by Tom Fote
Fisheries Management & Legislative Report
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association January 2007
JCAA Sportsperson of the Year Dinner
If you didn’t attend this year’s JCAA dinner, you missed a great time.
You also missed an opportunity to talk with Governor Jon Corzine,
DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson, Deputy Commissioner Jay Watson,
Assistant Commissioner Amy Cradic, and Acting Director of Fish
and Wildlife Dave Chandler. The Governor attended the cocktail
hour and spoke briefly to the crowd. He talked about how important recreational
fishing is to all of New Jersey and shared his father’s love of fishing. He suggested
that one of his goals for 2007 is to find enough time to fish and perhaps participate
in the Governor’s Tournament. We all share the common dream to catch a winner! As
you all know, we honored Eleanor Bochenek as our Sportsperson of
the Year and the Hudson River Fishing Association received the Youth Education Award.
I asked Commissioner Lisa Jackson to write up the speech she gave at the dinner,
Protection of Marine Ecosystems
Requires Constant Vigilance
by Lisa Jackson (Commissioner of DEP)
Protecting water quality, clean beaches, and healthy wildlife habitat
are key to sustaining tourism, a vibrant economy and a desirable quality of life
in the Garden State. The sustainable resources we at DEP manage are a prime source
of both revenue and jobs and provide countless recreational opportunities. Governor
Corzine has noted studies showing that if wildlife-related recreation in New Jersey
were a company, it would be a member of the Fortune 500.
Effective wildlife management may begin with solid science, but it often
ends in tough negotiations. While pursuing policies to provide sustainable fish
and wildlife resources, we in the Corzine administration are also conscious of the
social and economic implications of resource management policies. That is why the
Governor shared the concerns of the recreational and commercial fishing community
regarding recent weakfish management proposals. While, in the end, the limits adopted
were not ideal, New Jersey’s united voice helped avoid more drastic quota reductions,
which would have severely and unnecessarily restricted weakfish catches in the state’s
Environmental protection managers and the recreational fishing community
share common goals in many areas. We share the goal of protecting our rivers, bays
and ocean. Our work together has built support for policies such as the state’s
storm water rules, which are the most comprehensive in the nation and will improve
the quality of water in the state’s storm water discharges. The new Flood Hazard
Area Control rules will limit new development in flood plains and protect fish species
that need the shelter of salt marshes and tidal flats during their early larval
or juvenile stages, when they are most vulnerable. Our work together also helped
assure passage of this past November’s Parks Capital Funding ballot question, which
will dedicate funds from the state’s Corporation Business Tax (CBT) to maintain
the state’s parks, historic sites, and wildlife areas.
Improved public access to our coastline is another policy area where
we find common cause. True public access is not a luxury; it is a legal right. Over
the past few years, DEP has aggressively used our permitting and enforcement authority
to ensure New Jersey citizens have full access to our beaches. New rule proposals
to amend the Coastal Permit and Coastal Zone Management programs, published in the
New Jersey Register on November 6th, will further ensure that the public’s rights
continue to be protected. The proposals include requirements for parking and restroom
facilities to provide families and others a realistic and meaningful opportunity
to enjoy the public’s resources.
Despite many accomplishments that protect our shore and water quality,
there is still more work to be done. We must work together to continue addressing
sources of water pollution, including emerging threats such as endocrine disruptors.
New Jersey is also especially vulnerable to sea level rise, due primarily to global
warming and the resulting thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of polar ice
caps. In addition, climate change threatens our shore with an increased intensity
of extreme weather events. The threats to our coastline, left unabated, will affect
fishing, as we know it. Shrinking coastal habitats could destroy our coastal fisheries
and the potential effect on the fish and wildlife New Jerseyan’s have worked so
hard to protect could be devastating.
Protection of marine ecosystems requires constant vigilance. It is the
price we must pay if we wish to leave future generations a healthy coastal environment.
Under Governor Corzine’s leadership, policies and programs to expand protection
and improve the environmental, recreational, aesthetic and economic benefits of
the Jersey shore will remain a priority.
