Guy Harvey Magazine

SUM 2018

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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80 | www.GuyHarveyMagazine.com CATCH AND EAT During the many years and lengthy debates about red snapper, enough hot air has been expended to cause global warming alerts. Yet, finally, in a monumental shift, the federal government recently gave the five Gulf states more control over the snapper fishery (see page 14 for details). By the time you receive this magazine, those states will be in the heat of the summer season. I can personally attest that the bite is on! While far from perfect, management of snapper has been successful in rebuilding stocks so that we can actually catch—and consume—some of the most delicious fish on the planet. And, let's just be honest here, snapper fishing is less about sport and more about the eating part. Sure, cranking up a big ol' fat red snapper is fun the first few times you do it. But, after the honeymoon wears off, you just want to throw a few in the cooler, get back home, and pound back a handful of Advil to ease the searing pain in your arms and back. Don't get me wrong, the whole offshore fishing experience is something I live for. The awesome boat ride, the wind in my hair, the open sea, the salt air, the cold beverages, the friendships and, ultimately, the satisfaction of outsmarting a fellow creature of earth using only our wits, our cunning and $15,000 of marine electronics. To celebrate our dominance over the fish, we eat it. And it is good. In my view, moving to state management is definitely a step in the right direction. It's also an experiment that may or may not be successful. Time will tell. A much bigger question is when the states or feds will get stock assessment figured out. In case you don't know, stock assessment is the term scientists and managers use to ask the burning question: "How do we determine how many fish are really swimming around out there anyway?" Unfortunately, some assessment methods—such as dock surveys or phone surveys—leave significant room for error. That's why I believe the time is near when agencies will start attacking this issue with the same level of technology we use to outfit our boats. The electronics we use to find fish these days are stupid good. We have 3D imaging, scanners that encircle the boat in 360-degrees, bottom finders that identify fish species and the list goes on. At some point, fishery managers will start employing underwater cameras, drones, artificial intelligence, facial recognition software, sonar, scanners, satellite tages, radio transmitters - whatever - to get real numbers of fish populations. Will it be a difficult transition? Sure. But so is making a driverless Uber. So is Snapchat, if you're older than 30. It will happen because our state and federal agencies are committed to sustainability. Even though it's often a thankless job. We're already heading in the right direction. There are apps for us to report our catch. On the down side, using these apps is voluntary and until we're threatened with fines or public embarrassment, voluntary reporting will always be incomplete. The good news is that the high-tech future is creeping into management. Along the Pacific Coast, an autonomous sailing drone is already being used to help quantify the pollock populations (see page 34). This helps to remove the burden of reporting from individual fishermen who already have plenty to do, like, you know, fish. Right now, there are underwater cameras that can take photos and video of fish. And, more devices are coming to market all of the time (see page 17). Why not place cameras on as many reefs as possible to gather fish data? Then we can use artificial intelligence to identify specific fish and estimate the population of every species—not just red snapper—on the reef. This method will also let us know if lionfish populations are exploding or if we've overfished snapper or trigger fish on a reef, all in near real time. If this all sounds far fetched, it's really not. For example, there are apps right now that allow you to take a photo of a flower and it will tell you the name, where it's native, when it can be planted and so on and so forth. And, one of those For the past 25 years, Fred D. Garth's articles have appeared in numerous books, magazines and newspapers around the world. Read his blog at: GuyHarveyMagazine.com. FRED GARTH LAST CAST

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