FISHERIES MANAGEMENT & LEGISLATIVE REPORT
by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association (February 2000 Newsletter)
By the time this newspaper reaches you, the Technical Committee of the ASMFC may have reviewed New Jersey's proposals for striped bass regulations for the year 2000. These proposals include some really different alternatives including slot limits. This needs to be done prior to the Striped Bass Board Meeting. The next step after the Technical Committee will be to submit our proposals to the Striped Bass Board on February 7 for their approval. New Jersey is setting up three hearings to provide information and get your input before the final state regulations are enacted through legislation. These proposals could make real differences on how we manage striped bass in New Jersey's waters. We will be soliciting your comments on this topic at the public meetings This must be done in a timely manner in order to get the legislation we need. There should be some interesting proposals and we need your input. If you or your club wants to receive this information as soon as I receive it then it is important to give me an email contact person. Send his or her name and email address to email@example.com
The striped bass public meetings are all scheduled for 7 p.m. and
I received a copy of the January 2000 American Sportfishing Newsletter. This newsletter contained interesting information about why anglers fish. The information came from the "Future of Fishing" surveys conducted in 1980, 1995 and 1999. According to ASA the results of these surveys show that in 1999 "more people who fish do so for relaxation (35%), to be with friends and family (33%), and to be close to nature (13%). Catching large trophy fish (3%), catching fresh fish for food (5%), and fishing simply for the sport of it (7%) are no longer considered motivations by most anglers." The entire report is available at the ASA website http://www.asafishing.org.
Some fisheries managers would conclude that recreational anglers now pursue fishing for the social benefits rather than for actually catching fish for their personal consumption. According to the survey, this has changed dramatically. In 1980 almost 30% of anglers fished for food, now only about 5% fish for food. In 1980 about 10% of anglers fished for a trophy fish. Now only about 3% do. Compare that to fishing for relaxation, which rose from less than 15% in 1980 to 35% in 1999.
I find this information very interesting. I would like to share my analysis of these statistics. It would be tempting to assume that anglers no longer care about catching a trophy fish or bringing home fish to eat and are simply fishing for relaxation. My experience suggests that different reasons underlie these responses, especially for saltwater anglers.
From 1980 to the present day, anglers have become more aware of the contaminants in fresh water and salt water fish. In any state's fishing digest you will find many advisories for limiting the consumption of various species. Most of these advisories, whether for salmon in the Great Lakes or striped bass in the Hudson River, suggest strict guidelines on the consumption of these species. The guidelines are even stricter for children or women of child bearing age. In the 1970's and early 80's, I thought nothing of filleting an entire cooler of 15-pound or larger bluefish for my family and friends. After all the PCB advisories on large bluefish in the 80's, I no longer keep or consume this quantity of large bluefish nor am I willing to be responsible for feeding family and friends. I have taken the same action regarding steaks from large striped bass. This is true of all the fish with advisories. We certainly don't eat as much as we did twenty years ago and this leaves me with less motivation to catch fish with advisories for personal consumption.
Many of the fish that I would now take home for food are the ones with strict bag limits and large size limits. In addition, some of these species are harder to catch due to the depletion of the stocks from commercial overharvesting. In the 70's and 80's I could come home with a cooler full of summer flounder for family and friends, filling our freezers for the winter. With the collapse of the stocks by the commercial fishermen during the late 80's and the implementation and subsequent reduction of the bag limit, I am lucky to come home with one legal summer flounder for tonight's dinner.
Now consider the anglers who did enjoy fishing for a trophy fish. Those fish are gone, swept up in nets and hooks of the commercial fishermen. This is true of mako shark, striped bass, large bluefish, large weakfish, true giant blue tuna and many other species. The same problems exist along the south Atlantic and the Gulf. The only places trophy size fish like snook, tarpon and redfish are seeing resurgence are places where they were made a game fish.
This survey does not address the issue of decreased recreational participation. We all know that fewer people are fishing, and I believe we are managing recreational anglers off the beach and off the boat. When I fished with my father in the 50's, there were more than 60 party boats and hundreds of charter boats in Brooklyn. The Sheepshead Bay fleet had more than 50 party boats and 100 charter boats. On any given day you would find people fishing; in the winter for whiting, ling, blackfish and cod, in the spring for weakfish, winter flounder, blackfish, sea bass, striped bass and mako sharks, in the summer for summer flounder, scup, bluefish, and weakfish, in the fall for all the migrating species including bluefin tuna. When I stopped by Sheepshead Bay a few years ago, I found four luxury cruise boats for dinner and gambling and only eight party boats. The charter boat fleet was almost nonexistent. The tackle stores that supplied these boats were no longer the fully stocked wonders of my youth. Only two remained open and their stocks were as depleted as the fish. When was the last time someone asked these clients why they go fishing. They are no longer there to respond to the survey.
