by Tom Fote
|Summer Flounder||Scup||Black Sea Bass|
|2010 Harvest Limit||8.59 m lbs||3.01 m lbs||1.14 m lbs|
|Possession Limit||state-specific||10 fish (EEZ)||25 Fish|
|Minimum Fish Size||state-specific||11 inch TL (EEZ)||12.5 Inch TL|
|Open Season||state-specific||1/1–2/28 & 6/12-9/26||6/1-6/30 & 9/1-9/30|
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) met in Wilmington, Delaware from December 8 through December 10, 2009. The Council met with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Board (Board) on December 8 and adopted the following 2010 recreational fishery management measures:
The above 2010 recreational harvest limits are consistent with the National Marine Fishery Service's (NMFS) proposed rule (November 4, 2009) which accounts for the research set-aside (RSA) deductions being applied to the recreational sectors' initial quota allocations. For the recreational summer flounder fishery, the Council and Board adopted the conservation equivalency alternative in lieu of a coastwide option. This decision requires states to develop state-specific management measures (i.e., possession limits, size limits, and seasons) to achieve state-specific harvest limits. States will develop management proposals and submit them to the Commission for approval at its February 2010 meeting. As a non-preferred alternative, the Council and Board adopted a coastwide daily bag limit of two fish with a 19.5 inch total length (TL) minimum size requirement, and an open season from May 1 until September 30, 2010. In addition, a precautionary default measure of a 21.5 inch TL minimum fish size, a two fish possession limit, and a coastwide season from May 1 to September 30, 2010 was also approved. This measure would be imposed on any state that does not develop and implement conservation equivalent management measures.
For the 2010 recreational scup fishery, the Board voted to adopt conservation equivalency for state waters. Like summer flounder, states will develop state-specific management measures for approval at the Commission's February 2010 meeting. For federal waters, the Council voted for a 10 fish possession limit and an 11 inch TL minimum fish size in 2010. The federal season would be open January 1 through February 28 and June 12 through September 26, 2010.
For the 2010 recreational black sea bass fishery, the Council and Board voted to adopt a 12.5 inch TL minimum fish size and maintain the current 25 fish possession limit. The season would be open June 1 through June 30 and September 1 through September 30. In addition, the Council voted to convene a joint meeting of the Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) and the Black Sea Bass Monitoring Committee to share available data and relevant information regarding the 2010 black sea bass recommendations for purposes of allowing the Regional Administrator to consider whether it would be appropriate to adjust the black sea bass quota through an emergency action.
The Council and the Board also voted to initiate a review of the RSA process to determine the effectiveness of NMFS monitoring of RSA recreational fishery catches and landings for party/charter boats. This review will also address reconciliation of RSA recipients' landing levels with their purchased quotas.
The Council also adopted quota and management measures for the 2010/2011 Spiny Dogfish fishing year. A commercial quota of 12.0 million pounds was approved and would be divided into two semi-annual quota periods. Period 1 (May 1 -September 30, 2010) would be allocated 57.9% of the quota, i.e., 6,948,000 pounds, Period 2 (October 1, 2010 - April 30, 2011) would be allocated 42.1% which equates to 5,052,000 pounds. Commercial trip limits (daily possession limits) for the 2010/2011 fishing year would be set at 3,000 pounds. Additionally, in anticipation of the Spiny Dogfish TRAC assessment, the Council voted to include a commercial quota of 29.0 million pounds (derived from the application of Ftarget = 0.284) as a non-preferred alternative in order to provide a sufficient range of alternatives for the Regional Administrator to implement measures that are responsive to the best available data at the time of final rulemaking. The New England Council had already recommended a quota of 21.0 million pounds based on an F rate of 0.20 which will also be analyzed as a possible quota level.
Time to Take Stock
Editorial, Asbury Park Press, 12/9/2009
Federal fishery managers are continuing to place strict catch limits on certain species of fish, even though the fish are not deemed "overfished." These limits punish the local fishermen and charter boat businesses that are already struggling with reduced limits from other fish species.
The local fishing industry suffered a setback in October when federal officials ordered a six-month emergency closure for recreational black sea bass, a popular fish for the fall charter boat industry. Now managers want to restrict that to two, 30-day fishing seasons for 2010. And the fisheries managers set the same low limits for winter scup — called porgies by Shore anglers — that were put in place when that stock was deemed overfished.
