(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association January 1999 Newsletter)
The next Jersey Coast Anglers Association meeting will be held Tuesday night, December 29 starting a 7:30 in the Brick Township Municipal building on Chambersbridge Rd. We will be discussing many issues impacting the health of the fisheries we pursue and our ability to participate in them.
December is election time for JCAA, the nominating committee has selected the following candidates to service as officers for 1999:
President, Mark Taylor
Corresponding Sec Dick Vesper
1st V.P. Pat Donnelly
Recording Sec Dorothy Obropta
2nd V.P. Rich Esposito
Membership Sec Paul Smith
Treasurer Doug Tegeder
Nominations from the floor will be open until just prior to voting.
I am pleased to announce that our very own vice-president Pat Donnelly has been appointed to the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council. Pat has been working with this regulatory body for many years as a member of their Blackfish committee. This committee is one of the best examples of recreational anglers and commercial fishermen working together to formulate a plan that both sides can feel good about. I know that Pat will bring energy, experience and common sense to this regulatory body. Good luck Pat !
Our annual raffle is shaping up, we have some great rod & reel combos from Penn, Shimano,
Marado and others, with the top prize being a Penn 50SW International and matching rod.
Tickets wont be ready until January 6, but we will be selling raffles at the Raritan Sportsman Show and will have them available at the following meeting. This is one of our major fund raiser we need each club to actively move these tickets.
JCAA along with American Sportfish Association sponsored a 3 day fisheries workshop, designed to collaborate with groups from up and down the coast. Its format was to educate participants, foster discussion and formulate strategies to protect species of interest. Organizations from Rhode Island to North Carolina interacted with some key folks from MAFMC, ASMFC, NMFS and Congress. All this high level education and discussion took place at the Interpretive Center in beautiful Island Beach State Park, as a bonus the weather was mild and the striped bass fishing was excellent. I am very proud that JCAA can operate at this level and that our members have the credibility and respect of the fisheries community to be able to host such an event.
This is my last entry in the Presidents Column, I have had the privilege work with some of the most knowledgeable and dedicated people in the fisheries arena. As I look back over the last two years I realize that there isnt any one event or accomplishment that I would point to as defining my term. Instead I see the work of JCAA as a continuum, taking small steps in one arena but making large strides in another. The glass eel and menhaden controversies are good examples. Both of these species were becoming hot issues two years ago but each is at a different stage of progress in terms of protecting the species.
The good news is that we have succeeded in closing down the glass eel fishery in New Jersey. At first it was a small step, for 1998 we succeeded in a one year closure, saving an other generation of eels, but with continued effort, diligence and a lot of help from all of you we were finally able to close the NJ glass eel fishery for good.. Your phone calls and letters to our state legislators is what saved the day, many Senators and Assemblymen commented that they received more public input on glass eels that any other subject. In the mean time the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is formulating a coast wide plan to maintain a healthy eel population. The battle is not over, coast wide the eels still need protection, but we are clearly making progress.
The menhaden issue is still unresolved, but we have done a lot of work . First we met with bait industry representative to discuss our concerns over landings and area conflicts. We brought our concerns to the NJ Marine Fisheries Council, they in turn called for a bunker committee meeting and invited both us and bunker industry folks. There is menhaden protection bill pending in the State Senate that we hope to move it in 1999. The chances for implementing some protection measures is better now than two years ago. For better or worse many of our predictions have come true, 1998 showed the lowest landing of bait in many years and the Virginia & N. Carolina based reduction boats didnt even bother to fish in our waters because of lack of menhaden. Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better. I am confident we will make progress in protecting this resource in 1999.
What I am most pleased with is how well the recreational community is working together.
Whether at the state level or the national level, networking with other groups in order to send a clear and consistent message to our regulators is proving to be an effective technique. I am also gratified to see the number of individuals who support our positions and take the time to make those critical phone calls and write those letters to the legislators.I am seeing more of these individuals attending public hearings and council meetings.This is what its all about, we have been the sleeping giant for far too long. We have the numbers on our side, both in terms of individuals and economic importance, to be the major share holder in our marine resources. We have the power of public opinion and the power of the vote to protect the marine resource and insure its wise and equitable use. We must continue to stay active and work together to maintain our renewable resources for the enjoyment of ourselves and for our children.
I look foreword to supporting the new JCAA president and continuing to be an active participant in this organization. I would like to thank many folks for their support, good wishes and especially their hard work.