Clouds of Confusion and Controversy blanket the Snapper-Grouper Scene.
Barring last-minute changes, you can expect all red snapper fishing to be shut down off the Atlantic coast in a matter of weeks.
And grouper fishing already is falling victim to what many say is shockingly poor and erroneous federal science based on preposterous assumptions and lack of valid data.
Various closures and draconian limits are striking the Gulf coast as well, leaving fisheries management in a siege mentality. No one knows, frankly, what’s next or when.
Several lawsuits, numerous protests, and even a bill introduced in Congress are trying to overturn the disputed scientific findings. But the going is tough.
The government fisheries scientists speak Greek while everyone else tries to get along with a little English.
Where is the common sense of Harry Truman when we need it? Demanding Plain Talk, Truman would have cleared the room of this bedazzling OY, MSY, SSB and SPR.
Leading the list of absurdities in our view is the continuing claim that red snappers are greatly overfished.
The claim is based on an assessment that appears to be so full of holes it could never survive an independent look, though it is said to have been peer reviewed.
The only really independent review to date comes from Dr. Frank Hester, a well-credentialed fisheries scientist who concluded that the assessment is so flawed it should be sent back pronto. At one point, he said the researchers should “hang their head in shame.”
Dr. Hester’s review is published in full on the FloridaSportsman.com website, along with other key information.
At first, the government rested its case on guesstimates of red snapper populations from the ‘40s period, well before there were any solid records. When that method was duly exposed as fanciful, statisticians came up with a claim that stocks have been “truncated” since the ‘80s and that the large fish are gone.
They’re gone, all right, as in zero, zero, zero…
Rows of zeros, or single digits, pop up all through the tables supposedly showing existing metric tons, and numbers of individuals. Obviously, we’d say, a different methodology had to have been implemented for the totals to have fallen so fast and so far (while no one was looking).
We’re looking further into what could be called the Great Truncation Myth.
A scary footnote: The same fuzzy science that gives us the red snapper farce is at work in the rest of the fisheries management system.
Sadly, some conservation forces that should know better have so far bought into the lame figuring.