by Joseph Puntasecca
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association April 2012 Newsletter)
On Thursday, March 15th I attended the NJ Sportsmen’s Legislative Caucus in Trenton. I was happy to see a great turn out by the public and stakeholders as well as our legislators. Senate President Steve Sweeney made the opening remarks. The guest speaker was Stanton Hales, Jr. Ph.D. from the Barnegat Bay Partnership. Dr. Hales gave a presentation on the status of Barnegat Bay, what is currently being done to protect this tremendous resource, what direction the Barnegat Bay Partnership believes should be taken to prevent further damage to it and restore it to its once vibrant, glorious and balanced eco system it once was.
Also on Thursday, March 15, 2012 the State Senate passed Bill S1177, “Prohibits the use of certain fishing gear at artificial reef sites.” The bill passed 34 in favor, 3 opposed and 2 no votes. This is the bill Jersey Coast Anglers Association supports and that JCAA requested the bill to be heard by the full Senate. JCAA thanks Senate President Sweeney for allowing the bill to be heard by the full Senate and all the Senators for their support for the bill. We look forward to seeing a companion bill to bill S1177 posted and passed by the full Assembly.
Shore Aquatic Club
The Shore Aquatic Club, (SAC), based in Manasquan, NJ is dive club which has applied for membership with the JCAA. Shore Aquatic is a member of the NJ Council of Diving Clubs which is a current member of JCAA. Many of you know Frank Macalik who attends the general meetings for NJCDC and also volunteers at some of the shows we exhibit in. At the next general meeting JCAA will have a vote on Shore Aquatic’s membership in the JCAA.
Recreational Regulation Hijacked by Commercial Fisherman?
Good News for recreational anglers. Maybe, just maybe, the recreational anglers of New Jersey are finally being rewarded for their many years of sacrifice. We have seen the size limits go up and up since 1993 to the point where we are only catching what we would have considered a trophy fish years ago. At 18” nearly 100% of the fish are female so we have been taking the most productive fish out of the ecosystem. The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council has set the Summer Flounder season at May 5 – Sept 28 with a 17 ½” minimum size limit and 5 fish bag limit.
There were almost 100 people at the NJ Marine Fisheries Council meeting in Toms River on Thursday March 1st and they witnessed a very interesting meeting. The meeting on the summer flounder regulations has been moved from Galloway to Toms River in an effort to encourage anglers from North Jersey to attend and let their voices be heard. Yet most of those in attendance were from the South. The testimony was about evenly split between the 18”, 8 fish bag limit and a longer season and the 17 ½” fish which was approved. Those from the South leaned toward the 17 ½” fish and most of those from the North favored the 18” fish. If more anglers from the North had shown up and testified I’m sure the vote would have gone the other way since the edge was slightly in favor of the smaller fish.
The interesting thing about the meeting was the dynamics of the vote. The summer flounder committee and advisors had met the week before and listened to the same pros and cons that were put forth at this meeting. That summer flounder committee is made up of recreational anglers on the council and recreational advisors. The recommendation which came from these recreational anglers of the state was for the 18” size and longer season and that was the motion in front of the council.
A commercial fisherman then made a substitute motion for the 17 ½” fish. The vote: You guessed it the four commercial seats on the council voted for the 17 ½” fish and the three recreational seats voted for the committee recommendation of the 18” fish. So what happened?
Regardless of whether you personally favor 17 ½” or 18” is not the point. The commercial fishermen of the state set the recreational summer flounder regulation for 2012. Does that seem right to you?
Thank you to everyone who came out to the Saltwater Expo, signed the Reef Rescue petition and purchased raffle tickets to help support Jersey Coast Anglers Association. Also thank you to all the volunteers who helped to staff our booth at the Expo.