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Highly Migratory Species Report

By Tom Fote

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association July 1999 Newsletter)

 

Since the last JCAA meeting, the Highly Migratory Species Plan was released. It was every bit as bad as we expected and more! We have been on a campaign for the past month to encourage Governor Whitman to initiate a lawsuit against NMFS to stop the implementation of this plan. The governor has not let us know her final decision yet. You can help her make the right decision by writing letters supporting initiating the lawsuit. Congressman James Saxton is circulating a letter to the NJ Congressional Delegation asking them to join with him in requesting that the Governor sues the National Marine Fisheries Service over the HMS Plan.

Another recent development is that the RFA is collecting money to initiate an independent lawsuit, no matter what the governor does. Both of these efforts must be supported concurrently. It is in our best interest to have both lawsuits. You can contact the RFA for more information on making donations to their fund, 609-294-3315. I will be sending them my donation. Many surf and inshore fishermen may not think this is their battle. This is far from the truth. We are fighting the process, not the specific regulations. A win here can really benefit us all in the way rules are made and plans are written. We have to step up to the plate. Just complaining won't get anything done. If we let NMFS get away with this outrageous plan, every species will be on the line. They will believe, and our inaction will have confirmed, that they can do anything they want and we will simply whine about it for awhile and then go away. The groups in New Jersey are on the front lines of this battle. We need other states to join us. If you have contacts in other states, please let them know that they need to encourage their governors to take action and they need to send money to the RFA to support the lawsuit.

The following articles will get you up to date on what is happening.

Legislative and Fisheries Management Report on HMS Meetings on June 14-15

By Tom Fote Chairman

We had a meeting on Monday morning with Congressman James Saxton to discuss many topics including the lawsuit. Other attendees at the meeting were Sharon McKenna, representing Recreational Fishing Alliance, and AL Ristori, representing JCAA Highly Migratory Species Committee. Dusty Rhodes was invited by Congressman Saxton to answer some questions and brief him on what was going on with some Mid Atlantic Council issues but excused himself from the discussion of the lawsuit. After a lengthy discussion with Sharon, Al and I, Congressman Saxton said he would write a letter calling on Governor Whitman to sue the NMFS and ask his colleagues to sign.

That afternoon, Congressman Saxton informed me that he had set up a meeting in Washington with JCAA and the Department Commerce representatives for Tuesday, June 15, at 2:00 in Washington, DC, to discuss the reasons JCAA was asking the governor to sue the NMFS.

After the Monday morning meeting, Al Ristori, Sharon McKenna and I went to the RFA office. Jim Donofrio joined the three of us in a meeting with Rebecca Lent, director of HMS, to discuss the HMS Plan. This meeting went as well as could be expected. Even though we pointed out many flaws in the plan and discussed the obvious lack of science, there were no changes promised.

Congressman Saxton and I met in Washington on Tuesday with Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Terry Garcia, Penny Dalton, Director of National Marine Fishery Service, and Frank Lockhart, National Marine Fisheries Service. This meeting lasted two hours and I was able to present all our concerns about the plan. We did not get any commitment that they would change the regulations and, in truth, I don't expect to see any changes. My impression is that the bureaucrats have become increasingly intransigent about their role in developing plans for recreational fishing. They seem to believe that they are the only ones capable of making decisions about when, where and how much recreational anglers should harvest. They are clearly focused on recreational anglers as hook and release fishermen. They have no concept that we actually catch, keep and consume our fish. Until this mind set changes, the battle will continue.

At this time I believe our only option is to continue to press Governor Whitman to initiate a lawsuit against NMFS. She is our only hope in this matter. The NJ Senate and Assembly have both introduced resolutions supporting this action by the governor. The NJ Congressional Delegation will have the opportunity to sign on to Congressman Saxton's letter and support Governor Whitman in this action.

You need to contact all of your legislators at the state and federal level and ask for their help. In addition, you need to contact Governor Whitman directly by mail, fax or phone as soon as possible. Tell her you are counting on her to support recreational fishing and the industry that relies on it so heavily. If you have friends, relatives or business contacts in other states, have them contact their governor and urge him to follow Governor Whitman's lead.

JCAA CALLS ON GOVERNOR WHITMAN TO SUE NMFS

The National Marine Fisheries Service will publish its final rule from the recently developed Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Sharks, Tunas and Swordfish and Amendment 1 to the Billfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP) in the Federal Register on May 28th. It is widely recognized that the regulations affecting recreational fishing are biased and illegal under the Magnuson-Stevens Sustainable Fisheries Act and other laws aimed at protecting small businesses from unfair regulation.

