stocking:

  • Juvenile Seining – Nets are used to sample species of fish in each lagoon to determine how many young fish are present. This process also helps determine if the lagoon is experiencing the appropriate level of natural reproduction.
  • Electrofishing – Electrofishing sends a weak electrical current through the lagoon water that temporarily stuns the fish. The fish are then collected, identified by species, weighed and measured. This information is then used to determine the relative weights of the fish, identify predator/prey relationships in the lagoons and determine the overall fishery health of the lagoons. Side note: at no point during this process are the fish harmed in any way.

CCA and TLA staff also closely monitor fish kills in our lagoon system and lagoons that have experienced fish kills are stocked at a higher rate.

Over the last three years, CCA volunteer and resident, Jeff Wong, has generously funded the fish stocking program.  Mr. Wong is also a local business owner of The Omelette House chain (which is now open!), who enjoys catch and release fishing in our lagoon system.  Since Mr. Wong’s involvement with CCA, he has conducted a blessing over the fish to “keep them healthy and promote a long lifespan”.  We are so appreciative to Mr. Wong for his continued support of our fishery management programs!

To find out more about the CCA Skidaway Chapter or to volunteer to help with local fishery management projects/programs and/or make a tax deductible donation, call or e-mail Dave Devore: (912) 598-9423 or drdevore43@gmail.com.

Anglers shortchanged with four-day red snapper season

For immediate release                                                                                            Email:  twvenker@joincca.org

Anglers shortchanged with four-day red snapper season

Federal mismanagement virtually eliminates access to popular recreational fishery

 

Continuing a downward spiral in South Atlantic red snapper seasons, NOAA Fisheries has announced a four-day recreational season for 2020. While expectations in March were that the federal agency in charge of the nation’s fisheries would disallow any recreational red snapper season, the move to a four-day season is hardly a victory for anglers who have seen their access to the fishery severely curtailed for the last decade even as the red snapper population expands.

“A four-day season is marginally better than a zero-day season, but it is profoundly disappointing that this is the best result available after 10 years of intense scrutiny and federal management. This is certainly not where anglers deserve to be with a fishery that is clearly recovering and expanding,” said Bill Bird, chairman of the CCA National Government Relations Committee.

Since 2010, the recreational sector has been allowed to harvest red snapper in South Atlantic federal waters a cumulative total of 37 days despite increasing abundance of fish. In recent years, NOAA Fisheries has maintained that recreational bycatch mortality – red snapper caught and released by anglers when the season is closed that the agency believes do not survive – is calculated to be more than what the sector would be allowed to harvest, resulting in no season or extremely limited seasons.

“Federal recreational data collection methods are not believed to be reliable by most private recreational fishermen; but the manner by which they calculate bycatch mortality for anglers is a particularly questionable component,” said Bird. “As the population increases and anglers encounter – and release – more red snapper, it becomes apparent that the healthier the population is, the less access anglers will have to it. That is the definition of a fundamentally flawed system.”

The introduction of a descending device requirement earlier this year may provide a path to greater access, but until the results can be quantified and determined in a stock assessment, it is unlikely NOAA Fisheries will credit the conservation ethic of recreational anglers with a longer season. Even if NOAA Fisheries supported the descending device requirement, which it did not, the process of quantifying those savings could take years and it is doubtful whether it would truly reflect the degree to which anglers are participating.

“Recreational anglers want to do everything they can to reduce dead discards in every fishery, which is why we actively supported the requirement for descending devices in the South Atlantic even though many anglers already use various tools to successfully release fish alive,” said Ted Venker, conservation director for CCA. “There are questions over everything in this fishery and if the past is any indication, we expect NOAA to apply the same questionable methods to calculating the true positive impact of descending devices. If that is the only lifeline the fishery has to work with then perhaps it is time to push for state-based management of this fishery to get a workable system for recreational anglers.”

The South Atlantic red snapper season is set to open July 10 – 12, and on July 17.

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CRD adds two vessels to offshore artificial reefs


CRD adds two vessels to offshore artificial reefs

Brunswick, Ga. (June 5, 2020)

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’s Coastal Resources Division on June 3, 2020, added two new vessels to artificial reefs about 20 miles offshore of St. Catherines Island.

(Click here for a video.)

Sales of the “Support Fish Habitat” license plate funded the project, along with the Coastal Conservation Association of Georgia.

