New Striper Regs? JCAA Position?
Ok, by now many of you have read the new striper addendum and formulated your own opinions on it. I have read an awful lot of comments on the internet, yet relatively few people have come to the hearings we had in New Jersey thus far. Worse yet the vast majority of people just sit there and listen but do not voice their opinions during the comment period. Hopefully, all concerned parties will at least write letters or send emails prior to the 9/30 deadline.
I have also read a number of comments where people have bashed Tom Fote because he favors status quo and does not believe stricter regulations are needed at this time. Tom is one of our state's three representatives on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council. Other states from North Carolina to Maine are represented on this council as well. Each state has only one vote so our three representatives will have to reach a consensus prior to voting. The ASMFC is expected to vote on the addendum at their October meeting. As a commissioner,
Tom represents all the fishermen of our state, both commercial and recreational. He does not represent the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, the Berkeley Striper Club, the Fish Hawks or any of the other clubs he belongs to at the ASMFC meetings. He does his best to be impartial and fair to all of our fishermen while he does what he feels is best for our various fishery resources.
Tom has been taking a lot of heat for his stance on opposing reducing the mortality on stripers but be advised that Tom has been an avid striper fishermen for many years and has been involved in fisheries management since the 1970's. He has some very valid reasons such as the fact that the stock has not been over fished and over fishing is not occurring. Please remember that without Tom Fote, we would not have achieved game fish or no-sale status for striped bass in our state. We owe a lot of thanks to Tom for all he has done for us.
That having been said, I am the president of the JCAA and I disagree with him on this issue. I too have been an avid striper fishermen for over 40 years and in my prime fished close to 100 nights a year for them on the jetties. I fished for them when there were very few stripers around during the moratorium years as well as the more recent years of peak abundance. For the record I favor option B to the addendum which would result in a 25% reduction in mortality within one year and more specifically I favor 1 fish at 32" because it will best protect the 2011 year class, allowing them to spawn a couple times before they are harvested. I have a number of other valid reasons for supporting this option as well.
As far as JCAA is concerned neither one of us represent the JCAA position on this matter. JCAA is composed of approximately 75 member clubs that each have one vote. Each club may send a representative or two to our monthly general membership meetings and may make a motion asking that JCAA adopt stance on a particular subject such as the striper addendum. Often club reps then inform their respective clubs of the motion and they formulate their own position on it. The rep then votes as directed by his club at the next JCAA meeting. If the motion passes it becomes the official position of the JCAA.
Since JCAA had no summer meeting, I scheduled a special meeting on 9/3. I urged all clubs to attend with hope that we could reach a consensus on the striper addendum. Unfortunately, many of our clubs had not yet formulated their positions and those that did were pretty much evenly divided between the various options. Therefore JCAA has no official position on the addendum except for one area. Our member clubs unanimously support option A of section 3.1 which is status quo - no transfer of commercial quota. Option B would allow a state such as North Carolina where there have been no stripers in recent years to transfer its quota to a state such as Maryland or Virginia. This would allow the bass to be harvested rather than conserved. In an addendum that is virtually all about status quo or a decrease in mortality it is a appalling that the ASMFC would include something like this that would allow more stripers to be killed by commercial fishermen. Regarding the rest of the addendum, JCAA is recommending that all interested clubs and individuals give their opinions via email or mail by the 9/30 deadline and/or attend our state's final hearing on the addendum. The hearing will be on Tuesday, 9/15 from 7-9 PM at the Toms River Town Hall, L.M. Hirshblond Room located at 33 Washington St. in Toms River. Those wishing to summit written comments may mail them to Mike Waine, Fishery Management Plan coordinator, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, 1050 North Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, Va. 220201 or email them to him at email@example.com