MID ATLANTIC COUNCIL REPORT ON SCUP, SEA BASS, AND FLUKE
By Pat Donnelly
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association January 1998 Newsletter)
Scup The size limit will remain at 7", and there will continue to be no bag limit. Apparently, the Council felt that the recreational scup fishery is too insignificant to impact the overall fishery.
Sea Bass The monitoring committee originally recommended a 10" size limit along with a 7 fish bag limit. When the advisory panel met, the consensus was that the data was soft, and that a 10" size limit, along with a closure for the month of August would reduce the harvest to an acceptable level.
The Council agreed, voting for a 10" size limit and no bag limit, with a closure from August 1 through August 15. Interestingly, the Council also approved an alternative plan of 10" size with a 20 fish bag limit and no season. This would comply with the South Atlantic Councils sea bass plan, and allow North Carolina continuity in enforcement. Most New Jersey anglers seem to favor the unlimited bag limit, but this option bears watching.
Fluke The Council basically split the difference between the monitoring committee and the advisory panel, and approved a 15" size limit with an 8 fish bag limit. Again, the Council approved an alternative, this being a 6 fish at 14.5" with a closed season to be determined by the state. I believe that this option should generate much discussion at the next JCAA meeting. We will be voting on a position on this issue, so your attendance is imperative.
Some personal thoughts that I would like you to consider before deciding on a position:
1) Going to a larger size limit without a season will certainly reduce the number of fluke landed. However, that extra 0.5" means a heavier fish, and the harvest is based on the poundage landed, not the number of fish. This could mean a reduction in numbers, but an increase in pounds landed, triggering more harsh restrictions in 1999.
2) These closures effect more than one fish at a time. The fluke closure will impact the sea bass fishery, and vice versa. We should not be myopic, and focus on only one fish at a time. These plans must become more cognizant of the multispecies impact of their implementation.