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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(Friday Sept 3. 2004)


I was just chatting at length with a National Marine Fisheries Council representative regarding a possible bass moratorium.

Why was I in the NMFS domain?

Well, insiders at Commerce Secretary Donald Evans office let me know in no undue terms that Bill Howgarth, director of NMFS, has been empowered by Evans to handle the NJ Striped Bass issue.

Howgarth is currently getting just about every piece of paperwork (letters, emails, etc.) arriving at Evans?s office regarding the NJ striper situation. Much of that is being considered then forwarded to Ann Lange, Chief of NMFS?s State-Federal Fisheries Division. That division handles the interplay between NMFS and state governments.

It?s not surpassing that Evans is turning to NMFS. It is the most appropriate agency to gauge what?s what in this complicated fisheries issue.

What is frighteningly noteworthy is the fact that the law might be immovable when it comes to what the secretaries of Commerce and the Interior can do on September 20, when the 30-day consideration period is up. (It actually ends on September 18 but that?s a Saturday.)

Get this: Based on written law, a finding of noncompliance MUST be met with a moratorium. That law is clearly stated within the Striped Bass Act ? a very potent piece of legislation, made that way by the fishermen themselves.

Yes, earlier this year NJ was cut some slack ? an extension -- in finalizing its fluke regulations to meet federal guidelines. That action was outside any overriding piece of legislation, like the Striped Bass Act.

Could the secretaries contrive that NJ is not out of compliance just, sorta, out of step or something like that? Yes, but that would surely be a slap in the face to the ASMFC. What?s more, both secretaries would have to agree to that. Not likely -- but anything is possible.

Should it happen, would a moratorium only last from Sept 20 to the instant the state Senate reconvenes late in the month?

Not really. There would be some lag time as the Senate gets up to high gear, votes, the Gov signs in and Trenton let?s the feds know all has been done at the state level.

In a prefect world, things could be normal by, say, October 10-ish. That?s just a wide-margin guess, though.

Any other insights?
 

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VA ALMOST went through this back in Dec. 1999 when the Marine Resources Commission almost went out of compliance with that 14% reduction issue. It took a flood of letters and public input to make sure that it did not happen. Fortunately VMRC meets every month and has the authority to act on any fishery except menhaden. Thus mistakes can be quickly fixed.

The way the federal law is written for striped bass all that the Secretary of Commerce has to find is that you are out of compliance and the fishery is shut down. With every thing else he has to determine that being out of compliance will impact the recovery of the stocks. One is black and white the other is fuzzy.

Tom
 

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As a true- law abiding citizen of the Great State of New Jersey....

They better bring some fully armed Coast Guard Cutters to baracade the entrance to the Bay come mid-October- for I'll be there!

You can call it what you want. I'll be stealth blue fishing or whatever.... but sure as I can breath I will be on the bay come mid-October.
 
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