STRIPERS FOREVER: Asbury Park Press article
Stripers Forever - The cornerstone of pro-commercial ideology is that they
are ?feeding the nation.? It?s true with some species that commercial
fishing provides food for the table that would otherwise be unavailable.
With striped bass, however, Stripers Forever maintains that the commercial
catch is simply carved out of the total quota by taking it from individual
members of the public who fish for their own personal use. No additional
food is being provided, commercial fishing is just inserting an unneeded
or wanted middle-man. This is the point at which the commercial harvest
has been stopped for other wildlife species, such as waterfowl, game,
freshwater fish, and, in many states, important saltwater recreational
Most of the millions of recreational anglers who were once allowed to bag
a school striped bass for the table have been forced to give that
privilege up, in the name of conservation. We?ve accepted that
restriction so that we might achieve healthy populations and quality
fishing. But the reality is that those sacrifices have been more than
offset by a bigger than ever commercial quota. Most recreational anglers
are just not involved enough with the management process to know that they
have been screwed, and they are usually too busy to complain about it
anyway. Commercial advocates have always counted on that kind of
complacency to sneak in commercial increases like the 40% boost in the
coastal fishery just two years ago. Now the effects of excess fishing
pressure are coming home to roost, and we may well see the existing
recreational quotas being targeted first.
This will bring some attention to the inequities in the current situation.
In John Geiser's May 15th column in the Asbury Park Press - see the
attached document ** he points out that commercial fishing may be fair,
as long as it doesn't interfere with a reasonable personal use bag limit.
Many New Jersey anglers feel the prohibition on keeping even one striped
bass between 28 and 34 inches long is unfair. Regardless of what you
think of currently allowed mortality levels, or of recreational bag and
size limits in any particular state, the exact same striped bass that are
now off limits in NJ may be legally caught and sold in a number of
commercial fishing jurisdictions. This is a really twisted view of how
to manage a public resource.
Striped bass fishermen want their voices heard
Published in the Asbury Park Press 05/15/05
By John Geiser
Striped bass fishermen who want to make the striper the exclusive property of recreational anglers have launched what is probably their most intensive campaign thus far.
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-NJ, has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to prohibit the commercial harvesting of Atlantic coast stripers. Pallone, the ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Fisheries and Oceans, introduced the measure last week. The bill would prohibit the commercial harvesting of bass not only in estuarine and state waters, but in the exclusive economic zone as well. "The Atlantic striped bass is a valuable resource along the Atlantic coast, and is one of the most important fisheries for recreational anglers in New Jersey," he said.
New Jersey is one of only of six states along the East Coast that already classify striped bass as a game fish-only species.
A study on the economics of recreational and commercial striped bass fishing released earlier this year concluded that if commercial fishing of striped bass were eliminated "future harvest levels would produce greater returns for coastal economies and the national economy" since "fish captured by the recreational sector are far more valuable on a per-pound basis than when harvested commercially."
The report found that recreational fishermen harvested 22.9 million pounds of striped bass, 3.2 times higher than the 7 million pounds harvested commercially. This produces a substantial difference in retail sales of $2,412,284,999 from recreational fishermen compared to only $43,115,704 from commercial fishermen.
The report was prepared by Southwick Associates in Fernandina Beach, Fla., for Stripers Forever, a national organization that supports the elimination of all commercial fishing for striped bass.
Commercial fishermen argue that the fish-eating general public, those who enjoy dining on striped bass but do not fish, would be deprived of a share of a national resource. This argument is sound and logical only to the point where allocation is not a problem. The new state law that prohibits anglers from harvesting a single fish between 28 and less than 34 inches proves there is a big problem.
If there are not enough striped bass for the recreational sector to harvest one fish from 24 inches up, then the Southwick report's findings kick in. The economic, social and recreational benefits have to be weighed.
Obviously New Jersey non-fishermen are not concerned about their loss at the restaurant table. There is no public outcry, no campaign, no lobbying effort, not even op-ed pieces about not being able to buy striped bass in New Jersey, but there are literally tens of thousands of complaints about anglers not being able to harvest a fish from 28 to less than 34 inches.
Adding the 7 million commercial pounds to the recreational side's quota would presumably enable anglers to harvest one fish from 24 inches up, and the benefits would be substantial.
Paul Haertel of the Berkeley Striper Club said the organization will hold its second annual spring bass tournament from June 3 to June 12 to benefit Stripers Forever.
Stripers Forever is a relatively new internet group that has been waging its game fish-only status for stripers along the entire East Coast.
The tournament is open to all waters of Monmouth and Ocean counties. The entry fee is $20 per person for the shore and surf division, and $30 per person for the boat division.
There will be seven place awards for both the boat and shore-surf divisions, first through third prizes for bluefish and first and second prizes for weakfish. There is a guaranteed pot of $2,500 in the shore-surf division regardless of the number of entrants.
The boat division will have a pot of $2,500 based on 100 entrants. There will be an 85 percent payout of the entry fees; so prize values will increase if there are over 100 entrants, decrease if there are fewer than 100. Registration can be made and weigh-ins recorded at the following places: Alex's, Bahrs' Landing, Betty and Nick's, Bruce and Pat's, Eastern Dock Outfitters, Grizz's, Fishermen's Headquarters, Murphy's Hook House and Scott's.
Further information may be obtained by telephoning Haertel at (973) 943-8201.