JCAAHeader JCAALogo

      


Fisheries Management & Legislative Report

by Tom Fote

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association March 2008 Newsletter)


Contents:

 

Summer Flounder

Congressman Frank Pallone and NJ State Senator John Adler held a press conference on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights on February 11th to announce a bill that would allow flexibility in the Magnuson/Stevens Act. There are two articles below that cover this press conference. Senator John Adler and Senator Sean Kean have introduced a resolution in the NJ Senate to support Congressman Pallone’s bill. JCAA supports this bill because it is the only available option to remedy the summer flounder problems. We have been trying to get the National Marine Fisheries Service to do an outside peer review of the summer flounder stock assessment targets but they have refused.

On another front, Dr. Brian Rothschild, who was hired by PMAFS to monitor the stock assessment and benchmark assessment process, has been forced to resign due to the fact that he will be the new chairman of the MidAtlantic Marine Fisheries Council Scientific and Statistical Committee. Dr. Rothschild will be a loss to the summer flounder effort but he will be an asset to this council in reviewing the summer flounder and other plans. The SSC will replace the Monitoring Committee in making recommendations for total allowable catches.

Save The Summer Flounder Fishery Fund has hired Dr. Mark Maunder to both review the current Summer Flounder Assessment as well as attend the various meetings associated with the upcoming SAW in June (as well as attending the SAW itself of course). SSFFF has indicated Dr. Maunder will be working with PMAFS since we all have the same goal. Having another scientist on board with Dr. Maunder’s modeling experience will be a plus.

 

Striped Bass

I attended the striped bass meeting and advisor’s meeting with former NJ Senator Louis Bassano and Captain Al Ristori. Lou and Al are the striped bass advisors for New Jersey. It was also good to see Bill Donovan from New Jersey Angler as a striped bass advisor for Pennsylvania. I was only able to attend parts of the advisor’s meeting due to the busy meeting schedule but the discussion I was able to hear was the same discussion we have been having for the last 10 years. Some recreational anglers want more restrictions to see bigger fish. Some recreational anglers want to be able to catch smaller fish. And the commercial interests want an increase in their quota. The stock assessment information is included in the ASMFC winter report in this newspaper. As you will see in the report, striped bass stocks are in good shape and there are no recommendations for any changes. Lately, hearing “no change” is good news. The one part of the discussion of particular interest was the support for the 24 – 28 and the 28 and larger slot limit. I was disappointed when we lost that option in New Jersey. I feel this would be an appropriate management plan. It would limit the take of big fish and small fish. I hope ASMFC considers this option coastwide. It would benefit both the shore-based anglers and anglers who fish in the producing areas of the Delaware and Hudson Rivers.

 

Endocrine Disruptors

Senator Bob Smith held a NJ Senate Environment Committee hearing for testimony from NJ DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson about the agencies priorities for 2008. Senator Smith opened the hearing to input from other groups who attended. I spoke for JCAA and NJ State Federation requesting this committee again support S75 (Hooked on Fishing and Not on Drugs) and S336 (Pots Off Reefs) and move these bills to the full Senate for a vote. I also testified about endocrine disruptors and my concern about the impact they are having on everything that consumes water. The Senators expressed their interest and their willingness to take action on this issue. I was told to meet with both the Democratic and Republican staffers to develop a plan. I had a productive meeting with John Hutchinson and Kevil Duvall and we will be meeting again. I also had meetings in Washington, DC with staffers for Senators Lautenberg and Menendez, Congressmen Pallone and Saxton to discuss this and other issues. The response was very positive and we are working together to develop long term solution and interim measures. The timing was interesting since the following day there was an article on this subject in the Washington Post describing human activities and the impact on small mouth bass in the Potomac River. Once again, they reported male fish behaving like females. Below is the article.

There is a notice included about the upcoming conference (“The Heat Is On”) sponsored by the NJ Environmental Federation on April 5th. I was asked to moderate a panel on this topic. The panel discussion is titled “Drugs Down the Drain.” I hope you will attend.

It looks like we will have a Congressional hearing and also action by the New Jersey Legislature on this topic. Although we support quick action, we need to develop a thoughtful long-term plan. I think this is the most crucial issue JCAA is dealing with these days. This type of pollution has a tremendous negative impact on everything that lives in or on the water, or depends on that water. I think this is one of the reasons we are not seeing an increase in stocks of summer flounder, winter flounder and other estuarine dependent species. We need to pay attention now for our children and grandchildren.

