by Tom Siciliano
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association June 2004 Newsletter)
The 10th Annual JCAA Fluke Tournament is right around the corner. Hurry up and sign up before the June 1 deadline for early entries and save the $20 late registration fee. Even if your boat is not in the water you know youíll be in and ready to fish on June 12th so sign up now!
The Presidentís Oceanís Commission Report is out. This report and the PEW Commission Report make sweeping recommendations for the future of the management of not only fisheries but all uses of the Oceans. There are many positive parts of these reports so I will not dwell on the negatives. However, you need to express your concerns to both the Governor and the Commission. You have only until the end of the month to make public comments. The DEP and Governor will make comments and, of course, so will the JCAA, but individual comments will also carry a lot of weight.
Send your comments in. This will enable work on the positives to proceed and your comments will ensure that the aspects which are detrimental to your future fishing opportunities do not become the focus of attention.
The JCAA will be at the forefront as the recommendations of these reports are implemented in congress. It is a long legislative process but one which is very important and as the need arises we will be asking for your support with your congressman and senators.
The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife is proposing to develop a reef site off Townsend Inlet. I know only a small portion of you fish in that area but the point is that this site is being developed in response to fishermen from that area asking for it. The powers that be do listen when they are approached in a positive manner and they have the ability to help. Your voice and the voice of the JCAA are important in order to protect and enhance your fishing opportunities in New Jersey.
Striped Bass have become the subject of a lot of controversy in the regulatory process. There is a lot of confusion but as of this minute and for at least the next month or so last yearís regulations are still in effect in New Jersey. You can keep one striped bass between 24Ē - 27.99Ē and one at least 28Ē. In addition, if you have a bonus tag you can keep another fish at least 28Ē. These regulations will remain in effect in New Jersey until the NJ Legislature passes a law to change them. There are many options to change these regulations and there will be public hearings in the near future. If you fish for stripers please attend these hearings and let your feelings be known. If you donít attend you canít complain to me.
In the meantime enjoy the weather and the fishing. It is really starting to get good. The early season sees some of the best fishing of the year so donít delay, launch your boat or jump on one of the party boats that sail around the state. Pick your target fish and go for it!
Ocean commission urged to think again on report
Published in the Asbury Park Press 4/25/04
Kirk Moore: (732) 557-5728
Fishermen, environmentalists are worried
By KIRK MOORE
The federal Commission on Ocean Policy needs to rethink some recommendations in its recent draft report, especially its calls for saltwater fishing licenses, changes to the fisheries management system and financing ocean programs with revenue from sea-floor drilling and mining, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., says.
Responses are building too, among regional and national marine interest groups, as they plow through the commission's 500-page preliminary report released last week. Environmental activists are troubled by the commission's suggestion for funding ocean programs with up to $5 billion from gas and oil drilling leases, and other "new and emerging uses of offshore waters."
"If you have a very assertive and aggressive goal of raising $5 billion to fund this program . . . and it depends on activities that are harmful to the ocean, it doesn't bode well," said Cynthia A. Zipf of the Sandy Hook-based group Clean Ocean Action.
After several days of reading the report's fine print, and hearing from area advocates for recreational fishermen and environmental groups, Pallone wrote Friday to retired Adm. James D. Watkins, the commission chairman, to warn "that the report will not solve any of our ocean's problems unless we have broad support of our fishermen, environmentalists and other stakeholders."
The 16-member commission issued its preliminary report, seeking comments from governors of coastal and Great Lakes states before a final report is submitted to Congress and the White House later this year. Deep in the document -- which can be viewed on the Internet at www.oceancommission.gov -- are detailed recommendations for revamping ocean management and restoring water quality, fish populations and natural resources.
Recreational fishing groups were relieved when the commission did not endorse the concept of marine protected areas -- no-fishing zones, similar to wildlife preserves on land -- which were recommended last year by the privately funded Pew Ocean Commission report.
But they were surprised to see a recommendation that coastal states institute saltwater fishing licenses, and funnel license fee revenues toward scientific studies of fish populations.
The commissioners suggested licensing anglers would help fisheries managers assess the catch. But Thomas P. Fote, legislative chairman of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, said fishermen's experiences so far with $22 annual bluefin tuna permits haven't been positive.
"About eight years ago they (federal officials) told us we had to buy a permit so they could figure out how many tuna fishermen were out there and what they're catching," Fote said. "Eight years later, they're collecting about $220,000 a year and it's still all screwed up . . . The numbers are so screwed up we don't even know if we'll have a (tuna) season this year."
One survey estimated fishermen from other states visiting New Jersey make about 400,000 trips a year, Fote said. The money that New Jersey's economy gets from those anglers buying lunch, bait, boat fuel or party boat tickets could be in jeopardy if the state were to impose license fees, he said.
"The recreational fishery is worth $1.3 billion in some years. The state only puts $1 million a year into the resource" with its marine fisheries budget, Fote said.
At the federal level, "we have a bureaucracy that has enough rules and regulations and laws to manage fisheries. But they don't, because of political pressure" in many parts of the country, Fote said. The Mid-Atlantic region is fortunate in having relatively good management that has been able to bring back depressed fish populations, he added.
Pallone cited Fote's bluefin tuna example in his letter to the commission, and called for letting regional fishery management councils keep their authority.
Pallone also echoed fishermen's and environmentalists' concern about so-called extractive uses of the sea floor, such as sand mining for construction materials.
Zipf said she's alarmed at the commission's apparent assumption that such economic activities are bound to increase offshore and represent a funding source to be tapped.
"There are areas (in the report) where there are good, strong recommendations," she said. But "as the phrase goes, follow the money . . . and if we follow the money, it leads to the ocean's demise."
"The tide of public opinion in this region is for prohibiting these activities," she said.
The commission would do well to abandon its saltwater fishing license recommendation and any enthusiasm for expanding offshore mineral extraction, Pallone wrote in his letter: "If not, momentum will build against the ocean commission's report and other recommendations will be difficult to implement."
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