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association is urging Governor Whitman and the State Attorney General to initiate legal action against the Secretary of Commerce to block implementation of these regulations and mount a legal challenge to the FMP to protect citizens and businesses in the state. The potential damage to the far-reaching recreational fishing industry in the state and the rights of citizens caused by these regulations is enormous. To allow such federal regulations to be implemented will cause serious harm to thousands of small businesses and negatively affect state tourism. We have the support of the NJ State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs with their 150,000 members.

It is incumbent upon the state to protect its citizens and businesses from undue and ill-conceived federal regulations and the recourse from this action is through legal challenge. JCAA will be meeting with the Governor’s council and representatives from the state Attorney General’s office to encourage them to act in a responsible manner and act quickly. Implementation of some regulations begins in June of this year.

New Jersey would not be the first state to bring suit against the Secretary of Commerce for unfair fisheries regulations. Other states have sued successfully over regulations and quota allocation procedures in FMPs developed by regional fisheries management councils. There is even recourse to recover legal fees when such suits are won. However, this would be the first time in recent memory that a state brought suit against the Secretary of Commerce over regulations arising from an FMP developed exclusively within the agency.

There are additional articles on this matter posted at the JCAA website http://www.jcaa.org or in the JCAA June Newspaper. There are email addresses of legislators at the site. If you need a copy of the JCAA Newspaper, look in your local tackle store or call JCAA at 732-506-6565.

You can help. Contact the Governor’s office by phone, fax or email and demand the state act responsibly to protect your interests. Contact your state senator and assemblymen and ask them to call the Attorney General and the Governor and request immediate action. Our federal representatives have requested changes but have been ignored. These federal representatives can join the chorus in requesting state action and support the Governor and Attorney General when this suit is filed. Get busy. Make your contacts today. The best time to stop this is during the first thirty days (until June 28th) after these regulations are published. We can not allow the agencies of the federal government to continue to destroy recreational fishing and the industries that depend on it. Act now-don’t put it off!

The Governor's address is:

The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman
Governor State of New Jersey
The State House, CN-001
Trenton NJ 08625-0001
PH 609-292-6000
FAX 609-292-3454
http://www.state.nj.us/governor/govmail.htm

Now is the time to act !!!

WILL GOVERNOR WHITMAN PROTECT NEW JERSEY ANGLERS AS WELL?

By vowing equal justice for New Jersey commuters to New York who will be discriminated against by that state's planned repeal of a commuter tax for New Yorkers only, Governor Whitman once again showed she's made of sterner stuff. New Jersey filed a class-action lawsuit on Tuesday, June 1, in New York Supreme Court, arguing the limited commuter tax repeal is a violation of interstate commerce and travel and of equal protection and due process.

Sounds a lot like the plight of New Jersey anglers concerning the National Marine Fisheries Service's unfair and biased plan for highly migratory species. Jersey Coast Anglers Association and NJ State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs ask the Governor next to apply her keen sense of justice and fair play to the outrage which has been perpetrated on New Jersey Anglers?

Anglers throughout the state have rallied behind a call for New Jersey to file suit against the Department of Commerce to halt the implementation of discriminatory provisions in NMFS's recently announced tuna, shark and billfish management plans. Ironically, the commuter issue with New York affects some 240,000 Garden State commuters, whereas the NMFS's big fish plan will negatively impact a million anglers in New Jersey and the New Jersey sportfishing businesses which depend on their patronage. On the basis of numbers alone and potential lost cash flow to New Jersey, one would think the fishery lawsuit is a slam-dunk!

We applaud Governor Whitman's ongoing courage and constant attention to the needs and rights of New Jersey residents. It's part of why she enjoys such widespread support throughout the state and why she was reelected to office. We hope she sees the parallels between the inequities and bias inherent in the commuter situation for which a lawsuit has been filed and similar inequities and bias within the NMFS's highly migratory fish plans.

JCAA LETTER TO GOVERNOR

Dear Honorable Governor Whitman;

JCAA and its 65 fishing club in NJ are asking you sue the National Marines Fishers Service! We the citizens of New Jersey need you to come to our aide by taking on the National Marine Fisheries Service. They have refused to listen to our federal legislators and the 800 citizens who testified at public hearings, concerning the final Highly Migratory Species rules.

It seem that the only way to make NMFS comply with the Magnuson act is for the State of New Jersey to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service.

You have shown that you are willing to take tough stands in the past, this is a time when we need you to do it again. The one million anglers in New Jersey are looking for a champion to take on the NMFS. We hope that you are that person. We need someone to make the federal Government abide by the rules and regulations like the rest of us must do.

