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Published in the Asbury Park Press 1/28/05
by:John Geiser


Thousands of striped bass fishermen in New Jersey have been clamoring for a new striped bass law, and Assemblyman Sean T. Kean, R-Monmouth, has responded.
The assemblyman said Wednesday that he will introduce the bill that the majority of fishermen want: a daily possession limit of two fish of 28 inches or more and a bonus fish of 28 inches or over. "Two at 28!" is the rallying cry heard in tackle shops and marinas as grass roots anglers and activists organize to let legislators know their position.


Kean said the law passed in September is confusing and unfair to many anglers. Further it has hurt charter and party boatmen and has resulted in the suspension of the bonus fish program.

The present law provides for the harvest of one fish between 24 and less than 28 inches, no fish between 28 and less than 34 inches, one fish from 34 inches up, and there is no bonus program.

"I am a striped bass fisherman and I can tell you that many of the individuals that I run into that also fish are confused by these new rules," he said. "Fishermen in Monmouth County are bewildered as to why the state passed such a complicated scheme."

Kean said his bill, which will be introduced Feb. 7, will be easy to understand and comply with. It is also acceptable to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, and conforms to the coastal standard.

"Recreational fishing is one of the most popular activities of both residents and visitors to Monmouth County and New Jersey," he said. "Going forward with these unnecessarily complex regulations will hurt the fishing and related industries and will ultimately impact tourism."

"New Jersey needs a fair and easily understandable striped bass policy that lets the state's fishermen concentrate on battling fish instead of battling bureaucratic red tape," he pointed out.

Kean acknowledged that different regions of the state have different needs, and he respects efforts to provide regional autonomy with respect to fish size, but until a system is worked out, he said the state needs to simplify and clarify the regulations to avoid confusion, and accommodate the majority.

Two fish at 28 inches or over is not a demand spawned in New Jersey, it is the coastal standard, the base agreed upon by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Two fish at 28 inches is the choice of the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, and it is the only measure that will allow them to continue the traditional bonus program for all striped bass fishermen who want to participate.

Any other bonus option that might be created under the present law will exclude some, if not most, bass fishermen from the bonus program.

The Recreational Fishing Alliance has compiled the results of its membership questionnaire on bass fishermen's preferences, and it was found that the majority favor two fish at 28 inches or above.

A total of 814 respondents or 45 percent chose two fish at 28 inches with a bonus program, and 1,034 or 57.66 percent favored two fish at 28 inches without a bonus program.

The survey revealed that 645 anglers or 35.7 percent favored the present law with a bonus program of some form and 441 or 24.59 percent favored the present law without a bonus program.

Another 346 persons or 19.1 percent favored one fish between 26 and 30 inches and a second fish at 33 inches or over with some form of a bonus program, and 318 or 17.73 percent favored one fish between 26 and 30 inches and one fish 33 inches or over without a bonus program.

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association, representing 75 fishing clubs, met Tuesday night in Brick, and representatives voted overwhelmingly to change the present law to two fish at 28 inches or over plus a bonus program.

Bruce L. Freeman, research scientist for the state's Bureau of Marine Fisheries, said Tuesday that the bonus program can be continued as it has for 13 years without additional funding, if the law is changed to two fish at 28 inches or over.

Thomas P. Fote, legislative chairman of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, said that organization decided that it will circulate a petition at the upcoming Atlantic City Boat Show to get further support for changing the present law to two fish at 28 inches.

More than 60,000 persons went through the show last year, and a larger crowd is expected this year.

"This will be a simple petition asking people if they support 28 inches and a bonus program the way it has been for 13 years," he said.

Joe Pallotto, president of the Asbury Park Fishing Club, which has over 100 members, said he is heartened by the results of the RFA membership poll and the stand of the JCAA's clubs, the state's backing of two at 28 and the support of the New Jersey Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.

"This proves to everyone that two at 28 is the way to go," he said. "It has already been approved by the ASMFC -- no hang up there -- all we have to do is get a bill introduced, and impress upon the state Legislature that this is what the majority of bass fishermen wants."

The Asbury Park Fishing Club, which dates back over 100 years, has been in the forefront of striped bass regulations in New Jersey since the first measures were passed in the last century.

"We don't have an axe to grind here," Pallotto said. "We're not interested in party politics, we're interested in doing what is right for the majority of the fishermen in New Jersey.

Greg Hueth, a spokesman for the Shark River Surf Anglers, another club with over 100 members, said his membership is unified in its support for two fish at 28 inches plus the bonus program as they have known it for 13 years.

"It's pretty clear what is in the best interests of the fishermen of New Jersey -- what's right for them," he said. "We need to move forward now; we can't wait on this."
 