Members of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission met Tuesday to set the 2010 limits. Fortunately, the panels agreed to reconvene in the coming months to update the stock status. Those members sympathetic to the plight of the recreational industry should make sure the local interests are better served. New scientific data showing that scup and black sea bass are not overfished, as had been previously thought, should result in an increase in catch limits.
The six-month closure eliminated about 85 percent of the 2009 black sea bass fishing season. And new limits for porgies could cut New Jersey anglers' daily limit from 50 to 10. Some members of the two panels say they are worried about their credibility with the fishing community. They should be.
Atlantic States Fisheries Commission member Thomas P. Fote said, "This is the same quota that was in place when the stock was overfished. This sends a very bad message out to the public. We have said this stock is not overfished."
Fortunately, the panels voted overwhelmingly in favor of directing their scientific advisers to meet again with the monitoring committee to review the latest available data. Hopefully, further evidence of a healthy fish stock will allow for increased catch limits and, in the case of black sea bass, a lengthier season.
Groups Sue to Stop Dredging to Deepen the Delaware River
by Brian T. Murray, Star-Ledger, 11/20/2009
Five environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit yesterday to prevent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from beginning a $379 million project to deepen the shipping channel in the Delaware River.
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the National Wildlife Federation, the New Jersey Environmental Federation, Clean Water Action and the Delaware Nature Society claim in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Trenton, that the Army Corps' decades-old plan to deepen the channel from 40 feet to 45 feet violates seven federal environmental laws.
The groups claim the Corps has no up-to-date environmental impact statements.
Yesterday's lawsuit comes on the heels of similar suits filed earlier this month by New Jersey and Delaware.
"The Corps of Engineers, with its projects, has too often ignored the damage to the environment and safety of the public," said David Conrad of the National Wildlife Federation. Conrad cited a federal court ruling on Wednesday that found the corps' failure to maintain a shipping channel linking New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico led to catastrophic flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Delaware River project involves deepening nearly 103 miles of man-made conduit linking Philadelphia to the Delaware Bay. Pennsylvania officials back the project, contending it will create jobs and ensure the future of the region's shipping industry.
But the environmental groups, as well as New Jersey and Delaware officials, say Army Corps has failed to fully address concerns about the impact the dredging will have on wildlife and the recreational and commercial fishing industries, They also say they are concerned the project will allow sea-water to infiltrate drinking water supplies in South Jersey and Philadelphia. In addition, the groups argue the dredging will stir up dormant toxins in the river that will leach from the material the corps plans to dump on seven sites in New Jersey and one site in Delaware.
The Philadelphia District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contends the clay, silt and dirt at the bottom of the river contain no more toxins than the material that has been dumped on the same federally owned sites by ongoing maintenance dredging in the Delaware River. The channel, built in 1885 at 18 feet deep, was dug to 40 feet deep in the 1940s. There has been regular maintenance dredging ever since.
Brian T. Murray may be reached at email@example.com
Most Dredge Material will Likely end up in New Jersey
by Kent Jackson, Standard Speaker, 11/20/2009
Most of the material dredged from the Delaware River would go to New Jersey rather than Hazleton, representatives of environmental groups said Thursday when suing to stop the Army Corps of Engineers from deepening the river's shipping channel.
New Jersey would receive 80 percent of the dredged materials from the project to deepen the channel, Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club said. Delaware also would accept dredged material at one site, Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum said. Van Rossum also said Army Corps found the cost prohibitive for taking dredged material to mine sites.
In Hazleton, a company has taken more than 800,000 cubic yards of dredged material to reclaim a mined site under a $38 million contract with the Army Corps. The company, Hazleton Creek Properties LLC, which is based in Kingston, needs up to 10 million cubic yards to reclaim the site. It hopes to obtain some of the 16 million cubic yards that the Army Corps would remove when deepening the channel. The company might be able to obtain dredge material from impoundment sites after it dries.
