Press Release February 23, 2005

JCAA Position Paper on Striped Bass Bonus Program

At a February 22 membership meeting of Jersey Coast Anglers Association the club representatives discussed and voted on the JCAA preferred option for the bonus tag program if the present striped bass regulations remain in effect.  We also voted unanimously that the Division of Fish and Wildlife should take the Striped Bass Bonus program to public hearings throughout the state so the general public could give their input.  JCAA in making this decision considered the following:

1.      The bonus tag program may well experience more requests for tags than ever before.  We need to consider how to handle those requests and be fair and equitable to all of the anglers fishing in New Jersey's waters.

2.      The bonus tag program must be closely monitored to make sure we don't over fish the quota. 
With these issues in mind, the JCAA has decided that a lottery system would be the most fair and equitable way to distribute tags.  The Division of Fish & Game would administer this lottery and it would establish clear dates for the start date and end of date for the acceptance of applications for tags to be entered into the lottery.  The Division would also establish the number of tags to be distributed.  It would be either two tags per applicant (7,500 to 9,500 tags) or one tag per applicant (17,000 to 19,000 tags).  The other possibility is to distribute tags on a first-come- first-served basis until the tag limit is reached.

The JCAA also voted to keep the existing bonus tag program at the present fish size limit of 28 inches or larger.

The Division of Fish and Game is experiencing budget problems.  To take some of the pressure off the bonus tag program, JCAA is willing to put $3000 into the program to help pay the expense of mailing the tags.  JCAA also realizes the staff time required to run the program.  Some of our members would be willing to help with the mailing as volunteers. 

To simplify the application process, JCAA suggests the application form be made available on the Division of Fish and Wildlife webpage for downloading.  Most JCAA clubs are willing to post an application form on club web pages and the JCAA webpage would be available as well.  JCAA could put the application in the JCAA Newspaper and help distribute additional applications to tackle stores and other venues.  If the decision is made to have a lottery, JCAA would suggest having the lottery as soon as possible after a public hearings. 

If the regulations had been changed in a timely manner, allowing for 2 fish at 28 inches, JCAA would have supported the administration of the program in its present form.  However, we understand the Division needs to get the program under way and we feel this is the most equitable solution.  In 1998 we supported expanding the program to allow party and charter boats and tackle stores to issue or reissue tags.  Given the anticipated demand for tags under the current regulations this is just not feasible.  We must design a program under which all anglers believe they are treated equally.  If the regulations were changed to 2 fish at 28 inches, JCAA would support returning to the method of tag distribution established in 1998. 

Bruce B. Smith
President of JCAA
WEB PAGE www.jcaa.org

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