Fisheries Management & Legislative Report

by Tom Fote

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association May 2008 Newsletter)



In Memory of Ralph Knisell and Phil Kozak

Ralph Knisell

Ralph Knisell was 83 and lived in Wenonah, N.J. He died Friday, April 11, 2008. I knew Ralph as an outdoor writer, radio personality, rod builder and reel repairman. Ralph would call me at least twice a month and we talked about fisheries issues. I would do a lot of listening and learning since he fished an area unfamiliar to me and had more years of experience than I did. He was a friend of JCAA and always supported our efforts. I would meet him and his wife Rachel at the outdoor writer’s workshop and we would always talk about the current issues. I am sorry I never did accept one of his invitations to come fish with him in Delaware Bay. He will be sorely missed by the anglers who enjoyed his radio show, read his columns and his many articles but most of all he will be missed as a husband, father and grandfather.

He is survived by his wife Rachel (nee Burke), son Richard L. Knisell and his wife Patty of Garnet Valley, Pa., and their daughters Kelsey and Lauran, and son Harry W. Knisell and his wife Deborah of Flovilla, Ga., and their daughters Brandy and Sheena and Ralph¹s four great-grandchildren.

Phil Kozak

I met Phil at a tuna meeting. He had started the National Fishing Association to work on fisheries issues. I welcomed him aboard the frustrating thing called fisheries management and especially tuna management. Phil would host meetings and tried to get collations formed to work together on complicated fisheries issues and to build consensus. He was a fighter and would never give up. He would send me emails with a new idea and we would discuss it. I remember last year coming back from a striper trip in Keyport. I was standing by my car when Phil pulled in. Of course, the next hour was spent talking about fisheries management and fishing and an invitation to fish with him. I am sorry I did not take him up on the trip since it now will never happen.

Phil Kozak leaves his wife of 47 years, Patricia, son Phil Jr. and daughter Donna Monarque. His family requested that in lieu of flowers donations are requested for the NFA/Phil Kozak Memorial Children's Fishing Derby, P.O. Box 50, Pompton Lakes, N.J., 07442-0050.


NJEF Conference 4/5/08

The NJ Environmental Conference was a great success. It brings together advocates, scientists, students and politicians from around New Jersey. I moderated a panel discussion titled “Drugs Down the Drain.” I was unsure how much attention this topic would draw but it was standing room only. The panelists were Dr. Anne McElroy, Stony Brook University, and Barker Hamill, Assistant Director Water Supply Operations for NJ DEP. They each brought their unique perspective and experience, water quality from Mr. Hamill and research science on the effects of endocrine disruptors on fish from Dr. McElroy. They both proved to be fabulous resources for those of us who want to become knowledgeable about these topics. Though this topic is near and dear to my heart, I learned a great deal from both of them. JCAA will be posting more information on our website including Dr. McElroy’s research. Scientists are meeting in small groups and conferences around the country but we need to bring everyone together, including the public, to initiate a shared dialogue around this topic. JCAA will be looking at making that happen. I will disseminate more information about the NJEF Conference when the report comes out.

Senator Frank Lautenberg had a hearing on water quality issues about drugs in drinking water. See the newspaper article included in this newspaper. The US Congress is planning a hearing soon on the effects of endocrine disruptors on fish. We will share the information as it becomes available.

The April JCAA Newspaper included much information about this topic. Although I was questioned about the amount of information included relative to articles about fishing, recent conversations with anglers I meet at various functions have confirmed for me that we are all interested in this important environmental issue. It is clear that New Jersey’s anglers can understand the long-term impact of environmental issues on fisheries and their own quality of life.


Monmouth University Ecosystem Conference

I also had the privilege of serving on a panel on ecosystem-based management at a conference at Monmouth University. This conference was sponsored by the Urban Coastal Institute (UCI ), (http://www.monmouth.edu/urban_coast_institute/default.asp). Tony MacDonald is currently the director of the Urban Coast Institute, John Tiedemann Assistant Director of UCI and Jennifer DiLorenzo Sustainable Coastal Communities Liaison coordinated this conference. The purpose of the conference was to identify opportunities and challenges to ecosystem-based management (EBM) in the NY/NJ region. Topics included indicators and criteria for successful EBM; How EBM can enhance current management regimes; Marine spatial planning; Data collection and information sharing; and integrated regional ocean governance to address critical ocean and costal issues.

It was interesting to attend this discussion with New Jersey scientists, DEP officials, university professors, and environmental activists, many of which I have worked on projects with for over the last 20 years. There was also representation from New York State Government. Ecosystem management is expensive. Much of the data we need is not readily available or easily synthesized. When I look at the money being spent outside of New Jersey, I am concerned about our lack of funding. New York has appropriated 12 million dollars and Massachusetts is doing a 12 million dollar study. We can’t fund the Bureau of Marine Fisheries sufficiently to gather the necessary data for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Management Plans. The entire DEP budget for the marine resource is 3.1 million dollars. Until there is an economic commitment to this issue coastwide, we will not have the information necessary for the long-term ecosystem management. In a perfect world, we could look at the management of summer flounder and discover the impacts of global warming, loss of habitat, prey/predator relationship, endocrine disruptors, water quality and quantity in nursery areas, bycatch, and other issues. All we deal with now is the actual harvest and we have no actual idea about natural mortality. If the natural mortality is higher, then the quotas could be higher. But the fishing public is being penalized by the lack of research.


Summer Flounder

Bruce Freeman attended a pre-stock assessment meeting in Woods Hole. He will brief the general membership at our meeting on April 29th. Bruce has serious concerns about how this will be resolved. We are lucky this year that our coalitions have been able to send scientists to these meetings and gather the most current information. It is important the scientists are able to be part of the discussion and express their concerns from a scientific point of view. The long-term consequences of the poorly conceived and implemented management plans will be felt by the recreations community for years to come. Add these tough regulations to the gas prices and faltering economy and this is not going to be a good economic summer for the recreational fishing industry. Businesses will fail and lives will be changed needlessly.

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