In my estimation, this chart says more about fisheries management than it does about why anglers fish. With increased advisories and regulations, anglers have had no choice but to find other reasons to go fishing. We have to content ourselves with the social benefits, positive though those may be, when there simply are no fish to catch. Ask any angler more questions, find our why he or she learned to love fishing in the first place and I would bet that you would get different information than what is included in this survey. If there were more fish to catch for food or trophy, you would probably find more anglers on the beach or in the boats to respond to the survey. If we changed the population responding to the survey, the results could be very different. Fisheries managers should be careful about the assumptions they make based on this survey.
Below is the letter sent to the NJ Division of Fish and Game requesting that they be consistent in enforcing their regulations and move the reduction boats two miles from the beach. The White Dove or any other purse seiner cannot harvest fish that are used for food within the two-mile limit. The same regulations apply to the otter trawl fishermen. There is some controversy in how the regulations are interpreted. Fishing for menhaden has been allowed within the two-mile limit for bait and "other". In developing the regulations, "other" referred to reduction for fish meal, not for human consumption. When these regulations were developed, menhaden were not considered for human consumption. That is a relatively new usage. Consistently the regulation has been interpreted to disallow fishing for food fish within the two-mile limit using the specified gear. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.
Menhaden Project Update -January, 2000
Mr. Robert McDowell
Director of Division Fish and Wildlife
Trenton, NJ 08625-0400
Dear Robert McDowell:
Jersey Coast Anglers Association has always been aware that you could not purse seine or otter trawl within two miles of the beach for food fish according to Division of Fish and Wildlife Regulations. We realize that more than three years ago the FDA gave approval for the use of menhaden for food products; specifically fish oil supplements in tomato sauce, butter and other products. At the NJ Assembly hearing on the Menhaden Bill on December 13, members of the menhaden reduction industry testified that they are now selling menhaden byproducts for use in vitamins, food supplements and in products like butter and tomato sauce. Given this testimony, it is clear that the reduction boats do not meet the current Division of Fish and Wildlife Regulations. We are requesting that you take the necessary steps to be consistent with your regulations and move the reduction boats two statutory miles from the beach. They no longer meet the criteria necessary to fish within the two-mile limit.
JCAA is expecting your immediate action on this matter. The Division of Fish and Wildlife must be consistent with the implementation of the existing regulations in order to maintain credibility with all user groups. Thank you for your immediate attention. Please let JCAA know when you will take action to notify the reduction boats that they are no longer allowed to fish within two statutory miles of the beach.
Thomas P. Fote
Legislative Chairman JCAA & NJSFSC
22 Cruiser Court, Toms River NJ, 08753
732-270-9102 Fax 732-506-6409
It might appear that the only thing we have achieved after two years of hard work by many people was to have the State agree to move the Bait restriction in Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays from .3 to .6 of a mile. It will obviously take longer than any of us would have thought to get real change enacted into law. We cant lose sight of the fact that we have gotten the attention of folks both at the National and State level. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has disbanded the commercially biased Menhaden Management Board and is re-assessing their management practices. We have developed public awareness and gotten the recreational community united behind a common cause.
The manner in which the State Agriculture Committee under Assemblyman Gibson sabotaged the assembly version of the Menhaden Protection Bill, which would have eliminated reduction fishing in State waters, was disgraceful on his part and a setback for both commercial and recreational interests in New Jersey. We are learning from our mistakes and we dont intend to give up. It is clear that science alone will not win the day and we have to better prepare ourselves to influence our State representatives. We are working in both the legislative and administrative arena, pursuing initiatives on three fronts:
The Menhaden project has begun the creation of a Voter Alert, using the thousands of petitions you have submitted. It is divided by voting district. This works as an effective tool in getting needed support from our legislatures. We could use some financial support on this project. Several clubs have contributed two to five dollars per member. When the Voter Alert is complete, I will make it available to member clubs. If your club would like to help, send a check made payable to the Hi-Mar Striper Club, P.O. Box 126, Middletown, NJ 07748.