Where to store the dredge material and whether storing material in stockpiles up to 94 feet high would pollute drinking water are among the questions that the groups raised when announcing that they filed lawsuits in federal court in New Jersey. The groups questioned the project's economic value, its effect on fishing and oyster industries and whether the Army Corps could proceed after Delaware denied a permit for the project. "We believe not even the federal government is above the law. Federal agencies like the Army Corps of Engineers need to follow the law and can't ignore states," Bob Wendelgass of Clean Water Action said. In addition to filing their own lawsuit, Clean Water Action, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the National Wildlife Federation, New Jersey Environmental Federation, and Delaware Nature Society joined a suit that Delaware filed to stop the project. New Jersey also opposes the project, which Pennsylvania favors.
In New Jersey, Tittel said that state's rules permit covering landfills with dredged material. "You get a double hit of leachate from the landfill," he said, referring to the surface water that can absorb contaminants and pollute groundwater as it leaches through the dredged material.
Pennsylvania's rules also allowed Hazleton Creek to cover an old landfill with dredged material on the site between Routes 309, 93 and 924. Mark McClellan of Evergreen Environmental, a consultant for Hazleton Creek, said tests on dredged material shows it doesn't leach anything that would impact leachate levels at a landfill.
Jane Nogaki from the New Jersey Environmental Federation said material dredged from contaminated sections of the river might be blended with material from cleaner stretches to meet the standards. In addition to the concentration of contaminants, the total amount of contaminants poses a threat that regulations don't consider, at least in New Jersey and Delaware, she said. "They don't look at cumulative impact," Nogaki said.
McClellan said Pennsylvania sets the limits for dredged material low enough to account for cumulative effects. "They've calculated fixed limits to ensure no problem through volume," McClellan said.
Hazleton Creek sampled 800,000 cubic yards of dredged material transported as slurry from various sections of river to storage sites at Fort Mifflin in Philadelphia and found minimal variation, he said.
The Delaware Navigation Channel runs 102 miles from the Delaware Bay to the ports of Philadelphia and Camden, N.J. Plans call for deepening the channel to 45 feet from 40 feet to accommodate larger ships.
Environmental groups said dredging could affect fishing and oyster industries, horseshoe crabs - which biomedical firms use - and bird nesting areas. The Army Corps should update a 12-year-old environmental impact statement and obtain a permit from Delaware before proceeding, the group said.
Citing a study by the U.S. General Accounting Office, the groups said the economic return from the project amounts to less than 50 cents for each dollar spent to deepen the channel.
The Army Corps said the project will generate $1.15 for every $1 spent and said plans now call for removing less material than in 1997 when the last environmental impact study was done. In April, the Army Corps conducted an environmental assessment of the project.
Van Rossum, the Riverkeeper, said a deeper channel won't bring more freight to the ports, but will spare the inconvenience of transferring freight to smaller ships.
That still makes the ports more economically viable, said Dan Fee of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority, the local government sponsor of the project. "There have literally been dozens of studies that said this project will lead to economic development, but will have little to no environmental impact," Fee said. Failing to deepen the channel could cause Philadelphia to lose business to the other ports, he said. The ports of New York and New Jersey are dredging a channel to depths 50 feet, and a project already deepened Baltimore's port.
Working Together in the NGO Community
by Tom Fote, JCAA Newsletter, December 2003
It is a shame that we have to spend so much time on issues that really should be non-issues. I am upset that every statement is put under a microscope because of the strain with the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) community. I feel some people are just looking for things to discredit a person or group. JCAA is an NGO as are some other recreational and commercial fishing organizations. Some NGOs have decided to ignore this and treat all recreational and commercial organizations as the enemy. It has made some groups look for allies in the wrong place. It has also made most recreational anglers and commercial fishermen very suspect of the motives of other NGO groups that do not fish for consumption and we are always looking for their hidden agendas. Since I am also legislative chairman for New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, even though I do not hunt I believe the same feelings are true in the hunting community. Without the help and support of fishing and hunting groups many of the environment successes in the last 100 years would not have happened. Just think of all the land that has been purchased to protect the environment and wildlife with hunting and fishing funds. How many land acquisitions, state and federal parks and environment laws been passed due to the hard work of fishing and hunting groups.
We also have some NGOs that think fishing and hunting should not occur at all and this also makes it tough for the community to work together.
What are the costs of these divisions? As I see it, the distrust among groups that should be allies has brought us to a standstill on many important issues. It also puts legislators in a difficult position as they are torn between two constituent groups. The groups that oppose our work in conservation and environment are united and can take advantage of our dissension to meet their own aims.
