The 2016 regulations for fluke and sea bass were set by the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council meeting on March 3rd. The NJ Bureau of Marine Fisheries worked hard to develop various options. A clear majority of advisors and others in attendance supported the following options. The council unanimously approved the following regulations:
FLUKE – 5 fish at 18″ with a season beginning on 5/21 and ending on 9/25 except for Delaware Bay where there will be a 4 fish limit at 17″ and at Island Beach State Park where there will be a 2 fish limit at 16″.
SEA BASS – 10 fish at 12.5″ from 5/23-6/19, 2 fish at 12.5″ from 7/1-8/31 and 15 fish at 13″ from 10/22-12/31.
STRIPED BASS – An overview of the 2015 fishery was given but the regulations, including those for the bonus bass program will remain the same.
In 2014, marinas, tackle stores, charter and party boats as well as other businesses were negatively impacted by the fact that New Jersey had an 18″ size limit on fluke while Delaware had only a 16″ size limit. This was unfair in that anglers from both states were fishing essentially the same waters of Delaware Bay. Due to the 2″ size limit many anglers opted to fish out of Delaware rather than New Jersey.
JCAA representatives worked hard to correct this inequity by testifying at various meetings sponsored by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries, NJ Bureau of Marine Fisheries, the NJ Marine Fisheries Council. Written comments were also submitted. Though our complaints fell on deaf ears for 2015, an option for 17″ fluke was approved by the ASMFC for 2016. The discrepancy in size limits between the two states is now only 1″ rather than 2″. While not a perfect solution, hopefully it will be enough to bring some business back to the southern portion of our state.
While JCAA played an integral part in establishing the improved regulations, credit has to be given others as well such as the NJMFC and particularly to Brandon Muffley, Administrator of the NJ Bureau of Marine Fisheries and his staff for developing this option. Brandon served as one of our commissioners at the ASMFC Black Sea Bass, Scup and Summer Flounder Management Board meeting this past winter along with Commissioners Tom Fote and Adam Nowalsky. All three lobbied hard for the new option while explaining the problem to various commissioners from other states. Ultimately, the board voted unanimously to approve our preferred option.
The situation for sea bass was also a tough one as we were forced to develop regulations that would result in a 23% cut in our harvest from 2015. Peter Clark, a marine biologist for the NJBMF developed various options that would result with the mandated cut. They were presented at the advisors meeting where modifications were suggested. Most advisors were in agreement with beginning the season on 5/23 and extending it through 6/19. Even though the season will then close for eleven days the reasoning was that there will be plenty of sea bass biting in the early part of the season while fluke may be biting better towards the end of June when the sea bass season will be closed. Also, the vast majority of advisors were in agreement that we needed to have the season opened for most of the summer even though there will be only a two fish bag limit. This will give anglers an opportunity too spice their catch with a couple nice sea bass during July and August which is particularly important when the fluke fishing was slow. This is an important improvement from last year when the season was closed during all of August. However, the size limit did have to be increased to 13″ from 10/22 – 12/31 so that the bag limit during that time could remain at 15. Most sea bass are offshore at that time of the year and charter and party boat captains expressed concern that it would be hard to sell trips if the bag limit was reduced rather than increasing the size limit. There are predominantly large sea bass caught on these offshore excursions.
JCAA Board Member, Past President
About Jersey Coast Anglers Association
The Jersey Coast Anglers Association is a non-profit organization formed in 1981. The original objective of the JCAA was to combine a loosely fragmented group of marine sportfishing clubs in order to form and promote a united consensus on issues relevant to saltwater anglers in New Jersey. Over the years, the mission of the JCAA has remained unchanged, but now has the added goal of joining forces with organizations having similar objectives in states along the East Coast and national organizations. While the JCAA is relatively young, it has emerged as the most effective organization of its kind on the East Coast. For more information, or for information about becoming a member of the JCAA, please call (732) 506-6565 or visit www.jcaa.org.
New Jersey boaters got a fabulous Christmas gift Wednesday afternoon when Governor Chris Christie signed a sales tax reduction bill for New Jersey boaters bringing the state in line with its neighbors, and ending boaters fears of revenuers hanging out at their docks.
The new law reduces the tax on boat purchases to 3.5%; establishes a maximum tax of $20,000, no matter how large the purchase; and creates a safe haven of thirty days for visiting vessels to enjoy New Jerseys waterfront resorts, or participate in one of the many great fishing tournaments. The law is scheduled to go in effect Feb. 1, 2016.
