Science Takes Center Stage on Cape Cod

On Friday, May 17th, members of the saltwater angling community converged for a day of fisheries science, the latest research and thoughtful discussions about the future of our fisheries. ASGA hosted its second Fisheries Science Symposium in partnership with the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. The day was structured with a series of engaging presentations from guest speakers, each aiming to educate and empower the community for future engagement in fisheries discussions. The auditorium was buzzing early with representatives from the recreational industry, local guides, marine scientists, fisheries managers, photographers and fish enthusiasts, all eager to learn and contribute to the conversation. 

The event started with a quick introduction from the ASGA team, followed by the SIMMS team acknowledging “Conservationist of the Year” and ASGA Chairman Peter Jenkins. Please join us in congratulating “Jenks” on a well-deserved industry praise! You can learn more about the annual award here.

We then took a moment to recognize one of the genuine “honest brokers” of fisheries management, Dr. Mike Armstrong, Deputy Director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Dr. Armstrong has been working for Mass DMF since June of 1968 and committed his life to our marine resources in the following decades. Any striped bass advocates engaged with the management process know that Mike has been one of the most vital voices for our coastwide fishery in recent years. It is no coincidence that we have begun to see improved decision-making from managers during this same stretch. Unfortunately for our fish, Dr. Armstrong will soon retire after an incredible run. While the conservation community will undoubtedly notice his absence, we are confident in the new leaders who are eager to maintain positive progress. Mike was recognized for his decades of hard work with the 1st Annual ASGA “Courage in Conservation Award,” followed by a lengthy standing round of applause.

Scott Bennett, Program Manager of Striped Bass Magic at the Marine Biological Laboratory, kicked off the science sessions with a compelling account of the secret lives and science behind striped bass. He included detailed accounts of the seasonal rhythms, coastal migrations, and unique case studies focused on a cast of “eel pond personalities.” A special thank you to Scott for his commitment to making this entire event possible!

Next on the mic was Andrew Jacobs, Laboratory Manager for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) ‘s Natural Resources Department. The Tribe has inhabited the coastal island of Martha’s Vineyard (Noepe) for over thirteen thousand years. Their island and seaside location have allowed them to forge a profound connection with nature, including river herring, integral to Tribal culture. Unfortunately, many of these resources have significantly declined, leading to decreased access to traditional sustenance foods and a disconnection from tribal culture. To assess the situation, the Tribe initiated a monitoring program to generate concrete data and create effective management plans to restore these fish to more sustainable numbers. Jacobs’ presentation provided a detailed account of this local conservation campaign. 

Luyen Chou, founder of the revolutionary GotOne App, took the torch and ran with an update on the latest functionalities and the evolving role of Artificial Intelligence in fisheries data. If you haven’t already, download the Got One app and start logging your catches (past and present) to gain new angling insights while supporting the evolution of data collection. Click here to learn more about the latest ASGA x GotOne collaboration to generate better data for bluefish.

Captain Bailey Short took a break from running the banks of the bayou to fly north and talk about the current fight for redfish conservation in Louisiana. This presentation caught the ears and hearts of attendees, inspired by the relentless passion of the Louisiana guide community and the recent small steps they’ve seen from their efforts. ASGA believes these conversations are critical for uniting “one conservation community.” Regardless of which conservation effort or angling destination you’re talking about, the problems are usually the same. The fish just look a bit different. 

The ASGA team retook the mic to discuss national policy opportunities, climate-ready fisheries, precautionary management and forage fish updates. The Albie Project, a crowd favorite at all ASGA events, rounded out the day’s events headlined by exciting research updates from Ed Kim of the New England Aquarium. Chris Batsavage from the North Carolina DEQ Division of Marine Fisheries recapped a recent win for false albacore management in the mid-Atlantic. You can learn more about precautionary management progress for little tunny by clicking here. Finally, David Borden, former Fisheries Director of the Rhode Island DEM, led a discussion about opportunities to ride this momentum for albie management further up the coast. This collaborative albie session embodies the ASGA ethos of Science, Education and Advocacy, combining groundbreaking research with community education and empowerment to drive conservation-focused management. 

The passion, sacrifice and commitment our community continues to show leaves us awestruck. We host our first two symposiums in May on Cape Cod to align on the calendar with the Cheeky Schoolie Tournament (full tourney recap to come). We can’t understate how honored we are that so many respected, tenured and talented individuals from all walks of life chose to spend their day in Woods Hole learning, listening and sharing – especially with miles of beautiful sand dunes, sunny spring weather and cruising striped bass right outside those doors! While this blog provides a brief recap of another successful event in the books, we will be launching a full content catalogue from our speakers to share these campaigns with the masses. A sincere thank you to all those who attended and supported the Association this week.

If you were locked in on learning and missed your chance to grab some of the limited edition ASGA spring apparel at the event, no sweat. You can use code “CHEEKY” in the ASGA Shop through the end of the month for free shipping. If you didn’t attend the event but read this far, feel free to use the code as a thank you!

Tight lines and happy spring angling, ASGA community!

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