 

Pots Off Reef & Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs Bills

As we are going to print with the JCAA Newspaper, the Senate Environment Committee has scheduled a session on February 21 to vote on bill S336 (prohibiting use of certain fishing gear on artificial reefs) and S75 (Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs). We want to thank Senator Bob Smith and the members of this committee for their quick action on these bills. Hopefully, there will be a positive outcome. We want S75 sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee for their action and S336 sent to the full Senate for passage. Senator Barbara Buono is the chair of the Appropriations Committee. Please let her know your support for S75 and want it posted and moved as quickly as possible. S75 uses existing money and does not require a new appropriation. We need for Assemblyman Fisher, chair of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, to provide leadership and quick action in the Assembly. Here is the contact information:

Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee

(Group D)DistrictTelephoneFax
Fisher, Douglas H. (D) Chair3856-455-1011856-455-2853
Albano, Nelson T. (D)1609-465-0700609-465-4578
Amodeo, John F. (R)2609-292-5339609-633-9806
Conaway, Herb (D)7856-461-3997856-461-3823
Karrow, Marcia (R)23908-782-5127908-788-2625


Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
Buono, Barbara - Chair 18th District  
SenBuono@njleg.org
2 Lincoln Highway, Suite 401
Edison, NJ 08820
Phone: (732) 205-1372
Fax: (732) 819-8204

Sarlo, Paul A. - Vice-Chair 36th District  
SenSarlo@njleg.org 
207 Hackensack Street, 2nd Floor
Wood-Ridge, NJ 07075
Phone: (201) 804-8118
Fax: (201) 804-8644

Bucco, Anthony R. 25th District  
SenBucco@njleg.org
75 Bloomfield Avenue, 3rd Floor
Denville, NJ 07834
Phone: (973) 627-9700
Fax: (973) 627-0131

Cunningham, Sandra B. 31st District 
SenCunningham@njleg.org
1738 Kennedy Blvd.
Jersey City, NJ 07305
Phone: (201) 451-5100

Haines, Philip E. 8th District 
SenHaines@njleg.org
3000 Midlantic Drive, Suite 103
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
Phone: (856) 234-8080

Lance, Leonard 23rd District
SenLance@njleg.org
119 Main Street
Flemington, NJ 08822
Phone: (908) 788-6900
Fax: (908) 788-0416

O’Toole, Kevin J. 40th District
SenOToole@njleg.org
155 Route 46 West
Wayne, NJ 07470
Phone: (973) 237-1360
Fax: (973) 237-1364

Oroho, Steven V. 24th District  
SenOroho@njleg.org>
PO Box 249, 25 Route 23 South
Franklin, 07416-0249
Phone: (973) 827-2900

Redd, Dana 5th District 5th District 
SenRedd@njleg.org
State House
Trenton, NJ 08625-0099
Phone: (609) 292-5388
Fax: (856) 541-0426

Ruiz, M. Teresa 29th District 
SenRuiz@njleg.org
166 Bloomfield Avenue
Newark, NJ 07104
Phone: (973) 484-1000

Stack, Brian P. 33rd District 

Turner, Shirley K. 15 District
SenTurner@njleg.org
1440 Pennington Road, 1st Floor
Trenton, NJ 08618
Phone: (609) 530-3277  
Fax: (609) 530-3292

Vitale, Joseph F. 19 District   
SenVitale@njleg.org 
87 Main Street
Woodbridge, NJ 07095
Phone: (732) 855-7441  
Fax: (732) 855-7558

Sweeney, Stephen M. 3rd District 
SenSweeney@njleg.org
935 Kings Highway, Suite 400
Thorofare, NJ 08086
Phone: (856) 251-9801  
Fax: (856) 251-9752

 

 

ASMFC 2008 Winter Meeting Summary

 

ATLANTIC STRIPED BASS MANAGEMENT BOARD (February 4, 2008)
Press Release
Striped Bass Stock Assessment Indicates Healthy Stock

