Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Alert: This important Fluke and Sea Bass Public Hearing takes place on Thursday, January 7 ...

Fluke and Sea Bass Regulatory Update
Public Hearing 1/7/16
           In October 2015, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission's Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass Management Board approved a motion to initiate the development of an addendum to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Summer Flounder, Scup, and Black Sea Bass. The addendum will address the recreational management of Summer Flounder and Black Sea Bass for 2016. This draft addendum presents background on the ASMFC's management of summer flounder and black sea bass; the addendum process and timeline; and a statement of the problem. This document also provides management options for public consideration and comment. The public is encouraged to submit comments regarding this document at any time during the public comment period. The final date comments will be accepted is January 21, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. Comments may be submitted at state public hearings or by mail, email, or fax. If you have any questions or would like to submit comment, please use the contact information below. Mail: Kirby Rootes-Murdy, FMP Coordinator Email: krootes-murdy@asmfc.org Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Subject: Draft Addendum XXVII) 1050 North Highland Street, Suite 200A-N Phone: (703) 842-0740 Arlington, VA 22201 Fax: (703) 842-0741
          The ASMFC in conjunction with the New Jersey Bureau of Marine Fisheries will hold a public hearing in New Jersey on January 7, 2016 at 6:30 PM at the Stafford Township Municipal Building 260 East Bay Avenue Manahawkin, New Jersey. You may familiarize yourselves with the addendum by going to the following link:
          The MRIP numbers for fluke for wave 5 (September - October) came out in mid-December. The numbers continue to show that our state, as well as our region (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York) along with most of the east coast significantly underfished their quotas for fluke. As reported previously, this should offset the mandated 29% cut in the coastwide quota for next year and result in similar regulations as we had in 2015 for 2016. At this point, it seems almost certain that we will once again have an 18" size limit, 5 fish bag limit and a 128 day season.
          Regarding the addendum, the Jersey Coast Anglers Association supports Option 2, Adaptive Regional Approach and more specifically Regional Option 2B. This regional option would allow New Jersey to be its own region. We would still be required to have the same size and bag limits and same season length as the region to our north (New York and Connecticut). However, we would be allowed to have special regulations for Delaware Bay. In 2015, people in southern NJ were treated unfairly in that fishermen fishing essentially the same waters in Delaware Bay from Delaware had a 16" size limit while fishermen from NJ had an 18" size limit. This option would allow for a 17" size limit in Delaware Bay for both states. The option would also allow NJ to continue its shore based enhanced fishing opportunity to keep two fluke, 16" or greater at Island Beach State Park and possibly expand this program to other areas as well.
          The addendum is also proposing a 23% cut in our sea bass quota for 2016. At the JCAA meeting on 12/29, the club representatives voted unanimously to oppose any addendum or any regulation that would further restrict us. Enough is enough!
Sea Bass are now considered by many to be the new nuisance fish. Again we can thank the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council for setting a ridiculously low quota. The sea bass population is increasing so fast and their range has been expanding so far that our "best science" cannot keep up with it. There are tons of them out there and during 2015, New Jersey was restricted from keeping any sea bass at all from 8/1-10/22. With the poor fluking we had during the summer, many fishermen went home fishless when sea bass could have bailed out their trips.
          Sea Bass are now causing problems in southern New England where they are eating the baby lobsters and may be contributing to their decline. There have been many complaints from fluke fishermen who cannot even fish some of their favorite fluke wrecks because they are inundated with sea bass. Further they are eating small fluke and competing for the same forage species with fluke. This is shades of what happened not too many years ago when the council restored the population of spiny dogfish. Now we can even catch them while fishing for fluke in 75 degree water.
          Worse still is that New Jersey continues to get shortchanged, as our traditional share of the harvest of sea bass has declined significantly. Regarding sea bass, NJ is in the northern region along with New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. In 2004 NJ accounted for 72% of the sea bass (in pounds) harvested for those five states. From 2004 - 2008 NJ caught an average of approximately 56% of the harvest for those states. Then as sea bass expanded their abundance and range further to our north, those states began harvesting more fish. From 2008 to 2014 NJ was responsible for only about 25% of the harvest. When this region was created in 2011, a quota was established for the entire region. However, each state was given a target quota and forced to establish regulations that would likely result in not exceeding the regional quota. The problem is that NJ established regulations that were so strict that they resulted in us harvesting only 18% of the region's quota. One would think that because we underfished our target that year we would be able to relax our regulations in 2012. That would have been the case in state-by-state quotas but it does not work that way in regional management. States to our north caused our region to overfish the quota and then all states had to establish stricter regulations than were in place for 2011. Each state is required to cut back by the same percentage whether they underfished or overfished their target quotas.              The problem has snowballed with states to our north generally causing our region to overfish resulting in tighter regulations each year. New Jersey seems to have become the nursing grounds for sea bass. We are not allowed to catch them like we used to as the season and bag limits have been drastically reduced. Due in part to less fishing pressure they have become more abundant, grown larger and migrated to the north where those states now harvest them rather than us. As an example NJ traditionally harvested 750,000 to over 1,000,000 million pounds of sea bass while Massachusetts traditionally harvested around 200,000 pounds. In recent years, NJ has been restricted to about 600,000 lbs while Ma. harvested over one million pounds in three of the last five years. A big part of the problem is that fisheries managers in states to our north have failed to set regulations that keeps them under their targets. However, I would like to re-emphasize that the real problem is that the coastwide quota is far too low. When there is a shortage of a particular species, quotas often go unfilled. Therefore when the quota is overfished year after year, doesn't that show that the stock is robust?
           These unfair regulations are making pirates out of many fishermen who used to always obey the law and many believe it is time to rebel.
Paul Haertel
JCAA Board Member, Past President