This change should reinvigorate NJ‘s marine industry which was crushed by Hurricane Sandy, the economic downturn, and unfair competition, which will ultimately save hundreds if not thousands of NJ jobs. The change was accomplished through the collective efforts of the Marine Trades Association of NJ, the Recreational Fishing Alliance, and numerous marine industry leaders. This coalition worked for months with Senators Van Drew, Whalen and Assemblymen Andrzejczak and Johnson to pass this legislation.
The bill had remarkable bi-partisan support and nearly the unanimous votes in both parties and both houses as well as support from Lt Governor Kim Guadagno. Governor Christie then improved the bill with language he stipulated in his Conditional Veto and subsequently approved it. The result is a piece of common-sense legislation for the boating industry, boaters, tourism and our state.
What does this bill mean to you?
The New Jersey sales tax of 7% will now be reduced by 50% for every boat sold or berthed in NJ. This effectively makes the sales and use tax 3.5% across the board, regardless of the price of the boat – with a cap of $20,000!
How it helps…
1) If you purchase an average sized center console for $250,000, the tax savings are nearly $9,000!
2) If you purchase an offshore fishing boat for $2,400,000, your maximum sales tax liability is $20,000!
3) If you moved your boat out of state to avoid use tax, you now have a 30 day grace period.
4) If you purchased your boat in Florida and paid their cap of $18,000, you can return to NJ and your tax liability will only be $2,000!
Saltwater angler Ken Warchal saw Long Beach Island’s beaches grow, but the fishing decline, when sand was mined a few years ago from an area known as the “Harvey Cedars lump.”
Now, Warchal is worried a similar thing is about to happen to an offshore area known as the Manasquan Ridge. The sand-mining operation would replenish strands and build dunes on North Jersey beaches devastated by Hurricane Sandy — but at what cost to saltwater anglers?
“At Harvey Cedars, they went through a prime fishing area. They got away with that one. The Army Corps of Engineers’ own environmental assessment shows the Manasquan Ridge is prime, essential fish habitat,” said Warchal, vice president of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association.
The association is threatening a lawsuit and pushing political buttons as it tries to get the dredging operation moved to a less fishy part of the ocean.
They have the support of environmental groups.
The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife has officially certified, and is pleased to announce, the catch of a new state record saltwater fish.
Frank LaMorte of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, reeled in the new state record Tautog on April 17, 2015. The fish weighed in at 25 pounds, 5.92 ounces eclipsing the previous state record, which had stood since 1998, by 5.92 ounces.
The fish measured 33″ in length and had a girth of 23″. Frank was fishing off the boat Fishin’ Fever IV, captained by Tom Daffin. The boat was anchored when Frank reeled in the fish. Frank was using a Star rod and a Shimano reel with 65-pound braided line. A crab served as the bait.
The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is notifying boaters, recreational and commercial fishermen and divers that thirty-six thousand cubic yards of dredge rock obtained from the Port Authority of NY & NJ, Howland Hook Marine Terminal Berth Deepening Project, will be deployed on the Shark River Reef Site beginning November 24 through December 31, 2014. The shale rock will be transported to the site and deployed by hopper scow at predetermined locations.
In total, 10 hopper scow loads of rock will be deployed on the reef site as part of the division’s Artificial Reef Program.
During construction, tugs will be pulling large barges of shale bedrock. Work on the site will be continuous so boaters must constantly be aware of the reduced maneuverability of these tugs and allow them the right-of-way.
Adding rock to the ocean floor provides much needed hard-structure habitat for fish, lobster and other marine life. The rocky ridges will become attachment surfaces for invertebrate marine life, such as mussels, barnacles, sponges and anemones, and will provide hiding places for bottom-dwelling species like sea bass, blackfish, crab and lobster. The shale rock ridges will create productive fishing grounds for centuries to come.
The locations where the rock will be deployed are as follows:
The most important game fish in local waters is in deep trouble. The writer, a renowned fisherman and longtime conservation columnist for Salt Water Sportsman, thinks he knows why.
Scuttlebutt and bad news have the tendency to travel faster than good news or the real facts. That’s human nature and nowhere is it truer than around the docks, where all anglers become possessive about their favorite quarry. When something changes for striped bass, New England’s premier sport fish, and that change is perceived to be bad news, you can be sure the sky will soon be predicted to fall.