I am sending this to my Congressional delegation, you can cut and paste/you can fill in your specific person and your own name at the bottom.

To:  Members of Congress

In 2010 a cooperative research project was started in the South Atlantic with the help of NOAA scientists and fishermen.  The scientific long line survey for red snapper was finished in January, 2011, for the 2010 fishing year.  It was a huge success with red snapper being caught across the entire range of depths.  There were a couple of drawbacks, one being that it was done so late in the year but it was still a success.  If it can be completed in June and July during the spawning season the amount of data would probably double or triple.

There is a huge concern now that this successful scientific endeavor might lose funding because of budget cuts.  This program cost somewhere between $100,000 and $150,000 for the entire year.  This is a very small portion of the research budget that NOAA has.  Every region except the South Atlantic has an annual fishery independent long line survey.  If this can be kept alive there may be enough data soon to show the true health of the red snapper in the South Atlantic.  This could open up the fishery much sooner than without this data and help our economy along the coast.

There are no fishery independent data sets on red snapper in the South Atlantic.  Please ask NOAA to keep the South Atlantic long line survey funded into the future, this data is very important to insure scientific integrity.

Thank you,
David Nelson

Deep Sea Fishing Daytona Beach

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Deep Sea Fishing, How deep?

Erik and Kyle,

If you look at a nautical chart you will see that distance to reach 120 feet of water from each port is as follows;

Ponce Inlet(Daytona), Florida– 36 miles
St. Augustine, FL – 40 miles
Jacksonville, FL – 45 miles
Brunswick, GA – 45+ miles
Savannah, GA- 45+ miles

The scientists and fishermen agree that the area of highest abundance now and in the early period is and was from 120 to 160 feet of water.  In the early period 90% of all for-hire and recreational bottom fishing took place inside of thirty miles and even today at least 75% of all bottom fishing takes place inside of 30 miles.

The above facts have a high degree of certainty with all of the historical evidence in regards to navigation, boat speed, and average trip times.  According to SEDAR 24 the red snapper population had been decimated below 15% of the 1955 level by 1982.  The current long line survey has caught red snapper from 7 miles offshore in 50 feet of water out to 60 miles offshore in 240 feet of water with less than ideal gear.

Please answer these two questions;
How can a stock of fish be fished below 15% of a historical level with the largest user groups only fishing the inshore 35% of possible habitat?

How can a stock of fish be fished down below 15% without much pressure on the area of highest abundance (120+ feet)?

These questions are important to many families that are having their lives destroyed because of lack of data.  Please answer their questions out of common courtesy.

Thank you,

D. Nelson

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Seabass Closing Feb 12


The only three species that people have left to catch in the snapper grouper complex are sea bass, trigger fish, and amberjack fishing.  Head boats can’t really target amberjack so now after sea bass close all they will be allowed to keep is trigger fish.  It is amazing that the region with the most closed species is the region with the least amount of fishery independent data.  This lack of data has forced this council to accept science that is no where near the fishing reality on the water.

The major cause of this entire mess is Sedar 15 and now Sedar 24.  All that needed to happen in Sedar 15 is for one person on the SSC to ask a simple question, “Is it really possible to destroy a fishery with fishing hook and line in 27 years by fishing only 35% of the habitat?”  Instead landings were made up using data deemed unreliable, that killed 45 million pounds of red snapper that were not really caught fishing.

Now that the landings have been corrected in Sedar 24 the computer model claims that red snapper do not produce enough offspring to even cover natural mortality.  In 1955 560,000 red snapper died of natural mortality and according to the computer, for 55 years red snapper have produced an average of 270,000 age 1 cohorts per year.  Again, all that would have had to happen is for someone on the SSC to ask if this is possible in the real world and the answer would be no.  Red snapper are highly productive and have been rebuilding since 1992 yet there has been so little data collected that there is no way to show the truth.

