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JERSEY COAST ANGLERS ASSOCIATION
Working For the Saltwater Resource and Marine Anglers
1201 Route 37 East, Toms River NJ 08753
Phone 732-506-6565 Fax 732-506-6975
Web Site http://www.jcaa.org
NEW JERSEY FEDERATION OF SPORTSMEN’S CLUBS
Working For The 150,000 Sportepersons Of New Jersey
190 Oberlin Road North, Lakewood NJ 08701
Phone 732-905-0755 Fax 732-905-5261
Web Site http://www.njsfsc.org



There are three items that JCAA and NJSFSC would like to address in the current striped bass proposals.


1. The Bonus Tag Program:

JCAA and NJSFSC Position; There should be no fee associated with the Bonus Tag Program and Governor McGreevey and the NJ Legislature should appropriate $195,000 to the Division of Fish and Wildlife for the Bureau of Marine Fisheries.

In 1991 the bonus program was considerably simpler and less costly. The NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife decided to use the trophy tag program to gather additional valuable information.  All the information required was to count the number of fish so we know when to close the program.  All the other information is a luxury but an expensive one.  In 1998 ASMFC ruling would not give us credit for unused fish.  In response, we told anglers to use their trophy tag as their first 28-inch fish rather than their second.  The Division made it easy to secure replacement tags and began allowing charter, party boats and tackle stores to issue them. This made for a fuller utilization of the program but it also added expenses.  If the Division canít find the money to save the program, they can cut the extra goodies and still save the basic program. We would hate to see this happen but would accept that change as an alternative to added fees.  

The Division thinks the solution is to charge for the tags. They say we should be paying to run the program. What they fail to say is that we are already paying to run the program through our tax dollars and many other fees. New Jersey spends only about 3.1 million dollars on the Marine Division of Fish and Wildlife to manage commercial and recreational fishing and every other expense covered by this Division. New Jersey only puts 1.1 million dollars into this program.  Much of the other 2 million dollars comes from Wallop Breaux money, which is funded by the excise tax on recreational fishermen. The remainder comes from federal grants (our tax dollars). There is a long list of fees imposed on fishermen, none of which have gone towards managing the marine resource.  As an example, the sales tax generated by recreational anglers is between 41 and 61 million dollars.  If just 2% of that was put into the Division of Fish and Wildlife, we could not only manage striped bass but we could also manage the total marine resource including commercial fishing.  The Division needs an additional 2 million dollars to run their programs well.  The long-term solution is to secure more funding from the legislature.  In the short term, we need about 195,000 dollars to be included in the striped bass bill that will be considered by the current legislature. 

We do not believe any fee should be associated with the bonus tag program. A saltwater license by any other name is still a saltwater license.  All we have to look at is the HMS permit. In the beginning, all you only needed was a $22 permit to fish for Bluefin tuna.  Now the NMFS has added so many species to the list requiring a permit that you are forced to buy one if you want to fish for any highly migratory species. This tuna permit is now a federal backdoor saltwater fishing license and none of the money benefits the fishermen. It merely represents a head count, nothing more.

 

2. Bag and Size Limit Options:

JCAA and NJSFSC Position:  We support Option 2. This will give us 2 fish at 28 inches and leave the trophy tag program alone for 2004

It is already midseason for striped bass. Any changes made to bring us into compliance for 2004 should be as simple as possible. The time frame to get us into compliance is so short, true public involvement is limited. We will have mass confusion in the middle of fishing season if we donít choose a simple option. 

If we want to look at other options for 2005, we should have ongoing hearings that allow the public time to review the proposed options in detail and discuss each more thoroughly. This way legislation can be introduced early enough to change regulations before the season begins.  Understand, until we are allowed to use savings from producing areas of our state, or until the coastwide and bay wide reference points are changed, NJ anglers will receive the most benefit from option2. With this Option there would be no additional expenses or higher demand placed on the bonus tag program.

 

3. Producer Status:

JCAA and NJSFSC Position: New Jersey needs to submit an appeal to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission Interstate Management Policy Committee challenging the loss of producer status for the Hudson and Delaware Bay under Amendment 6th of the Striped Bass Management Plan.

Amendment 6 prevents New Jersey from using special management regulations in our producing area by deleting producing area status from most of the management document.  Since we are not allowed to manage our producing area in a specific manner that is different from coastal management, we are currently unable to use the savings derived from conservative measures in the producing areas to the benefit of all New Jersey anglers.  ASMFC must revise Amendment 6 to acknowledge the special circumstances present in the producing areas and allow states that have those areas to develop special management plans.  Basically what we want is the same exemption and benefits for our producing areas already allowed to other states within the current plan.  We want New Jersey to lodge a formal appeal to the existing plan and demand this inequity be corrected immediately. 

 

Thomas Siciliano  George Howard
President of JCAA   Conservation Director of NJSFSC
609-296-3774 908-735-5046