Some of our environmental allies are occasionally oblivious to the consequences of their actions and don’t see the big picture. What they think is a minor point with little impact may, in fact, have a major disruptive impact on the fishing community. For example, the subway cars. People who fought against the subway cars had their stated reasons but they were totally unaware of the positive social and economic impact of those cars for the recreational fishing community. The reefs built with these subway cars provide quality of life for the anglers who want to bring fish home to eat. They provide jobs to the recreational industry because the reefs encourage more people to fish. The same was true of summer flounder. One of the lawyers said to me, “It’s only a million pounds. What’s the big deal?” A million pounds meant 20 - 30 days closure in states. A million pounds meant people didn’t fish for those 20 – 30 days, bringing no fish home for personal consumption and no money spent. I would guess along the coast the total economic impact was in excess of $250,000,000.
Some of us who have been doing this for a time wonder where it all went wrong. We wonder when friends became adversaries, allowing our opponents easy victories.
What I do know is that I spend an inordinate amount of my time on the 3% of the issues that we disagree on instead of the 97% that we all agree on. Most of the time these issues are not even crucial to the environment. I have certainly been guilty of taking things personally. But I have also learned how destructive this can be. We are only successful when we can leave our egos in the parking lot and focus on the big issues that unite us.
My involvement in the Barnegat Bay Estuary Program has taught me many lessons. Most importantly, I have learned to put myself in the other person’s shoes and find ways to work for consensus. Consensus means none of us win and all of us win. We find ways to satisfy the varying needs and opinions that bring us to the table and allow everyone to participate in the decision-making. On occasion, we will not reach consensus for the group and will take the issue off the table. That may leave groups or individuals to pursue an issue on their own outside of the framework of the umbrella group. At least the discussion gives us all a better understanding of the different positions and an opportunity to come back together again as a functioning community. I believe it also leads to more civility and understanding. We may be adversaries on occasion when we decide the issue is important enough but we can take those adversarial positions outside of the group, allowing the group to continue functioning on issues where we agree.
Working Together in the NGO Community - Part 2
by Tom Fote, JCAA Newsletter, February 2004
After writing the article Working Together in the NGO Community for the December JCAA newspaper, I began to think about more reasons why there is a lot of difficulty with groups and people working together lately both at the state and federal level. JCAA has been in the middle of some of these battles where former friends and allies are not talking or working together anymore. These battles get a lot of press but it is not the best utilization of our time. There are a lot of missed positive opportunities because of this.
This was not to single out any particular group but to discuss the problems. There is enough blame to go around and none of us are without blame. As a volunteer, I am concerned with the amount of time that I am spending on nonproductive battles. I could instead be spending my limited time on issues of substance that will make a difference. The same is true for the paid staff and volunteers at some of the other organizations.
What I was trying to say is that we should be a little more civil with each other and try to work things out. We really should make an effort to understand the other person’s concerns and to address them. The comments I have received on this article have been very positive. This was especially true from the people who have been in the middle of these battles from all parts of the NGO community. They were happy someone said it out loud. I was trying to be constructive based on some of the lessons I have learned in over 30 years of doing this. It was not a ranting but an attempt to stimulate some productive dialog between groups.
Many people are afraid to put anything in writing since they feel it can be misunderstood or taken out of context. We communicate much differently than we did 10 years ago. Face to face meetings and phone conversations are interactive and seem to be more civil. Looking into the face of someone or talking to them gives you a better understanding of how they are really feeling and tends to make you think a little more about what you are saying. Letters and articles take time and you have the opportunity to read them over again before you finish and do a lot of changes. You might give a letter or article to someone else to be proofed and receive comments.
Emails, texting and some internet conversations are not like that. For the most part they are instantaneous and done without a lot of deliberation. The emails are short and sometimes they are your first thoughts on a subject. People do not look them over and think about how they would sound to another person. I do not know how many emails there has been that I have sent back and asked the person to read his or her email as if I were sending it to them. It is surprising how many apologies I have received or how often people say that is not what they meant and then they restate it in a more productive way. I have learned not to send an email written when I am upset but to let it sit and read it over again and try to think about the impact. I need to consider whether I am trying to pick a fight, discuss an issue or bring about a solution to a problem.
