Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Open Letter Thanks District 1 Legislators For Long-Term Support of Fishermen
As the battle for removing fixed gear from New Jersey's artificial reef complex wages on, the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) and our RFA-NJ chapter remain clear in our position regarding the Pots Off The Reef legislation; it's the same official stance today at it was on day one of the debate - New Jersey must remove all fixed gear, including both commercial and recreational pots and traps, from New Jersey's artificial reefs. Unfortunately, the solution to this problem is not as simple as the existing legislation alone, though we wish it was that simple!
The reef issue is a serious problem that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has been unable to address through multiple administrations. For nearly 20 years, both recreational and commercial fishermen were encouraged to use the artificial reefs, and in the early days of the program, legitimate commercial lobster and sea bass fishermen did not pose an access problem for anyone. However when the live market for tautog (blackfish) exploded over 10 years ago, the proliferation of gear increased exponentially to the point where the gear now presents a significant access problem for anglers using the reefs.
The resultant black market fishery has been questioned many times over the years by RFA at the state level and through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. This proliferation of fixed gear could have been addressed by NJDEP through development of a finfish pot management plan, regulation of the amount of pots a license holder can set and by addressing illegal fisheries. On the record, these are all concerns shared by legitimate commercial fishermen as well as anglers; regrettably, NJDEP has failed to manage the reefs in the best interest of fishermen or the fish.
Original legislation to remove fixed gear was a reaction to angler concerns over growing access issues; unfortunately the legislation does not solve the problem of proliferation of gear, black market fisheries, or the resultant negative impacts on the health of the resources. Upon further investigation, RFA has also learned through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that the present legislation, if enacted without modification, will not restore federal funding for use by New Jersey's artificial reef program either!
At this time, RFA is working with Senator Jeff Van Drew and Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resouces Committee Chairman Nelson Albano on authoring legislation that will free our reefs of pots and traps, while also helping restore vital Sport Fish Restoration Fund grants. Forthcoming legislation will also address a much bigger issue with regard to proliferation of gear throughout New Jersey's waters, and will also help address the black market live tautog market. These representatives in Legislative District 1 have a proven track record of supporting the outdoor community and they now find themselves embroiled in trying to undue a mess created years ago by other un-elected representatives and politicized recently by individuals from outside of the district.
Senator Van Drew and Assemblyman Albano have been staunch advocates of our recreational fishing community - in the past year, they spearheaded New Jersey's free angler registry law on behalf of saltwater fisherman, while also creating a new limited entry law for the menhaden bait fishery to protect the resource.
Senator Van Drew, Chairman Albano and Assemblyman Matt Milam have been champions for recreational anglers and our entire coastal resource, and RFA and the RFA-NJ are proud to continue to support these Cape May legislators in their ongoing efforts to protect the heritage and traditions of New Jersey's coastal community - and we are urging our members to do the same!
CHICAGO, Asian carp are hardier than scientists previously thought, with the invasive species capable of surviving in the Great Lakes by bottom-feeding, U.S. officials said on Thursday.
The voracious and prolific Bighead and Silver carp are considered a dire threat to the lakes' $7 billion fisheries, sucking up plankton and crowding out other species. The carp have surged up the Mississippi River system within 25 miles (40 kilometres) of three electrified barriers erected in a Chicago-area canal to block their progress.
Last year, scientists initially concluded there was not enough plankton to sustain carp in Lake Michigan. But they recently learned Silver carp will eat Cladophora, a plentiful algae that thrives on fertilizer runoff, while Bighead carp can survive on detritus on the lake bottom.
'Initially we thought this was a wasteland' for carp due to the lack of plankton, said Leon Carl of the U.S. Geological Survey, which is conducting studies on the still-mysterious invaders and ways to stop them.
'The next question is, can they actually grow and thrive on it, and go somewhere they like even better?' he said on the sidelines of a public hearing on the issue.
The Obama administration has fought to keep open man-made waterways connecting the Mississippi River basin to Lake Michigan that are considered vital links by commercial shippers, boaters and tour boat operators. More than $100 million spent on carp control had been diverted from funding for Great Lakes restoration projects.
Environmental groups object to the funding diversion and back a lawsuit by Michigan and other Great Lakes states that demands a permanent physical separation of the two watersheds.
TIME FOR SOLUTIONS
'We had information today that there are no Asian carp near the electric barriers so we believe we have time to work on solutions,' said John Goss, a White House appointee overseeing the effort.
Several weapons are being investigated to combat carp.
Scientists have tested 240 compounds and isolated 10 that could be carp pheromones -- chemicals that would attract carp so they can be harvested or killed. They are also trying to create tiny particles of fish poison that would lodge only in the fine gills of Asian carp. And they are experimenting with powerful 'water guns' to deter carp.
A new problem scientists discovered is that carp can spawn on shorter waterways than previously thought, creating the need for more widespread monitoring, Carl said.
It is possible carp will eat themselves out of existence, or succumb to over-fishing as happened in their native China. Last week, fishermen gathered up 42 tonnes of carp, and Goss set a target of 1 million tons. The catch is mostly shipped to China.
Invasive species have plagued the Great Lakes for decades, most arriving in the ballast water of ocean-going ships. Invasive sea lampreys were fought successfully with pheromones and poison, officials said. But zebra mussels have thrived, filtering water and helping algae grow that carp may feed on.
Fisherman Mike Ohlinger said carp needed to be dealt with today, not tomorrow. 'It's just as bad a problem as we have in the Gulf of Mexico,' he said referring to the 2010 oil spill.