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NJ Shuts Down River Herring Fishery

DEP Lacks Funds to Collect Data – Blame  Craven Fisherman Politics

(source: adbusters)

(source: adbusters)

Proponents of a saltwater fishing fee over the past several years had argued it was needed as a way to raise money for just such research, but the state decided instead to create a saltwater fishing registry with no fee. (AC Press 1/28/12)

Kirk Moore of the Asbury Park Press wrote a story back on April 1 that warned that the river herring fishery would be closed in 2012:

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin - refused to support salt water angler fee

DEP Commissioner Bob Martin - refused to support salt water angler fee

UPPER FREEHOLD — Beset by a crushing workload, decimated staff and years of inadequate funding, the state Bureau of Marine Fisheries is preparing a draft plan to identify what can be jettisoned from a program that serves a $2 billion industry in New Jersey … yet gets less than 1 percent of that from the state budget.

Already there’s a plan to suspend fishing for river herring in 2012 because state biologists won’t be able to fulfill legal requirements under the coastwide herring management plan, said marine bureau chief Brandon Muffley. It’s just one of 22 plans for various species that must be kept updated under interstate and federal rules.

“By default, if you can’t prove your fishery is sustainable, you’re out of compliance,” Muffley said. River herring are the first to be set aside because biologists “need to do one for each individual river system,” he said. …

That story prompted this screed here: Ocean Ecosystems, Fishermen, and Shore Economy Harmed by Craven Politics –

From an Administration that champions cost-benefit analysis, this is particularly ludicrous

Gov. Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie

Kirk Moore has a superb and what should be explosive story in today’s Asbury Park Press: Fisheries caught in budget’s tight net – Herring catch on hold, others may follow.

Moore’s story tells the sad tale of how the shortsighted ideology and craven politics of Governor Christie – catering to the irrresponsible selfish greed of some in NJ’s recreational fishing lobby -  are harming the science and management of coastal ecosystems and fisheries.

The fisheries story is just the latest example of backtracking on ocean ecosystems. [ ...]

So, fishermen should ask Jimmy D. over at RFA why they are not allowed to catch more fish.

It’s because NJ lacks the data to support management decisions.

Next time fishermen complain about restrictive quotas, or catch sizes, or bag limits, they shouldn’t criticize the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) or the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council (ASMFC) or the DEP.

Just call Jimmy D at RFA.

Jimmy Donofrio, lobbyist, Recreational Fishing Alliance

Jimmy Donofrio, lobbyist, Recreational Fishing Alliance

You would think that warning would have resulted in some reasonable moderation of the selfish and shortsighted fishing group lobbyists – like RFA – and their craven legislative supporters to reach a compromise on the salt water registry funding issue.

But no.

Anti-government, anti-science, anti-regulatory, and anti-tax Ideology and selfish special interest group politics prevailed.

The folks who would like to starve the beast and make government small enough to drown in the bathtub won.

As a result, as predicted, in a huge embarrassment to the Christie Administration, NJ shut down the river herring fishery.

The Press of Atlantic City reports:

New Jersey bans the catch and sale of river herring after failing to provide adequate data


New Jersey has shut down its river herring fishery partly because it does not have the personnel or the funding to collect the data it needs.

That means fishermen who net the herring, mostly for the bait business, can no longer do so. Recreational anglers, including fly fishermen, no longer may target them. If an angler catches a river herring by accident, it now must be thrown back. …

State Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin closed the fishery in state waters Thursday, said Brandon Muffley, head of the state Bureau of Marine Fisheries.

Heck of a Job Chris Christie, Bob Martin, and Jimmy D.!!

[Endnote: Over at SL, my man George Hayduke III says:

The money is there – it’s the hiring freeze. CC will not let the DEP back fill the positions because having a government as small as it was when Chrisy Whitman was in office is a talking point. despite having the money and 10% unemployment.

[Update: While we are on the topic of fisheries management, here’s an extraordinary statement by the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, expressly distancing themselves from the Governor. I feel bad for Tom Fote:

Clarification on NJ ASMFC Vote on Menhaden

by Mark Taylor

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association)

I have spoken to many people who do not understand New Jersey’s vote on the menhaden addendum at the ASMFC meeting. I am writing this article to inform you that at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Menhaden Board, Tom Fote is not representing Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA). He is there as the Governor’s Appointee to the ASMFC. He is at that board doing the work of the Governor. This means he represents the Governor and his votes reflect the Governor’s opinion. JCAA does not have a vote at ASMFC. Like every other individual and organization, JCAA makes its opinion known at public hearings and in written comments. JCAA’s testimony and written comments were clearly in support of the addendum. And that addendum was passed without New Jersey’s support. If you are unhappy with a vote by the Governor’s Appointee to ASMFC, you can certainly let him know you disagree. However, you need to make your opinions known directly to the Governor since he can direct his appointee to vote in a specific way on a specific issue.

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  1. January 29th, 2012 at 20:42 | #1

    Bill, great points on the role of so called recreational fishing advocates not protecting and perpetuating recreational fishing in NJ. As a recreational fisherman, I am not interested in having unlimited free access to an empty ocean.
    I was at the January 5 2012 NJMFC meeting when they voted to close the river herring fishery to recreational fishing, but little known is that they did not close it to the commercial fishing interests, allowing them an unenforced 5% river herring bycatch allowance. This means that the commercial fishing interests in NJ can catch and kill many tons of river herring to enable them to keep vacuum cleaning the ocean of squid, mackerel, butterfish, ocean herring, and river herring.
    But the idea that all river herring possession would be illegal did not sit well with some on the NJMFC, who wanted the commercial interests who will be allowed to continue to catch river herring to possess and sell them as well, while still being off limits to the recreational fishermen. Eventually they were convinced by NJDEP staff that any possession of river herring on the street would defeat the purpose of closure in the first place, so they grudgingly voted to close the river herring fishery and make any possession illegal, while giving the commercial interests an unenforceable 5% by catch limit that they would have to throw away, dead or alive.
    This is typical of the power that the commercial fishing industry has here in NJ, and another example of this was the NJ vote against maximum catch limits for menhaden back on 11/9/11. About a month before that vote, I went to DC and spoke with the NJ delegation about sending a letter to ASMFC asking for strong protection for menhaden.
    In general they could care less what I thought, but what the commercial fishing industry and what the legislative leaders of JCAA and the RFA thought were all important. Now given the outcome that representatives from JCAA and RFA on the ASMFC went along with the Governor and the commercial interests and against the platforms of their organizations and the recreational fishing interests, I think it is high time that the recreational fishermen take a closer look that maybe they are being sold out by their own groups, even if they try to do damage control by saying that they do not have influence on the ASMFC.
    Commercial fishing has already caused the decline of many sport fishing species by constantly challenging the science and the conservation initiatives through over fishing, and the leaders of the recreational fishermen have joined forces with them and are now doing the same thing. Without strong scientific data and enforceable rules and regulations, fish stocks and their fish prey will not be protected for the future. When I go fishing, I want to catch lots of fish, not have unlimited access to an empty ocean.

    Fred Akers

  2. George Hayduke III
    January 31st, 2012 at 17:01 | #2

    Oh I have arrived now!

    DEP was just allowed to hire 1 fisheries biologist – they need 7 or 8. Looking at a 40% reduction in F&W staff since freeze went into effect.

  1. June 19th, 2012 at 13:08 | #1
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