It has taken a long time but the NJ Marine Fisheries Council at their July 13 meeting voted in favor of Councilman Dickersons proposal to not allow the fishing for menhaden, by any method, for the purpose of reduction within state waters. As expected the vote was split, 6 in favor and 4 against. This is not the end but just the beginning of the process.
This proposal will be included in a series of regulations that the Division of Fish and Wildlife are drawing up, it will probably be published in September, with public comment in October and ready for implementation for Jan 2001. It will be important for you to show up at the public hearings to reinforce the NJMFC decision. We come too far to let down now.
It has been a long hard fight and many folks have taken personal abuse over this issue, but some very significant accomplishments have been achieved. The JCAA, Menhaden Project, RFA and many clubs and environmental groups have all very hard on these important issues. First, was the uniform state-wide implementation of the 0.6 mile buffer zone for all menhaden bait boats will help reduce the pressure on bunker in many parts of the Raritan/Sandyhook bay and now the reduction boats will be eliminated from fishing NJ waters saving 10s of millions of pounds of forage fish each year. Now the final step will be moving the reduction boats out of state waters. We need your help to accomplish the final step. These are both important steps in ensuring the forage base will be stable and available for the recovering stocks of gamefish like striped bass, weakfish and bluefish. These actions will also reduce conflicts, not only between sportsmen and commercial fishermen, but also between New Jersey bait fishermen and the larger reduction fishing boats.
Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard on this issue and helped to make these protections a reality but remember the job is not done. Look for public hearing dates and more information in the next issue of the JCAA Newspaper and at our web page.
Congrats to everyone.
Jersey Coast Anglers Association
New Jersey Fisheries Council Liaison