2/13/2020 ... There was a lot to be heard and likely a lot to be learned at last night’s meeting of the NJ Marine Fisheries Council. Not that any of it meant anything. No, I’m not being indifferent or dismissive regarding the 50 or so comments. I’m referring to a fairly pervasive sense that things were well beyond the realm of any truly influential or mind-changing input. That’s a somewhat nicer way of saying decisions by the council were something of a forgone conclusion – though unknown to those present.
(Note: My sympathies to the MANY folks who could not get into the meeting, some driving many miles only to find the township would not allow standing within the meeting hall or even in the outside hallways – though exceptions were finally made regarding hallway standing about.)
I’ll be the first to admit that such predeterminations were understandable. There had been great debate among the decision-makers prior to this final let’s-make-a-deal session. As commenter Victor H. put it: “When we get here, it’s over.”
Victor then tried to impress on folks that this meeting was not the proper forum to bring up heretofore unpresented data and especially no time to suggest entire new options. He was mainly trying to muster support for an upcoming Mid-Atlantic Council bluefish meeting in Toms River (See below.) That meeting was hyped by a number of speakers and also council members as the place where data loosing and anecdotal insights could sway what might be called national-grade decision making.
With the council’s predetermination mindset in tow, comments still rightfully flowed forth – since this was a time for final comments before a vote. Audience opinions on blues and bass were varied and, at least for me, highly telling.
I’ll go big-picture first by noting well-respected recreational and commercial commentators spoke in unwavering terms about indescribably massive schools of blues and stripers being frequently spotted far out at sea, as in 30 miles and out … and much further. One speaker suggested as far as 60 to 80 miles out!
There was full agreement that such far-out showings of large bass and an unmeasurable bluefish biomasses had never been seen -- or spoken of -- going back many decades … if ever. Accounts were given of striped bass so far out they were hitting trolled tuna rigs – being pulled at big game speeds much less. Again, experienced anglers had never seen or even heard of such a thing taking place out near the Gulf Stream. Both fishing sectors (rec and pros) also spoke of miles and miles of bluefish being marked damn near the canyons. Mention was made of a couple decades back when night fishing for big blues could be had quite near the shore. Captains said there’s no motoring out 30 or more miles for blues.
This is where I’ll note that not once was even a hint of climate change brought into the evening’s testimonial picture. I thought for sure the mention of two fish biomasses taking unprecedented offshore courses might spur some mention of a suffering atmosphere spurring on the outward movements by these famed nearshore gamefish. Nary a climate change peep. There were numerous folks willing to blame dredging, mainly beach replenishment, for diverting fish so far from their historic routes. One speaker blamed dredging for driving forage fish away from the shoreline.
Somewhat inconsistent with that dredge blame were a cadre of speakers bringing up the fevered nearshore bass bite seen by boat bassers this past fall. Twice spoken: “I’ve never seen so many big stripers.” One Cape May boat captain said he took four bass over 60 pounds! Another spoke of catching 40 trophy fish in one session … releasing all 40. These accounts were meant to present a case that very healthy striper stocks have been seen by many NJ anglers. (More on stripers below)
During a lengthier than expected one-hour bluefish comment period – which allowed folks standing outside to come in to speak – a steady flow of comments focused on the cyclical nature of bluefish. A reference was made to the 1930s when bluefish were virtually unheard of in the region.
Slides were shown indicating bluefish have long been very overfished, implying that even the up times of their cyclical tendencies couldn’t compensate for decades of fairly drastic overfishing.
Anger over this year’s draconian bluefish bag limit cuts – from 15 fish down to 3 -- was pervasive, even though attendees were again advised that the state is restricted to voting on highly restrictive options sent down from up above. Their voting was limited to deciding from options virtually everyone who spoke said were “all bad.”
Final vote: The preferred recreational option was three fish of any size for all but patrons on for-hire vessels, who can keep five bluefish of any size. It passed unanimously.
Some fuss was made over the differentiating of recreational bag limits, slightly favoring for-hire vessels. Folks near me felt “five for all” would be fine. There was a fear that such bag limit differences could pit recreational anglers against fellow recreational angles. Worst, it could pave the way for the future developing of differing recreational and for-hire bags for other species, fluke coming to mind.
Speaker Robin S. brought up the notion of NJ getting defiant and going out of compliance regarding bluefish. That notion came up a couple times thereafter. Cooler heads on the council explained that such a move could/would lead to a ban on keeping any blues. Even with that possibility in play, a few folks persisted, “We should still go for it.”
I’m purposely being vague about who said what, even though I took pretty good notes. I simply became uncertain when club and organization members were speaking as individuals or on behalf of their affiliation. I’ve taken heat in the past, especially when mentioning clubs as saying this or that. All too often: “Well, I belong to that club and totally disagree with what (so-and-so) said.”
