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President's Report

by Joseph Puntasecca

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association March 2013 Newsletter)

 

Elections were held at our January General Meeting. There were no nominations from the floor. Your officers for 2013 are:

President: Joseph Puntasecca
First Vice President: Mark Taylor
Second Vice President: Paul Haertel
Treasurer: Doug Tegeder
Recording Secretary: Tom Siciliano
Corresponding Secretary: Paul Turi
Membership Secretary: John Toth

It has been very busy lately here at JCAA. Several bills threaten to hijack the Division of Fish and Wildlife from the DEP, NMFS is attempting to protect the dusky shark by implementing a minimum size for all sharks at 96” and we are facing drastic cuts to the black sea bass quota once again. Not to mention, as I write my column, we are following a potentially devastating coastal storm that could set back all the hard work and recovering that the Jersey Shore and the rest of the state have already accomplished.

Jersey Coast Anglers Association has submitted public comment on Addendum XXIII for Black Sea Bass this past month. Those comments can be found at the end of my column.

With all that is happening lately in the HMS world, JCAA would like to form an HMS committee similar to what it once had in the past. If you would like to serve on this committee, please email myself at jpuntasecca@jcaa.org. Many of the meetings this committee needs to have throughout the year can be held via conference call so you don’t necessarily need to drive to the JCAA office to go to a meeting.

The show season is coming to a close. JCAA is still looking for volunteers to staff our booth for our final show, The Saltwater Fishing Expo March 15th – 17th (Somerset Show). Make sure to mark this date on your calendar and plan to attend. If anyone is interested in volunteering, please contact Mark Taylor at mtsport64@aol.com. This is where we interact with people who do not belong to any clubs and are misinformed on issues. It is a great experience to meet many different people who enjoy something you love to do.

For those of you who took advantage of giving a contribution to non-profit or charitable organizations that support fishing or anglers, I thank you. Your contribution will be utilized to support and protect the rights of all anglers who fish in New Jersey.

 

Sportsperson-of-the-Year

Just a quick reminder, don’t forget our 2012 Sportsperson-of-the-Year Dinner is coming up on April 14, 2013. We had to postpone this great event due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. We look forward to seeing everyone at Crystal Point in April!

 

NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry Program / NJ Volunteer Angler Survey

Don’t forget to register or re-register with the NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry Program for 2013. You can register or renew your registration for 2013 by going to: www.saltwaterregistry.nj.gov. If you do go fishing please consider filling out the NJ Volunteer Angler Survey to help the Bureau of Marine Fisheries better manager our resources by going to this link.

You can also check regulations changes, get current advisories, check launch ramp and park locations, report violations, as well as fill out the NJ Voluntary Angler Survey now on your smartphone or tablet with the new Official NJ Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife application!

 

NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry Program / NJ Volunteer Angler Survey

Don’t forget to register or re-register with the NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry Program for 2013. You can register or renew your registration for 2013 by going to: www.saltwaterregistry.nj.gov. If you do go fishing please consider filling out the NJ Volunteer Angler Survey to help the Bureau of Marine Fisheries better manage our resources by going to this link.

You can also check regulations changes, get current advisories, check launch ramp and park locations, report violations, as well as fill out the NJ Voluntary Angler Survey now on your smartphone or tablet with the new Official NJ Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife application.

 


REMINDER

FEMA is operating out of the Brick Civic Plaza. Our February General Meeting will be held at the Jersey Coast Anglers Association office, 1201 Route 37 East, Suite 9, Toms River, NJ.


 

To Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

Toni Kerns
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
1050 N. Highland St. Suite 200 A-N
Arlington, Va. 22201

 

Toni,

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association represents 65 recreational fishing clubs and over 30,000 anglers who fish the waters off New Jersey. Our member clubs have reviewed and discussed the draft addendum and provide the following comments.

We are pleased that the MAFMC voted to request that the Scientific and Statistical Committee reconsider their recommendation for the 2013 allowable biological catch (ABC) limit in light of the most recent black sea bass landings and stock information. We are confident that this action will result in more reasonable harvest levels. We believe that this anticipated increase should be large enough to allow all of the affected States to have the same regulations that they had in 2012. Regulations were tough last year and negatively affected many fishermen and the various businesses that they support. Restricting us further from a healthy fishery particularly in these economic times while our coast is trying to recover from Hurricane Sandy is just wrong. Further leaving the regulations the same for two or more years would result in much more accurate data being acquired.

