Updates on The Albie Project

Tony Friedrich VP/Policy Director

There have been a lot of things going on lately. This blog has been delayed more than a few times. We apologize for that but as you read on, you will see why.

The Albie Project started off really well late this summer. We had our concerns. First, albies can be finicky. They can also be here one day and gone the next. Could we really deploy 50 tags with the limited season in Cape Cod? This stuff keeps us up at night.

Currently, we only have three acoustic tags left. Thanks to our awesome team and sponsors, every trip has proven to be successful, and we are certain that the last three tags will be deployed. Capt. Mike at Hogy Lures, Capt. Diogo at Gorilla Tactics Sportfishing, Capt. Peter Fallon at Gillies and Fallon Guide Service, and Capt Jaime Boyle at Boylermaker Charters all deserve an enormous amount of credit for consistently putting our team and the scientists from New England Aquarium on willing targets. We couldn’t do this without their skill and support!

As the acoustic tagging was picking up steam, an opportunity arose to supplement efforts with spaghetti tags. The neat thing about this was that the tagging was not confined to a small geographic area. The tags and deploying devices are designed for large HMS species. We had to figure something out that worked better for our project. Special thanks to Sue and Tom from Team ASGA for making albie sized dart sticks. We shipped those out to members from Florida to Cape Cod, and that phase of tagging is still going on. We have several thousand that will be deployed by the time it is all said and done.

Our team was happy with ourselves and then we got the call from our member Capt. Vinny Catalano from Long Island Fishing. Capt. Vinny just so happens to have a client that loves to chase albies whenever he can get out of working his day job as a geneticist. Within 24 hours of that connection, we were planning a full-blown fin clip program in three regions with a target of 150-200 fin clips within 72 hours. Piece of cake!!! The support we got from those regions was second to none. The project was planned within two weeks and will be executed by the third week in October. In the end, we will know a ton of new information from the DNA extracted from these fish.

At each twist and turn, our sponsors and members have risen to the occasion and met the challenges with tenacity and a lot of good humor. As soon as Simms found out about the fin clip study, they mailed us enough Simms nippers to hand out to our entire team It doesn’t take a genius to realize that this project is growing with no indication of slowing down. It is a fine line between doing things perfectly and possibly missing opportunities. So far, we have done a damn good job at both.

On the albie policy front, we submitted our case to the South Atlantic Council and encouraged discussion on why albies should be placed back on a data poor species management plan (Not a full blown fisheries management plan (FMP)). The first meeting went well. Tomorrow, the issues will be discussed at the Cobia and Mackerel Advisory Panel meeting. Our fingers are crossed that the AP appreciates our perspective, and precautionary albie management continues to move through the process at the Council. Look for a meeting update blog regarding the outcome of the meeting sometime in the next few days.

What can I say? We don’t sleep much these days.

All of y’all have been awesome throughout the last few months. The offers to help are still pouring in. We only have some many tagging and fin clip kits right now. The season is starting to wind down in several regions, so time is also critical. One of the bigger issues right now is going a little over budget with all of this. We have come up with a cool solution to this small problem. We aren’t ready to launch this yet but expect to hear something around the middle of next week. Any help we get at this point is greatly appreciated.

If you think this is cool, just wait until you see what we have cooking for our next project.

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