UPCOMING BLUEFISH MEETING INFO:
Scoping Hearings for Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment
NJ meeting will be Tuesday, February 18, 6:00-8:00 PM - Ocean County Administration Building – Room 119, 101 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, NJ 08753
The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will hold eleven supplemental scoping hearings to gather public input for the Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment. The Council is developing this action in cooperation with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission in order to (1) update the goals and objectives of the Bluefish Fishery Management Plan (FMP); (2) perform a comprehensive review of the bluefish sector allocations, commercial allocations to the states, and transfer processes; and (3) initiate a bluefish rebuilding plan. Scoping hearings will be held between February 13 and March 4, 2020. Written comments will be accepted through March 17, 2020.
The Supplemental Scoping and Public Information Document contains background information on bluefish management and on issues that may be addressed in the amendment. This document, along with additional information and updates on development of this amendment, is available on the Council’s website at this link.
Please direct any questions about the amendment to Matt Seeley, (302) 526-5262, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back at the Manahawkin meeting, the striped bass hour of comments saw some mild conflict between those preferring the coastal default setup of one fish at 28 inches to < 35 inches. That smaller max size was being forwarded by those in agreement that the stocks are suffering, and such a limit would foster faster recovery. There was quiet respect for those wanting the Mid-Atlantic default of 28 – < 35 -- likely due to the fact that word had gotten out that the council was going with 28 to <38.
It was recognized throughout the room that for 2020 a world-record bass can no longer be kept in New Jersey. Most states will face this same record-fish issue.
A slight tension arose when a suggestion was made to use NJ’s striped bass commercial poundage for a limited-entry trophy bonus bass tag, allowing the keeping of a bass over 38 inches for those lucky enough to acquire the tags. The commercial poundage is routinely given recreationalists since NJ has no commercial fishery but is allotted poundage.
The notion of what amounts to a cow tag was shunned not only because it was counter to the coastal intent to stop the keeping of the largest bass, but also because it would come down to a limited first-come/first-serve purchasing of trophy fish tags, meaning the fewest number of anglers would benefit the most. As I was told at whisper level, “That would be adding to recreational fishermen get pissed at other recreational fishermen.”
On that cow tag subject: The LBI Surf Fishing Classic quickly acknowledged that trophy tag fish could never be allowed in the event since only a handful of participating anglers would have the tags.
There was some final debate regarding the starting date of the accepted (voted on) striped bass 24” to < 28” bonus program. May 15 seemed most suited to state anglers entering that small-bass program – which seldom even reaches its tag distribution limit or landed poundage.
A question put out for pondering was the value of a released striped bass. Very interesting concept. I imagine it might challenge the value of a kept striped bass providing (!) one has gotten the keeper and is then fishing for fun … and release.
That’s about it for now, though I obviously barely touched on the overall input. With no disrespect I will say there was a great deal of duplicity in what was being said, though many remarks were made for the record -- as a means to demonstrate the stances of various shops and organizations.
If this weather continues in a while, it's better to start doing a little live!
On Saturday, December 14th, 2019, CPO Tyler Hausamann and Lt. Steven Sutton were patrolling in Allamuchy Twp., Warren County, when they located a truck parked in a cornfield. The truck contained hunting equipment and on the front seat was a case from a Glock pistol. The CPOs observed an individual in camouflage clothing, walking along a fence row and made contact with him. The individual advised that he was "scouting" for deer. Due to the presence of the pistol case, a pat down was conducted. No weapons were located, but the individual was found to have rifle ammunition in his possession.
The individual opened the back door of his truck and Lt. Sutton observed the butt stock of a gun under a pile of clothes. The firearm, an M1 Garand rifle, was secured.
A brief interview of the suspect revealed that he had hidden another rifle in the fence row when he saw the CPOs. The CPOs followed the suspect's muddy footprints back and located a loaded 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, concealed in the brush.
Both rifles were seized, and summonses were issued for hunting deer with a rifle, illegal missiles for deer, no orange, failing to exhibit a valid license, hunt with a weapon capable of holding more than 3 rounds, possession of an uncased firearm in a motor vehicle and interference with the duties of a CPO.
If you ever wanted to help dwindling honeybee populations, ecologists are encouraging that you “learn to love weeds” and leave the dandelions alone this coming spring.
At the start of her tenure as the new president of the oldest ecological society in the world, Jane Memmott reminded everyone last week that working to live in harmony with nature can be as simple as keeping your lawn pollinator-friendly.
The Bristol University professor admitted she mows around the dandelions and buttercups when she cuts her grass because “you can’t personally help tigers, whales and elephants, but you really can do something for the insects, birds, and plants that are local to you.”
“Think about what you’ve had for breakfast,” she began. The pumpkin seeds in your muesli, apples, whatever made the marmalade on your toast, or even the coffee beans and tea leaves that make up your morning cuppa—all of these products rely on pollinators to survive and thrive.”
