All We Want For Christmas

It has been one heck of a year. Through it all, we kept our spirits up and left nothing on the table. The ASGA team wants to extend our heartfelt gratitude to every one of our supporters. So many of you helped ASGA in so many different ways in 2022. Some purchased Albie Project shirts, others educated themselves on issues and wrote letters, while still more came into our ranks from near and far to do what they can to leave a better future on the water for the next generation of anglers. We truly could not have accomplished all that we did in 2022 without each and every one of you. The level of support for conservation and sustainable fisheries management last year was a remarkable sight to see–and one we can only hope to recreate in 2023, when we work even harder for this amazing community and resource!

Throughout the year, we received tons of personal emails and messages on social media supporting our efforts and telling us to never give up the fight. As the person who reads all of them, let me tell you, nothing recharges us faster than these communications. It is easy to get down in the dumps doing this work–progress is slow, and we are so often defending against short-sighted, irresponsible management. It is inspiring to know that those efforts mean something to all of you. From the entire team at ASGA, it is an honor to represent every single one of you. Our community is the best out there, and we will always represent you with integrity. You have our word on that. 

We are fishermen. It is in our DNA to never give up hope. Every cast represents a new opportunity to turn a bad day into one that you will never forget. That is how we approach these issues–with the hope, tenacity, and resiliency that defines all that is good in the human spirit. 

As kids across the globe anxiously await the arrival of Santa, we decided to continue our holiday tradition of the ASGA wish list for 2023. It can’t hurt right? At this point, we are open to just about anything to help turn the tide – and we (humbly) think we have earned ourselves a spot on the “Nice List” this year…

Dear Santa, 

ASGA worked very hard for the resource this year. We did our best for stripers, bluefish, redfish, false albacore, and many other species. We did the best we could for our members and the resource. We are human; we weren’t perfect but we sure as heck tried. 

That’s what it is all about, Santa. Being in the fight is the most important thing. For all these reasons, ASGA is certainly still on your nice list. If it isn’t too much trouble, there are still a few things that ASGA has on our Christmas list: 

Striped bass need to be watched closely, if there is any hope for rebuilding the stock by 2029. We do not think it is likely that we will be able to maintain the current low fishing mortality rate as more and more of the stock enters the slot. We’d love it if our Striped Bass Managers would exercise common sense and some precautionary management as more information on the stock becomes available. Also, how about holding off on maximizing commercial harvest in the ocean until striped bass have returned to their target abundance. We would rather get a stocking of coal than see commercial quota transfers approved with the current stock status.

One of the biggest victories for our members in 2022 was The Albie Project. Let’s make sure that these scientific efforts keep going in 2023. The more data we can gather, the brighter the future is for Albies. We know very little and have a whole lot to learn. If it wouldn’t be too heavy of a lift, maybe you could spread some Christmas cheer by putting a bunch of Albie Tag Team Sponsorships under people’s trees. Impactful stewardship begins with a strong feeling of ownership – and there’s nothing cooler than learning about where the tags you funded swam throughout the year. 

The South Atlantic Council gave us something to be grateful for as well. Developing sustainable, precautionary Albie management took a productive first step forward, as the fishery will be monitored by the Council moving forward. It might not seem like a huge deal but in this game every step forward should be celebrated. Maybe you can give those Council members something nice too? Perhaps one of the ASGA limited edition Albie Ornaments would brighten their day.

We are extremely proud of our friends down in Georgia and their rally cry to reform red drum management in their waters. With a 40% increase of fishing pressure in the last decade and no slot changes to redfish regulations in 20+ years, the Georgia redfish community has their backs against the wall. While they may not have received the results they were looking for in the first battle, we’re hoping you can boost their holiday spirits and inspire them to continue their fight with unwavering resolve until they see the management reform they so adamantly demand.

We know that a lot of you will be asking for some pretty-high tech gifts. So, we hope that NOAA Fisheries and Councils can look to innovative technologies to improve recreational data gathering efforts and thus improve fisheries management as a whole! Similarly, we hope that they remain open minded about opportunities to fill data-gaps through citizen science and other collaborative efforts with recreational anglers.

Up in New England, we hope that our guides and businesses can continue to rely on an abundant and exhilarating bluefin tuna fishery. By all accounts the 2022 bluefin tuna fishery up around Cape Cod was nothing short of epic. So, of course, we hope that this fishery sticks around. One way we can help maintain that fishery is by reestablishing the Midwater Trawl buffer zone for Atlantic herring (and in practice, all forage species). We’re hoping that the New England Fishery Management Council will revisit the incredibly popular MWT buffer zone and allow other users to benefit from an abundant inshore forage base.

Santa, we know you have plenty of flight time on your schedule coming up this weekend. Hopefully, you’ll be able to download and listen to a Guide Post Podcast marathon during your annual lap around the globe. It’s one of our most effective ways to educate and communicate with our community, so if you wouldn’t mind, please ask all the elves to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Finally, it would be great if our elected officials on Capitol Hill found ways to work together on common sense marine issues.  For example, enacting a revenue-sharing framework for offshore wind development would be a monumental victory. Those dollars would be a huge benefit for conservation, science, and habitat work in coastal communities all throughout the country. Also, by the time you read this blog, there’s a good chance that NOAA Fisheries will receive full funding with the passage of the 2023 Omnibus appropriations bill. 

All in all, our wish list is about the resource and not us. We hope all fisheries are abundant and managed sustainably. We hope all of you in the recreational community enjoy plentiful fisheries for the long-term, act as stewards of these incredible shared resources and build bountiful, stable businesses.  Our fingers are crossed that this letter finds you well and in a giving, holiday spirit! As always, we’ll leave out the cookies and milk.

Merry Christmas –

The ASGA Team

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