Adjustments to Fishing Regulations & Seasons

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

To stem the spread of COVID-19, Governor Murphy would not allow the for-hire fleet to sail until some social distancing regulations could be established. Unfortunately, the for-hire fleet lost the entire blackfish season during April when anglers could have kept four of them as our bag limit. Also, striped bass fishing was red-hot and the for-hire hire fleet lost some of this season until the governor allowed it to resume fishing with certain restrictions.

Additionally, a number of anglers, especially us older ones, may not fish for fear of catching this virus. As we all know, we do not see that many young people fishing since they do not have the time to do it with their increasingly busy schedules. Also, so many people have lost their jobs and they will not have the money to fish. Placing food on their tables is their first priority, not fishing. Given this scenario, how can the for-hire fleet and tackle shops survive during this pandemic is a real question?

On behalf of the JCAA, I wrote an email to managers of our recreational fishing industry requesting their assistance to help our for-hire fleet by extending our fishing seasons and changing our fishing regulations so that captains have more days to fish and more types of fish that anglers can catch. For example, instead of the summer flounder season ending on September 19th, extend the season to September 30th. The black sea bass stocks have been rebuilt to 240% so allow sea bass to be caught on October 1st, just as the summer flounder season ends so that anglers have something to fish for. Why wait until October 8th for this sea bass season to open! As mentioned earlier, the for-hire fleet lost Aprilís blackfish season so allow blackfish to be caught during months when they are restricted. For example, allow blackfish to be caught in mid-September when the summer season is winding down. As you can see, there are a lot of options available to adjust seasons and regulations, but the whole point here is to have more days for captains to fish and more anglers to be on their boats so that they can earn enough money to survive this pandemic.

At the time of my writing this report, there has been no movement by fishing managers to change fishing regulations or seasons to help the recreational fishing industry to better survive this pandemic. We are already into mid-September, so I do not see these adjustments to regulations and seasons for the recreational industry to happen.

These are the type of battles the JCAA continually fights on behalf of recreational fishing. While it seems that we are losing this one, we will continue with our efforts to help the recreational fishing industry to recover from this pandemic.

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