by Ed Cherry
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association October 2002 Newsletter)
On the Matter of Amendment 4, Interstate Weakfish Management, hearings are going to be held October 7, 2002, 6:00 P.M., Vineland Public Library, Doris Tripp Room, 1058 E. Landis Avenue, Vineland, N.J. and October 16, 2002, 7:00 P.MN., Ocean County Administration Building, 101 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, N.J.
It is important that you get, read and comment on this plan. The way the plan currently reads, New Jersey and Delaware take the BIGGEST HIT. The best-case scenario for New Jersey is a 65% reduction in recreational catch and the worst-case scenario is a 76% hit. The plan is a disaster. This is an open-ended fishery, with no quotas either on the commercial or recreational sides. However, the recreational anglers of New Jersey and Delaware are being asked to subsidize the rest or the other states’ recreational and commercial fisheries by being hit with more restrictions. New Jersey has been arbitrarily removed from its historical position in the southern management zone and placed in the northern zone. This on a stock the amendment admits is in a good state and rebuilding rapidly. A weakfish stock assessment [Stock Assessment Workshop (NMFS 2000)] indicated that weakfish were “at a high level of abundance and subject to low fishing mortality rates.” It is really not doing much on the commercial sector, which harvests 70% of the catch, except proposing the relaxing of some commercial regulations. With only a modest increase in market price of fish the commercial fishery could triple overnight. What is even stranger is that it is other recreational anglers in other states that are the drivers behind this amendment and their state directors, seeing this as a way to allow an increase in their commercial fishery, are more than happily respecting their request. This is the same scenario that is taking place in the Striped Bass fishery which proposes reducing the mortality rate and allowing for an increase in commercial catch. What is even worse is that the weakfish amendment is proposing a north-south line that has no scientific basis. We must tell our ASMFC Commissioners and Governors from New Jersey and Delaware that they cannot allow this to happen and if it does to sue the ASMFC for being discriminatory.
Interested parties should obtain a copy of the draft as outlined below.Written comment will be accepted until October 31, and should be submitted to:Carrie SelbergWeakfish FMP Coordinator 1444 Eye Street, NW Washington, DC, 20005 (202) 289-6051 (fax) or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, please contact Carrie Selberg, at (202) 289-6400.Write or call for a copy of the draft amendment 4, or download the .PDF format document from http://www.asmfc.org.