Little Blackfins

Do you guys not see the larger blackfins 20+ lbs in this area? 99% of the blackfins shown in photos around here are just the dinks, and I am wondering if that is just the time of year, or just common for the LW area. Do you ever see the larger ones?

I know that my opinion isn't even worth 2 cents, but it seems kind of a shame to kill the little ones knowing that they get much larger. I realize that it's "legal", but only because they are not regulated (yet), but it just seems that the sportsman thing to do is release the little ones and let them grow up. They don't reach sexual maturity until they are about 20+inches long (http://sci.odu.edu/gmsa/about/Tuna_pdfs/Thunnus_atlanticus.pdf). It just seems irresponsible to harvest fish that aren't even old enough to reproduce yet.
skinnej.jpg

Replies

  • fish_stixfish_stix Posts: 1,335 Officer
    But they taste so good! Why not just keep the ones YOU want and let everyone else do the same? They are not in short supply anywhere in the Caribbean or the Gulf. Have you noticed what happened to red snapper when the idiots at NOAA start pulling bum numbers out of their butts and conjure up "No Fishing" regs?
  • bmoodybmoody Posts: 985 Officer
    If recruitment over-fishing is not occuring, is there any real risk to harvesting fish prior to sexual maturity? Do you have any reason to suspect recruitment over-fishing is occuring?

    A 20+ pound blackfin might have enough mercury in it to leave you better off eating a thermometer, which might or might not matter to you depending on your risk group.

    Fresh is best, and I can eat a small one or two, but a 20+ fish might leave me with "too much" meat. I don't feel bad about harvesting 15-20 over the course of a year. How many do you figure a marlin eats in a week or month?
    Limit your kill, don't kill your limit.
  • Plane Fish nPlane Fish n Posts: 6,439 Admiral
    bmoody wrote: »
    If recruitment over-fishing is not occuring, is there any real risk to harvesting fish prior to sexual maturity? Do you have any reason to suspect recruitment over-fishing is occuring?

    A 20+ pound blackfin might have enough mercury in it to leave you better off eating a thermometer, which might or might not matter to you depending on your risk group.

    Fresh is best, and I can eat a small one or two, but a 20+ fish might leave me with "too much" meat. I don't feel bad about harvesting 15-20 over the course of a year. How many do you figure a marlin eats in a week or month?
    Limit your kill, don't kill your limit.

    :Agree

    I couldn't have said this better myself.

    Skinnej, to use the word "irresponsible" in your thread might cause the other forum members to think that your idea of how tuna should be harvested is irresponsible in itself.

    I would suggest that this would probably get a better response in the Conservation Front section.

    Eric
    PLANE FISH N
  • skinneejskinneej Posts: 358 Officer
    Again, I realize that this is my opinion, so I was expecting some feedback, but I just wanted to throw it out there to set an example for others who may want to share the same thoughts.

    Let me play devil's advocate though. Do we really need the feds to tell us what to do? What if there were no size limits on any fish? Would you keep what you want no matter how small they are? We didn't need the feds to tell us to release sailfish, though it's a pretty common practice nowadays. They actually taste pretty good, and the law allows people to keep one every trip. So why don't you do it?

    You may disagree, but I think that it is worthy of discussion. If you had some prime deer habitat, you wouldn't kill off every fawn and yearling you saw. You would likely wait until that animal became mature so that you could take a trophy. Unfortunately, this isn't the mentality of most when it comes to fishing because of "tragedy of the commons".

    Anyway, South Florida is a very special place. There are a LOT of anglers and VERY accessible fishing grounds that are tightly concentrated and well known. Fishermen are their own worst enemies here. Just look at the size of hogfish here compared to what they are in other, less pressured fisheries. Fisheries management is pretty much common sense. The federal government will NEVER get the data that they need to make intelligent decisions about our fishery, but anglers can use common sense and set examples for each other.

    Anyway, you can label me whatever you want, but I am a member of the RFA and have a pretty good track record about being involved in the fisheries managment stuff on the East Coast. I also probably know quite a bit more about red snapper than most on this forum (scan for "Jason Ward" - That's me):

    http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/mar/01/close-or-not-close-really-question/
    http://www.saltwatersportsman.com/news/rfa-sc-members-react-red-snapper-closure