Summer Flounder Meeting
and John Toth have included articles in this newspaper about this
issue. I have also included newspaper articles. From my perspective, it seemed that
everyone in attendance supported an outside peer review. The only dissent was the
no vote by the National Marine Fisheries Service. We can’t make decisions that impact
on the lives of over 6 million recreational anglers from Massachusetts to North
Carolina using this kind of faulty science. The businesses that depend on recreational
fishing will be devastated. The commercial fishery which lands fish for the consuming
public will also suffer a huge economic impact. While all of the fishing interests
will be impacted negatively, none of the bureaucrats participating in the decision-making
will pay one single penalty. They will get their cost of living raises and collect
their benefits no matter what decision they make. They don’t face layoffs or job loss. I get tired of being asked for patience. I will admit that most of them take
their jobs seriously and understand the pain caused by these decisions. But some
of them have an incredibly arrogant cavalier attitude and simply dismiss the arguments
made by the fishing community. The head of NMFS and his staff are particularly arrogant
in their dealings with us, the fishermen and the United States Congress. Throughout
this process they continued to dismiss questions and concerns expressed by members of Congress who have a long history with the Magnusson Act and participated in the
last reauthorization. I have heard this song over and over again. NMFS endlessly
promises to deal with the problem of summer flounder and only succeeds in making
it worse. No wonder no one trusts them. I’m still waiting for the results of the
1998 workshop on summer flounder hosted by NMFS. JCAA will not relax the pressure
and we are still exploring options.
Public Access Proposed Rules
Environmental Protection, Office of Policy, Planning and Science Coastal
Management Office has proposed new public access rules. Lisa P. Jackson,
Commissioner, Department of Environmental Protection, mentioned the new rules at
our dinner. I have included the first couple of paragraphs from the common law doctrine.
I testified at the hearing at Stockton College. We are working with the American
Littoral Society on a response to the proposed rules and we will discuss this at
our December 26 meeting since the comment period ends January 5th. I do have some
reservations about the impact of the proposals for marina and we will reach out
to the Marine Trades Association for their input. The proposal can be viewed or
downloaded on the Department’s website at
http://www.state.nj.us/dep and the written
comments need to be submitted by January 5, 2007 to:
Gary J. Brower, Esq.
Office of Legal Affairs
Attn: DEP Docket Number 19-06-09/482
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
401 East State Street
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402
As the Department has provided a 60-day comment period on this notice
of proposal, this notice is excepted from the rulemaking calendar requirement pursuant
to N.J.A.C. 1:30-3.3(a)5. The public’s rights of access to and use of tidal waterways
and their shores, including the ocean, bays, and tidal rivers, in the United States
predate the founding of this country. These rights are based in the common law rule
of the Public Trust Doctrine. First codified by the Roman Emperor Justinian around
500 AD as part of Roman civil law, the Public Trust Doctrine establishes the public’s
right to full use of the seashore as declared in the following quotation from Book
II of the Institutes of Justinian: “By the law of nature these things are common
to all mankind-the air, running water, the sea, and consequently the shores of the
sea. No one, therefore, is forbidden to approach the seashore, provided that he
respects habitations, monuments, and the buildings, which are not, like the sea,
subject only to the law of nations.” Influenced by Roman civil law, the tenets of
public trust were maintained through English Common Law and adopted by the original
13 colonies, each in their own form. The grants that form the basis of the titles
to private property in New Jersey never conveyed those public trust rights, which
were reserved to the Crown. following the American Revolution, the royal rights
to tidal waterways and their shores were vested in the 13 new states, then each
subsequent state, and have remained a part of law and public policy into the present
time. Tidal waterways and their shores always were, and remain, subject to and impressed
with these public trust rights.
Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation
and Management Act Passes
I watched the House of Representatives take a voice vote on Saturday,
December 9 at 1:22AM to suspend the rules and pass H.R. 4956, the Magnuson-Stevens
Fishery Conservation and Management Act. A lot of discussion on Summer Flounder
took place on the floor of the House at 1:00AM. The Senate passed the bill on Thursday.