“These vessels will provide essential fish habitat off Georgia’s coast and will eventually become populated with corals, sponges and other marine life,” said Paul Medders, the Artificial Reef, Habitat Enhancement and Boating Access leader for DNR’s Coastal Resources Division . “In about two years, these reefs will become prime fishing spots for offshore anglers, as well as a unique place for SCUBA divers to visit.”

The first vessel, an 82-foot shrimp trawl named the Frank and Marie, sank at reef CCA-JL 22 nautical miles east of St. Catherines Island. It rested on the seafloor at 2:40 p.m. in about 64 feet of water. The Frank and Marie joins New York City subway cars, steel structures and other materials at reef CCA-JL.

The second vessel, the 180-foot Tangiers Island, sank in 70 feet of water at 9:40 p.m. about 200 feet from a similarly sized former Coast Guard buoy tender placed there in 1989.

All materials placed in reefs are meticulously cleaned and prepared prior to their sinking, and placement of reef materials is permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure navigation safety.

Artificial reefs are beneficial off Georgia’s coast due to the state’s unique geology. The Georgia Bight extends from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to Cape Hatteras, N.C., and concaves inward from the Atlantic Ocean along Georgia’s coast.

The resulting geologic features include a vast, shallow slope that extends about 80 miles offshore to the continental shelf. This gentle slope is largely flat, sandy material with very few natural rock outcroppings that would normally be home to reefs.

To provide opportunities for reef growth, CRD has created more than two dozen artificial reef areas, each of which includes multiple sites within reefs. These artificial materials – whether a vessel, tank or concrete rubble – provide living organisms the surface and shelter they need to thrive in Georgia’s marine environment. While the substrate is artificial, the ensuing reef growth is completely natural.

“Without these artificial materials, we would not have significant reef growth in Georgia,” Medders said. “DNR has been placing these materials since the 1970s, and over time, we have built up an impressive array of artificial habitats for scores of species.”

Numerous recreationally and commercially important fish species congregate along reefs in the middle of the continental shelf, including snapper, grouper and black sea bass.

Likewise, migratory fish pass through these waters, including Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia and wahoo. Artificial reefs also provide shelter for endangered loggerhead sea turtles, which use the reefs to find refuge from predators like sharks.

Coastal Resources Division Partnership

We were proud to partner on this project with the Coastal Resources Division (CRD). In this video, CRD Marine Biologist Cameron Brinton discusses how biologists and technicians placed more than 3,700 bags of oyster shell along the riverbank in an effort to recruit new, wild oysters. Oyster reefs are essential fish habitat, filter water and help stabilize banks against erosion. Learn more about CRD’s artificial reef program at www.CoastalGaDNR.org/HERU. CRD video by Tyler Jones.

Watch the video HERE!

NOAA Fisheries Slams Door on South Atlantic Red Snapper Anglers. “Effectively eliminating the South Atlantic red snapper season is a prime example of federal fisheries management failure,” said CSP President Jeff Angers

Frustrated anglers might have a three-day season or no season at all in 2020

Washington, D.C. – March 6, 2020 – At the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting this week, NOAA Fisheries announced recreational anglers from North Carolina to Florida could have a three-day 2020 red snapper season but may end up with no season at all. Since 2010, the recreational sector has been allowed to harvest red snapper in South Atlantic federal waters a cumulative total of 37 days despite increasing abundance of fish.

Under the current regulatory framework, a recreational South Atlantic red snapper season of three or fewer days is prohibited. Changing that framework requires a rulemaking period which is in its early stages.
 
Over the last decade, anglers have been baffled by NOAA Fisheries’ decision to radically limit public access to red snapper despite the plentiful number of fish they are encountering on the water. In 2018, the South Atlantic red snapper recreational sector Annual Catch Limit (ACL) was set at 29,656 fish. In the same year, NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) estimated that 3,174,288 red snapper were released alive by Florida anglers in the South Atlantic alone. Using the accepted 28.5% recreational discard mortality rate, the number of released red snapper that did not survive is an estimated 904,672 fish.

Read the complete article from Center for Sportsfishing Policy–>HERE

Fish Stocking in Landings’ Lagoons

Courtesy of the Public Works Department and Coastal Conservation Association (CCA)

The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and the Association’s Public Works Department work together to implement the fishery management program throughout our lagoon system. That includes fish stocking, salinity testing, electrofishing, juvenile seining, amenity improvements and the installation of lagoon structures for fish habitat.