    But to answer your question? "Do I have any reason to believe that recruitment overfishing is happening?" I'm not sure. Blackfins aren't really studied and there isn't much data out there on the population. But, I do know that there are supposed to be big ones out there and in every other place, there are (I've got countless ones in the 20-30lb range and one @ 37lbs). But they aren't here. That is why I ask my original question. Maybe this is environmental. I'm willing to accept that as an answer, but nobody has suggested it yet. Anyway, the feds have proven over and over that they SUCK at fisheries management, so it's kind of up to fishermen to be proactive, isn't it? Do you really need to wait for evidence of problems before you do something reasonable?
    skinnej.jpg
  • roweryborowerybo Posts: 2,091 Officer
    I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's environmental though I can't be 100% sure. In this area we really don't see the bigger blackfins until spring and most are caught on kite or flatlined livies vs trolling but not in the abundance of other areas.
  • Uncle BuckUncle Buck Posts: 1,192 Officer
    Simple, non-enviro, non-ethics answer... The bigger ones are seasonal. These two mid-20s were caught in May, drifting live threadfins off Boca. Although a good fight and a good yield of meat, I prefer to eat blackfins in the 5-10lb range due to the lighter meat.

    blackfins_052610_1.jpg
    Meanwhile, on the little fiberglass boat Uncle Buck...
  • skinneejskinneej Posts: 358 Officer
    UB, that is what a blackfin is supposed to look like. Nice.
    skinnej.jpg
  • Uncle BuckUncle Buck Posts: 1,192 Officer
    skinneej wrote: »
    We didn't need the feds to tell us to release sailfish, though it's a pretty common practice nowadays. They actually taste pretty good, and the law allows people to keep one every trip. So why don't you do it?

    A bit off-topic... but a 63-inch LJFL sail is pretty big. Most of the ones I've caught in the past few years haven't been worth the stress (on the fish) to measure. I'm still trying to get one for the smoker.

    Back on-topic... Blackfins grow fast. Not quite mahi speed, but they can reach about 45lbs within an estimated lifespan of only 5 years. They reach reproductive maturity at about 20-inches / 7lbs.

    Why are the large fish not as common to catch off SE FL? Probably because they're migrating through the area, not staying here to feed. That's evidenced by the higher catch rates during Fall and Spring.
    Meanwhile, on the little fiberglass boat Uncle Buck...
  • mbowersmbowers Posts: 496 Deckhand
    skinneej wrote: »
    I know that my opinion isn't even worth 2 cents, but it seems kind of a shame to kill the little ones knowing that they get much larger. I realize that it's "legal", but only because they are not regulated (yet), but it just seems that the sportsman thing to do is release the little ones and let them grow up. They don't reach sexual maturity until they are about 20+inches long (http://sci.odu.edu/gmsa/about/Tuna_pdfs/Thunnus_atlanticus.pdf). It just seems irresponsible to harvest fish that aren't even old enough to reproduce yet.

    Blackfin are regulated: no more than 100lbs or 2 fish which ever is greater per person.

    It's generally irresponsible to harvest the largest fish in a population because they usually produce the most spawn per body mass. If not enough fish were reaching maturity like bluefin tuna then yes it's irresponsible to harvest anything really, but as long as harvest is allowed you'll probably have a tough time justifying the harvest of large specimens. It's always better for the ocean to keep 10 fish of 2lb than 1 fish of 20lb to the best of my knowledge. If you've got some scientific studies that show otherwise please post them up.

    Personally I think we get very few decent blackfin around here because the false albacore just overwhelm them with numbers. :)
  • skinneejskinneej Posts: 358 Officer
    mbowers, if that's true, then why do most fish species have a minimum size limit? All other tunas do as well... Also, can you show me where the blackfins are regulated? Is that a Florida state law? I'm not aware of any federal regulations on them.

    I hear what you are saying about "breeders" though. Many fish have a slot limit for this purpose. I think that's more common with fish that tend to live past 5 years though.
    skinnej.jpg
  • Uncle BuckUncle Buck Posts: 1,192 Officer
    Bag limit for all unregulated species is 100lbs or 2 fish, whichever is greater, per angler. Definitely a FL State reg, but not sure about Federal.
    Meanwhile, on the little fiberglass boat Uncle Buck...
  • mbowersmbowers Posts: 496 Deckhand
    skinneej wrote: »
    mbowers, if that's true, then why do most fish species have a minimum size limit? All other tunas do as well... Also, can you show me where the blackfins are regulated? Is that a Florida state law? I'm not aware of any federal regulations on them.

    http://www.eregulations.com/florida/fishing/saltwater/pageFlip/
    Top of pages 12-13 mentions the overall limits for otherwise unregulated species. That is only a state limit, no limit in federal waters as far as I know. All the commercially important tunas have a federal minimum size limit (Big Eye, Yellowfin, Bluefin) but most do not: albacore, bonito, skipjack, false albacore ( dubious at best as a tuna:) ). I have no problem keeping small blackfin in reasonable quantites when I watch the guys in the Keys chunk up a couple of 20lb blackfin to catch a shark, they don't even keep ANY of the meat.

