More on pogy issues[see July 27 fishing report re: pogy boats back in our area].
Another big issue that I see developing concerning pogys centers around a growing groundswell of concern for what is happening with the commercial pogy fishing industry in the Chesepeake Bay. What's happening there is that studies are showing the pressure being put on pogys in the Chesepeake Bay by commercial netters is having a damaging effect on the recovery of the stripped bass fishery. Pogys are their main food source and with the depletion of the pogy stocks by the netters[coupled with the recovery of the stripped bass population] there isn't enough pogys for the fish or the commercial fishermen. The stripped bass issue has strong politics going for it and I expect there to be controls put on pogy fishing in the Chesepeake Bay very soon. How does this affect us? The answer is over 2/3 of the pogys taken in the Atlantic stock comes from the Chesepeake Bay[about 200 million pounds/year]. This fishery is dominated by Omega Protein, a large international company. When they are forced to curtail their fishing in the Bay where do you think they will go. The answer is most likely south to our area as the North Carolina coast offers an excellent back up source for Omega. Currently we are only being hit by Beauford Fisheries which is a small company with just a couple of boats. What happens if the huge Omega Proteins Corp is forced to move to our waters as a result of political pressures associated with the Stripped Bass power base? The answer is devistation to our sport fishing.
Next question is what do we do? And the answer is #1 we be alerted to what may be coming and #2 we go to work on our legislatures to ban pogy netting from our beaches. There is an election this fall and as the election season kicks into gear we need to demand the candidates tell us where they stand on this issue and their plan to craft a solution AND their ability to get it passed by the legislature.
The OIFC Captains Club will be working on this but as much contact as you the fishermen can have with our elected representatives is what's needed. stay tuned for more info.