Saturday, February 23, 2008: We slipped by this storm with only a couple inches of snow and very little wind. However, storm clouds hang hard and heavy over the big angling issues.
Here is an update on the Pot Bill:
As most of you know by now, yesterday Senate Bill S336 was passed by the Senate Environment Committee. Opposition was strong but Bill Figley’s testimony, termed "devastating" by Committee Chair Senator Bob Smith, convinced most all members to pass the bill on to the Senate floor for a vote. I am very pleased with our victory because it’s the first step toward becoming law. But, there’s a long way to go.
At the same time I’m upset with one fact; of the 6 person committee there were 5 senators in favor of S336 and 1 abstention. The person abstaining was the bill’s Co-Sponsor, Senator Jeff Van Drew of Cape May! His district just happens to have the largest commercial fleet in the State of New Jersey. He stated the reason for his no-vote was because he wants to see compromise between the 2 user groups!!! Maybe I’m naïve when it comes to political affairs but when you sign-on as a bill co-sponsor, doesn’t that mean you believe in it and you fully support it????? Could Senator Van Drew (D) be the reason Speaker Roberts (D) killed the bill last session? This is starting to smell like baitfish left in a cooler for weeks.
As far as compromise, there isn’t any. Our group sat with commercial fishermen as advisors to the NJ Marine Fisheries Council, Reef Committee for 5 sessions last year. We explored ever possible scenario from seasonal pots, to multi colored flags, to use of certain types of traps and on and on. Nothing was agreeable to either side. When the issue got back to the Marine Fisheries Council, the Council rejected the compromise proposal put forth by the Director of Fish and Wildlife and rejected the advice from their own Reef Committee. Instead, they amended the Directors proposal to allow lobster traps on reefs year around, voted and approved it. Why? Because the Council is made up of 4 recreational members and 5 commercial. Instead of doing what’s right for the general public, they voted for their industry ties. That’s why we need a law!
Our next goal is to have the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee hear bill (A1519). I’ll post the date as soon as it’s scheduled.
Thanks for all the support,
Captain Pete Grimbilas
Below is a write-up from SSFFF (see below) to familiarize those who might not have heard about this eelgrass-roots group. It can be found at http://www.ssfff.net.
Save The Summer Flounder Fishery Fund hires Dr. Mark Maunder
Fri, Feb 15, 2008
The Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund (SSFFF), the nonprofit organization formed in New Jersey to seek scientific and legislative solutions to the crisis facing those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy and vibrant recreational summer flounder fishery, has announced the hiring of internationally recognized fisheries biologist Mark Maunder, Ph.D., to assist in its pursuit of those scientific solutions.
Dr Maunder is recognized internationally as a leader in the development of methodology for fisheries stock assessment and population dynamics modeling. He has been the team leader or participant in numerous stock assessments. Dr Maunder has been a main developer of three general stock assessment models used by several organizations worldwide. He has taught several courses in stock assessment and ecological modeling, including a graduate course at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
"Dr. Maunder has already completed his initial review of the current assessment, identifying several key areas where further investigation and research is needed," said Greg Hueth, president of the Shark River Surf Anglers and one of the founders of SSFFF.
Dr Maunder is currently a senior scientist at the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. Through his company, Quantitative Resource Assessment, LLC, Dr Maunder has served as a consultant for several national and international governmental and nongovernmental organizations. He has been an invited speaker on many occasions, reviewed stock assessments for several national and international organizations, has more than 30 peer-reviewed publications, numerous reports, attended many international conferences and workshops on fisheries, ecology and statistics, and has obtained substantial external funding as lead or co-principle investigator.
"We seek to safeguard and improve fishing access to summer flounder, for those who enjoy it and to ensure the survival of those who depend on it, through scientific and legislative means."
"One of our goals in hiring a scientist was to assure that he or she was not only well-respected, but also highly qualified to review and comment on stock assessments," said Dave Arbeitman, owner of The Reel Seat tackle shop in Brielle, NJ, and also a founder of SSFFF. "Dr. Maunder is that person."
The Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund (SSFFF) is a nonprofit organization comprised of party and charter boat owners, tackle and bait store owners, tackle distributors, bait wholesalers, and others whose livelihoods are dependent on a healthy and vibrant recreational fishing industry. Its mission: "We seek to safeguard and improve fishing access to summer flounder, for those who enjoy it and to ensure the survival of those who depend on it, through scientific and legislative means."
Here’s a highly-migratory related story:
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS by John Sackton - -- The U.S. Attorney for Southern Florida and Florida Fish and Wildlife announced that guilty pleas had been filed by two men who operated charter fishing vessels in Miami for Lacey Act violations.
The charges involved illegal landings of sailfish. According to the indictment, statements in court, and an agreed statement of facts, the owners, Stanley Saffan and Adam Augusto, along with crew Sean Lang, Brian Schick, and Ralph Pegram, operated two charter fishing vessels in North Miami Beach. The vessels consistently landed undersized billfish, and also had a deal with a local taxidermy company that paid the crew if the customer agreed to have the fish mounted.
The vessels did not have the required permits for billfish, and they failed to inform their customers that they could purchase billfish mounts that were replicas of the fish, not the actual fish. Instead, the crew falsely asserted that the taxidermy company needed and would use parts of landed billfish in preparing the mounts for the anglers who paid for the fishing charters.
Each Lacey Act charge against the individuals carry possible prison terms of 5 years. In addition, the court may order criminal fines against the individuals of up to $250,000 for each count of conviction, and a term of probation or supervised release of up to three years. Each defendant has also agreed to pay restitution to the victims of the relevant offense conduct, although the precise amount of the restitution remains to be determined.
As well, both charter vessels are forfeited to the government.
Australia extends southern bluefin tuna export approval through mid-2010
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [AAP] - February 22, 2008 - The federal government has extended export approval for southern bluefin tuna until mid-2010.
'I granted the extension following an assessment of the sustainability of the fishery by my department, who advised me that the extension will not be detrimental to the survival or conservation status of the species in the short term,' Environment Minister Peter Garrett said in a statement.
The decision is likely to cause controversy among environmental groups, which have long claimed the species is close to extinction.
Late last year, conservation body WWF said the body charged with protecting the species - the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna - had made no significant progress in preventing the over-harvesting of the internationally popular table fish.
Mr Garrett said recent commission decisions had given the species greater protection.
'I consider that the commission's recent 21 per cent reduction of the global total allowable catch is a significant step forward towards sustainability,' he said.
'The fact that Australia's component of the global catch was not reduced by the commission is a vote of confidence in Australia's domestic management of this fishery.'
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