All we need now is for the President to sign the bill and we have the 3-year extension.
Representatives Jim Saxton, Frank Pallone,
and Frank LoBiondo, and Senators Frank Lautenberg
and Robert Menendez, deserve credit for their bipartisan work in
getting the three-year extension.
There is much more included in the Magnusson Act than the three-year
extension for summer flounder. If you are interested in reading the entire Act,
email me and I will send it to you. Some organizations have developed a side-by-side
look at the differences between the new act and the previous one. I can also send
that to you. There is a section on recreational statistics and how to get better
recreational data. This includes an angler registration. It would also allow for
a fee after 2011. JCAA will form a committee to look at all the provisions and develop
plans to deal with any issues. What is missing in the Magnusson Act is an appropriation
for all the work necessary. You can’t get good science and good statistics without
spending money. Congress needs to appropriate the money required.
Draft Addendum to the Tautog Management
New Jersey had a public hearing on the draft plan and the comment period
for the proposed addendum to the Tautog Plan which ends 5PM on January 16, 2007.
You can get to the ASMFC web page and under breaking news make your comment. At
the hearing in Toms River there was a unanimous vote for status quo. It was one
of the few times lately that everyone agreed. Most people did not support the concept
that any reduction should impact only the recreational sector. They said that this
does not happen in any other plan no matter how small the recreational catch is.
This is especially upsetting since many of us feel that one of the major causes
of the failure of the tautog fishery to rebound is the illegal live fish market.
The price for illegally caught live tautog is so high that the profits make the
fines less than a day's illegal catch. We need to outlaw this market since there
is not enough law enforcement to keep it in check. This has been a major concern
of JCAA for many years. In addition, no concern is included in the current models
for ecosystem management. Since tautog spawn in and inhabit the bays and estuaries,
they are impacted by the same ecological problems as summer flounder, weakfish and
other species. I will have a hard time supporting any management plan that does
not include consideration of ecosystem management in the modeling. JCAA will develop
a position at our next meeting. Tony Bogan pointed out that NMFS
and ASMFC continue to use the bogus NY 2002 numbers. The 2002 NY tautog numbers
show that in one wave New York caught more tautog than they had in the combined
previous 6 years. Remember, a wave is only 2 months. The draft amendment will be
finalized at the winter ASMFC Meeting.
Weakfish ASMFC Board
The weakfish board will be voting on the weakfish catch at the winter
ASMFC meeting. There was a good deal of posturing by North Carolina and Virginia
at the last meeting. They contend that nets are in the water anyway, why not land
the fish. It was interesting to hear North Carolina and Virginia state that under
the last addendum there was an increase for the recreational sector. Their math
amazes me. Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland actually had to put in more restrictive
measures recreationally going from 14 inches and 14 fish to 13 inches and 8 fish.
That sounds like a decrease to me. Under the last addendum there was actually a
larger bycatch allowed for the commercial fishery. North Carolina and Virginia generalized
their own “sweetheart deal” that allowed an increase for recreational and commercial
anglers in their states alone. They got 4 fish at 12 inches which was no reduction.
They will continue to use the bogus 2005 weakfish numbers from MRSS to try to justify
their grab. In the scientific world, outliers like the weakfish numbers in New Jersey
or the blackfish numbers in New York, those figures are deleted from consideration.
Real scientists are smart enough to figure out when statistics lie and honest enough
to say so. The only reason I believe nothing was actually done is because the weakfish
board could not come up with an acceptable story to justify what Virginia and North
Carolina wanted. The only reduction would only take place on the recreational fishery.
