Often at regional, coastal and even state fishing regulatory meetings, there is a difference of opinion among the delegates and the public.
That surely was not the mood at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission public comment-and-question forum Thursday at the Atlantic County Public Library’s Galloway Township branch.
Adam Nowalsky interrupted the public comment when the options for proposed summer flounder restrictions were projected on to screen for all to see. He asked the pertinent and important question:
“Is anybody in this room who will support any of these options?”
The answer from the crowd as one voice was a loud and sustained: Noooooooooooo!
Adam is an eloquent and unrelenting activist for recreational fishers in New Jersey.
He is a state representative on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. He co-hosted the forum with equally active Tom Fote.
Kirby Rootes-Murdy, senior fishery management plan coordinator for the ASMFC, made a presentation before the public open sessions.
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Fishermen packed a public hearing Thursday night to discuss a federal re…
This forum was part of a required public comment period prior to final implementation of summer flounder regulations that could cut the 2017 quota back to up to 40 percent.
The forum was impressive both for the crowd that filled the library meeting room and overflowed outside the doors and the solidarity of opposition to any of the proposed options.
Other observances from fishers who made their statements part of the public record:
John Toth, president of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association: “These regs will make for a lot of pirates.”
Ed Goldman, state RFA rep: “Will not support any options.”
Dave Showell, owner Absecon Bay Sportsman Center: “Five options were no good. Status quo not good enough.”
Dave’s status quo reference has to do with the potential of leaving in place the 2016 regs of a five-fish daily possession limit at an 18-inch minimum.
One of the main themes throughout the meeting was frustration that increasing the size of the keeper fish will continue to kill spawning females.
It has been documented the bigger summer flounder in the 18-inch-plus range are females. Another frustration is the science that was employed to determine the catch data used to establish the quotas is flawed.
It is the end of the year, but for a few, it is not the end of fishing.
The public forums will continue for a couple of more weeks.
Anglers can also provide written comment. More information is available at asmfc.org. Click on Public Input.
Public comment will be accepted until 5 p.m. Jan. 19.
Comments can be emailed to email@example.com (subject line: Summer Flounder Draft Addendum XXVIII).
The earlier meeting
Bob Rush, captain and owner of the Starfish fleet in Sea Isle City, is a member of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council. A state council meeting preceded the ASMFC meeting, and he made a proposal that turned into a theme throughout both meetings.
The ASMFC forum was the main event, but the state meeting was a strong preliminary bout.
Rush made the motion to keep the status quo of the 2016 regs in place for 2017, and the state council passed it 8-1. Bob made a strong statement: “It is time to draw the line in the sand.”
He also implored fishers to start “yelling and screaming” and calling state politicians. It was answered by strong applause.
Nowalsky and Fote also emphasized that fishers and other members of the public need to get involved by contacting their state and federal legislators.
Indeed, it worked.
Fishing is decent when conditions ease up and allow fishers to take their boats out into the ocean.
A letter sent by Sallie Callahan, president of the Strathmere Fishing and Environmental Club, resulted in a letter from U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, to the Department of Commerce asking for a delay in implementing reduced summer flounder quotas. It also was signed by U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone, D-6th, Tom MacArthur, R-3rd, and U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, both D-N.J.
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Mike Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Saturdays.