Joint ASMFC & MAFMC December Meeting

by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association December 2017 Newsletter)

The December joint meeting of the ASMFC & MAFMC agenda is posted at MAFMC web page. It is at the Westin Annapolis, 100 Westgate Circle, Annapolis, MD 21401. The agenda is below. The summer flounder portion will take place on the 12th and the ASMFC will probably propose an amendment to the plan. Black sea bass and bluefish will be on the 13th.

It is important that the proposed Summer Flounder Amendment allows NJ to be its own region and decide what measure it needs to put in place under conservation equivalence. Here is a reminder what took place in the last few years. The states at the ASMFC Summer Flounder, Black Sea Bass and Scup Board have not treated New Jersey equitably. In 2013 the Board said they wanted to create regions on summer flounder but all they did was drag New Jersey into a region with New York and Connecticut. This was for their advantage, not New Jersey’s. When Rhode Island and Massachusetts were placed in a region at the same board meeting that New Jersey was placed in the region with New York and Connecticut, they were allowed a different outcome. At the follow-up board conference call a few weeks later, Rhode Island was allowed to drop out of the region with Massachusetts. Then New Jersey made a motion to leave the region with New York and Connecticut and could not even get a second to discuss this motion.

In 2017 New Jersey filed an appeal on the 2017 regulations. The Commission’s appeal process in its present state is a joke. New Jersey wrote a comprehensive appeal that covered a number of points. The only point the sub-committee would allow was our weakest point. When NJ refused to implement the regulations decided by the ASMFC, the ASMFC sent an Out of Compliance letter to the Secretary of Commerce. NJ replied to the Secretary of Commerce saying we would implement regulations that would accomplish the 30% reduction without making us go to 19 inches. After working with NOAA to include some their recommendations we implemented those regulations and the Secretary of Commerce did not find us out of compliance. Let’s look at what those 2017 regulations that NJ put in place accomplished.

Reviewing the data, it looks like NJ did more than accomplish it target of reducing its catch by 30% in using the NOAA approved NJ conservation equivalence measures.

According to the latest data we had a 34% reduction in catch without using the 7%. We did this by reducing hook & release mortality through education. Our total reduction was 42%. We also had a lot less hook & release mortality by cutting the season by 24 days, so the reduction was even greater. With black sea bass season closed and tautog having one fish bag limit, no one was bottom fishing so there was probably no bycatch discard mortality during this period of time. All you have to do is ask party and charter captains, marinas and tackle stores to know what happened. There were no customers on their boats, marinas were not selling gas and the tackle stores were not selling gear and bait. It also had an impact on the businesses like restaurants that count on anglers spending money.

JCAA has been talking about getting people to this meeting and this discussion will take place at the November 28th general meeting so it important that your club representatives attend. We are hoping that clubs and their members will help pay for the cost of the busses. If we cannot get enough people, we could rent some vans and drive them down to the meeting. We will be sending out a JCAA Alert with the details when they are worked out. Sign up for JCAA Alerts at our web page.

I have not even discussed why this cut for summer flounder was not necessary and that the black sea bass quota needs to be increased but I will be doing that at the upcoming meeting and discuss this in the alert that will be sent out asking for help.


Tuesday, December 12

1:30pm – Joint Meeting of the Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass and Bluefish Boards

1:30-2:30pm – Scup Recreational Specifications; Review Monitoring Committee and Advisory Panel recommendations; Adopt recommendations for 2018 Federal waters management measures

2:30-4:00pm – Summer Flounder Recreational Specifications; Review Monitoring Committee and Advisory Panel recommendations; Recommend Conservation Equivalency or coastwide management and associated measures for 2018

4:00-5:30pm – Summer Flounder Amendment; Review and approve November 2017 Demersal Committee recommendations for further staff analysis


Wednesday, December 13

9:00am – Joint Meeting of the Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass and Bluefish Boards

9:00am-12:00pm – Black Sea Bass Recreational Specifications; Review Monitoring Committee and Advisory Panel recommendations; Adopt recommendations for 2018 Federal waters management measures; Review Wave 1 fishery implementation; Board Addendum XXX

12:00-1:00pm – Lunch

1:00-2:30pm – Black Sea Bass Wave 1 Letter of Authorization Framework; Review background and provide guidance for development of draft alternatives

2:30-3:30pm – Black Sea Bass Amendment; Review initiation of black sea bass amendment (December 2015 motion)

3:30-4:30pm – Bluefish Amendment; Initiate Bluefish Amendment and discuss next steps

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