ASMFC Winter Meeting Week January
29 - February 1
January 29, 2007
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board
2:15 PM - 6:15 PM American Lobster Management Board
January 30, 2007
10:00 AM - 3:00 PM Committee on Economics & Social Sciences
10:45 AM - 12:15 PM Spiny Dogfish & Coastal Sharks Management Board
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM Sturgeon Management Board
2:45 PM - 4:45 PM American Eel Management Board
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM Atlantic Menhaden Management Board
January 31, 2007
8:30 AM - 12:30 PM Commissioner Workshop on Meetings Management
1:30 PM - 2:30 PM Shad & River Herring Management Board
2:45 PM - 5:45 PM Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board
February 1, 2007
8:00 AM - 9:00 AM Winter Flounder Management Board
9:15 AM - 11:45 AM Weakfish Management Board
11:45 AM Buffet Lunch for Commissioners & Proxies
Noon - 3:00 PM ISFMP Policy Board
3:00 PM - 3:30 PM Business Session
NMFS Gets Way on Fluke Quota
Posted by the Star Ledger on 12/12/06
By Al Ristori
Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) concluded his statement
at yesterday's Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) meeting by reminding
the commissioners they are independent and should make an independent decision on
the summer flounder quota. Yet, to the disappointment of three busloads of anglers
transported to Manhattan's Skyline Hotel by the Jersey Coast Angler's Association
(JCAA), the ASMFC didn't even consider a 19.9-million pound quota for 2007 that
they'd come in to support. That quota, previously approved by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery
Management Council, wasn't brought up at all as the commissioners bowed to the threats
of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to close federal waters to fluking.
That would most heavily impact commercial fishermen, and they supported the NMFS
position. As a result, the ASMFC accepted the 12.983-million-pound quota proposed
by NMFS that will result in a very limited season. Since Congress bailed them out
Saturday by adding three years to the summer flounder rebuilding program, NMFS can
buck that figure up to 17.11 million pounds at the same 75 percent likelihood of
staying on track for the target. If NMFS would go back to the 50 percent probability
they've long claimed is the minimum the courts will accept, the additional three
years could bring the quota up to over 19 million pounds. The motion that passed
calls for adoption of no less than the 17.11 million pounds by March 1. While that's
a lot better than the 12.983 million pounds, the public gets only 40 percent of
that and there probably won't be much of a recreational fishery. The 19.9 million
pounds the anglers had come to support wouldn't solve the problem, but it was particularly
disappointing that it wasn't proposed -- even by the suddenly silent New Jersey
delegation that traditionally has stood up to NMFS threats. The ASMFC is setting
recreational regulations today. Preliminary indications were that Jersey ran over
its recreational quota last year. Combined with a lower overall quota for 2007,
that will require stricter regulations next year.
Anglers Waiting for New Limits
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 12/12/06
By John Geiser
Fluke fishermen will have to continue holding their breath until the
new minimum sizes, possession limits and season for fluke are finally announced.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's summer flounder, scup
and black sea bass board voted Monday to accept the National Marine Fisheries Service's
preferred quota of 12.98 million pounds for 2007. The motion included the provision
that, if NMFS can offer a higher quota, that number will supersede the 12.98 million
William T. Hogarth, director of NMFS, explained earlier
that the service might be able to bump the quota up to 17.1 million pounds or more,
since Congress passed the Magnuson-Stevens reauthorization bill at 1:30 a.m. Saturday.
The bill includes a special provision for fluke in which the stock rebuilding
target is moved to 2013 instead of 2010. This allows for increasing the quota as
long as overfishing is not occurring.
Overfishing is not occurring at 12.98 million pounds, but would be taking
place at 19.9 million pounds, a figure the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council
and many who attended Monday's board meeting wanted. However, under the new law,
which has been sent to President Bush for signing, Hogarth said his staff probably
will be able to come up with higher numbers in the next two or three weeks through
Thomas P. Fote, legislative chairman of the Jersey Coast
Anglers Association, said over 100 JCCA members and affiliates were at the meeting.
"The meeting room was packed — probably 200 people," he said. "Some of the guys,
like the Hudson River Fishermen's Association and the people from Philadelphia,
came in on trains. We had over 90 people on the buses we hired. "Fote anticipates
that NMFS will have some tables ready for ASMFC action at the commission's next
meeting, scheduled for Jan. 29 through Feb. 1 in Alexandria, Va.