Each year CCA samples 30 lagoons by seining or electro-fishing on alternate years to determine population density and fish size. Sampling this year determined that the fish in nine lagoons (Lagoon 31, 122, 27, 70, 86, 51, 142, 131 and 145) were below average weight and required a better food supply. CCA purchased and stocked over 14,200 small blue gills to help increase largemouth bass and crappie size and improve the fishing experience in those lagoons.  To date, CCA’s generous donations have resulted in well over 220,000 fish being stocked in our lagoon system.

The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Skidaway Island Chapter is entirely dependent on donations, most of which come from homeowners in The Landings. In addition to managing the fishery program, CCA also produces The Landings Lagoon Guide that identifies which lagoons are freshwater and which are saltwater (brackish). The Guide also includes fishing tips to improve your enjoyment of fishing at The Landings. The Guide is available for $10.

For more information on the Landings’ Lagoon Guide or the fishery management program, please contact Hal Evans at hevansmail@comcast.net. CCA will begin the annual fund-raising campaign in January. If you would like to make contribution please contact our Treasurer, Jerry Thompson, at eejlt@comcast.net.


Hold Canadian-Owned Menhaden Harvester Accountable

  Call to Action  

Hold Canadian-Owned Menhaden Harvester Accountable
Anglers sign petition to uphold non-compliance finding against company ignoring Chesapeake Bay conservation measures

Omega Protein, the sole commercial harvester of East Coast menhaden, has brazenly announced that it knowingly went over its menhaden quota by almost 35 million pounds. The foreign-owned company harvested 67,000 metric tons (147,668,000 pounds) of menhaden from Virginia waters of the Chesapeake Bay and has been unapologetic about its intentions to no longer abide by the harvest cap lawfully set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

For this reason, the ASMFC voted unanimously in October to find the state of Virginia out of compliance with its menhaden fishery management plan. Virginia is the only East Coast state that still allows reduction harvesters in state waters. Commercial harvest of menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay has been under intense scrutiny for decades due to its concentrated removals of a critical food source for striped bass and other important sportfish in their primary spawning grounds on the East Coast. Some studies indicate the menhaden fishery could be reducing striped bass populations by as much as 30 percent.

Anglers have applauded the ASMFC for its decision to find the State of Virginia out of compliance due to the careless actions of Omega Protein and are now calling on U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to uphold that finding and ensure that no one is allowed to willfully ignore U.S. laws and regulations.

By signing this petition, you will be joining thousands of conservationists in their call for Secretary Ross to defend the marine resources of the United States and shut down the menhaden fishery in Virginia until Omega Protein comes back into compliance with the fishery management plan.

Click the link below to sign the petition:
https://www.votervoice.net/COASTAL/Petitions/1957/Respond

CCA Savannah Crab Tournament

October 20th marked the return of the CCA Savannah Crab Tournament to our local waterways. A once anticipated event in our area, this was the first crab tournament CCA Savannah has hosted in over 5 years. Thanks to planning by Savannah Chapter President, Austin Thurlow, the Savannah team revamped the  event with all new sponsors and donors. Savannah Bend Marina were our gracious hosts on what started out with ugly weather, but quickly became a beautiful Sunday. Prizes were awarded to the 10 heaviest male crabs per team, with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. All junior anglers in attendance were gifted Rising Tide Memberships made possible by a donation from a local angler. All the crabs caught participants, and also by Ben Goldberg, were promptly prepared by Savannah’s 5 star cooking team. All in all, it was great a great start to what will be an annual event once again in the Savannah area.

Red Drum Conservation

Red Drum Conservation 
Studies have shown that using short leader rigs with circles hooks can reduce deep hooking and improve the chances of survival for released red drum. This is especially true when fishing in slow or slack water.
To be effective, we recommend the following:
• a fixed weight or sinker clip that is not more than six inches from the circle hook;
• sinker heavier than 2 ounces;
• a barbless circle hook (a hook with the point directed straight back toward the shank, and with the barb either compressed or removed);
• when using either braided or monofilament mainline, it is advisable to add a 5 foot leader of heavier 80lb– 100lb monofilament or fluorocarbon between the mainline and terminal rig to minimize abrasion and break offs.
• depending on the tides, heavier weights may be required.

DNR is offering to send you a couple of these rigs at no charge. Send an email with your address and request Kathy, kathy.knowlton@dnr.ga.gov , to send you the new

 FISH SMART, RED DRUM RIG.