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9,261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Meeting will decide striped bass regulations

Published in the Asbury Park Press 3/07/04
New Jersey striped bass fishermen had better start agreeing on what regulations they want to fish under later this year.
Michael Doebley, deputy director for government affairs for the Recreational Fishing Alliance, said Friday that an informal poll of Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission striped bass board members last week revealed no support for New Jersey's slot limit.

"I think we're looking at getting voted out of compliance Tuesday," he said. "There's just no support there and we can't do anything about it."

Doebley said the responses he has been getting indicate other states think New Jersey has had regulations that are too liberal.

"They're saying our slot limit is not biologically sound -- our regulations have got to change," he said.

The meeting to decide New Jersey's striped bass fate will be held Tuesday afternoon at the Radisson Hotel Old Town Alexandria, 625 First St., Alexandria, Va.

Doebley said he is hopeful that, if New Jersey is voted out of compliance, that the board will understand the state's striped bass rules are decided by the state Legislature, and the process takes time.

"If everything goes smoothly -- proposals, public hearings, legislative action -- I would think we could have the regulations in place by July 1," he said.

Doebley said the argument over the removal of New Jersey's "producer" status in Amendment VI to the striped bass management plan is winnable, but, even if reinstated, it would not alter the board's thinking.

The state Division of Fish and Wildlife will have to come up with some proposals quickly, and the public hearings will certainly be lively.

Some fishermen are already saying that they will be comfortable with two fish at 28 inches or larger. That is what the current fishery management plan provides for.

The plan also allows New Jersey to harvest a third fish at 28 inches or over with a bonus tag.

Other anglers like the slot limit, a chance to catch a smaller bass, which is not only a better fish to eat than the larger fish, but in many areas is easier to catch.

"There is a possibility we could have a true slot fish," Doebley said. By this he means a slot that is created by taking a quota cut as Chesapeake Bay states do.

Doebley said this might be done by allowing one fish between 24 and 30 inches and a second 36 inches or over or one fish between 22 and 28 inches and a second at 38 inches or over.

"These are just off-the-cuff examples," he added, "but there are a lot of people who walk the sod banks and fish the surf who want to take a smaller fish. When they catch a 26-inch bass they're tickled pink."

Everyone involved in the process will have to move quickly, if New Jersey is voted out of compliance Tuesday. Failure to come up with timely proposals, public hearings and legislative action could result in the fishery being shut down.

The United Boatmen and the Recreational Fishing Alliance reminded the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council last week that the council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission had promised last year to consider a petition to split the fluke quota evenly between the commercial and recreational sectors.

Raymond D. Bogan and Herbert P. Moore Jr., lawyers for the Boatmen and RFA, respectively, pointed out to Daniel T. Furlong, executive director of the council, that it had established as a priority to "review the current formula used to allocate landings to the commercial and recreational summer flounder fisheries."

The Boatmen and the RFA received word July 29 that their petition for rulemaking, submitted March 18 last year, had been accepted, and the commission and the council agreed to the review at a joint meeting in October at Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

Bogan and Moore have asked Furlong for an outline, in as much detail as possible, the course of action the council will follow to review the current allocation of the total allowable landings of fluke.

The United Boatmen and the Recreational Fishing Alliance maintain that the quota should be split 50-50 based on historical landings, and an unrepresentative time frame on which the present structure is based.

9,261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
RISTORI: Anglers to state case on slot striper in May

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Anglers hoping to keep a slot (24 to less than 28 inches) striper got a break Tuesday when the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Striped Bass Board, meeting in Alexandria, Va., agreed to submit New Jersey's defense of its regulations to the Technical Committee for review before being voted on at the next ASMFC meeting in late-May.

The arguments put forth by Bruce Freeman of the Division of Fish and Wildlife and Governor's Appointee Tom Fote were sufficient to postpone the day of reckoning. That means the state will retain current regulations at least well into the spring striper season.

Freeman notes that the slot limit has increased New Jersey's catch by over 100,000 fish, a fact which doesn't win us much support from other coastal states, which observe the two at 28 inches regulation that is specified in the plan.

Since the commercial quota was raised by about 42 percent in Amendment 6, New Jersey offered to forgo that increase in the Trophy Program for this year in order to retain the slot provision.