Female Spawning Stock Biomass Remains High
Scientific advice presented to the Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board indicates that striped bass management under Amendment 6 to the Interstate Plan continues to be a success. The benchmark stock assessment, recently endorsed by an independent panel of fishery scientists, concluded that striped bass are not overfished and overfishing in not occurring. The assessment estimates that the resource remains at a high level with spawning stock biomass (SSB) at 55 million pounds, well above the SSB target and threshold levels of 38.6 and 30.9 million pounds, respectively. Estimates of juvenile abundance showed several years of strong recruitment, with the 2003 cohort being the strongest in the time series. The statistical catch at age (SCA) model used by the Striped Bass Technical Committee estimated the 2006 fishing mortality rate on age 8-11 fish to be F=0.31, which is below the Amendment 6 fishing mortality threshold of 0.41. Retrospective analysis of the SCA model, as well as tag-based estimates of fishing mortality presented in the assessment, indicate that the 2006 fishing mortality is also below the Amendment 6 target of 0.30.

Timeline of Management Actions: Amendments 1 & 2 (1984); Amendment 3 (1985); Amendment 4 (1990); Amendment 5 (1995); Amendment 6 (2003)
Total striped bass harvest (commercial and recreational) in 2006 was estimated at 3.82 million fish, a 46 percent increase from 2002 (prior to the implementation of Amendment 6). Commercial harvest (1.05 million fish) was dominated by Maryland’s commercial fisheries, which made up 62 percent of the total commercial landings by number in 2006. Commercial discards in 2006 were estimated at 216,753 fish. Recreational harvest (2.77 million fish) and discard losses (2.07 million fish) accounted for 79 percent of total fishery removals in 2006. Maryland recreational fisheries harvested 24 percent of total recreational landings in number, followed by Virginia (22 percent), New Jersey (18 percent), Massachusetts (12 percent), and New York (11 percent).

The Peer Review Panel endorsed the use of the SCA model for producing SSB and fishing mortality estimates that can be judged against the current biological reference points. The new model is a significant departure from the virtual population analysis that has been used to assess striped bass stock status since 1997. It is an aged-based model that projects the population numbers-at-age forward through time, rather than backwards, given model estimates of recruitment and age-specific total mortality.

Additional tag-based results from the catch-equation method support the SCA model’s results that striped bass are not overfished.

Based on advice of the Technical Committee, the Board maintained the states’ management programs at status quo. The Technical Committee will continue to monitor the status of the stock and refine stock assessment methodology as necessary. The next stock assessment update will be conducted in 2009.

Copies of the stock assessment will be available on the Commission website (www.asmfc.org under Breaking News) by mid-February. For more information, please contact Nichola Meserve, Fisheries Management Plan Coordinator, at (202) 289-6400. or nmeserve@asmfc.org

 

TAUTOG MANAGEMENT BOARD (February 5, 2008)

Motions

I move that the Tautog Management Board recommend to the ISFMP Policy Board that the State of New Jersey be found out of compliance for not fully and effectively implementing and enforcing Addendum IV and Addendum V to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Tautog. The State of New Jersey has not implemented management measures to achieve the required 25.6 percent reduction in exploitation. This reduction in exploitation is necessary to initiate rebuilding of the overfished tautog stock. In order to come back into compliance the State of New Jersey must implement management measures that achieve the required reduction in exploitation as required by Addenda IV and V.

Motion made by Mr. Smith, second Mr. Gilmore. Motion passes (7 in favor, 1 opposed, 0 null votes & abstentions).

 

SHAD & RIVER HERRING MANAGEMENT BOARD (February 5, 2008)

Meeting Summary

The Shad and River Herring Management Board was presented input from the Technical Committee, Advisory Panel, and the public on the Public Information Document (PID) for Amendment 2 (River Herring) to the Shad and River Herring FMP. The Management Board voted to develop Draft Amendment 2 that would contain the management options from the PID in addition to options recommended by the Advisory Panel (AP) and Technical Committee (TC). The management option proposed by the AP would require effort reductions in directed commercial fisheries and regulation of river herring bycatch. For commercial fisheries, the TC option includes:

  1. Elimination of directed fisheries unless a state can demonstrate that a stock can support a fishery
  2. Mandatory reporting from all directed fisheries
  3. Mandatory reporting of bycatch and discards from all fisheries
  4. Mandatory reporting of bycatch, discards, and landings of river herring from at-sea fisheries. Observer coverage should be increased to levels that would allow for reliable estimates of bycatch for the entire fishery(ies).
  5. Fisheries can be reinstated if states can demonstrate that a stock can support a fishery.

