American eel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
March 22, 2013
The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife, along with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission), has scheduled public hearings for summer flounder, black drum and American eel management proposals. A brief explanation of the proposals, along with the public hearing and contact information for each species, is found below. Fishermen and other interested groups are encouraged to provide input either by attending public hearings or providing written comment.
Draft Addendum XXIV proposes to stabilize 2013 recreational fishing rules for summer flounder close to those that existed in 2012 partly to minimize the reductions facing two states (e.g. New York and New Jersey) and partly to allow for the more equitable distribution of fishing opportunities in the 2013 season. For 2013, the majority of Atlantic coastal states may liberalize their summer flounder recreational management measures to allow for more harvesting opportunities. In past years, many states, afforded this opportunity to liberalize, have not taken their full liberalization, resulting in a reduction in the allowable recreational harvest limit (RHL).
For the first time in 2013, the amount of allowable fish projected to not be harvested by states having the ability to liberalize will be made available to states facing a reduction in their 2013 summer flounder recreational fishery. This process of transferring recreational harvest limits among states will allow for more favorable fishing opportunities along the Atlantic coast. While all states retain the ability to craft recreational management measures to suit the needs of their own fishermen, the newly available RHL can be applied in states facing reductions so that more uniform measures are attained along the Atlantic coast.
Copies of the Draft Addendum can be obtained via the Commission website (www.asmfc.org) under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at 703.842.0740. Public comment will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on April 12, 2013 and should be forwarded to Toni Kerns, ISFMP Director, at 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or [email protected] (Subject line: Summer Flounder).
The Draft Fishery Management Plan (FMP) solicits comment on a range of issues, including management goals and objectives; recreational and commercial management measures; flexibility to react to new assessment information; de minimis levels and exemptions; monitoring requirements and recommendati
ons; and recommended measures for implementation by NOAA Fisheries in federal waters. The FMP was initiated in response to concern regarding significant
increases in harvest in recent years and the fact that the fishery primarily targets juveniles. Further, the lack of consistent coastwide regulations or management goals may negatively impact the black drum population as fishing pressures shifts from other stocks.
The Draft FMP is available on the Commission website (www.asmfc.org) under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at 703.842.0740. The public comment deadline is 5:00 PM (EST) on April 26, 2013 and should be forwarded to Toni Kerns, ISFMP Director, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or [email protected] (Subject line: Black Drum FMP). The FMP is scheduled for final approval during the Commission's 2013 Spring Meeting.
Draft Addendum III proposes a wide range of management options with the goal of reducing mortality and increasing the conservation of American eel stocks across all life stages. Specific management options focus on both the commercial and recreational fisheries. The document also proposes increased monitoring by the states and recommendations to improve habitat.
The Draft Addendum responds to the findings of the 2012 benchmark stock assessment indicating the American eel population in U.S. waters is depleted. The stock has declined in recent decades and the prevalence of significant downward trends in multiple surveys across the coast is cause for concern. Causes of decline are likely due to a combination of historical overfishing, habitat loss, food web alterations, predation, turbine mortality, environmental changes, toxins and contaminants, and disease.
The Draft Addendum is available on the Commission website (www.asmfc.org) under Breaking News or by contacting the Commission at 703.842.0740. The public comment deadline is 11:59 PM (EST) on May 2, 2013 and should be forwarded to Kate Taylor, Senior Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or at [email protected] (Subject line: American Eel). Final action on the Addendum is scheduled to occur in May. For more information, please contact Kate Taylor at [email protected] or 703.842.0740.
Summer Flounder Public Hearing
April 4, 2013; 7 PM
Ocean County Administration Building
101 Hooper Avenue
Public Hearing Room #119
Toms River, New Jersey
Contact: Peter Himchak at 609.748.2020
Black Drum Public Hearing
April 10, 2013; 7 PM
Nacote Creek Research Station
360 Route 9 North (milepost 51)
Port Republic, New Jersey
Contact: Russ Allen at 609.748.2020
American Eel Public Hearing
May 2, 2013; 7 PM*
Atlantic County Library - Galloway Branch
306 Jimmie Leeds Road
Galloway, New Jersey
Contact: Russ Allen at 609.748.2020
*Hearing to immediately follow Marine Fisheries Council meeting which starts at 4 PM.