New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Report
by John Toth
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association March 2013 Newsletter)
Representing the JCAA, I attended a January 28th meeting of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA), and the following is a brief summary of this meeting:
The NJOA is very involved in taking wounded American veterans on hunting trips so that they can enjoy nature and just have a good time surrounded by people who appreciate their service to our country. NJOA member Pola Galie reported that the NJOA provides meals, lodging and mentoring for wounded veterans so that they can participate in this program and feel comfortable while doing it. Pola also indicated that the veterans not only enjoy hunting, but they also enjoy just being out in the fields with people who care for them and want them to have a good time. What a worthwhile and impressive program for our wounded veterans who need to have a ray of sunshine in their lives!
Mr. Larry Niles from the Audubon Society gave a report on the declining stocks of horseshoe crabs and the red knot population, especially in the Delaware Bay area. The red knots feed on the eggs of the horseshoe crabs as they migrate from South America, stopping in the Delaware to eat eggs to gain strength for their flight to the Artic. Less crab eggs would negatively affect the population of these birds. According to Mr. Niles, the declining stocks of horseshoe crabs are attributable to a number of factors including illegal harvesting, poor water quality, and harvesting in states that do not have a moratorium like Maryland and Virginia (NJ has a moratorium on these crabs). Another factor cited included the poor handling of the crabs by drug companies that bleed the crabs and use the blood for medical purposes. Mr. Niles was critical of the drug companies and indicated if these companies were better controlled in handling horseshoe crabs there would not be such a high mortality of them.
The National Marine Services (NMFS) is concerned about the stocks of various sharks (Duskies, etc.) that we rarely see if at all in our waters and NMFS wants to prohibit anglers from bringing sharks into marinas that are less than 96 inches! If this proposal becomes law, it would effectively shut down many if not all shark tournaments that we have during our fishing season. NMFS is obviously unaware of the implications of what they are trying to do with the shark fishing industry, and it needs comments form the recreational community to steer them in the right direction. JCAA’s Tom Fote urged NJOA’s representatives to write letters to President Obama and the Commerce Secretary and complain about how NMFS is moving in the wrong direction with this fishery.
Several fishing club members reported their attending a Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council hearing in Toms River on January 17, 2013 concerning designating Delaware’s artificial reefs as Special Management Zones (SMZ). They spoke in favor of it with the hope that if Delaware’s artificial reefs received this designation, it would help the NJOA in making a better case for extending this SMZ status to New Jersey’s artificial reefs resulting in getting the commercial traps off our reefs.
Considerable discussion focused on the devastation created by Sandy. Tim Burden from the NJ Beach Buggy Association reported that his club has been trying to improve beach access with the shore towns affected by Sandy. He indicated that in his discussion with Sea Bright officials, this town still does not want to change their restrictions on public access to their beach.