Please dont let the process wear you down. Im sure that if we stay with it, a sensible program for Menhaden management in New Jersey will become a reality. WE WILL PERSIST UNTIL WE SUCCEED!
Four years ago JCAA testified at a Congressional Hearing on sand mining. At that time we were opposed to any sand mining in the ocean for private profit. Our position has not changed. Along with other organizations, we were successful in getting the proposal killed by the U.S. Department of the Interior. However, it appears that the ocean is at risk again. Amboy Aggregates of South Amboy is again requesting permission to sand mine about 100 square miles from just north of Long Branch to just south of Belmar. This is a smaller proposal than the previous one but our objections are just as valid. The Mineral Management Service of the Department of Interior will hold information meetings on the proposal from 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 28 at Bradley Beach Borough Hall and from 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 29 at the Holiday Inn in Carteret. It is important that people attend this hearing and make their objections known. If you are unable to attend you can send in your comments. Included below is my testimony from August 6, 1996 and the federal register notice
Legislative Chairman of JCAA & NJSFSC
Thomas P Fote
Jersey Coast Anglers Association would like to thank Congressman James Saxton for holding this field hearing on a competitive lease sale of Federal sand and gravel resources from the waters offshore of New Jersey. We would also like to thank Congressman Frank Pallone for his attendance at this hearing. I am here today representing the Jersey Coast Anglers Association and the New Jersey Federation of Sportsmens Clubs with a combined membership of one hundred fifty thousand concerned individuals.
Many of us have been involved in issues to protect the ocean for a long time. It seems we can never stop being vigilant. Once we resolve one threat, another is never far behind. Weve been together at hearings, press conferences and meetings on wood burning, sludge dumping, garbage dumping, chemical dumping, acid dumping and numerous other assaults on the ocean. Now, businesses motivated by short-term profits want to mine sand from the ocean floor. These companies show no concern for the impact of their actions on the ocean ecosystem. There is no consideration for those whose livelihood depends on a clean, healthy ocean or for those of us who know the ocean is an integral part of all our lives.
When we walk on the beach or sun ourselves on the sand, we often fail to recognize the diversity of life that is all around us. Sandpipers poke their beaks just below the surface to feast on the organisms that live there. Turtles and horseshoe crabs are two of the many species that lay their eggs in the sand both inshore and offshore. As children we dug holes in the sand and found sand crabs, a source of food for many species. It takes only a trained eye to find all the life on the dry, beach sand. Just imagine all the life supported in the sand at the ocean floor. Like the rainforest, a fragile ecosystem that is only inches from the surface, most of the life on the ocean floor is concentrated in the first few feet of sand. And like any disturbance of the soil in the rainforest, any assault on the sand on the ocean floor has a dramatic and long lasting impact. It will not quickly reestablish itself once the damage has occurred.
The floor of the ocean is already under constant assault from scallop dredging, otter trawl fishing, and surf clamming. The gear these commercial fisheries use impacts the ocean floor and many worry about what long-term effect this will have. Because of the currents on the floor of the ocean, every lump or hill draws fish. The least productive areas are flat, sandy stretches. The trawling and scallop dredges flatten the fish attracting lumps and wrecks. To demonstrate how little sand miners understand the ocean floor, marine biologists and fishermen were appalled when a sand mining company offered to help us out by flattening the Seaside Lump, the Barnegat Ridge and the Manasquan Ridge, some of the most productive fishing areas along the Jersey coast.
Weve already seen the consequence of the current damage to the ocean floor by certain gear types for commercial fishing and ocean dumping on inshore sites has resulted in decreased fish production and what appears to be a long-term change in the topography of the ocean floor. A review of this proposal suggests that this is a tremendous undertaking that will have a considerably greater effect on the ocean floor than either commercial fishing or previous dumping. Unfortunately this permit request will probably be just the beginning. Once commercial strip mining of the ocean floor becomes a profitable reality, it will be almost impossible to stop. Remember how long we have been fighting to end ocean dumping, and were still not finished. Wouldnt it have made sense not to begin it in the first place?
In April this subcommittee had a field hearing on bluefish, establishing the importance of this species to both the commercial and recreational fisheries. The decline in sand lance, also known as sand eels, was identified as one cause for the decline in bluefish. There are two species of sand lance (Ammodytes spp.), one which inhabits inshore and estuarine waters, and one that inhabits offshore waters. Both species occur in near shore waters that are targeted by sand mining. These fish are also key forage for striped bass, summer flounder, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and many other species. When sand lance spawn they produce demersal eggs that attach to bottom substrate as opposed to pelagic eggs which float. Spawning would take place in areas of sand mining activities and the eggs would be very vulnerable to sand mining operations. In addition the adults bury themselves in the sand and could be destroyed in the mining.