"We all — JCAA, Recreational Fishing Alliance, commercial fishermen —
want outside peer review of NMFS fluke management," Fote said. "We want the National
Academy of Science to do that as soon as possible." NMFS has said that overfishing
would not occur at 17.1 million pounds. The target figure for a rebuilt stock was
lowered in September from 204 million pounds to 197 million pounds.
NMFS preliminary projections for quotas were 19.6 million pounds in 2008,
22.7 million pounds in 2009, and higher in 2010 and 2012.
James A. Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational
Fishing Alliance, said he is disappointed at the reduction in quota from 23.6 million
pounds this year, but is relieved that it is expected to be higher than the 5.2
million pounds NMFS proposed during the summer.
"It's the best option we could get," he said. "The RFA wants the maximum
amount of quota and still remain in compliance with the new fisheries law.
"The RFA had to play defense throughout most of the legislative process
on Magnuson. We were able to successfully defeat some incredibly harmful provisions.
Unfortunately, we spent so much time on defense that we were not able to get as
many positive pro-recreational issues into the bill as we would have liked."
Fisheries Deal wasn't a Fluke
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 12/13/06
Five New Jersey lawmakers helped snag the Catch of the Day over the weekend
when they succeeded in adding protection for the state's popular summer flounder
(fluke) industry into fisheries management laws. In legislation passed in both the
House and the Senate, New Jersey's representatives were able to get the deadline
for rebuilding stock levels pushed back three years.
That's good news for the industry, which generates about $200 million
annually for New Jersey's economy and contributes about 4,000 jobs. The take of
East Coast fishermen was already reduced from 30 million pounds in 2005 to under
24 million pounds this year. The strict quota initially proposed would have reduced
that to 5.2 million pounds, effectively wiping out the industry.
The reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Act will enable a 2007 fishing limit
of at least 17.1 million pounds. It will hopefully increase over the next several
years, up to 29 million pounds in 2012.
Reps. Jim Saxton and Frank LoBiondo, both R-N.J. and Frank Pallone, D-N.J.,
and Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, both D-N.J., deserve credit for
their bipartisan work, helping to forge a compromise between the environmental groups
and the fishermen.
The summer flounder stock has been increasing. But conservationists and
fishermen have differed on an optimal level and a timetable for reaching it. The
overzealous goal to nearly double the stock by 2010 would likely have forced many
party boats out of business and the shutdown of fishing-related shops. While next
season's quota is the lowest ever, the changes supported by New Jersey's federal
legislators likely averted disaster for those who make a living off this natural
But the fight for the summer flounder industry hasn't ended. Anglers
say the goal of rebuilding the East Coast stock from 112 million pounds to 197 million
pounds by 2013 is excessive. New Jersey's delegation wisely focused on pushing back
the deadline in the Magnuson-Stevens Act as its reauthorization loomed. Now, it
should channel that same energy into finding a compromise to the rebuilding goal.
Bill May Require Saltwater Fishing
Posted by the Press of Atlantic City on 12/12/06
By Richard Degener, Staff Writer (609) 463-6711
New Jersey anglers may get to catch more fluke, but it may cost them.
Those are a couple of highlights in a national fishery bill approved
by Congress over the weekend. The bill, which is expected to be signed by President
Bush, would relax proposed cutbacks in the fluke — or summer flounder — catch. The
federal government wanted to cut fluke harvests from 23.6 million pounds this year
to just 5.2 million in 2007. The bill would likely allow 17.1 million pounds to
be landed next year, although anglers are still pushing for higher levels.
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which the
new bill amends, also create the strong possibility of a saltwater fishing license.
That particular section of the 240-page bill was largely overlooked as fishing interests
and environmental groups battled over other sections of the bill. This section calls
for a registry program for recreational fishermen.
