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Old 11-15-2004, 12:37 AM
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Default N.J. Regs tighten on flounder, not stripers

Regs tighten on flounder, not stripers
Sunday, November 14, 2004

The annual meeting of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) was held in New Hampshire earlier in the week and produced few surprises -- except in the case of winter flounder.

New Jersey commissioner Tom Fote of Toms River said 40-to-60 percent reductions will be required, and one suggestion involved a closed season in March and April. A 12-inch minimum is almost a sure thing, though that wouldn't have been any problem with last year's Raritan Bay run as there were relatively few under that size. Public hearings should be held within a few weeks so changes can be made for the 2005 fishery.

Though the stock assessment for the 2003 fishing year showed mortality of large striped bass to be very high, the Technical Committee couldn't agree on the accuracy of their numbers and had no recommendations. Ed Cherry, who held my proxy for the Striped Bass Advisory Panel, said the ASMFC basically punted on the issue while questions about the data are resolved.

The net result is that the two at 28 inches coastal daily limit will be continued for next year, and it will be up to N.J. as to whether we'll stay with the present limit or join most of the other coastal states in observing the standard. Most northern anglers and skippers are dead set against the new conservationally-equivalent regulations that allow a 24-to-less than-28-inch slot plus another of 34 inches or more. Capt. Scotty Hilliard of the Prowler 5 in Atlantic Highlands says they're presently eeling quite a few 31-inchers at night and have a hard time convincing customers that they're illegal. On the other hand, Capt. John Brackett of the Queen Mary from Point Pleasant likes the new regs since most of his fall jigging fish are slots. His anglers caught 37 Wednesday, of which 17 were slots, and there wasn't a single bass that made 28 inches.
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