Letter To Congressional Delegation

Dear Congressional Representative;

Below is a copy of the letter that JCAA sent to Governor Whitman requesting her help to protect the rights of the citizens of New Jersey. We need you to add your voice to those of the citizens of New Jersey calling on the governor to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service over new Highly Migratory Species Rules. Give your support to all the groups calling on the Governor to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service. We are also including Assembly Resolution AR 190 sponsored by Assemblyman John Gibson and Steve Corodemus calling on the governor to sue NMFS.

( The letter we included is the one above)

Assembly Resolution 190 Asks Governor to Sue NMFS Over HMS

The recreational fishing community congratulates Assemblymen John Gibson and Steve Corodemus for their hard work in drafting and introducing a resolution urging the Governor to sue the Department of Commerce.

After a meeting with representatives of the Recreational Fishing Alliance, the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, and at the request of the New Jersey Marine Trades Association, the New Jersey Boat Builders Association and the United Fishing Association, these progressive Assemblymen immediately recognized the potential for economic disaster for the State of New Jersey.

A new rule by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS, a division within the Department of Commerce) would set a daily bag limit of three yellowfin tuna per person. Further, it would reduce the bag limit on mako sharks for recreational anglers by fifty percent. Finally, it would place a minimum size on sharks for recreational anglers for the first time.

All of these restrictive measures would unfairly impact New Jerseyans who fish for these species.

We congratulate and thank the Assemblymen for their hard work and forethought. They are truly champions for the recreational anglers in this State. We are looking forward to the Governor’s response to this important resolution, and we urge all members of our respective groups to contact the Governor and urge her to use her good offices to stand up for New Jersey anglers and sue the Department of Commerce on our behalf.

We need to support Assemblymen John Gibson and Steve Corodemus in this effort by writing Faxing and emailing Governor, Christine Todd Whitman, and asking her to sue the NMFS.

Bill Number AR 190

AN ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION urging the Governor to initiate a lawsuit against the United States Department of Commerce concerning the Fishery Management Plan for yellowfin tuna and mako shark.

WHEREAS, On May 28, 1999, the National Marine Fisheries Service, within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States Department of Commerce, published in the Federal Register final regulations to implement the Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Tunas, Swordfish, and Sharks; and

WHEREAS, As part of the Fishery Management Plan, a 4 1/2 foot minimum length would be placed on the recreational catch for mako shark, the bag limit would be reduced from two mako shark to one mako shark, and a three fish per person per day limit would be placed on the yellow fin tuna (Thunnus albacares) catch; and

WHEREAS, The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act provides that any fishery management plan must be consistent with national standards for fishery conservation and management, which standards shall include conservation and management measures based upon the best scientific information available; and

WHEREAS, The Fishery Management Plan for yellow fin tuna and mako shark violate federal law because those species are not over fished or even near to being over fished; and

WHEREAS, Under federal law, a state may initiate a lawsuit against the United States Department of Commerce within 30 days of adoption of regulations implementing a Fishery Management Plan to block its implementation if it is considered inconsistent with national standards; and

WHEREAS, The implementation of these plans would cause significant economic hardship on New Jersey tourism and those small businesses that rely on the fishing industry such as marinas, motels and hotels, tackle shops, boat builders, and charter boats; and

WHEREAS, Many organizations, such as the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen Clubs, the New Jersey Marine Trades Association, the New Jersey Boat Builders Association, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, the United Fishing Association, and numerous independent fishing clubs, are urging the Governor to sue to stop the implementation of these regulations; now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. This House respectfully urges the Governor to initiate a lawsuit against the United States Department of Commerce concerning the Fishery Management Plan for yellowfin tuna and mako shark.

2. Duly authenticated copies of this resolution, signed by the Speaker of the General Assembly and attested by the Clerk thereof, shall be transmitted to the Governor of New Jersey, the Secretary of the United States Department of Commerce.

STATEMENT

This resolution would urge the Governor to initiate a lawsuit against the United States Department of Commerce concerning the Fishery Management Plan for yellowfin tuna and mako shark

Urges Governor to sue United States Department of Commerce to block implementation of Fishery Management Plan.

Association studies move to support angry anglers

May 29, 1999

By John Geiser

It's time for the state to take court action to protect the interests of the recreational fishing community, according to the Jersey Coast Anglers Association.

Thomas Fote, the association's legislative chairman, said the organization has urged Gov. Whitman to direct the state attorney general to take action against the secretary of commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service regarding the recently developed fishery management plan for Atlantic sharks, tuna and swordfish, and an amendment to the billfish management plan.

The plan was published in the Federal Register yesterday, and recreational interests are outraged at what they call discrimination, lack of scientific foundation for some of the regulations, and rejection of public opinion.

