By John Koegler
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association - March 1996 Newspaper)
WHAT IS YOUR VERDICT?
Twenty years ago Congress passed the Magnuson Act which created a management system based on eight regional councils as stewards of our public resources. Seven "National Standards" were developed to provide management guide lines for these councils. Congress, intent was to protect our EEZ fisheries from overfishing using scientific fisheries management.
Recreational fishermen, do you have more or fewer fishing opportunities today than you enjoyed five, ten, even twenty distant, misty, precious years back? Your appointed representatives have spent billions of your tax dollars on fisheries studies, research, management and enforcement over the last twenty years..
The United States government spent billions of dollars to manage our ocean resources using the national standards as a guide. However, the following national standards have never been utilized for the benefit of the resource or the recreational fishermen.
A multitude of ocean resources have, in twenty short years,been decimated by overfishing. Most of our key fisheries are now over exploited. Each and every day, whether through scientific or personal observations, we observe fisheries stocks getting worse. Today a crisis, tomorrow a fishery collapse and all supported and paid for by your tax dollars.
Recreational fishermen are often told, "Be patient. Work with the system. It takes time." How long? This year marks twenty (20) years of Federal fisheries management. Is there anyone who does not understand it is time for our appointed managers to stand before a fishermens jury and give an accounting of their stewardship.
All clubs should be aware of pending changes to the 1996 offshore regulations. These changes will affect sharks, swordfish and all Tunas that you catch. Acting Chief, Highly Migratory Species Management Division, William Hogarth states in the new advisory: "To expedite implementation of final (1996) rules, NMFS will NOT conduct formal scoping meetings but solicits written comments to assist in development of proposed rules to be released in March/April." This is a major change in scoping procedure. It is important that everyone submit comments. Have your club write a letter covering each of these important issues. Attend the February JCAA meeting and JCAA will provide you and your club with an outlined offshore fisheries. This is very important, please participate.