While the law specifically says no fee shall be charged before Jan. 1,
2011, such a fee could be created after that and it would quickly turn the “registry
program” into the saltwater fishing license anglers have fought for decades.
The plan is to eventually charge a fee to fund better data collection
“The federal government wants to better define recreational fishermen
and to collect better data. The fee is important so the taxpayer doesn't fund it.
We want the user to fund it,” said Deputy Director Samuel Rauch of NOAA (National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Fisheries. Rauch said the agency has not
discussed the amount, though he had heard of one proposal on Capitol Hill to set
it at $35 per year. He noted any fee would have to be approved through a rule-making
process that would include a notice in the Federal Register.
“To establish the registration we'd have to do rule-making. In 2011,
when we get around to starting a fee, we'd have to do it again,” Rauch said.
President Reagan and former President George Bush both unsuccessfully
tried to implement such a license and the state of New Jersey has considered one.
Environmental groups are pushing for a fee that would be used to gather better data
on recreational landings. The initiative was endorsed by the National Research Council,
an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.
Some anglers, who already pay taxes on fishing tackle, fuel sold at marinas,
and other items, oppose it. Robert Jackson, an angler from Cape May County, is dead
set against it.
“I think they're going to do it, but it hurts the subsistence fisherman.
The guy fishing for his table is least able to afford it,” said Jackson.
Back in 1986 when a $10 federal fee was proposed, the wealthier fishermen
with expensive boats lobbied for it because they wanted less competition for the
stocks. The saltwater license was defeated amid such arguments.
Some seem resigned to it this time.
“We knew it was coming,” said Tom Fote, the legislative chairman of the
Jersey Coast Anglers Association, or JCAA. “It's almost inevitable, so how do we
deal with it?”
Fote said his group supports the registration program but not a fee.
He said setting up a Web site for recreational fishermen to log in data may be the
The federal government now relies on interviewing anglers at the dock
to compile what most believe to be a woefully inadequate Marine Recreational Fisheries
Statistical Survey, or MRFSS. Brooks Mountcastle, of the Marine Fish Conservation
Network, said money from a fee would have to be earmarked for data collection.
“I think there will be a growing recognition we need a saltwater license.
The MRFSS is severely flawed. We need to know how many fishermen are out there,
what they are catching, and what they are throwing overboard,” Mountcastle said.
The National Resources Defense Council supports the registry but doesn't
care how it is funded. If there is a fee, the NRDA's Roberta Elias said it should
go to collecting fisheries data and not to the general fund.
“If it ends up being free, fine,” said Elias.
The bill calls for a registry program in each of the eight coastal regions
where the federal government manages fish stocks. The program includes identification
and contact information to reach the anglers. It can also include information about
It sets a Jan. 1, 2009, deadline to have a better data collection system
in place. This is before a fee is established. One may not be established.
“That represents another battle for another day,” said Jeff Sagnip, a
spokesman for U.S. Rep. James Saxton, R-3rd.
Saxton got the fluke provision included but opposes a saltwater fee and
Sagnip noted the bill “does not guarantee one will take place.”
The Saxton fluke provision would add three more years to what had been
a 10-year fluke rebuilding plan. It would likely allow landings of 17.1 million
pounds next year, 19.6 million in 2008 and 22.7 million in 2009. These levels still
must be approved by NOAA Fisheries.
The new levels go against the fluke rebuilding plan, and this was the
only fish species treated this way in the bill. The JCAA and other groups are still
pushing for higher harvest levels.
The bill, however, also includes much stronger language on future stock
rebuilding plans. The regional fish councils in the past would get scientific data
from the Science and Statistical Committees, or SSCs, but sometimes, due to pressure
from fishing interests, ignored it when setting harvest levels. This will no longer
be allowed. All catch limits must be based on scientific recommendations and at
a level that prevents over-fishing a species. The green groups backed off on the
relaxation of the fluke plan because of this.
