Tog Regulations to Tighten in N.J.
Minimum sizes, open seasons affected.
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</div> Anglers targeting tautog, commonly known as "tog" or blackfish, will face more stringent regulations on the species following a decision made Thursday by the state Marine Fisheries Council.
Federal regulators ordered New Jersey officials to reduce the recreational harvest of the popular food and sport fish by 53 percent, and council members complied by reducing the length of the open season on the species, as well as upping the minimum size limit.
"There's no good option," said council member Dr. Patrick F. Donnelly, of Brick.
The council met in Galloway Township Thursday to vote on a plan to reduce the annual harvest.
"We cut out of every season, a little bit here, a little bit there," he said.
In the end, council members approved a relatively complicated slate of regulations for blackfish, which opens and closes the seasons multiple times per year. The size limit will remain at 15 inches all year long, up from the current minimum size of 14 inches. Anglers will also be able to take fewer fish home.
The regulations approved are:
Date/Season Size Limit Bag (Possession) Limit Jan. 1 - Feb. 28
15 inches 4 fish March
15 inches 4 fish May 1 - July 26
CLOSED July 27 - Aug. 30
15 inches 1 fish Sept. 1 - Oct. 17
CLOSED Oct. 18 - Nov. 15
15 inches 1 fish Nov. 16 - Dec. 31
15 inches 4 fish The new regulations did not sit well with local party and charter boat captains, who said the reduction in season length, as well as the possession limit, could cost business in already troubled economic times.
"The customers are so used to having two more fish, and now we're going down to four," said Captain Ken Namowitz of the Mimi VI party boat, which sails from Point Pleasant Beach. "For us to get that one extra fish is a livelihood."
Other skippers decried the fact that boats from New York routinely fish in New Jersey's waters, including commercial vessels, affecting the local blackfish populations.
"We're getting a lot of hell from the New York sector. There's zero enforcement going on," said Capt. Chris Hueth of the Big Mohawk party boat, which sails from Belmar. "Their season is closed right now, and they're still fishing. What's taking place in the ocean, and I'm there everyday, is nuts. Guys are commercially fishing this stuff, and bringing it back to New York."
"We're getting penalized for somebody else's greed," Hueth added.
For now, there's no going back. The council has approved the regulations, which were required to be in place Jan. 1, according to Gilbert H. Ewing, the council president. Donnelly said the state council had few options after the edict issued by federal regulators to cut the harvest.
"We tried to maintain that fourth fish," Donnelly said.
Related Topics: Blackfish
, Fishing Regulations
, New Jersey
, Tog Fishing
, and tog
it's already bad enough getting chased from under our favorite bridges, now it might be moot