Additionally, we are aware that the FMP does not allow for conservation equivalency. However, we are in favor of an amendment to the plan that would make the necessary changes consistent with those proposed in the document

In recent years the options that have been best for New Jersey and some of the other states have not been the ones chosen by the majority. In the past, JCAA has favored State by State measures. We are confident that the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council will make more prudent decisions than other states and therefore we are opposed to most regional management proposals. The regional approach tends to favor States that far exceed their target. Further regulations that are good for the northern part of a region might be far different than what is best for the southern part of the region. Last year there was a proposal for regional management where New Jersey would have been its own region. Since there were no public hearings on the development of proposals this year, we suggest that you add a proposal where the States to the South of NJ would be one region and the States to the north of NJ be another region. New Jersey would be its own region because the fishery we have here differs from that of the States north of us as well as the States south of us.

This year the proposed State by State measure is one of the least favorable options as it would force our State to have either a 52.8% or 53.2% reduction. Yet it seems to be the option that will favor the majority of the other States. Whether this is the option that is chosen or not, you need to be fair and follow the same procedure for 2014 Therefore in regard to Addendum XXIII, section 4.2 we support option 2 which would extend the addendum by one year. These reductions would most likely be the same if New Jersey were to become its own region. All of the options being considered under section 4.1 are unacceptable. We are hopeful that you will consider our suggested alternatives. If not, we reluctantly support option 2 provided it is implemented for two years.

Additionally, we would like to comment further on the addendum as follows:

The Statement of the Problem has not presented a cogent case that there is indeed a problem. In fact it is obvious that the problem lies with an unrealistic harvest limit that is inconsistent with the historical information provided and the continued reliance on the fatally flawed MRFS data which has not been significantly improved by the introduction of the new MRIP system.

1. In the Stock Status section it is stated that “Based on the June 2012 update, the stock is not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, relative to the biological reference points. Spawning stock biomass (SSB) in 2011 is 24.6 million pounds.”

Therefore the projected 2012 catch of 2.99 million pounds represents a catch rate of 12.15% of the SSB. It is not logical that removing 12.15% of the available fish will have a negative impact on the fishery.

2. A close examination of Table 5 shows a dramatic inconsistency between the harvest limit and the actual harvest. When the size limit was increased from 9” to 10” for the 1998 season the harvest limit dropped from 4 million pounds to 1.2 million pounds. As the fish had an opportunity to grow from 9” to 10” the harvest increased to 1.7 million pounds in 1999 and then 4.0 million pounds in 2000. In 2001 the size limit was again increased, this time to 11” and the season shortened. This resulted in a decrease in the harvest to 3.4 million pounds. This occurred while the harvest limit remained at 3.15 million pounds. In 2002 the size limit was raised to 11.5” and the season opened all year. This resulted in a harvest of 4.3 million pounds. For 2003 the size was raised yet again, this time to 12” and the season shortened. As expected the harvest dropped to 3.3 million pounds. The size limit remained at 12” for 2004 – 2008 and the harvest varied from a low of 1.56 million pounds in 2008 to a high of 2.25 million pounds in 2007. During this period the Harvest limit set dropped from 4.13 million pounds in 2005 to 2.11 million pounds in 2008. What we had for five years is a relatively consistent harvest and each year was below the harvest limit set. There was no apparent reason to increase the size limit and decrease the harvest limit almost in half for 2009. It was certainly no surprise to anglers who are actually out fishing that the harvest limit would be exceeded in 2009. The only thing that changed was the harvest limit. Simple common sense indicates that the problem was the harvest limit was set incorrectly. This pattern of changing the harvest limit and changing the seasons is the problem that we face today. The trends shown by the MRFS and MRIP data indicate that the fishery is healthy and that there is season to season variability in the catch levels. Additionally as protogenous hermaphrodites, most sea bass change to males by the time they reach 13”. With a size limit of 12 ½”, the vast majority of females are protected. This is the reason that there are far more sea bass in our waters than assessments and surveys have shown. It is also why their size and range has been increasing. It seems to have been forgotten that MRFS and MRIP are designed to show trends in fishery abundance. They are in no way indicative of what is actually being caught. Until the sample size for the surveys is dramatically increased they will continue to be suspect.


Respectfully submitted,
Joseph Puntasecca
President - JCAA

 

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