Fisheries Management & Legislative Report

by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association October 2018 Newsletter)


Fisheries Update

In 1986, when I took over as vice president of JCAA, I decided we needed a newspaper or newsletter to replace our usual postcard announcing an upcoming meeting. In the 32 years the JCAA Newspaper has developed into a source of information for everyone concerned about the marine resource. We don’t talk about just recreational fishing, we talk about the environment, fisheries management and other issues like renewable energy and endocrine disruptors. When I look at this issue, I also see the other way we’ve grown. Other writers are contributing so we have many other voices and a broader perspective. However, we have also stayed true to our mission, providing honest, timely information. You might not always agree but our JCAA positions are developed through consensus, using all the available science with input from all our member clubs. I am proud to be the publisher of the JCAA Newspaper.

It has been busy since my last column. I am sorry to say much has not changed but we continue to try. The Joint Meeting of the MidAtlantic Fisheries Council and ASMFC and the Summer Meeting of ASMFC resulted in many motions passed. The problem is we might have to revise all those motions with data that will be available at the beginning of 2019. Keep paying attention. Look at the webpages for ASMFC and the MidAtlantic Council and we send alerts to keep you up to date.

Besides fisheries management meetings, there were meetings on windmills, protecting the back bays and the consequences of beach replenishment. Much discussion, little immediate action. You need to pay attention to the proposals from the Army Corp of Engineers as they will be asking for your comments and suggestions on how we can protect our beaches and our homes from future storms. Here is the link.

There are two articles in the Newspaper about windmills. They make you aware of what is going on and some interesting concerns. Remember, JCAA’s position is to support renewable energy, including windmills. That was voted on by our member clubs and has not changed for many years. What we are looking at is how do we minimize the impact on the marine resource.

There is a hearing on summer flounder on September 24. The release is below. The release says the meeting is about managing the commercial quota. Don’t be fooled. Other states are looking enviously at both the commercial and recreational quotas in New Jersey and trying to take some of that quota for their benefit. They are not interested in the best outcomes for New Jersey for our commercial and recreational communities. I attended the American Fisheries Society Stakeholders Day and attended the summer flounder workshops. What was interesting was the graph that showed the northern migration of summer flounder according to current data. It was based on poundage rather than number of fish, giving heavier fish more importance. The graph showed summer flounder migrating into New Jersey as well as New York and the New England states. This refutes the Amendment to the plan’s proposal to place the north south line between New York and New Jersey. This information showed that there was no biological reason for placing the line there. When I asked why the line was proposed there, I got blank looks. When I suggested it was politics, no one challenged my statement. The commercial and recreational communities need to work together to fend off these attacks on our quota. Sign up for JCAA alerts and pay attention to what is going on both at this meeting and with our state and federal representatives.

MAFMC and ASMFC to Hold Public Hearings for Summer Flounder Commercial Issues Amendment

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) are soliciting public input on a draft amendment to address several potential changes to the management of the commercial summer flounder fishery, as well as modifications to the fishery management plan (FMP) goals and objectives for summer flounder. Ten public hearings will be held between September 10 and September 27. Written comments will be accepted through October 12, 2018.

The specific issues under consideration in this amendment include:

  1. Requalifying criteria for federal commercial moratorium permits to address latent effort in the fishery: The amendment includes options to reduce the number of eligible commercial federal moratorium permits by implementing requalifying criteria for existing permits.
  2. Modifying commercial quota allocation: The amendment proposes several options for revising the current commercial allocation to the states, which has been in place since 1993 and is based on average landings from 1980-1989.
  3. Adding commercial landings flexibility as a framework issue in the Council's FMP: This action does not consider implementing landings flexibility policies at this time but considers allowing the Council to implement landings flexibility through a future framework action instead of an amendment. The Commission’s adaptive management process already allows for landings flexibility.
  4. Revising the FMP objectives for summer flounder: This amendment proposes revisions to the current FMP objectives for summer flounder management to provide more meaningful and up-to-date guidance to managers.

Learn More

Additional information about the amendment and the management alternatives being considered can be found on the Council’s website and on the Commission’s website. This information includes three documents: (1) the Public Hearing Document, which includes all proposed management changes and was developed to solicit public comment; (2) the Commission’s Draft Amendment; and (3) the Council’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Both the Commission’s Draft Amendment and the Council’s DEIS are required under their respective regulatory processes.

Note: NJ Hearing will be on September 24th at 6PM. It will be at the Ocean County Administration Building 101 Hooper Ave, Toms River NJ 08753.

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