Mike Pentony Meeting Postponed

by John Toth
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association January 2021 Newsletter)

As recreational anglers, we are continually frustrated over the poor management of our fisheries. Examples include: a three fish bag limit for bluefish, the elimination of catching snappers which is the pathway for many kids to become anglers, the confusing seasons we have to catch sea bass, and the restricted blackfish seasons. It seems that more and more restrictions are placed on us resulting in more recreational anglers giving up fishing. How do I know this? My fishing club, the Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County, has a booth at the three winter trade shows at the NJ Convention Center and a number of anglers stop by and tell me that they are not coming home with three fluke at 18 inches so why should they spend money to go fluke fishing! There are other examples of poor management of our fisheries but the bottom line is that our recreational fishery is dying a slow death. We all can see this by the many party/charter boats and tackle shops that have been or are in the process of going out of business.

To address these and other management issues, I invited Mr. Michael Pentony, Regional Administrator, Greater Atlantic Region, to a Roundtable meeting with representatives from other recreational associations so that we can discuss these issues and others that are having a negative impact on our recreational fishing industry. This meeting would have taken place during the week of October 19th. Unfortunately, because of COVID-19, this meeting was canceled since it had to be done through ZOOM. It would be very difficult to have a very productive meeting with these types of issues on the agenda and with approximately 24 stakeholders who should be in attendance for it. This meeting is not only for JCAA representatives to attend but for other associations like the RFA, NJOA and the NJ Federation of NJ Sportsmenís Clubs. After much thought, I reluctantly came to the conclusion to cancel this October meeting along with Mike Pentonyís Fisheries Coordinator, Moira Kelly. It will be postponed until next year when we can have this meeting in an open environment so that frank discussions and questions over these issues can take place with Mr. Pentony that is not easily done by using ZOOM.

While I was working up a draft agenda for this meeting with Moira Kelly, one of the major issues that would be on it would include MRIP, (Marine Recreational Informational Program) that yields so much incorrect information that results in punitive quotas for various species of fish. Incredibly, MRIP indicated that we exceeded our fluke quota even after Sandy destroyed so much of our fishing boats! Another issue for consideration is staggered regulations so that when one fishery closes, it is closely followed by another one so that we have something to fish for and that party/charter boats do not sit idly by their docks. Also, consideration would be given to having multi-year regulations instead of yearly to give the party/charter boat industry a better handle on planning their schedules with their customers.

This meeting is still on our radar and will, hopefully, take place as conditions with COVID-19 allow it.

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