With this unnecessary shutdown of red snapper you have closures in other species like sea bass that would never have happened if the science on red snapper was even close to reality.  Red snapper are so numerous that their numbers are well beyond any numbers seen since the 1940’s or 1950’s.  This is from eyewitness accounts on the water,  not a computer.  There are red snapper in every depth zone from North Carolina to Fort Pierce from 3 miles out to 100 miles.  There needs to be an emergency opening of red snapper so that the people of the South Atlantic can salvage what they have left of their lives.  That is there only hope as everything else is shutdown.

Thank you for your time.

D. Nelson

PS:  Still waiting on the answer to the following questions;

How does a stock produce age 1 cohorts at 50% the rate of natural mortality for 55 years?
(With density dependence and compensation?)
How do you decimate a stock below 85% in 27 years by only fishing 35% of the available habitat?

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Basically they have corrected much of the landings data for the early period with the exception of the very high for-hire numbers prior to 1965.  They have also used dome shaped selectivity for the recreational sector.  With all of this there should have been a huge difference in SEDAR 24 from SEDAR 15.  There is not.

They now manipulated the historic biomass numbers to make them smaller so that the stock appears much less productive than it really is.  This was the only way for them to cover up the huge mistakes in SEDAR 15.

Example:  In SEDAR 15 the total biomass weighed over 25,000 metric tons in 1955.  Now in SEDAR 24 the total biomass in 1955 weighed only around 12,000 metric tons.  Before they manipulated the landings by 40,000,000 pounds and now they have manipulated the biomass by 29,000,000 pounds.

Just FYI

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Long Line Boats


I was glad to hear that two boats have been chosen for the long line survey, one from Ponce Inlet and another from Fort Pierce.  I was wondering what the work schedule was and what the next steps are?  I truly appreciate your efforts and everyone else involved from your office.  This could not have been accomplished without a cooperative effort.

This fishing independent longline will go a long way in determining the true status of red snapper in the SA.

Thank you for your time.

D. Nelson

The boats have been chosen for the long line survey and fishing will begin relatively soon.  The zones are from off of Fort Pierce to Savannah in three depths.  The depth zones are less than 16 fathoms, 16-30 fathoms, and greater than 30 fathoms.

We are going to need everyone who has information to contribute to help with this.  Especially the areas inside of 16 fathoms and out to 30 fathoms.  I am not talking about giving out numbers for sepecific spots but we need to give help to put these guys in the right area of hard bottom in each zone.  Most of their experience is in the deep water.

I believe the depths that would serve them best off of Ponce are 21-23 fathoms and some areas in the 15 fathom range.  I will be involved as much as possbile.

Understand this, once this long line is set, it will be set once per year in the exact same spot as it was the first year for the rest of our lives.  If it is set in the wrong area it will give the impression that there are no snapper left.  We need to all help and make sure that it is set in the right areas.

I will be contacting certain people out of certain inlets, especially to the north.  Anyone that can offer assistance please let me know.

Thank you,

D. Nelson


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Some Fishing History

In my opinion both the 1983 and 1992 regulations were necessary because the inshore areas were over fished and over fishing was occuring until 1992.  However, the deep sea fishing offshore waters (120 to 300) were not yet over fished but over fishing was probably occurring there until the major shift to other species or careers and the 1992 regulations.

The early 1980’s were the low point for the inshore waters in my opinion and the 12 inch rule may have helped but not enough.  It was not until the 20 inch rule and 2 per person limit came into effect eighteen years ago that it began to turn around and we have had positive fishing rebuilding annually for the past 17 years.

Another important aspect that has not been considered is the lack of predators on the inshore reefs after the late 1980’s.  Amberjack, shark, sow snapper, and others were all exploited very easily in the near shore reefs in the 1950-1970’s.  These predators would have made it difficult for any good year class to survive the first year.  I believe that this is one of the reasons that the stock is much more productive even than in the 1940’s and 1950’s.  The juvenile ares for snapper age 0-2 inside of 15-20 miles were mostly predator free for much of the 1990’s and even to an extent today except for the sharks.