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The new leader of the British Ecological Society dismissed as silly the origins of lawn fussiness—and most people in America can relate with what she sees in England: “This whole business of keeping your lawn clipped and pulling the weeds out is part of some British obsession with tidiness.”
Whether you have a community allotment, a balcony garden, a front or back garden and lawn, or simply a potted plant, the choice of plants you make can have an impact on your local ecology.
David Poe, CC license
Memmott explains a few general rules for planting pollinators—namely that one should “learn to love weeds,” avoid planting too many pom pom-shaped flowers that focus too much energy into petal production and not enough into producing nectar and pollen. She says that any plant with nectar and pollen parts that you can see without pulling back the petals means that pollinators can see—and use them—too.
“Dandelions are fantastic for early season pollinators. The UK has about 270 species of solitary bee and they love dandelions,” she explains, adding later that if they were rare, people would be fighting over them.
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Interacting with ecology in everyday life is the kind of thing Memmott knows can benefit people, as well.
There’s a mound of scientific evidence to support claims she makes that if you act charitably towards nature, it will repay your kindness many times over. For instance, a massive study found that people who spend at least 120 minutes per week visiting natural settings—such as town parks, woodlands, and beaches—are significantly more likely to have good health and higher psychological wellbeing. Another case-control study found that self-esteem, mood, and confidence were all improved, some significantly, by gardening in the UK.
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A summary on well-being from Wildlifetrusts.org found that being present in various natural settings from a room with several houseplants to raw wilderness can lead to reductions in stress and anxiety, improvements in well-being and mood, improvements to immunity, attentiveness and physical fitness, reductions in symptoms of ADHD in children, and even in criminal activity.
However, there is a new, albeit skin-crawling way of remembering those you loved and keeping them close. According to a report by Nine News Australia, that would be to have their tattooed skin preserved in order for it to be framed and displayed.
And to help you do that is father and son mortician duo from Ohio. Together they run “Save My Ink Forever.” The practice is based in Northfield, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland.
Mortician Michael Sherwood developed the idea with his son Kyle a few years ago while having drinks with friends. Seriously, don’t come up with business ideas while drinking – that’s never a good idea.
One friend had lost his father and explained to the duo how he wanted his father’s tattoo preserved.
Kyle Sherwood told Nine News Australia, “Being the guys our friends come to with death-related questions, we kind of laughed about it at first.”
However, their friend was completely serious, and that is what got the Sherwoods thinking.
Kyle continued, telling 9News.com.au, “With the art in tattoos and how much they mean to people, why not keep them after they die? People put ashes in urns on mantles and visit stones with their loved one’s names on them. Why not keep their tattoos as a memorial?”
Eventually, the Sherwoods founded their business aptly named “Save My Ink Forever,” which gives people the chance to preserve their loved one’s tattoos and turn them into a piece of artwork.
This is how the process works. The first step is that the tattoo gets surgically removed from the body at the funeral home within 72 hours of the person having passed away. It can either be done either before or after the body is embalmed.
After the inked-skin is removed, it is then treated “with the same dignity and respect as with any funeral preparation process,” as Kyle stated.
Afterward, the tattooed skin, which is a parchment, is then framed as wall art for the family to hang on the wall.
“We are helping families and fulfilling their last wishes, we are not trying to create a freakshow.”
Naturally, the Sherwoods’ business isn’t without its controversy and they have received backlash, although most of it has been from the conservative members of the community.
Some people have compared the Sherwoods to the infamous Ed Gein, who was known for digging up bodies from graveyards in order to use their skin and bones to make different items, including lampshades. Other people on social media have commented, saying that the Sherwoods remind them of the “Silence of the Lambs” antagonist, “Buffalo Bill,” who kills women and skins them in order to make himself a suit.
Regardless of all the backlash and the comments, Kyle remains unbothered, saying, “It’s the family we care about – who am I to say how they should remember their loved one? Most super conservative people disagree with tattoos in general and have no idea what they mean to people.”
If this is something that is of interest to you, you can look into more info from Save My Ink Forever, which bases their prices on the size of the tattoo. You can visit their website savemyink.tattoo.
The website states the following:
“Welcome to Save My Ink Forever where we have developed a unique proprietary process for PRESERVING TATTOOS. Our mission is to help carry on a loved one’s story. We hope to ensure that the spirit and legacy of your loved ones can live on for generations to come. Save My Ink Forever focuses on creating an everlasting memorial. At Save My Ink Forever we create more than just a picture. You receive the ACTUAL TATTOO. This becomes a framed piece of art that is presented to the family in a DIGNIFIED MANNER. All of the funeral homes and crematories listed on the preferred provider page of our website are businesses willing to provide the service of removing a loved one’s tattoo art.”