Hooked a BOFFFF Lately?

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The term “Big, Old, Fat, Fertile, Female Fish,” or BOFFFFs, sounds like something you and your fishing buddy use to describe the fish at your favorite honey hole, but you may be surprised to learn it was coined by scientists. You’ll also read about how technology is helping eliminate the use of buoys to mark reefs and other coastal areas, and much more!

Research Looks at Fat Female Fish
Newly published research from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa uses a decidedly unscientific description for the type of fish necessary to ensure the world’s fishery stocks remain sustainable.

The new compilation of research from around the world indicates that big, old, fat, fertile, female fish — known as BOFFFFs to scientists — are vitally important to the future of fisheries.

Sounds like a name thought up by a fisherman, doesn’t it?

“Information on many different kinds of freshwater and marine fish tell the same story,” says lead author Dr. Mark Hixon. “The loss of big fish decreases the productivity and stability of fishery stocks.”

This loss, known as “size and age truncation,” typically occurs in all fisheries.

A big (1.1 m), old (ca.100 years), fat (27.2 kg), fertile female fish, in this case a shortraker rockfish (Sebastes borealis) taken off Alaska (Karna McKinney, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries).
A big (1.1 m), old (ca.100 years), fat (27.2 kg), fertile, female, fish, in this case a shortraker rockfish (Sebastes borealis) taken off Alaska. (Cortesy of Karna McKinney, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries).

The scientists say there are multiple ways BOFFFFs benefit fish populations — something most anglers already know.

Hixon said larger females produce high egg numbers, and higher quality eggs than smaller fish. For example, in Hawaii, a 27-inch bluefin trevally or ‘ōmilu produces 84 times more eggs than a 12-inch fish.

Finally, old fish can outlive periods that are unfavorable for reproduction, providing a “storage effect,” where BOFFFFs are ready to spawn successfully when the time is right.

California Youth Hunting Passes
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law California AB 1709, a bill aimed at bolstering youth hunting participation opportunities.

Sponsored by Assembly Member Jim Frazier, Democratic co-chair of the California Outdoor Sporting Caucus, the measure raises the eligibility for youth hunting licenses from 16 years of age to 18. This allows youth hunters to continue buying a California hunting license at the base fee of $8.25, so long as they are under the age of 18 on July 1 of the licensing year in question. The fee and age provisions contained in the bill apply to resident and non-resident youth hunters alike, allowing more opportunities for the younger generation to enjoy hunting opportunities in California.

Raising the maximum age for youth hunting licenses also allows more youth hunters in California to participate in youth-specific hunting opportunities that are administered by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

‘Virtual’ Location Replacing Outdated Buoys
A growing number of marine fisheries around the country are retiring their time-worn buoy systems from artificial reefs and other coastal areas with the advance of GPS-driven and other modern navigation systems.

In recent months, the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries removed buoys from 11 reef sites that are already accurately depicted on federal navigation charts or soon will be changed on the charts.

Technology has advanced to the point that the buoys are no longer necessary for safe navigation, and it is no longer cost-effective to maintain them, said Craig Hardy, chief of the division’s Habitat and Enhancement Section. GPS receivers are readily available at a low enough cost that nearly all boats traveling offshore are equipped with them.

Pennsylvania’s Firearms Preemption Law Signed by Governor
In one of the final actions of its 2014 legislative session, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a preemption measure to ensure firearm and ammunition laws are consistent across The Commonwealth.

House Bill 80, approved by a 138-56 vote, grants legal standing to “membership organizations” to sue cities and municipalities that enact ordinances that are more restrictive than state firearms laws, and to collect legal fees and other costs if they win.

As expected, the measure was signed into law last week by Gov. Tom Corbett (R).

“The Supreme Court has been clear in previous case law that local ordinances cannot supersede state law,” said Corbett spokesman Jay Pagni.

In recent years, many localities have enacted gun control ordinances in violation of the current state firearms preemption law, creating a myriad of local gun laws that make compliance difficult for responsible gun owners.

“This legislation will help ensure that Pennsylvania’s law-abiding gun owners don’t face a confusing patchwork of firearms laws throughout the state,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), in a prepared release.

Quote of the Week
“A mountain is the best medicine for a troubled mind. Seldom does man ponder his own insignificance. He thinks he is master of all things. He thinks the world is without bonds. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Only when he tramps the mountains alone, communing with nature, observing other insignificant creatures about him, to come and go as he will, does he awaken to his own short-lived presence on earth.”

-Finis Mitchell,
“Wind River Trails”, 1975
J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He offers his unique perspective of the outdoors weekly for sportsmansguide.com. You may contact him at jrabsher@me.com.


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