“We're not happy about the summer flounder exemption but we are happy
with the bill overall. This diminishes the role of outside pressure, hopefully,”
Congressman Pallone and JCAA asks
ASMFC to Stand up to NMFS and they fail to do so
By Tom Siciliano
We tried. We pulled out all the stops. We brought two buses filled with
anglers from South Jersey to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting
in New York City on Monday, December 11, 2006 and many more anglers from North Jersey
came into New York on their own. JCAA member club members accounted for over half
of the audience of over 200 that attended the meeting. Frank Pallone
made an impassioned
plea to the Commission to do the right thing. What did it get us? Nothing. The National
Marine Fisheries Service did it again to recreational anglers. They dictated to
the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission how they should vote.
Recreational fishermen must thank Congressman Pallone for the great job
he did. It was through his efforts that language was incorporated into the Magnuson/Stevens
Act reauthorization that provided additional flexibility for the Secretary of Commerce
and gave an additional three years for the Summer Flounder stock to be rebuilt.
The bill passed the house at 1:22 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Frank Pallone explained to the Commission what the intent of Congress
was in passing this bill. He carefully explained how there was already enough flexibility
in the current statute to increase the TAL to 19.9 million pounds with a 50% probability
that the target goal would be met. The additional flexibility given in the new bill
allowed them to be confident that they could do that without adverse consequences.
The NMFS recommended a quota of 17.11 million pounds of fluke for 2007.
This number gives a 75% probability that the rebuilding target will be met by 2013.
A 50% probability is all that is needed and had the NMFS used that we could have
had a quota of nearly 20 million pounds.
Unfortunately, the Commission ignored the pleas of the audience and Congressman
Pallone. What they voted for was the most confusing motion imaginable. They approved
a quota of 12.98 million pounds that would increase to at least 17.1 million pounds
after the NMFS had reviewed the data. A lot of legalese was given for the convoluted
motion, but what do you think the chances are that the quota will be greater than
17.1 million pounds? Do you give it a 75% probability, a 50% probability? I think
a 0% probability is more realistic.
The new MSA requires that the best available science be used. I was hoping
they would have said to use all available science and a little common sense, but
I guess you can’t legislate the use of common sense.
So where do we stand for 2007? This year’s quota of 23.6 million pounds
was exceeded. Here’s a thought. If you under fish a quota you can catch more fish
the next year, but if you under fish isn’t it because there are not enough fish
and shouldn’t the quota be lowered? If you exceed your quota doesn’t that tell you
that there are more fish available to be caught? Sorry, I guess that is too logical.
That would never be considered in fisheries management. So let’s see, the recreational
quota last year was 9.29 million pounds and according to the infamous MRFS survey
11.74 million pounds are projected to be caught through the end of the year. New
Jersey was 12% over its quota. Our target was 1,443,000 pounds and according to
the survey we landed 1,642,888 pounds. New York was 34% over so they are in even
more trouble than we are.
With a quota of 17.1 million pounds the recreational share is 6.84 million
pounds for 2007. We face a reduction of 40%. What will that mean in terms of size
limit, bag limit and length of season? We don’t know where the conservation equivalency
will end up but, to give you an idea, if a state chose not to do any work they would
have as the precautionary default regulation one fish at 18.5”. That will not happen
in New Jersey because our Fisheries Council will come up with the best possible
options for us.
What does the future look like? The JCAA will continue the fight, question
the stock assessment data, question the MRFS data and slowly but surely things will
get better. We know we have the help of Congressmen Pallone, Senators Lautenberg
and Menendez along with the entire New Jersey contingent of Congressmen to help
us in the future. There are provisions in the new MSA that will help to make the
science more credible.
JCAA Bused to NYC for Fluke Meeting
By John Toth
In an effort to get the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)
to stand up to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and vote for a 19.9
million pound fluke quota for 2007, the JCAA chartered two buses to take anglers
to make their voices heard at a December 11th management meeting in NYC at the Skyline
Hotel. The ASMFC voted earlier to support a 19.9 million pound quota and that placed
them in direct conflict with the NMFS who wants a much lower amount of 12.98 million
pounds. The NMFS threatened to close federal waters to fluking if the higher quota
was adopted. So these issues set the stage for the December 11th meeting and the
JCAA urged its member clubs to come to the meeting and wear their club clothing
to show their colors and support for the 19.9 million pound quota.
