Thursday, August 5, 2010
Striped Bass - Debate and Disection
First some pictures from Spectacle - by category
Today was our first full day inside and for me it was welcomed since I am still a bit sunburned from all our other adventures. The day started with out group discussions about striped bass - my team specifically focusing on the Maine laws and opinions. My specific role for this debate was as the commercial fisherman. Currently there is no commercial fishing of striped bass in the Maine state waters as well as the US federal waters so of course my position as a commercial fisherman would be to change these laws and allow us to fish. I think one of the most interesting points that I did not see prior to the class discussion was all the money that is in recreational fishing and why more states allow that than they do the commercial side. Maine in particular has a lot of tourism for people that are interested in fishing therefore the recreational fishers are allowed to fish year round (with the exception of the Kennebec Watershed which can only be recreationally fished from May 1 - June 30th each year and only for catch & release. The Kennebec River Diadromous Fish Restoration Program is working to restore Maine's fish population to ranges they have seen historically but do not see now - this organization started in 1986 and are part of the reason this area is protected from striped bass fishing.
As a person (not a commercial fisherman) I am also in support of the federal ban being dropped and allowing fish to be harvested from federal waters for commercial purposes. I believe as long as the quotas then the sustainability should also be the same and the commercial fishers should have a chance to catch some as well - maybe spilt the quota (odd/even days or something like that - since currently they only allow on fish per person per day). Most of the data that I read said that scientists believe that the population is now sustainable. According to the article in Boston.com (Casting Blame by Beth Daley 2/7/2010) officials at the Atlantic States Commission say that stripers are still abundant and not being over fished - but that younger fish are harder to find. The federal waters has more of the larger older fish so I do not think opening them would affect this issue with the smaller ones. I think the main problem based on my reading was the Chesapeake Bay pollution and issues there - since that is where they are normally born. There has not been a "boom" year in the past 5 years and generally the species has one of these years about every 5 so this might be a reason for a lack of smaller fish.
After our debate we were able to get a little more hands on with the bass and watched how to fillet as well as dissect a giant one... I am not sure if this would be something I would want to do again but it was interesting to see where the meat came from that we eat and how the fish is put together, although it was hard to get a good spot to see everything going on since there were so many of us. I found opening the stomach and seeing the crab that the fish ate the most interesting part. The way the fins worked on top and on bottom of the fish gave me a better idea of how they move around in the water as well as protect themselves with the sharper edges on the top fin (I believe it was the front dorsal fin on the top of the fish that contained the sharp parts. The other thing I am glad I learned about was what meat is located where. The outside of the main parts of the fish closest to the skin contained a lot of blood vessels - as well as a lot of fat, as did the meat surrounding the organs - which today I learned is the meat used for sushi - I had no idea that meat was different.
Thank you for another great day in this class.