For recreational fisheries, the TC option is an elimination of river herring harvest unless a state can demonstrate that a stock can support a fishery, quantification of recreational harvest when allowed, and the reestablishment of fisheries if a state can demonstrate that a stock can support a fishery. The Management Board voted to include critical habitat areas for and threats to river herring in the Draft Amendment along with a characterization of the critical information needed in order to monitor river herring populations.

The Board reviewed the current status of the Shad and River Herring Advisory (AP) membership and elected to update the AP membership to include a shad representative and river herring representative from each state. This would expand the size of the Shad and River Herring AP.

Other items addressed by the Board include the election of Malcolm Rhodes as Vice-Chair and the approval of the appointment of the River Herring Stock Assessment Subcommittee (SASC). The following individuals were appointment to the SASC: Mike Brown, Gary Nelson, Andrew Kahnle, Russ Allen, Bob Sadzinksi, Laura Lee, Christine Burgess, and Reid Hyle. For more information, please contact Erika Robbins, Fisheries Management Plan Coordinator, at (202) 289-6400 or erobbins@asmfc.org.


Motions

Move to develop Amendment 2 with all of the options that were in the PID, plus development of an option as recommended by the Technical Committee, plus development of an option as recommended by the AP, and including development of a strategy to acquire appropriate bycatch monitoring data. Also, identify critical habitat areas and threats and characterize critical empirical information that we need in order to monitor populations.

Motion made by Mr. Smith, second by Mr. Damon. Motion passes.

 

WEAKFISH MANAGEMENT BOARD (February 5, 2008)

Meeting Summary

The Weakfish Management Board met with two main objectives: (1) reviewing the 2007 Fishery Management Plan (FMP) Review and state compliance with the management program in 2006; and (2) receiving an update on the Stock Assessment Subcommittee’s preparation for the 2009 weakfish stock assessment.

The Board approved the annual FMP Review, which provided an update on the status of management measures, the stock, the fisheries, research and monitoring activities, research needs, and state compliance with the management program. The document reported that three states had failed to collect the number of weakfish ages and/or lengths in 2006 required by Addendum I to Amendment 4 due to funding issues, personnel shortages, and the inherent difficulty in sampling from a fishery with low landings. The Board found all states to be compliant with the management plan, but also tasked the Technical Committee with considering other sources of biological sampling for those states experiencing difficulty achieving their requirements.

In their 2007 state compliance reports, five states requested de minimis status, a designation indicating that a state’s total landings are an insignificant portion of the coastwide total landings (less than 1 percent) and exempting that state from certain elements of the management program. The Board approved the requests from all five states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The FMP Review also reported that two states activated the second management trigger of Addendum II to Amendment 4 (that the Board consider reevaluating the management plan when a state’s total landings exceed its five-year mean by more than 25 percent). Because both states meeting the trigger are de minimis, the Plan Review Team considered their change in landings to be insignificant. The Board determined that no change to the management plan was required at the time.

The Weakfish Stock Assessment Subcommittee met in January, and Subcommittee Chair Jeff Brust provided a report to the Board on that meeting. As part of this meeting, the Subcommittee developed a set of preliminary terms of reference for the next weakfish assessment, due to be peer reviewed through a Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Workshop in the first half of 2009. The Board approved the terms of reference.

For more information, please contact Nichola Meserve, Fisheries Management Plan Coordinator, at (202) 289-6400 or nmeserve@asmfc.org.

 

SUMMER FLOUNDER, SCUP, AND BLACK SEA BASS BOARD (February 7, 2008)

Press Release

ASMFC Summer Flounder Board Approves State Recreational Management Measures

Alexandria, VA – The Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board approved state management proposals for the 2008 recreational fishery for summer flounder. In developing measures to stay within the coastwide recreational harvest target of 2.05 million fish, states used state-specific performance factors developed by the Summer Flounder Technical Committee. The performance factors account for states’ past performance in achieving their quota target, as well as increased effort, increased stock size, and percent standard error considerations in state-specific estimates generated by the Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey. States that fail to implement the approved management measures (or measures developed through the approved methodology) will be required to implement a precautionary default measure of a two fish possession limit at a 20-inch minimum size with an open season from July 4 to September 1, 2008.