"It is widely recognized that the regulations affecting recreational fishing are biased and illegal under the Magnuson-Stevens Sustainable Fisheries Act, and other laws aimed at protecting small businesses from unfair regulation," Fote said. The fisheries service forged its plan without listening to or studying the effects the regulations might have on bait and tackle shops, marinas, party and charter boats and other fishing-related businesses.

The plan includes reduced angling bag limits on sharks and tuna, new permit requirements for recreational boatmen, more forms and paperwork for captains, and increased minimum sizes on billfish.

The assumption seemed to be that the demand of Congress to protect fisheries meant clamping down somewhere, even if it was on the fishermen who have done the least damage to fisheries.

It was not the recreational angler who decimated the cod, halibut, whiting, porgies, swordfish, bluefin tuna, and sharks and who has driven minor species, such as the barn door skate, to the brink of extinction.

"The potential damage to the far-reaching recreational fishing industry in the state and the rights of citizens caused by these regulations is enormous," Fote said.

He urged anglers to call or write to Whitman urging court action. Letters may be addressed to Christine Todd Whitman, Governor, State of New Jersey, State House, CN-001, Trenton NJ 08625-0001. The governor's office telephone number is (609) 292-6000.

Some of the regulations are effective immediately while others become effective July 1, in time to adversely impact charter and party boat bookings for sharks, tuna and billfish.

Star Ledger - Whitman's help urged in fight against NMFS

05/30/99

By Al Ristori

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association has asked Gov. Christie Whitman to initiate a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service over the three-yellowfin-tuna-per-man recreational limit that is now in effect.

That limit may not seem so bad, but it has no scientific basis for a species not considered overfished and constitutes a base from which further reductions are inevitable. The agency says the limit is a "pro-active" measure, but it displayed commercial bias by making no cuts in longline yellowfin fisheries.

It wasn't many years ago that NMFS imposed a modest four-bluefin-tuna-per-man limit on recreational fishermen. Now an $18 license is required to have a shot at a quota that doesn't average to a single bluefin per licensed boat, and provides a one bluefin per boat limit whenever NMFS decides to open the season for a week or two.

Those who don't want to be pushed out of angling's last frontier in the canyons should contact Gov. Whitman at The State House, CN-001, Trenton, NJ 08625-0001 (fax 609-292-3454) and ask for her support.

Bergen Record - JCAA tourney is nothing fluky

Sunday, May 30, 1999

By DON ECKER

Attention all fluke anglers! Here's another bad news/good news story that concerns you. The bad news: If you have not signed up for the Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA) Fluke Tournament next Sunday you are missing a great opportunity to win cash and merchandise prizes. Even the door prizes are blockbusters. How about a Cobia-Yamaha-Shoreland'r fishing boat package worth more than $26,000 as a door prize!

Wait, there's more. Like a Ford 4X4, Penn fishing tackle, Raytheon electronics, $1,000 and $500 first and second-place cash awards at each of 10 different ports. Now the good news: There's still time to sign up. You can fax your entry to (732) 506-6975, using a Visa or Mastercard to pay the entry fee. until 6 p.m. Friday. For more information, call JCAA Headquarters at (732) 506-6565. Late entries also will be accepted at each of the 12 weigh stations from Jersey City through Fortescue on Friday.

For an application form, check recent editions of The Fisherman or South Jersey Angler, go On Line to www.jcaa.org, or get one from any of the 12 weigh stations. The entry fee is $85 per boat and that covers up to six anglers. The weigh stations closest to our area are: MM Tackle and Bait, 100 Marine Blvd., Jersey City, (201) 451-6272, and Julian's Bait and Tackle, 990 Rt. 36, Atlantic Highlands, (732) 291-0050.

The JCAA is a not-for-profit organization, fighting to save our fishery resources and safeguard the rights of recreational anglers. The proceeds generated by the tournament go to the JCAA to enable it to continue to fight the good fight.

As an example of the vital work of the JCAA, the organization is now locked in a struggle to block implementation by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the final rules from the recently developed "Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Sharks, Tunas and Swordfish," and Amendment 1 to the Billfish Fishery Management Plan.

According to JCAA officials: "It is widely recognized that the regulations affecting recreational fishing are biased and illegal under the Magnuson-Stevens Sustainable Fisheries Act and other laws designed to protect small businesses from unfair regulations."

The JCAA has called upon Governor Whitman and the New Jersey Attorney General to initiate legal action against the U.S. Secretary of Commerce (NMFS is under the U.S. Dept. of Commerce).

The implementation of the new NMFS rules would have a negative impact on recreational angling and tourism in New Jersey, and the many thousands of Jersey people whose jobs and income are directly or indirectly involved in the recreational fishing industry. If you want to help and need more information, phone JCAA at 732-506-6565.

 

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