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The question isn't what is right for the fisherman, the question is what is right for the FISH
2 fish at 28" and a bonus of 28" or over will put serious pressure on the spawning stock and given the health of the Cheasapeake Bay spawning may become a huge problem in upcoming years
My belief is the ASMFC is only worried about staying in business and taking tax dollars,if stocks stay healthy there would be no need to keep the Council in business and Congress looking for ways to cut cost would eliminate it. BUT allow the stocks to fall back and Congress would have to keep the organization in business
I don't like 2 fish over 28 but add a bonus so called trophy over 28 is ridculous
If there is going to be a bonus program it sould be for a fish over 40 ,a true trophy AND no more than 2 per fisherman per year
RFA and JCAA going by popular vote is ridiculous because 90% of the recreational fisherman have no idea what is involved all they want is meat and probably 50% or more were not around when striped bass was completely shut down
We are going down a very dangerous path
 

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A total of 814 respondents or 45 percent chose two fish at 28 inches with a bonus program, and 1,034 or 57.66 percent favored two fish at 28 inches without a bonus program.
Or to look at it another way, 55% do NOT favor [email protected]
 

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I don't know what to say about the bass regs anymore. I can tell ya' there will be plenty of crying when the pics of guys with three 45 inchers start coming out of Delaware Bay this year.
 

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Phill
You beat me to making that same statement.

Bucktail , i totaly agree but we have to watch what we ask for because some could argue what is best for the fish would be taking the human equation out of the game...!

[ 01-29-2005, 08:46 AM: Message edited by: In Depth ]
 

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Let me put a different perspective on the bonus tag program. As far as the number of fish being caught under this program, it is a very small percentage of the total catch on the east coast. If recreational anglers lost this program, more then likely it would become a NJ commercial quota anyway, which is what it was originally, so NO FISH WOULD BE SAVED. Also folks lose sight of the valuable research data generated by this program and other programs of the NJ Fish and Wildlife service. Card returns gives the department important data regarding the health of the stock, size/age ratio (an important indicator of health of the forage species population, size ratio of larger fish in the population, etc.
 

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Originally posted by BUCKTAIL WILLIE:
The question isn't what is right for the fisherman, the question is what is right for the FISH
2 fish at 28" and a bonus of 28" or over will put serious pressure on the spawning stock and given the health of the Cheasapeake Bay spawning may become a huge problem in upcoming years
My belief is the ASMFC is only worried about staying in business and taking tax dollars,if stocks stay healthy there would be no need to keep the Council in business and Congress looking for ways to cut cost would eliminate it. BUT allow the stocks to fall back and Congress would have to keep the organization in business
I don't like 2 fish over 28 but add a bonus so called trophy over 28 is ridculous
If there is going to be a bonus program it sould be for a fish over 40 ,a true trophy AND no more than 2 per fisherman per year
RFA and JCAA going by popular vote is ridiculous because 90% of the recreational fisherman have no idea what is involved all they want is meat and probably 50% or more were not around when striped bass was completely shut down
We are going down a very dangerous path
You are a wise man Willie.
 

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Originally posted by TWIN D'S:
I don't know what to say about the bass regs anymore. I can tell ya' there will be plenty of crying when the pics of guys with three 45 inchers start coming out of Delaware Bay this year.
Phil, Is it your opinion that there should not be any "crying" over such pics that would be forthcomming? Not trying to be a smartass here, but what the heck does a person do with the meat of three 45" fish? Seriously, what do you do with it?
 

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Originally posted by Keeper Seeker:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by TWIN D'S:
I don't know what to say about the bass regs anymore. I can tell ya' there will be plenty of crying when the pics of guys with three 45 inchers start coming out of Delaware Bay this year.
Phil, Is it your opinion that there should not be any "crying" over such pics that would be forthcomming? Not trying to be a smartass here, but what the heck does a person do with the meat of three 45" fish? Seriously, what do you do with it? </font>[/QUOTE]Actually, I want them to see the results of what they voted for. Many of the same guys who will argue endlessly for 2 @ 28 to save the "little" fish will then protest at the sight of three 45" bass at the tackle shop. I think you know where these folks are generally situated.

Fish management is loaded with hypocrisy and politics. As far as me, I was quite content with last years regs, but apparently many along the coast were impacted negatively.

When the fishing reports and pics from Delaware Bay start rolling in this spring, the anti's will emerge. That's when my job begins.
 

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This went out on the RFA e-newsletter list yesterday evening.

RFA&#146;S NJ STRIPED BASS SURVEY During the 2004 striped bass season in New Jersey, many different opinions surfaced around the state about what striped bass size limits are best for anglers. While many RFA members expressed support for current law which allows anglers to keep one striped bass from 24 inches to less than 28 inches and one striper 34 inches or greater, others clearly want a change.