I know that is another issue all together but combined with everything else I believe it is significant.

Sorry for rambling.


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Dear Captain Nelson

> Thank you for your e-mail to Secretary Locke and Dr. Lubchenco regarding
> an extension to the red snapper interim fishing rule. A 2008 Southeast Data
> Assessment and Review (SEDAR) assessment indicates the amount of red
> snapper in the population is too low (over fished) and red snapper are
> being removed from the population too quickly (over fishing). At its
> June 2008 meeting, the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s
> (Council) Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) determined the
> results of the red snapper fishing assessment are based upon the best available
> science. When a determination is made that a stock is experiencing
> overfishing and is over fished, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation
> and Management
Act requires NOAA’s National Marine fishing Service
> (NMFS) and the Council to develop a plan to end overfishing and rebuild
> the stock.
> In March 2009, the Council requested that NMFS implement an interim rule
> to address over fishing of red snapper with a directed harvest
> prohibition while a long-term management strategy is developed in
> Amendment 17A to the fishing Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper
> Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. The requested interim rule
> published in the Federal Register on December 4, 2009, and temporarily
> reduced overfishing by prohibiting red snapper harvest, possession, and
> sale from January 4, 2010, through June 2, 2010. The interim rule has
> been extended for an additional 186 days and will expire December 5,
> 2010. The Council took final action on Amendment 17A in June 2010, and
> voted to submit the amendment for Secretarial review. If approved and
> implemented through rulemaking, the area closure could be effective by
> the end of the year. Therefore, extending the interim rule would
> prevent a lapse in the harvest prohibition and prevent directed fishing
> on a stock that is determined to be significantly depleted.
> A new SEDAR benchmark assessment is being conducted for red snapper with
> a webinar scheduled for August 6, 2010, and a review workshop scheduled
> for October 12–14, 2010. We will forward all of your comments regarding
> the previous red snapper fishing assessment to the SEDAR Program Manager, Mr.
> John Carmichael (John.Carmichael@safmc.net), for consideration in the
> new red snapper assessment. SEDAR welcomes all comments on ongoing
> assessments and makes them available to workshop panels. Comments also
> are published within the appropriate workshop report. The new red
> snapper assessment will be completed in October 2010, reviewed by the
> SSC in November 2010, and presented to the Council in December 2010.
> NMFS is committed to working with the Council to respond to the new
> assessment findings with any needed management adjustments as quickly as
> possible.
> With regard to your comments on the need for fishery-independent data in
> the South Atlantic, the Marine Resources Monitoring Assessment and
> Prediction (MARMAP) Program has used standard gear types to monitor the
> abundance of snapper-grouper species in the South Atlantic for over 35
> years. Catch per unit information from the survey has been employed in
> many assessments for very important commercial and recreational species
> such as vermilion snapper, black sea bass, red porgy, golden tilefish,
> and others. Furthermore, information from the MARMAP program has been
> instrumental in understanding the life history of many South Atlantic
> snapper-grouper species, including aspects of their age, growth, and
> reproduction. However, not all snapper-grouper species are available to
> the standard gear types used by MARMAP, and NMFS agrees there is need
> for better data, including a more comprehensive fish stock monitoring
> program. Amendment 17A includes an action to require a
> fishing-independent monitoring program to track progress of red
> snapper. The Southeast Fisheries Science Center is evaluating aspects
> of a new fishery-independent monitoring program, which would include a
> greater number of gear types and a broader geographic range than
> currently utilized by MARMAP. Enhancing fishing-independent monitoring
> programs, as well as increasing stock assessment capacity in the
> Southeast Region, are among the agency’s highest priorities.
> I appreciate your interest in management of snapper-grouper fishing species and
> I encourage you to become involved in the SEDAR process.
> Sincerely,
> Eric C. Schwaab
> Assistant Administrator
> for Fisheries

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