The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed H.R. 200, a bipartisan bill that includes the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). This historic vote marks the first time the priorities of the recreational fishing sector are included in the reauthorization of our nation’s primary marine fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
Recreational fishing organizations, led by the American Sportfishing Association, unified to pass this legislation which incorporates the recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission — allowing alternative management tools for recreational fishing which is enjoyed by 11 million saltwater anglers who have a $163 billion economic impact and support 440,000 jobs.
Unfortunately, some so-called environmental groups fought against the interests of the recreational fishing public. Though H.R. 200 passed by a vote of 222 to193, the bipartisan bill was opposed by Democrats 178 to 9.
The Natural Resources Defense Fund (NRDF) portrayed the bill as opposing protections for fish stock rebuilding while displaying an almost child-like view of the accuracy of marine science. As the organizer and director of the Emergency Committee to Save America;s Marine Resources in the fight for the 200-mile fisheries limit, and a member of the first Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, I can testify as to the accuracy of the science we operate under. The NRDF appears to be completely unaware that the two largest volume fisheries in the NY-NJ Bight have almost completely disappeared under that science — the annual migration of Atlantic mackerel and the Mud Hole whiting (silver hake) fishery — both of which came back after the devastations of the foreign fleets but are now only a memory.
That science has also come up with such estimates as New Jersey’s shore fishermen catching 168,000 more tautog than the entire party/charter fleet along the whole east coast caught in March/April, 2010 — when any fisherman or marine biologist can tell you there are few, if any, blackfish in shallow waters during very low water temperatures. Yet, crazy numbers like that are used to set regulations. More recently, there was a similar big number for N.J. shore fishermen on sea bass. We do catch lots of very small young-of-the year sea bass from late summer to fall, but I’ve never heard of a legal sea bass caught from shore in New Jersey. If any reader knows where that can be done, I’d appreciate knowing about it.
The New Jersey House delegation was split in it’s support of recreational fishing, with long-time sportfishing supporter Rep. Frank Pallone being the only state Democrat in support as Gottheimer, Norcross, Pascrall,, Sires, Payne and Watson-Coleman all voted against the interests of their sportfishing constituents. Republicans LoBiondo, McArthur, Smith, and Frelinghuysen voted in favor — but Leonard Lance was one of just 15 House Republicans to vote no,
The next step is to get Senate approval before an almost sure presidential signature.
The Raritan Bay Anglers 28th annual Charity Fluke Tournament starts off a busy fluke contest weekend, but the captains meeting for that Saturday contest is this evening at 7 in the Moose Lodge, 989 Convery Blvd., Perth Amboy. There will be $11,220 in prize money (based on 200 boats). Call 732 489-6360 for information.
Capt. Rob Semkewyc reported better fluking today for anglers on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands as they also enjoyed a picture perfect day.
The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported catching lots of chub mackerel and sea bass during Wednesday’s trip — but also their first dolphin of the season and a blacktip shark.
Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported good surf fluking, and noted that all you need is Gulp. Every fluke weighed there so far has been on Gulp. Betty & Nick’s reports outstanding crabbing in the bay, where snappers are building up for perfect big fluke bait.
Vinny D’Anton of Wall was surprised to find a rough surf at Belmar this morning despite the lack of wind, but he still managed one small striper on a Chug Bug. Three more were added in Shark River on small Storm Searchbait and Zoom jigs, but when some small bait showed up on the surface later in the morning the only thing that worked on the small bass was a 7-inch Sluggo. that was much larger than the bait fish.