    The bag limit / size limit combo works together to regulate the total take, I think the fisheries managers would much prefer that you take smaller fish whenever possible. If they make the size limit too small, then too many total pounds are retained. If they make the bag limit too small then people that want to retain a lot of fish start complaining. I like small bag limits and small minimum sizes with a maximum size that can be exceeded by one big fish in the bag like seatrout, black drum or pompano regulations. That seems to give everyone a shot at keeping some fish to eat regardless of how they like to fish and yet keeps people from plundering all the big fish.

    Maximum sizes are even easier to implement than minimum sizes when fish don't have to be big enough to fillet: look at the ornamental fish, many of them have a maximum size limit.
  • skinneejskinneej Posts: 358 Officer
    So for the unregulated blackfin, you could keep 30-50 x 2-3lb fish per person if you wanted to? That's not really a limit at all. Might as well make the limit 1 million per person since you won't hit that one either. A limit that can never be hit isn't a limit at all. Might as well make the speed limit on I-95 = 300mph.

    Also, I disagree with your thoughts on fisheries managers preferring you to keep all smaller fish. That's not true at all. Most fishery managers shoot for a concept called "Optimum Yield" which would be the largest economic benefit of a fishery (in terms of harvest revenue). Since most fish are sold by the pound, this would be the maximum yield in terms of pounds that a stock can sustain. This is most definitely NOT the smallest age class in the fishery. It's not the oldest either for many stocks. I can't remember how the formula works, but the fish harvested are most certainly larger fish (since they are worth more than the smallest ones).

    Each species is different. For short lived species, it doesn't make sense at all to implement a maximum size. For instance, if dolphin only live 4 years, and you set the maximum size to a size equal to a 3 year old fish, then chances are that fish won't live much longer anyway. In that case, you set a minimum size to give each harvested fish a chance to replace itself in the stock before it is taken. Maximum size makes more sense on long-lived species where you protect the ones with highest fecundity (old breeders).

    Anyway, you mention that you are in favor of slot limits (min and max) and that does make sense for a lot of species. But the fact remains that most of the species regulated by Florida and the Feds DO have some sort of minimum size limit. The only ones that don't are the ones that either aren't regulated, are baitfish, or some deepwater species (due to barotrauma issues and increased mortality due to culling smaller fish). So, evidently, somebody thinks that a minimum size is a good idea. If there weren't a minimum size on hogfish, they would probably be gone by now.

    Again, I know it's just my opinion, but there is just something "red flag" about a cleaning table that has a mess of blackfins that are actually smaller than the vermillions and yellowtails.
    skinnej.jpg
  • skinneejskinneej Posts: 358 Officer
    Uncle Buck wrote: »
    A bit off-topic... but a 63-inch LJFL sail is pretty big. Most of the ones I've caught in the past few years haven't been worth the stress (on the fish) to measure. I'm still trying to get one for the smoker.
    No doubt! While that is true, look at what it has done for the fishery!!! South Florida's sailfish fishery is one of the best around!
    skinnej.jpg
  • RelentlessRelentless Posts: 29 Greenhorn
    I can see both sides of the coin here. Altough I dont see the point in keeping the small blacks that are around here now. It is a legal catch and is treated as so. I am guilty of it keeping 10 the other day on a charter. But that is only after throwing 3 back in the water before my clients asked me what I was doing. I cleaned them all up and they left happy. Now in Venice its nothing to cut up 400lbs or so of them when chunking for yellowfin. And these are 20-25lb blacks. I see blackfin as a baitfish and kind of treat it that way. As anglers we are better off managing our fish than the goverment. I dont care what fish people kill as long as it gets used. In the charter business you see alot of wasted fish. There is no problem taking any fish as long as you do it without being greedy. So my take is angler A eats his angler B uses his for bait angler C releases his to grow up. Let's all get together and do it responsibly so we can all use the resource as we see fit. And not how we are told by the goverment when we can do it and how many.
  • skinneejskinneej Posts: 358 Officer
    Yes, but 400lbs of 20lb fish is 20 dead fish that have likely had the chance to replace themselves in the cycle and 400lbs of 2lb fish is 200 dead fish that will never even get to spawn once...

    It's pretty sad... People pretty much rationalize anything that they want as long as it is to their benefit... There is that video of the commercial longliner in the med that is slinging baby swordfish over the side of the boat left and right and almost every person on this forum says somethign like "oh, man that makes me sick to my stomach", but when it comes to bailing baby blackfins, suddenly it's "well, its better to kill the babies than the big breeders"... Let's face it, I can't stand the way that the feds do things, but if there weren't any regulations on the recreational\commercial guys here, you wouldn't have any fish left in Florida...
    skinnej.jpg
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