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Just received this in an email and thought the Barn members might be interested:

Fisheries Management & Legislative Report
by Tom Fote

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association February 2004 Newsletter)

STRIPED BASS
Bruce Freeman and I left the December 2002 striped bass meeting on Amendment 6 feeling certain things had been done. We believed no major changes to Amendment 5 were being considered except for an increase for the commercial fishery.

Because of an interpretation of certain motions made at the December 2002 meeting, the draft amendment that went to public hearings and arrived at my desk for the February 2003 meeting had removed 144 references to producing areas. This led to a discussion in February 2003 about whether or not there was such a thing as a producing area. To get around this, motions were passed to exempt North Carolina’s producing areas and the producing area of the Chesapeake Bay. A motion was also passed to exempt the commercial fishery in the Delaware Bay on 20-inch fish.

There was a lengthy discussion at the February 2003 meeting and there was major confusion about how we reached this dilemma. States and agencies stated for the record that they never intended to eliminate the producing area status. And they also said their intention was not to change the current regulations in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. After saying that, the Striped Bass Board approved Amendment 6, which did exactly the opposite of what was the stated intention. In other words, Amendment 6 significantly reduced the recreational catch of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, allowed for a 43% increase in the commercial fishery, supported the opening of the EEZ for striped bass fishing and did not reduce the catch of any other state recreationally. After much discussion many states promised to address this shortcoming at the next meeting scheduled for June 2003.

When I arrived at the June 2003 meeting, those promises were forgotten. To address my concerns, the Striped Bass Board stated they would do an addendum to Amendment 6 but gave no clear timelines. I returned to New Jersey and discussed these issues with NJ DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell and Marty McHugh, Director of New Jersey Fish and Wildlife. At the August meeting, since there was no striped bass board meeting, Marty McHugh and I made an impassioned appeal to the policy board to direct the striped bass board to review this issue and try to get some relief for New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The policy board sent our concerns to the striped bass board for review. At the December meeting in New York City, the striped bass board overwhelmingly voted to deny New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware any consideration under Amendment 6. In effect, they said Amendment 6 stands and it is okay to discriminate against individual states.

What does Amendment 6 actually do? It tells recreational anglers who fish in the producing areas of New Jersey and Pennsylvania that they should reduce their catch so the commercial fishery can be increased by 43% and allow for the opening of the EEZ for people who fish offshore. It is clear that the anglers of New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania will be the only anglers to shoulder the burden of these changes. Other commissioners continue to offer verbal understanding and sympathy but do nothing to remedy the problem. It matters not one bit that their original intention was. The anglers from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware must live with the results of these changes. And the results are that commercial fishermen will see an increase, some states will be allowed to expand their fisheries and the anglers in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware and New York anglers above the George Washington Bridge will be the only anglers to see a reduction. This is totally unfair.

After the meeting there was a suggestion that New Jersey and ASMFC find a way to work this out. I have been hearing that same story since last February. I am hoping that ASMFC and the Commissioners have an epiphany and make a proposal to address the unfairness of Amendment 6. My experience suggests this will not happen and, therefore, I am recommending that Governor McGreevey sue the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to redress our grievances about the Striped Bass Plan and the discriminatory nature of Amendment 6. It is also my recommendation that we include weakfish in this suit since the last amendment to that plan was even more discriminatory.
 
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