Size----Limits----Seasons....on all salt water fish are out.....
Weakfish.....8 fish....13 inches
Summer Flounder...8 fish...16 1/2 inches...open saeson....May 7.....Oct 10
complete set of regulations available www.njfishandwildlife.com
Published in the Asbury Park Press 04/13/05
The rules have changed for a number of saltwater species this year, and anglers should be aware that ignorance is no excuse when the marine enforcement agents come visiting.
Of primary importance is the striped bass law: The permissible harvest is one fish between 24 and less than 28 inches and a second fish 34 inches and over.
It is illegal for anyone to land a striper between 28 and less than 34 inches.
There will be no bonus program until Sept. 1. Applications for bonus cards must be sent in to be eligible for the general lottery before May 31.
Despite the fact that under the present system, 25 percent of the 20,000 bonus cards to be distributed this year will be alloted to party and charter boatmen who participated in the bonus program in 2004, and 18 percent will be given to individual anglers, two cards per angler, who participated last year, none of these can be used until Sept. 1.
Anyone who does receive two bonus cards, either through the lottery or because of participation last year, can keep only one fish per card. The cards cannot be replaced after they are used.
The recreational fishing season for fluke has been changed from May 8 through Oct. 11 last year to May 7 through Oct. 10 this year so the season can start on a Saturday and end on a holiday (Columbus Day).
The recreational minimum size will remain at 16 1/2 inches and the possession limit will remain at eight fish.
The season for sea bass has been changed from Jan. 1 through Sept. 7 and Sept. 22 to Nov. 30 last year to a full 12 months of fishing, Jan. 1 through Dec. 31.
The recreational size limit for sea bass will remain at 12 inches and the possession limit will remain at 25 fish.
The minimum size for porgies has been reduced from 10 inches to 9 inches in state waters. The season will remain as it was: Jan. 1 through Feb. 28 and July 1 through Dec. 31. The possession limit will remain at 50 fish.
Anglers should be aware, however, that federal laws on porgies will be different, and the season will be closed outside of three miles at times when the state season is open.
The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering one of two options: closing the season in July and August, and from Nov. 30 to Dec. 31, or closing it from Sept. 30 through Dec. 31, and maintaining a 10-inch minimum.
The service wanted a 9 percent reduction in landings, and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council wanted status quo. Vessels that have federal permits, that take precedence wherever the permit holder fishes, will have to turn their permits in to fish in state waters during periods when the EEZ is closed.
Tony Bogan, a member of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, said the state Division of Fish and Wildlife put together a thorough and convincing appeal for a drop in the minimum size from 10 to nine inches for porgies, and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission accepted it.
"The division staff gets the credit," Bogan said. "They did the analysis based on the MRFSS (Marine Recreational Fishery Statistics Survey) numbers, and their logic was sound."
He said the recreational porgy landings quota is broken down with 97 percent going to New York and New England, and three percent to New Jersey and states farther south.
Since very few porgies are caught south of New Jersey, the three percent is virtually a New Jersey quota. The division argued that the landings for the last three years proved the three percent would not be exceeded.
"New Jersey's landings in 2003, one of the highest years on record were about 1.9 percent of coastal landings," Bogan said. "In 2004 landings were about 1.2 percent."
What the commission did decide was, that if New Jersey does exceed three percent with the lower minimum size this year, it will be forced to increase its minimum size back to 10 inches in 2006.