The room was packed with 200 anglers and possibly more. Approximately
100 of these anglers were from the JCAA who came by the chartered buses or through
their own transportation. The anglers expressed their concern over the NMFS 12.98
quota and the comments included:
Faulty data is used by the NMFS to come up with erroneous conclusions. Therefore, an independent peer review possibly by the National Academy of Sciences is needed. (Tom Fote)
The NMFS has a blind eye toward the explosion of sharks that are decimating the fluke and something needs to be done (Marvin Oresky HRFA).
The uncertainty and anxiety with the fluke quota is placing a big chill in the tackle industry and fishing related jobs throughout the state. (Jim Hutchinson – The Fisherman Magazine)
The Commission needs to stand up to the NMFS and vote for 19.9 million pounds. The NMFS has lost its credibility (Senator Frank Pallone)
We should stay with the status quo of 23 million pounds since the NMFS is all wrong (Tom Siciliano – JCAA & SWABC)
We should be able to keep 8 fluke at 15 1/2 inches to end the senseless killing of so many small fish to keep one at 16 ˝ inches. (Robert Howe, Lawrenceville Fishing Club)
The room is filled with anglers who have taken a day off to attend this meeting. Obviously something is wrong with fishing management to bring these anglers to attend this meeting (John Toth - JCAA & SWABC)
The NMFS are asses and should be fired. (Jim Lovgren–commercial industry)
These are only some of the many good comments that were made. Every possible point that
could be made was made to encourage the ASMFC to adopt their 19.9 million pound quota.
unexpected development occurred that affected the meeting’s direction. Congress passed the
Magnuson-Stevens Act at 1:30 a.m. on
Saturday (December 9th) just before this meeting. The Act extends the fluke rebuilding
period from 2010 to 2013. Consequently, the NMFS Director (William Hogarth) indicated
that instead of the 12.98 million pound quota, the NMFS could support a 17.11 million
pound quota for 2007 due to the 2013 extended date. This development kept the ASMFC
focused only on the 17.11 million pound quota and nothing else seemed to matter.
In the end, the ASMFC voted to accept the 12.98 million pound quota as a procedural
matter since the Magnuson-Stevens Act has not been officially signed by the President.
Once the President signs it (and he is expected to do so) the 17.11 million pound
quota is expected to take effect in 2007.
While the result is not what we would
like, since it is the lowest fluke quota anglers have experienced despite the fact
that the waters are teeming with fluke, I, and I think many others, are proud that
the JCAA stood up to the NMFS to make our voices heard and our presence felt. The
NMFS knows who we are and that we will watch what they are doing. We will keep you
informed as the fluke situation unfolds.
I would like to thank all of you for taking
time to attend this important meeting either on our chartered buses or through your
own means. It was a beautiful day, but you took the time to be counted. I want to
also thank Frank Richetti and Mark Taylor for taking names and managing the charter
buses under their control.
By John Toth
At the conclusion of our bus trip to NYC to attend the December 11th
meeting on fluke quotas, Mr Robert Howe, President of the Lawrenceville Fishing
Club, expressed his appreciation to me for the JCAA providing free buses for anglers
to attend the NYC meeting. He told me “you guys are doing a great job” and then
handed me a check to support the JCAA.
The check is certainly appreciated since financial support is needed
to fund JCAA’s various activities. However, his moral support is equally if not
more appreciated since it gave me the feeling of “we are behind the JCAA.” There
are a lot of issues facing New Jersey’s anglers and the recent fluke issue is one
that we need to continually monitor. However, it is good to know that fellow anglers
appreciate what the JCAA is doing since most JCAA volunteers are not paid for what
I heard positive comments on the JCAA from other anglers who were on
the buses to NYC. However, Mr. Howe “made my day” and I want to thank him so much