The state-approved management measures fall under the Commission’s summer flounder management program, which allows for the use of conservation equivalency. Conservation equivalency provides states the option of crafting state-specific management measures that best meet the needs of their fishermen while also meeting the conservation requirements of the resource program. All conservationally-equivalent management measures must be reviewed and approved by the Summer Flounder Technical Committee and the Management Board before they can be implemented. Since conservation equivalency was initiated in the summer flounder management program in 2001, the states have had mixed success in limiting coastwide recreational harvest to within the specified harvest target. The inclusion of the performance factor in developing state-specific measures this year is intended to help the states constrain their recreational harvest to meet both the overall recreational harvest target as well as state-specific harvest targets.

States will now have to go through their own individual regulatory processes to finalize their summer flounder recreational measures. For more information on those measures, contact your state marine fishery agency.

The Board also approved scup recreational management measures for the northern region (Massachusetts through New York). The private and shore-based fishery will have a 10.5 inch minimum size, 10 fish bag limit, and an open season of May 24 through September 25. The for-hire fishery (party and charterboat) will have an 11-inch minimum size and a 10 fish bag limit for 81 consecutive days (each state will determine their own season, to fall anytime between May 15 and October 15). The for-hire fishery will also have a bonus season for 45 consecutive days (also selected by the states) with a 45 fish bag limit. For more information, please contact Toni Kerns, Senior Fisheries Management Plan Coordinator for Management, at (202) 289-6400 or tkerns@asmfc.org.

Meeting Summary

The Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board met to review a number of issues. The Board adjusted the 2008 summer scup commercial quota to account for the overage of the 2007 summer scup commercial quota in federal waters. The overage will be spread out over two years (50% in both 2008 and 2009). If the entire summer quota is not landed in 2008, whatever quota remains will be used to reduce the 2009 portion of the overage. This action was taken to minimize inequity between state-permitted and federally permitted vessels could occur in 2008.

NOAA Fisheries accounts for landings on the date of purchase, not the date landed. This has caused concern regarding scup commercial landings at the end of the winter I period. Because landings are not always landed and sold on the same day, scup landed under the large winter I trip limit have been applied to the summer period state quota. In states with relatively small summer period quotas this can cause considerable overages. The Board adjusted the end date for the winter I scup commercial fishery from April 30 to April 28 to ensure that any scup that are landed in winter I, but sold in the summer period, are applied to the winter I quota, regardless of date sold (the closure allows a few days to pass for sales to be completed). No scup can be landed/possessed on commercial vessels in state waters from April 28-April 30. For more information, please contact Toni Kerns, Senior Fisheries Management Plan Coordinator for Management, at (202) 289-6400 or tkerns@asmfc.org.

Motions

Move to amend the summer flounder, scup, black sea bass FMP to incorporate mandatory regional management as a tool and remove the optional language for the summer flounder recreational fishery.

Motion made by Mr. Gilmore, second by Mr. Smith. Motion fails.

 

 

Pallone Unveils Plan to Rebuild State's Fisheries

By Al Ristori, Star Ledger 2/12/08


Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) braved yesterday's bitter cold at the Seaside Heights boardwalk to announce he will be introducing legislation today to bring much-needed flexibility to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2007, which set rigid 10-year deadlines to rebuild fishing stocks.

Both recreational and commercial fishermen spoke at the rally. State Senator John Adler (D-Cherry Hill) also announced the introduction, with co-sponsorship by State Senator Sean Kean (R-Monmouth), of a state resolution to support Pallone's The Flexibility in Rebuilding American Fisheries Act of 2008.

"When deciding how best to rebuild fish stocks in complex environments we must use sound biology and science, not arbitrary deadlines set by Congress," Pallone said. "The legislation I'm introducing in Congress is about rational rebuilding, and it is the best way to rebuild our fisheries without bankrupting tackle shops, party boats and commercial fishermen."

Though it's sure to be opposed by some environmental groups, this legislation actually restores the original intent of the Magnuson Act, which established the 200-mile fisheries limit and set up a system of managing fisheries through regional councils with membership, including those involved in the fisheries to be managed.

The reauthorization's deadlines effectively tied the council's hands, and left them with little to do but rubber stamp whatever the National Marine Fisheries Service wants. If the councils aren't allowed to manage, they're a waste of the taxpayer's funds and might as well be eliminated.

