Sea Bass Update

by Paul Haertel
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association February 2018 Newsletter)

I wish I had better news to report on the sea bass situation but I don’t. At this point we would be fortunate to stay at status quo regulations but it seems more likely that we will be facing more stringent regulations this year. We won’t know more until after the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) meets from 2/6 – 2/8 and the Mid-Atlantic Marine Fisheries Council has their meeting from 2/13-2/15. Sea bass are on the agenda for the ASMFC meeting at 3 PM on 2/8 while the agenda for the MAFMC meeting is not yet available.

At New Jersey Marine Council (NJMFC) meeting on 1/4, the council unanimously voted not to open the sea bass season in February. To do that, we most likely would have had to give up four days during the main part of our season when more people like to fish. Further, if we exceeded our target quota for February, that amount would have been deducted from our quota for 2019.

Immediately following the council meeting, a public hearing regarding Draft Addendum XXX for sea bass was held. I gave a brief synopsis of the more extensive written comments (below) that JCAA submitted prior to the meeting. Most people in attendance agreed with the JCAA position and when I asked for a show of hands everyone agreed that this species is being mismanaged.

The NJMFC would like to bridge the gap between when fluke season ends and sea bass season begins. The fluke season could very well begin on 5/25 and extend through 9/22 with a 3-fish bag limit at 18”. Given the uncertainty of the sea bass situation we won’t know exactly what will be done until later this winter. The NJMFC is expected to set regulations for both species on 3/15. Their meeting was pushed back a week to allow a little more time for them to review whatever is mandated by the ASMFC and the MAFMC.

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