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Ristori: Slot striper likely to stay until fall

BY AL RISTORI
Star-Ledger Staff

While Amendment 6 to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Striped Bass Management Plan doesn't allow for the slot striper that has become so popular in New Jersey, ASMFC commissioner Tom Fote is confident the state will be able to put off the day of reckoning for quite awhile -- perhaps into the fall.

There didn't appear to be any such problem when the amendment was being debated, but after approval there was language added that eliminated special consideration of producer areas even though the Chesapeake states were exempted so they could continue catching 18-inch stripers. New Jersey had producer status due to the Delaware and Hudson river stocks, and we could have had separate regulations allowing small bass in those rivers plus adjoining bays. State officials didn't take advantage of that situation, and made law enforcement a lot easier by maintaining the same regulations statewide.

That used to be two stripers at a 28-inch minimum size, but several years ago there was concern about too many larger bass being landed so New Jersey used its producer status to allow a single slot striper from 24 to less than 28 inches along with just one of 28 inches or more. Many anglers prefer the smaller bass for eating, and the slot has become a welcome addition.

Under the latest regulations, we must revert to two bass at the 28-inch minimum, and the state's delegation took a beating at the December ASMFC meeting in Manhattan when only Pennsylvania supported its effort to obtain an exemption. Unless there's a drastic change in the ASMFC, the slot is certainly out next year, though Fote is confident we can postpone the seemingly inevitable well into the season. Fote, the Governor's Appointee to ASMFC, said Division of Fish and Wildlife chief Marty McHugh is preparing a proposal for the next ASMFC meeting in an attempt to demonstrate conservation equivalency savings by various means.

For instance, the state will forgo taking the increase in our Trophy Tag allocation (which is derived from the former commercial catch) that we're entitled to since the amendment boosted the coastal commercial quota by 42 percent.

Chances are this offer will be turned down and New Jersey will be voted out of compliance. Yet, that's not the end of the story since there's an appeal process involved before the fishery can be shut down -- and also the likelihood of a legal challenge by the state, which can't act quickly in any case because the striped bass is the only species controlled by the Legislature rather than the Division, and the legislative process takes time.

It's quite likely all this could stretch into the fall, and it seems certain the spring fishery is safe from change.
 

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It's nice to see that we'll have the slot limit for this season, but there certainly is still a lot of uncertainty on the horizon as far as regulations are concerned!
 

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Don't forget this plan may very well come back and bite NJ right in the butt.

Instead of working with the ASMFC, Tom Fote is crying and whining and offering no real alternatives to our current slot system. In the end he's turning everyone against NJ.

It seems obvious Tom's got some personal issues involved in this because he doesn't seem to be working for NJ's longterm best interest. Just trying to save the slot he help create and ignoring the numbers it produced.

Yeah we may get a slot this year but the crying and whining will make the other ASMFC State shoot down any real slot proposals in the future.
 

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I hope he enjoys NY's fluke season.... what goes around comes around.
 

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It does seem odd he would turn on himself. Ya gotta wonder what happened.

FM Tuna,

I hope he enjoys NY's fluke season.... what goes around comes around.

Maybe he wants to change that statement to: What goes around, goes away in nj. HAPPY DAYS.


Ding
 

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As it seems there is a lot of debate about the slot fish program ....

in my eyes i like the idea because #1 it does cut down the amount of bigger fish caught

#2 it also helps the charter/head boat business when ..in times of scarcity of larger fish you can still land and possibly take home a fish for dinner if thats what you want to do.. i know of a lot of c/r fishermen and hey... to each his own

but they enjoy the same sport i do on a different level thats all..........
 

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Most everyone's for some type of slot, in this case though one person's personal politics are being put above the states best interest in the long run.
 
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