Since this is a game fish state, our commercial quota is utilized in the Trophy Program, which currently provides a third striper of 28 inches or more to those anglers who sign up. In actuality, relatively little of that quota is filled each year and it's become an unofficial conservation program.

Giving it up would result in redistribution to commercial fishermen in other states, and the loss of all those bass in nets. As a N.J. member of the ASMFC Striped Bass Advisory Panel, I've had to fight off attempts by other states to "steal" that commercial quota because we aren't using most of it. Fote assured me the promise to forgo use of the added quota would not result in its loss or any redistribution.

The long term outlook for the slot bass is still bleak, though the latest postponement of declaring New Jersey out-of-compliance leaves room for further delays in May if the expected rejection by the Technical Committee results in that declaration. Thus, we could retain the slot into the summer or even the fall before having to eventually comply.

7,351 Posts
Thanks for the updates NS. I appreciate the info as I don't read the newspaper.

5,940 Posts
Whether this year or January 1, 2005, NJ striper regs will have to change.

Slot limit? Season? Reduced bag? No bonus?
Going to be an interesting time....

9,261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Ristori: Congress holds striped bass hearings

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Star-Ledger Staff

Representatives Jim Saxton (R-N.J.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) were on hand Thursday in Washington as the House Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans held a hearing on reauthorization of the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act (HR3883).

New Jersey was well represented among the few asked to testify. Both Tom Fote of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association and the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs, and Jim Donofrio of the Recreational Fishing Alliance emphasized their desire that federal waters remain closed to striped-bass retention in order not to endanger the recovery.

Kevin Walker of Barnegat Light suggested allowing commercial fishermen to retain their striper bycatch, but there's no chance of that happening in this striper gamefish state. Bycatch quickly becomes directed catch whenever netters spot a loophole. A couple of assemblymen entered such a bill a few years ago, but after a storm of protest they couldn't withdraw that legislation fast enough.

Fote also warned about current commercial bycatch, which is largely undocumented. Oceana New England did an analysis of observer data on southern New England trawlers and concluded the bycatch kill of striped bass in just the groundfish fishery there is between 1.4 and 2.4 million pounds a year.

I've seen floating stripers dumped by trawlers or gillnetters from Rockaway Inlet to Seaside, and watched a gillnetter dumping hundreds of bass off Sandy Hook just days after a massive fish kill was reported on the beaches there.

This sort of thing is going on all along the coast, and it must be subtracted from the commercial quotas which were jacked up over 42 percent (over New Jersey's objections) in Amendment 6.

Rep. Pallone said, "NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) should support funding studies that establish measures to minimize bycatch, a main cause of mortality to striped bass." John Dunnigan of NMFS couldn't give a commitment that such studies would take place, but Pallone said he'll continue to press the issue and also seek funds beyond the President's budget request.

[ 03-22-2004, 02:35 PM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]

9,261 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Council hints N.J. should alter bass rules

Published in the Asbury Park Press 3/28/04
The state Marine Fisheries Council took a step Wednesday that the members thought would ensure the future of New Jersey's striped bass fishery.
The striped bass board of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission did not vote New Jersey out of compliance with Amendment VI to the Striped Bass Management Act this month as expected, but, instead, referred the matter back to its technical committee for a decision in May.

Some thought this represented an unwillingness to prod New Jersey into openly confronting the commission or initiate court action against the management body. Many in the state insist New Jersey's striped bass regulations are fair and equitable.

However, others, including the council, believed that the ASMFC was merely hinting that New Jersey should come back with some regulatory options that would be acceptable to the ASMFC's technical committee.

Amendment VI eliminates the current 24- to 28-inch slot limit that New Jersey fishermen currently enjoy. Other states that do have a slot limit employ various "conservation equivalent" options that bear a quota reduction, which New Jersey has not done.

The council voted to ask the state Division of Fish and Wildlife to come up with several options that could be presented to the commission's board in May, and, if approved, could be presented at public hearing for comment and agreement.

Herb Moore Jr., director of government affairs for the Recreational Fishing Alliance, said the RFA supported the council's decision for several reasons.

"We feel it is not in the best interests of New Jersey anglers to be voted out of compliance," he said.

Moore is aware that to do nothing, and probably be voted out of compliance, would mean that a shutdown of the fishery would probably not take effect until late June or July because of the process involved.

However, he was concerned about the effect on the late-summer and fall fisheries, the gap that might appear and its impact on anglers' participation and the industry that depends on it, other states' regard for New Jersey in this and other management questions, and harmony within the process.

