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Old 10-06-2019, 12:26 AM
Angler Paul Angler Paul is offline
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Default JCAA Position on Striper Addendum

LAST CALL TO COMMENT ON THE STRIPER ADDENDUM

Below is the letter that JCAA sent to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission regarding Draft Addendum VI to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. Whether you agree with some, none or all the points in our letter, we encourage all clubs and individuals interested in striped bass to submit comments regarding this addendum. The final date comments will be accepted is October 7, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. Comments may be emailed to comments@asmfc.org or faxed to (703)842-0741. Include "Striped Bass Draft Addendum VI” in the subject line of any emails.

Max Appelman, FMP Coordinator
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission
1050 North Highland St. Suite 200A-N
Arlington, VA. 22001

Max and ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board,

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association met on 9/24/19 and discussed Draft Addendum 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Striped Bass. Except for one abstention, we unanimously voted to support Option 2 which would require an 18% reduction for both the commercial and recreational sectors from 2017 levels. While some of our member clubs felt that the stocks have collapsed, others believe that the stock has diminished significantly but much of the biomass has shifted into federal waters. However, what we all agreed on is that striper fishing during the last decade or so has declined a great deal. Though there have been isolated areas such as Raritan Bay and the Cape Cod Canal where the striper fishing has been fabulous at times, most of the east coast has had very poor fishing. This is evidenced by surveys taken by the internet group Stripers Forever which has many avid striper fishermen throughout the various east coast states.
Whether you believe the stocks have collapsed or that the stocks have shifted to the east, something has to be done to further increase the biomass and improve our striper fishing. Even for those of you who may believe that the stocks have shifted to the east and that status quo is sufficient, please realize that by increasing the biomass, their range will expand not only to the north and south but hopefully to the west and into state waters where our many fishermen are allowed to fish for them.
Though we understand why some might argue for status quo, we don’t agree with that for the reasons stated above and we are adamantly opposed to Option 3 that would result in a 20% reduction for recreational fishermen and only a 1.8% reduction for the commercial sector. JCAA was chiefly responsible for making striped bass a no-sale or gamefish in NJ and has been advocating for coastwide gamefish status for many years. While the commercial catch may seem relatively insignificant, the illegal sales of striped bass are a big problem in the states that allow stripers to be sold and these illegal fish are not added to the commercial harvest numbers.
Regarding the sub-options for Option 2, our clubs were almost equally divided with some favoring some form of the slot limit and others favoring a 35” minimum size limit. However, the majority of our clubs voted to support either 2-A1 with a 35” minimum size limit or 2-A 3 with a slot limit of 30”-38” as both these options would result in an 18% reduction. Since option 2 requires an 18% reduction, we believe that the coastwide standard should be either or both of the aforementioned sub-options. We don’t believe that a coastwide standard of 19% that would be required under 2-A2 or the 21% that would be required under 2-A4 would be fair when the commercial sector would be required to only cut back by 18%.
We thoroughly discussed the pros and cons of each of the options. Those clubs that preferred a slot limit felt the best way to restore the stocks would be by protecting the larger fish. However, those who preferred the 35” minimum size argued that the fastest way to restore the fishery is to protect the 2014 and 2015 year classes. The 2015 year class resulted in the largest recruitment of 1 year old fish (in 2016) since 2004. Some of these fish will be reaching spawning size in 2020. There was above average spawning in those two years so some of our members believe that we should be protecting them rather than forcing people to target them.
Though all of our clubs supported further conservation of the stocks, many were not happy with any of the sub-options. We believe that when reductions are necessary, they should be applied equally to all sectors of the angling community including C&R fishermen, those who prefer to take home a smaller fish to eat and those who prefer to fish in tournaments or target trophy fish. None of the sub-options offered allow us to do that. Therefore, we support conservation equivalency and we are hopeful that our state will develop options that will affect all sectors equally while meeting the anticipated mandatory reductions. For example, this could be done through seasonal closures or perhaps by allowing either a smaller striper or a larger striper to be harvested while protecting the medium sized fish that might be our best breeders.
Regarding the use of circle hooks, we support Option C which would require states/jurisdictions to promote the use of circle hooks by developing public education and outreach campaigns on their benefits when fishing with bait. We do not support Option B that would make circle hooks mandatory because it would create an enforcement nightmare for our limited law enforcement personnel. Further, the use of circle hooks is not practical under all circumstances. For instance, it would not be practical for long distance surfcasters who like to snag and drop bunker. We also suggest that additional ways to reduce the C&R mortality be included in educational efforts. People should be educated on the proper handling of fish so that they can be successfully released. The use of larger hooks and setting the hook quickly should be encouraged to reduce the chances of gut hooking fish. The use of heavier tackle so as not to unduly stress the fish should be encouraged. Fishermen should also be made aware of the effects of releasing fish when the water temperatures are high or the air temperatures are very cold.
In closing we would like to thank you for this opportunity to comment. Please take the appropriate action to restore our striper stocks!

Sincerely,
Mark Taylor
JCAA President
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