New Blackfish and Sea Bass Regulations Set
By Paul Haertel
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association June 2012 Newsletter)
New regulations for blackfish and sea bass were set at the May 10th meeting of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council. The length of our sea bass season had to be reduced from the original season that was set back in March and was due to the fact that wave VI data was not available at that time. When the data became available it showed that far more sea bass were harvested than what had been estimated when the regulations were initially set. However, we will still have a longer season than we did last year. On behalf of the JCAA, I spoke in favor of the option that was ultimately passed at both the advisors and marine council meetings. The size and bag limits will remain the same as last year, 12 1/2" and 25 fish. The season for state waters which includes the areas up to 3 miles off our coast will be from May 19th – September 3rd, September 23rd - October 14th, and November 1st – December 31st. This was the option that JCAA member clubs who were present at our last meeting voted unanimously to support. It will allow inshore fishermen something to fish for after fluke season ends while also allowing them to keep sea bass caught in federal waters during those periods of time. It is also important to note that the regulation that allows sea bass to be kept in federal waters beginning on May 19th was just finalized by NOAA on May 17th. Had it not been finalized we would have had to wait until May 22nd to fish for sea bass in federal waters.
There is some better news for blackfish as their harvest was overestimated and New Jersey was allowed to liberalize the regulations that had previously been set. The change will now allow us to keep one blackfish from July 17th – November 15th and 6 fish from November 16th to December 31st. The size limit will remain at 15”. Previously, fishermen would not have been able to keep any blackfish during much of the July - October period and would have only been able to keep 4 fish during the November 15th - December 31st period.