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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Artificial reefs, forage fish high on priorities list for recreational fisheries

Dealing with recreational vs. commercial conflicts on artificial fishing reefs is number 1 on a Northeast priority list issued Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as part of its first-ever strategic plan for improving the nation’s recreational fisheries.

NOAA will get involved in efforts to resolve conflicts over five reef sites in federal waters off the coast of Delaware, where the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council is considering special management zone rules.

That could have implications for New Jersey reefs too. In both states, recreational fishing advocates contend commercial lobster pots and fish traps interfere with hook-and-line anglers who use reefs that were built in part with restoration funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Commercial fishing advocates say their industry has a legal right to access the reefs too. There have been proposals in the New Jersey Legislature to exclude commercial gear from reefs inside state waters, but the Delaware management zones would be the first Mid-Atlantic attempt to regulate the reefs in federal waters.

The new plan calls for NOAA “to participate in the development of measures to reduce user conflicts between recreaional and commercial fishing on artificial reefs and, if necessary, publish federal regulations to implement such measures.”

The agency drew up the strategic plan - sub-divided into six regions of the nation’s Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific coasts - to enhance saltwater recreational fishing, which employs around 326,000 people and generates $50 billion in economic activity, according to NOAA.

Reef bills may need renewal

2011 was not a good year for New Jersey’s artificial reef program. The program, which was started in 1984, took a big hit when Dr. John Organ of the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife cut New Jersey off from matching federal funding due to violations of the Sportfish Restoration Fund in April.
We’ve covered this several times in 2011 and it is unnecessary to rehash the history.

“The reef building project was a project that every saltwater angler knew about and could get behind because it was benefit to them. It brought in more fish,” Capt. Pete Grimbilas Chair of Reef Rescue said.

Indeed, many saltwater fishing clubs in New Jersey have small plaques in their clubhouses from reef donations and habitat created that they participated in with funding they raised. The question is are these plaques and the program going to be part of history or be reborn?

About the only reef addition on the horizon in New Jersey for 2012 is the Art of Reef’s horseshoe crab sculpture that is planned to be sunk on the Axel Carlson reef. And that is a project that has been privately funded without matching dollars from the feds.

The conflict on the reef has to do with gear usage, primarily fixed traps used by commercial lobster fishermen.

“We will not get the funding back until we get the commercial traps off the reef. It’s a huge problem – the reef building project has pretty much stopped,” Grimbilas said.

Legislation has been adopted in the senate already. Senate bill 221, commonly called the Traps off the Reef bill, has passed the senate three times, but its companion bill A-1152 has stalled in the Assembly unable to get through the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee headed by Assemblyman Nelson Albano. The legislature is currently in its lame duck session and will end on January 9. If A-1152 does not get through the assembly by then, it, along with S-221, will have to be reintroduced. Grimbilas said the best opportunity to get the bills passed before the session ends is to get Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver to act.

“The entire legislative process has to be repeated. We don’t want to do this again,” Grimbilas said. “She is the only legislator that has the power to override Albano. Sportsmen have spoken to her and she is aware of the dynamics. The Speaker has the ability to help. She can solve this deadlock.”

Now is the time to write letters, emails or call Oliver and ask her to vote on A-1152. Oliver can be reached at: 15-33 Halsted St., Suite 202, East Orange, N.J. 07018, 973-395-1166, [email protected].

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
U.S. Department of Commerce | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | National Marine Fisheries Service


Saltwater Recreational Fishing Action Agenda

November 2011


Executive Summary

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Northeast Regional Office and Northeast Fisheries Science Center will carry out activities to support and enhance recreational fisheries under the guidance of the April 2010 NOAA Recreational Saltwater Fishing Summit, and the October 2010 NMFS Recreational Saltwater Fisheries Action Agenda (National Action Agenda). Following the 2010 Summit, NMFS developed the National Action Agenda, which has five major goals to
improve service to the recreational fishing community:

1. Improved Recreational Fishing Opportunities
2. Improved Recreational Catch, Effort, and Stock Status Data
3. Improved Recreational Socio-economic Data
4. Improved Communication
5. Institutional Orientation

Our Northeast Region Recreational Fisheries Action Plan has action items under each of the five goals for late 2011 through 2012, and a few follow-up items related to mid-2011 actions. These action items include the major ongoing activities necessary to manage recreational fisheries, such as annual management specifications, major surveys, habitat reviews, and stock assessments. Also, most importantly, we have included a number of new items to improve our internal and external ability to better engage the recreational fishing community. Our action items will help achieve, on a regional basis, the five goals of the National Action Agenda. Items briefly described here are explained in more detail in the following sections of this action plan.

Under Goal 1, Improved Recreational Fishing Opportunities, we will:


Provide advice and guidance on artificial reef Special Management Zones.


PAGE 6 - 7

Goals and Objectives

GOAL 1: Improve Recreational Fishing Opportunities

Objective8 Reduce user conflicts on artificial reefs in Federal waters.
Project8 Special management zones (SMZs) for sportfish restoration funded artificial reefs (NERO Lead)

Oversee and participate in the Mid-Atlantic Council’s efforts to use the SMZ mechanism and its new reef monitoring committee formulated under provisions of the Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to review information on and recommend actions to reduce recreational/commercial conflicts for five artificial reefs in Federal waters off the coast of Delaware. These reefs are state-built, using U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Dingell-Johnson Sportfish Restoration (SFR) funds, and recreational fishing groups contend that proliferation of commercial lobster pots and fish traps on reefs in the Mid-Atlantic are interfering with recreational fishing on SFR-funded reefs. Reducing recreational/commercial conflicts could lead to improved recreational access and increased recreational fishing opportunities for these artificial reefs.

Deliverable8Participate in the development of measures to reduce user conflicts between recreational and commercial fishing on artificial reefs, and, if necessary, publish Federal regulations to implement such measures.

Timing8 The formulation of the reef monitoring committee and initial informational meetings will take place in 2012. Recommendations from the committee are expected in 2012.

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