The region proposed for sand mining is also critical habitat for planktonic larvae that settle to the bottom. Economically important species of fish have been shown to concentrate in this area and use it as a nursery area for juveniles. Some important commercial and recreational species of fish also spawn in the proposed region. The process of sand mining could have a detrimental impact upon juvenile stages and spawning activity of key species.
The only two articles I could find to research sand mining were on mining for beach replenishment. These articles are from the Committee on Beach Nourishment and Protection, Marine Board, Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems of the National Research Council and the Habitat Hotline Atlantic. This research is limited to small projects designed for beach nourishment and they expressed serious concerns about the short term and long term consequences of these projects. These articles stressed that much more research needs to be done. There is an absence of any research along this area of the coast to support approval of large-scale sand mining.
It is abundantly clear that we do not need any additional assaults on the ocean. Every time we attempt to resolve a land-based problem by using the ocean, we create an even greater long-term problem in the ocean. This makes me think of the Peter, Paul and Marys song that asked the question: "When will we ever learn?" The Congressmen, mayors and citizens of the beach communities have learned and we will not allow the public and the government to forget these lessons.
Release For Tomorrow
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Minerals Management Service Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), Request for Information and interest in a Commercial Sand and Gravel Lease Sale Offshore Northern New Jersey AGENCY: Minerals Management Service (MMS), Interior. ACTION: Request for Information and Interest (RFII).
SUMMARY: In 1996, the MMS received a request from a private company for a competitive sand and gravel commercial lease sale offshore northern New Jersey. A RFII was published in the Federal Register on May 21, 1996 (Vol. 61, No. 99). The MMS deferred further action, that is, preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) after the company advised that they were pursuing other sources of sand and gravel. In 1998, and again in 1999, the company requested that MMS end the deferral of the competitive lease sale process and prepare an EIS. Because a significant amount of time has passed, MMS has decided to issue another RFII and to focus the area being considered to a much smaller one than that identified in the 1996 request. This smaller, more focused area reflects comments received on the earlier RFII[[Page 1414]] and is depicted on the accompanying page-size map.
This RFII is published pursuant to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) as amended (43 U.S.C. 1331-1356 (1988)), and accompanying regulations (30 CFR part 281).Purpose of the RFII
The purpose of the RFII is to gather comments, information and indications of interest from interested parties about a possible commercial sand and gravel lease sale offshore northern New Jersey. This does not mean that a preliminary decision to lease in this area has been made. The MMS would like comments addressing the area identified, including information on: Commercial, navigational, recreational, and multiple-use considerations; Environmental concerns, including information on biological and physical resources; Archaeological resources; and Social and economic issues.
This RFII is one of the early steps in a public-participation process that includes a thorough environmental analysis and compliance with the State's coastal zone management program. If a decision is made to prepare an EIS, the MMS will provide for several additional opportunities for public comment .Description of the Area
The RFII area is located off the northern coast of New Jersey beginning 3 nautical miles (nm) from shore and extending southward 12 nm from slightly north of Long Branch to slightly south of Belmar. The landward boundary is the 3 nm line separating the Federal OCS and State submerged land jurisdictions. The seaward edge of the area is narrowest on the north (10 nm from shore) and widens slightly on the south (12 nm from shore). The area contains 10 whole OCS blocks and 4 partial blocks. Generally OCS blocks are 9 square miles. A large scale map of the RFII area showing boundaries of the RFII area with numbered blocks is available from MMS at the following address:
Service, Division of International Activities and Marine Minerals, 381 Elden Street, Mail Stop 4030, Herndon, VA 22070, Phone: (703) 787-1300, FAX: (703) 787-1284.BILLING CODE 4310-MR-P[[Page 1415]] [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN10JA00.013BILLING CODE 4310-MR-C[[Page 1416]]
Relation to Coastal Management Plans
The MMS specifically requests comments on potential conflicts with approved local coastal management plans (CMP) that may result from future commercial sand and gravel mining within the RFII area. We request that you identify specific CMP policies; the types of conflicts you foresee; and possible steps that MMS could take to avoid or mitigate these conflicts. Your comments may address the entire area under consideration or portions of the area. We request that you list block numbers or clearly outline the subject area on the large-scale RFII map.Areas of Specific Industry Interest
We request that industry respondents indicate specific blocks or areas within the RFII area that are of particular interest for consideration in a possible OCS sand and gravel lease sale. Industry respondents are asked to outline their area(s) of interest on the large-scale RFII map and to submit a list of block numbers nominated (including both whole and partial blocks). Although identities of those indicating interest in specific areas within this RFII become a matter of public record, the blocks that the individual company(s) identifies are considered proprietary information.