Pallone's bill sets forth conditions that would permit flexibility if the stocks are on a positive rebuilding trend, and adds additional criteria to the biomass stock assessment, mandated in the Act, to include commercial, residential and industrial development as well as agricultural activity in coastal areas and its impact on the marine environment. Most importantly, predator-prey relationships and other environmental and ecological changes would be factored into the stock assessment.

 

 

Congressman Pallone Proposes Revisions to Federal Fisheries Law

By Kirk Moore, Asbury Park Press 2/12/08


How much progress is good enough when rebuilding America's ocean fish stocks?

Legislation being introduced today in Congress is aimed at easing restrictions on the size of the summer flounder catch, and resisting demands for more harvest cutbacks in other fisheries.

Federal regulators could waive a 10-year deadline for rebuilding fish stocks, once a population has exceeded its 25-year high point and shows signs of continuing growth, under amendments to the 2006 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act proposed by Rep. Frank J. Pallone Jr., D-N.J.

"Under the Magnuson Act we have this rigid 10-year deadline to rebuild stocks to an unprecedented level," Pallone said in a boardwalk press conference, at which he was accompanied by state Sen. John Adler, D-Camden, and more than a dozen representatives of recreational fishing and the seafood industry.

A few years ago, the once-depleted summer flounder population looked to be growing so fast that the East Coast fishing community anticipated a 30 million-pound annual catch. Today, the 2008 limit has been set to little more than half that, because science advisers say that could enable the flounder stock to nearly double in numbers.

"It's about the science and getting it right," said David Arbeitman, owner of The Reel Seat tackle shop in Brielle and an organizer of the Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund. "Now the stock's four times what it was, and we're fishing less."

"We've got to make sure the fish stocks aren't given artificial targets," said Adler, who is running to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., in Congress and is endorsed by the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

The 34-year-old Magnuson law was barely reauthorized in 2006, because Congress felt the pressure of complaints from Mid-Atlantic fishermen about looming flounder cutbacks.

The move to reopen that debate alarms some environmental groups. "Right now we're seeing a depletion of fishing stocks worldwide," said Jeff Tittel of the state Sierra Club chapter. "Once they open up that door (to amend the law), who knows what else will be thrown into that bill?"

Under the Pallone bill, coastal development and pollution would be considered as factors when making scientific assessments of ocean fish populations. That reflects a belief among fishermen — that loss of habitat "is the limiting factor of recruitment (growth of young fish) into the fisheries," rather than fishermen's catches, said Greg DiDomenico of the Garden State Seafood Alliance.

The Pallone bill also provides that the Department of Commerce — the parent agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and its fisheries service — can extend the 10-year rebuilding deadline "if the cause of the fishery decline is outside the jurisdiction (of regional fishery councils) or the rebuilding program cannot be effective only by limiting fishing activities."

The NOAA-led federal regulatory system has cast the summer flounder issue as a disappointment when it's really a successful recovery story, said Thomas P. Fote of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association. Fote compared it to the successful campaign by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Service to restore striped bass.

Pallone acknowledged many members of Congress will wonder why they should revisit the fisheries law so soon. "We're going to need a lot of building to do this," he said. "It's not going to be easy."

10-year deadline to rebuild stocks to an unprecedented level," Pallone said in a boardwalk press conference, at which he was accompanied by state Sen. John Adler, D-Camden, and more than a dozen representatives of recreational fishing and the seafood industry.

A few years ago, the once-depleted summer flounder population looked to be growing so fast that the East Coast fishing community anticipated a 30 million-pound annual catch. Today, the 2008 limit has been set to little more than half that, because science advisers say that could enable the flounder stock to nearly double in numbers.

"It's about the science and getting it right," said David Arbeitman, owner of The Reel Seat tackle shop in Brielle and an organizer of the Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund. "Now the stock's four times what it was, and we're fishing less."

"We've got to make sure the fish stocks aren't given artificial targets," said Adler, who is running to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Saxton, R-N.J., in Congress and is endorsed by the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

The 34-year-old Magnuson law was barely reauthorized in 2006, because Congress felt the pressure of complaints from Mid-Atlantic fishermen about looming flounder cutbacks.

The move to reopen that debate alarms some environmental groups. "Right now we're seeing a depletion of fishing stocks worldwide," said Jeff Tittel of the state Sierra Club chapter. "Once they open up that door (to amend the law), who knows what else will be thrown into that bill?"

 



[News Contents] [Top]