It seems to be even worse when people do not use their real names and feel they can say whatever they want. They really do not want to discuss an issue but, instead, look for fights or an opportunity to prove how right they are and how wrong you are. Sometimes they just want to be the center of attention. I call these internet bullies. Some of the most negative comments and the strongest attacks I have received have been from people who will not say anything to me in public. One individual has made numerous attacks on me on the internet but has never called me or showed up to a meeting to even ask a question. This does not lend itself to open discussion or a solution to the disagreement. I feel sometimes as though that is not what these people want anyway and that they are just looking to make attacks to get attention.
Writing this has also been helpful for me in doing a little reflection on my interaction with people. After spending two weeks in Hawaii I am also learning to hang loose a little more.
Dery Bennett, "one of the best" Ocean Advocates, Dies at 79
by Todd B. Bates, Asbury Park Press, 12/16/2009
Dery Bennett, a leading environmental activist who fought against ocean dumping off the Jersey Shore, for preserving coastal lands and wetlands, and for public access, died Tuesday. He was 79.
"He was probably one of the best advocates that the nation's coast and ocean has ever had," said Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, the Sandy Hook-based coastal conservation group that Bennett once headed.
Bennett, a 41-year Fair Haven resident, was an avid surf fisherman, bird watcher and author. He served as executive director of the littoral society from 1968 until 2003. Since then, he directed special projects at the society and focused on "educating kids and working on the (public) access issue, the things that he really loved," Dillingham said.
"I think we're still feeling the impact of his work on clean water and open spaces and public access along the beaches," he said. "Probably his longest lasting contribution is that he mentored a whole generation of coastal advocates."
Bennett, who hailed from Philadelphia, spent summers with his family in the Avalon area of the southern Jersey Shore. He was a geology major at Amherst College and an oil tanker deckhand during three college vacations.
"He liked everything that was natural," his wife, Barbara, said. "He just didn't want development and man to ruin what was the natural beauty. He just figured that the land belonged to the animals and the ocean belonged to the fish."
Bennett learned about the littoral society after reading a New York Times fishing column. Initially, he served as conservation director.
Today, the society is a national coastal conservation group with about 5,000 members, according to Dillingham.
In a 2003 interview, Bennett listed some of the littoral society's accomplishments:
Spearheading the passage of the 1970 state Wetlands Act for preserving tidal wetlands.
Pressing for the Coastal Area Facility Review Act, a 1973 state law that regulates coastal developments.
Establishing an Ocean Dumping Task Force, the forerunner of Clean Ocean Action, a nonprofit Sandy Hook-based coalition. In the 1980s and 1990s, the coalition waged war against eight ocean dumping sites off the New Jersey coast. It now includes 125 environmental, fishing and other groups.
Fighting for public access to the beaches.
Bennett co-founded Clean Ocean Action and served as president of its board of trustees for 25 years, according to Cindy Zipf, the coalition's long-standing executive director.
"Dery's legacy is profound and extends beyond our shores, around the country," Zipf said. "His work has helped coasts from the Pacific Northwest to the Caribbean oceans and there are people that . . . have been empowered by Dery to continue fighting for coastal and ocean environments."
Andrew J. Willner, former executive director of the nonprofit NY/NJ Baykeeper organization in Keyport, called Bennett "a giant."
The Baykeeper organization, launched in 1989, was a littoral society subsidiary until 2007, when it became independent.
Without the littoral society and Bennett, "there would be no Baykeeper," Willner said.
Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club's New Jersey chapter, said "I think he was a great environmentalist and great human being."
Bennett was "so wonderful to work with and so good on so many issues, but he also had that gleam in his eye and that little smile," Tittel said.
Zipf said Bennett "would always find the light side, and that was a remarkable skill that kept moving campaigns forward, and he would always find time to get outside, go look for birds, go fish, go for a walk on the beach."
Dery is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughters Melanie Bennett of Olympia, Wash., and Becca Bennett of Seattle; and three grandchildren, Eric, Adrienne and Galen.
A memorial gathering will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad St., Red Bank.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Littoral Society, Clean Ocean Action or Fair Haven Fields.
A memorial service is being planned for February at Sandy Hook. For more information visit www.littoralsociety.org.