Industry respondents should rank areas of specific interest according to priority: 1 (high), 2 (medium), and 3 (low). Areas identified that do not indicate priorities will be considered priority 3. The name and telephone number of a person in the respondent's organization to contact for additional information or clarification should be included in the response.Commenting Procedures
The MMS must receive your comments, information and/or indications of interest (in envelopes labeled RFII Information (or Indication of Interest)) no later than 90 days following publication of this document in the Federal Register. Please submit the RFII map with comments and/ or indications of interest to: Minerals Management Service, Division of International Activities and Marine Minerals, 381 Elden Street, Mail
Stop 4030, Herndon, VA 22070.
The MMS will hold information meetings on February 28, 2000, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., at the Bradley Beach Borough Hall, Bradley Beach, New Jersey, and on February 29, 2000, at the Holiday Inn, 1000 Roosevelt Avenue, Carteret, New Jersey, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Additional Information
1. The MMS would like to clarify that any possible sand and gravel commercial lease sale within the RFII area will not include any requirements for the end use of the sand and gravel.
2. The MMS will restrict dredging to relatively shallow and uniform depths to preserve ocean bottom topography and promote rapid recolonization of biota in dredged areas. The MMS will prohibit themining of deep pits for use in the disposal of any material.
3. The MMS has completed an Environmental Report assessing possible consequences associated with using OCS sand for beach nourishment along the U.S. east coast from Northern New Jersey to the Virginia/North Carolina border. A self-contained and separate appendix within the Environmental Report assesses potential environmental impacts of offshore mining for construction aggregate material. The appendix mayprovide useful information as parties prepare responses to this RFII. The Environmental Report, and the appendix are available through the MMS's internet web-site at www.mms.gov/intermar/marineac.htm.
Use of Responses to the RFII
The MMS will use information in response to this RFII in several ways. First, MMS will use comments on possible environmental impacts and multiple use conflicts to help in our analysis and handling of concerns in and near the RFII area. Based on this information we will make a preliminary determination on the potential advantages and disadvantages of OCS sand and gravel exploration and development within the RFII area and whether to prepare an EIS. Second, MMS will use the responses to identify specific areas within the RFII area that are of interest for potential commercial sand and gravel leasing and development. Third, comments will be used to identify potential conflicts among offshore activities and State or local coastal zone management plans. Finally, comments may be used to develop requirements to ensure safe and environmentally sound activities. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Carol A. Hartgen, International Activities and Marine Minerals, (703) 787-1300. Dated: January 4, 2000. WC Rosenbusch,Director, Minerals Management Service.
Wednesday, December 22, 1999
Dear Vice President Al Gore
We are asking you to keep the promise you made to the citizens of New Jersey. You promised that we would end the dumping of contaminated materials in the Atlantic Ocean. JCAA was skeptical that this would really happen since a loophole was left in the original agreement that would allow for the remediation of the Mud Dump. That is why JCAA did not sign on to the original agreement. What we suspected came to pass. Contaminated material is being used as clean fill to cap the Mud Dump. JCAA and the NJ State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs continue in our opposition to the dumping of any contaminated material in the ocean. It doesn't matter what you call it or how you define it or how you label it, it's still contaminated. We are both Vietnam veterans and understand how lies were told to us about Agent Orange. Many of our fellow veterans are suffering the consequences of these lies. Their children are suffering as well. To allow the further contamination of the ocean that will result in contaminated seafood, putting future generations at risk, is inexcusable. There are some pollution sites that are difficult to deal with. In this case, however, you have the direct power to make it stop. We are calling on you to do so immediately. Tell Governor Pataki that he must follow the lead of Governor Christine Todd Whitman and stop the dumping now. Contaminated dredge spoils are not what we expected as a Christmas gift.
Thomas P. Fote
Legislative Chairman JCAA & NJSFSC
22 Cruiser Court, Toms River NJ, 08753
732-270-9102 Fax 732-506-6409