President's Report

by John Toth
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association July 2020 Newsletter)

Unfortunately, we are still in the COVID-19 mode that is affecting the way we live and the businesses of our country, especially our recreational fishing industry. The for-hire fleet has to practice social distancing and that has reduced the number of anglers on their boats causing boat captains to raise their fares to turn a profit. Raising fares to go fishing does not put more anglers on boats with so many people unemployed. Most likely the biggest problem the for-hire fleet is facing is the fear that anglers have of catching COVID-19! I receive reports from a number of fishing boats and they need a lot more anglers to go fishing for the next day’s trip. This tells me that some of the for-hire fleet is having a tough time in getting enough anglers on their boats because of increased fares and COVID-19. I have written more on this issue in my column “Fishing Report – The Good & the Bad” that is in another section of this newsletter.

On a more positive note, I wrote a letter to Governor Murphy on behalf of the JCAA in May 2018 requesting him to appoint Pat Donnelly to the New Jersey’s Marine Fisheries Council. We have recently received the good news that Pat has been appointed to this council! Pat is very qualified for this position since he has a lot of experience with recreational fishing issues and has served on this council as a blackfish advisor. This is very welcome news since Pat is well aware of the fishing challenges we face with punitive regulations and can represent our interests well on this council. Congratulations Pat! (The JCAA letter to Governor Murphy requesting Pat’s nomination to this council is in another section of this newsletter.)

George Browne handles access issues for the JCAA and has been relentless in trying to resolve access issues in a number of municipalities, including the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. In a recent telephone conversation including George, Tom Fote and myself with Regina Rettig, Manager of this National Wildlife Refuge, we had a very productive conversation with her and she was so receptive to the many recommendations offered by both George and Tom! This does not usually happen and at the end of this conference call, Tom said something like he wished he had more of this type of call in handling other problems facing the JCAA. More on this Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is in another section of this newsletter.

One of the main concerns with windmills is the noise they will make when they are in operation and their effect on the movements and migration patterns of whales and fish. Dr. Eleanor Bochenek from Rutgers is submitting a proposal to the Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM), a federal agency, to study this important issue and requested the JCAA to offer her support for BOEM to approve it. This study would involve tagging black sea bass from a chartered boat and creating a windfarm-type noise to study the effect it has on the movement of these fish. This study is a very worthwhile endeavor and it certainly needs to be done! I wrote a letter of support for Eleanor on JCAA letterhead and it follows:

May 19, 2020
Dear Dr. Bochenek,

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA) fully supports your proposal entitled “In Situ Fish Response to Sounds Originating from Wind Turbine Installation and Operation in the Mid-Atlantic Bight” being submitted to the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), Environmental Studies Program.

Many offshore windfarms are planned off the coasts of Massachusetts to North Carolina and their impacts to fish species are not known. Black sea bass support an important recreational and commercial fishery in New Jersey and the Mid-Atlantic and occupies the areas of proposed windfarms during early summer through fall. These fish are known to spawn in these regions as well. This project will collect critical information on the impacts of windfarm noise during construction and maintenance on this important species.

Your proposal should improve the knowledge of whether noise from windfarm construction and maintenance affects black sea bass behavior. This study is very timely and needed to assess potential windfarm noise on a key recreational and commercial fish species in our region.

Sincerely, John Toth President, Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA)

Finally, during July & August there are no JCAA meetings that we are doing by ZOOM because of COV1D-19. Enjoy your summer and have good fishing!

During our September 29th meeting, we will be taking nominations for the JCAA Sportsperson of the Year. So, start thinking of who you would like to nominate!

Stay Safe & Well!

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