In response, RFA mailed a survey to members in New Jersey and Pennsylvania to determine the best course of action for 2005. Realizing that fishermen&#146;s opinions are generally based upon how they do the majority of their fishing, where they do the majority of their fishing, and whether or not the state continues its Bonus Fish program, the RFA designed the survey accordingly. The RFA received over two thousand responses from NJ and PA members that fish for striped bass in NJ. 81% of respondents were from NJ while 19% were from PA. The following is a summary of the results:



For, &#147;How do you do the majority of your striper fishing?&#148; 65% responded private boat, 21% surf, 8% charter boat, 3% party boat, 2% bay/river shore and less than 2% pier/bridge.



For, &#147;What area best describes where you do the majority of your striper fishing?&#148; 52% responded Barnegat Bay north, while 45% responded Long Beach Island south, and 3% out of NJ.



For, &#147;Which management option do you prefer the most with a Bonus Program?&#148; 36% responded one fish from 24 to less than 28 inches and one fish 34 inches or greater, 45% responded two fish 28 inches or greater, and 19% responded one fish 26 to less than 30 inches and one fish 33 inches or greater.



Interestingly, the survey results demonstrate particular trends based according to how and where anglers fish.



For, &#147;Which management option would you prefer the most without a Bonus Program?&#148; 24% responded one fish from 24 to less than 28 inches and one fish 34 inches or greater, 58% responded two fish 28 inches or greater, and 18% responded one fish 26 to less than 30 inches and one fish 33 inches or greater.



The RFA is working hard to ensure the future of NJ&#146;s Striped Bass Bonus Program and we are optimistic that this program will continue therefore, at the current time, the most important information from the survey is which management option members prefer the most with a Bonus Program.



On this point, the data shows: 1) 45% of respondents are in favor of two fish 28 inches or greater; 2) 64% of respondents prefer something other than current law; and 3) 55% of respondents prefer something other than two fish 28 inches or greater.


&#147;Our goal is to take this information and pursue a course in 2005 that will satisfy the largest number of striper anglers as possible,&#148; said Herb Moore, Jr., RFA Counsel.
 

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Everyone, all good points!

I think there is definately a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" thing going on in NJ with many. Not only about catches but how people respond to the new regs. For instance, there does seem to be some evidence for increased catch and release mortality as the regs become more restrictive to take vs. less restricive regs on take. At least in the short term - the long term still remians to be seen since we are not there yet.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could choose regs we could live with for more than a year? Does it not seem that the contraversy is caused every year because we have to face these changing regs every year. I'm all for be more restrictive on take limits, if it is good for the stock and provides enough time for people to adjust to those limits - maybe this would quiet things down a bit. Does anyone think there is a political motive to getting the enitre fishing world in an uproar every single year by changing regs.?

Bill Halpin
 

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If NJ had taken the time to do it right 2 years ago and get in compliance I think this would have been a non-issue. Unfortunately, some in NJ wanted to go out of compliance and shut down the fishery. We got lucky last year there was no closure.

Some were insisting that "everybody" hated the new regs or any form of slot. Obviously, this is false.

What really mucked things up is when the state inexplicably decided it could not run the program anymore unless there was a fee. Then it was they could not with the new regs, even though at the public hearings teh state indicated support for the current regs.

And those who did not like the new regs (or simply hated the idea that they did not 100% control the process of setting the new regs) started bellyaching.

It would be great to leave them alone and in compliance for a few years.

Now throw this variable in.

Regs might have to change again next year if the 2004 stock assesment confirms that the 2003 assesment which inidicated being over threshold turns out to be correct.

If this is the case, it will be 3 reg changes in 3 years if they change this year.
 

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Let's just see where this goes and we can still do our own part of catch and release and sleep well at night !! This changing of reg's every year or in the middle of season is getting old though !!
 

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Originally posted by TWIN D'S:
Fish management is loaded with hypocrisy and politics. As far as me, I was quite content with last years regs, but apparently many along the coast were impacted negatively.
[/QB]
Agreed. Let's see, You as a UMDB man was content. I, who am a bank and surf man was content. I saw in one of these threads that Skip, who is a charter captain, also was happy with last years regs. So who are all the people that the RFA survey suggests that were unhappy? Of course I'm talking about the regs before the tweener debacle. I realy don't know anyone who was happy with those regs.
 

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does anyone think maybe the bonus fish shoul be less than 28, even it out a little bit rather then taking 3 large fish on most days
 

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The regulations this past fall b!ew! They were not thought out that well at all. And before we rush into any new regs we should hope somebody will think it out theroly. Keeping in mind the fish stocks, the recreational fisherman and the people making a living at it.{charter and comercial}. I personally would like to see the regs. go back to one fish over 28" and one fish under 28"{slot} but with one exception no bonous fish. What can you really do with all that meat anyway? But thats just my 2 cent.
 

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basspirate and moe, i agree with you one over 28 one slot, and no bonus. I would rather eat a slot fish any day. It does seem rather wasteful when you see pictures of a few guys on a dock with fifteen large bass laying there and everyone high fiving, reminds me of those old deer camp pictures etc. slaughtering instead of selective harvesting. Thought we learned that lesson.
 
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