By Frank Richetti

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association Novermber 1998 Newsletter)

The next Jersey Coast Anglers Association meeting will be held Tuesday night, October 27 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.

I’d like to pay a compliment to all the great folks who participated in this years Governors Surf Tournament. It has become an event that people from all over the state look forward to each year. Many folks make a full weekend of it and rent rooms in the local hotels. They come because it is a great time for the entire family to get together on scenic Island Beach State Park, meet friendly folks and have a pretty good chance of catching some fish. This year I am particularly impressed with the caliber of the people who fished the tournament. About a thousand hardy souls showed up early and fished the beach with the wind and rain in their faces all morning. They didn’t complain, they didn’t all catch fish, but they were all smiling at the awards ceremony where over 30 awards were given out to anglers from 6 to 70 years old. Mark your calendars for the first Sunday in October and plan to attend each year.

This is the time of year when fisheries managers at all levels meet to assess how things are going. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Council will be meeting to discuss the health of bluefish, summer flounder, and striped bass stocks. They will be setting quotas, seasons, bag and size limits for next year, for both commercial and recreational fishermen. You’ll see articles in this month’s edition about the current state of these fisheries and we will be discussing our options at the up coming JCAA meeting.

On the local front it is time to start turning up the heat on our State Legislators. We need you to start contacting your local State Senators about the Glass Eel bill (S457) and the Menhaden Protection bill (S722). Neither of these bills has come to the Senate floor for a vote. A lot of the Senators are not clear on our feelings about these two bills; they need to hear from you so that they can do the right thing to protect both the eel and the menhaden population.

The glass eel bill (S457) was amended earlier this year to allow a single year opening to harvest glass eels. This amendment was made in spite of the fact that the ASMFC had recommended that all directed eel fisheries be reduced or at least maintain status quo. This bill has been waiting in the wings of the Senate for an opportune time to slip it through. It is time to bring this bill to the Senate floor, have it scrutinized for pandering to special interest that allows a few to profit at the peril of the resource. It is time to show how shortsighted this bill is. It is time to bring this bill to the floor and have it voted down. Contact your State Senator and tell him/her to vote NO on S457.

The Menhaden Protection bill (S722) never passed from committee. This bill seeks to reduce pressure on the bunkers stocks but still provide for a strong bait fish industry.

We were told last year that this bill is not necessary because the bunker stock was in good shape. Well, in turns out that this year was one of the leanest for the bunker fishermen. Once again conservation was put off too long. Call your State Senator and your Assembly Member and tell them to support this bill and push to pass it from committee.

There is one more important bill in the State Senate, it is S1267. This is simply a public right-to-know issue. It calls for advisories to be posted wherever fish is sold or served. It requires that the public be informed of potential pollutants in certain types of fish. We as fishermen are aware of bluefish, striped bass and swordfish advisories but the public is largely unaware of the possible harmful effects these toxins can have. This is a no-brainer. We must support public health issues. Call your Legislator to support this bill.

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