"The council's action was preemptive," he said. "The state has not submitted other options to the ASMFC's board -- only the one, status quo -- but I think the division has thought about other options."

Moore said too many anglers have said that they do not want to lose the opportunity to catch a smaller fish than 28 inches -- a fish to take home to eat.

"We could have a true slot fish," he said, explaining that New Jersey does not have a true slot at present in that the minimum size is 24 inches, but the 28-inch top limit is the same as the minimum size for all coastal fisheries. There is no gap.

Thomas P. Fote, one of New Jersey's representatives on the ASMFC, said he feels New Jersey was shortchanged in Amendment VI, and the board had long promised that the fishery regulations would remain status quo this year.

"I'm going to keep pushing for status quo," he said. "New Jersey has never gotten the credit it deserves for its conservation efforts over the years.

"We have producer areas in the Delaware River and the Hudson River," he said. "Every year managers determine how many of the Chesapeake Bay striped bass should be harvested out of the total spawning stock biomass.

"Because of management measures, 50 percent of this available harvest is taken within Chesapeake Bay. The remaining 50 percent is allocated to the coastal fishery," he said.

"This is accomplished by allowing the harvest of smaller fish in Chesapeake Bay before they migrate along the coast. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware never fully took advantage of the producing area status and generally maintained more conservative regulations," he said.

"In 1998 we implemented a slot limit of one fish at 24 to 28 inches to allow anglers who gave up fishing during the spawning season a chance to harvest a fish for personal consumption," he said.

"Even after relaxing the regulations, these three states were only harvesting 27 percent instead of 50 percent of those striped bass allowed for in their producing area for that year," he continued.

"Amendment VI penalizes the anglers who fish the Delaware River, Delaware Bay and the Hudson River," he said.

[ 03-30-2004, 02:58 PM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]

379 Posts
How come the VA/MD Chesapeake Bay reg's allow for two fish over 18". That seems to present the same issue as our "slot" laws? I make the trip down every year to put the 20-25"er's in the freezer. Maybe I should only eat one?!?!

59 Posts
This gives you an idea of all the different options and restrictions Maryland has.

Bass, Striped
CATCH AND RELEASE ONLY Mar 15, 2004 - May 3, 2004
Please use Circle Hooks
Susquehanna Flats, upstream of a line from Sandy Point to Turkey Point and downstream from the lower Railroad Bridge near Perry Point, excluding the area of Susquehanna River from the Railroad Bridge near Perry Point upstream to the base of the Conowingo Dam; and Northeast River. No eels.

Bass, Striped (Bay) 28" Spring Trophy Season
Apr 17, 04 - May 15, 04
Captain/mate not eligible
May not possess striped bass while fishing
between 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m. No Eels. Restricted to the mainstem Chesapeake Bay from Brewerton Channel to the Maryland/ Virginia Line, Tangier & Pocomoke Sounds (no Tributaries)
Maximum two charterboat trips/day

Striped Bass Bay
May 16, 2004 - Dec. 15, 2004
2 @ 18"- 28" OR
1 @ 18" - 28" and 1 larger than 28"/person/day.
May not possess striped bass while fishing between 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m.

May 16 - 31, 2004: No Eels. Restricted to the mainstem Chesapeake Bay from Brewerton Channel to the Maryland/ Virginia Line, Tangier & Pocomoke Sounds (no Tributaries).
Charter boat captain or mate = 1/fish/boat/day
Maximum two charterboat trips/day

June 1 - Dec. 15, 2004: Maryland's Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Charter boat captain or mate = 1/fish/boat/day
Maximum two charterboat trips/day

Bass, Striped
Potomac River
and Md Tribs

Call the Potomac River Fisheries Commission at

28" Apr 17, 2004 - May 15, 2004
1/person/day Downstream of the Harry W. Nice Bridge (US 301), including the Maryland and Virginia tributaries downstream of the bridge
18"-28" May 16, 2004 - Dec 31, 2004
2 @ 18" - 28" OR
1 @ 18" - 28" and 1 larger than 28"/person/day Downstream of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (I-95), including the Maryland and Virginia tributaries downstream of the bridge.

Bass, Striped (Ocean) 28" Open year round 2/person/day

Prohibited in EEZ beyond MD waters (3 miles -200 miles)
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