Addendum seeks input on regional management options for 2016 summer flounder and black sea recreational fisheries.
By Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission  |  December 22, 2015

Draft Addendum XXVII seeks input on regional management options for 2016 summer flounder and black sea recreational fisheries

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board approved Draft Addendum XXVII for public comment at the Joint Commission/Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in Annapolis, Maryland. Draft Addendum XXVII proposes regional management approaches for the 2016 summer flounder and black sea bass recreational fisheries. The Atlantic coast states of Massachusetts through Virginia have scheduled public hearings to gather public comment. The details of those hearings follow:

Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection
January 5, 2016 at 7 PM
Marine Headquarters
Boating Education Center, Building 3
333 Ferry Road
Old Lyme, Connecticut
Contact: David Simpson at 860.434.6043

Rhode Island Division of Fish & Wildlife
January 6, 2016 at 6 PM
University of Rhode Island, Corliss
South Ferry Road
Narragansett, Rhode Island
Contact: Jason McNamee at 401.423.1943

New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation
January 7, 2016 at 6 PM
Bureau of Marine Resources
205 North Belle Mead Road, Suite 1
East Setauket, New York
Contact: Steve Heins at 631.444.0436

New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife
January 7, 2016 at 6:30 PM
Stafford Township Municipal Building
260 East Bay Avenue
Manahawkin, New Jersey 
Contact: Tom Baum at 609.748.2020

Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources & Environmental Control and Maryland Department of Natural Resources
January 12, 2016 at 6 PM
DNREC Lewes Building (at the Lewes Boat Ramp)
901 Pilottown Road
Lewes, Delaware
Contacts: Delaware – John Clark at 302.739.9914 and Maryland – Mike Luisi at 410.260.834

Virginia Marine Resources Commission
January 12, 2016 at 6 PM
2600 Washington Avenue
4th Floor Conference Room
Newport News, Virginia
Contact: Rob O’Reilly at 757.247.2248

Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
January 14, 2016 at 4:30 PM
Massachusetts Maritime Academy 
101 Academy Drive 
Buzzards Bay, MA 02532
Contact: Nichola Meserve at 617.626.1531

Draft Addendum XXVII was initiated to consider extending use of regional management approaches for the 2016 recreational summer flounder fishery, including an option that would allow for a Delaware Bay specific region. The Draft Addendum also includes options for extending use of ad-hoc regional management approaches for black sea bass recreational fisheries in 2016 and 2017. In the event the options in Draft Addendum XXVII are not approved for management, the Board extended the current summer flounder regional management approach for use in 2016.

In 2014, the Board approved Addendum XXV to shift away from traditional use of state-by-state harvest targets under conservation equivalency to use of an alternative regional strategy for managing summer flounder recreational fisheries. Based on its success in keeping recreational harvest within the RHL and providing greater regulatory consistency among neighboring states, this strategy was extended for use in 2015. State-by-state harvest targets previously utilized under conservation equivalency created difficulties for some states as overages occurred due largely to state shares and limits not reflecting local summer flounder abundance and its availability to recreational fishermen. In 2014 and 2015 management regions were the following: 1) Massachusetts; 2) Rhode Island; 3) Connecticut-New Jersey; 4) Delaware-Virginia; and 5) North Carolina.

The Draft Addendum also proposes two options for the 2016 black sea bass recreational fishery (1) coast-wide measures or (2) the continued use of management measures by northern (Massachusetts – New Jersey) and southern regions (Delaware – North Carolina). The regional management approach has been used since 2011 and offers advantages over coast-wide regulations by addressing geographic differences in the stock (size, abundance and seasonality) while maintaining the consistent application of management measures by neighboring states.

Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input on Draft Addendum XXVII either by attending state public hearings or providing written comment. The Draft Addendum is available directly at ASMFC.org. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on January 21, 2016 and should be forwarded to Kirby Rootes-Murdy, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, Virginia 22201; 703.842.0741 (fax) or at krootes-murdy@asmfc.org(Subject line: Draft Addendum XXVII). For more information, please contact Kirby Rootes-Murdy at krootes-murdy@asmfc.org or 703.842.074

- See more at: https://www.thefisherman.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=feature.display&a...

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