Slot striper? One fish bag limit? Increase the size from 28 to 34 inches? Leave it alone?

When it comes to striped bass, everyone’s got a management answer – but what exactly is the question that fisheries managers are asking? Whether you fish by boat or by beach, if you’re a New Jersey striped bass angler the time for management discussion has arrived!

On Wednesday, April 23rd from 7 to 9 p.m., join Russ Allen of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Division of Fish and Wildlife at the Holiday Inn on Route 72 in Manahawkin, just east of Exit 63 off the Garden State Parkway, for a special public forum exclusively on striped bass management.

Hosted by the Recreational Fishing Alliance’s New Jersey Chapter (RFA-NJ), this free event features an overview of the latest Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) striped bass assessment results, current coastwide stock status, New Jersey’s survey results and potential ASMFC management actions.

The forum will offer attendees a unique glimpse at what fisheries managers discussed at the ASMFC Striped Bass Board meeting back in February. ASMFC will take up the striped bass discussion again at their spring meetings in Alexandria, VA which start on Monday, May 12th. In response, the public will be asked to comment on a series of management options this summer which are designed to meet conservation goals and targets for Atlantic Coast striped bass stocks; any changes to the recreational or commercial sector are expected to be implemented in time for the 2015 calendar year.

Organizers at the RFA-NJ say the Wednesday, April 23rd event at the Holiday Inn of Manahawkin is designed as an open forum for individual saltwater anglers, for-hire captains and members of the recreational tackle community, those with a direct interest in the future of striped bass management along the coast.

“We held a similar forum in February at the Atlantic City Boat Show which was very well received, but we’re hoping this time to get more folks from the surf community involved in the discussions, especially casters from the Central and North Jersey Coast,” said RFA-NJ board member Greg O’Connell, recently tabbed as National Shore Access Representative for RFA.

“The planned forum should not only educate anglers on the state of the fishery but also provide an opportunity to have their thoughts and opinions heard by the folks tasked with making the changes,” O’Connell said.

Members of the RFA and the RFA-NJ chapter will be reaching out to various fishing club leaders in the coming days to encourage active participation in this public forum, which is being held to inform interested members of the public about the upcoming management discussions, while providing an unofficial forum for public feedback.

“At the boat show there was plenty of discussion about slot fish, poaching, and even some of the out-of-state efforts by some to open the EEZ to striped bass fishing, which as we learned in Atlantic City has very little support in the community,” said RFA executive director Jim Donofrio, a longtime opponent of reopening the EEZ to striper fishing. RFA was originally founded in 1996 in part as a response to NOAA Fisheries’ efforts to reopen federal waters to striped bass harvest.

“New Jersey anglers are blessed to have one of the leading striped bass experts along the entire Atlantic Coast working in our own DEP offices, and we’re very thankful that Russ is offering up his time to meet with the public on April 23rd,” Donofrio said.

Donofrio also went on to praise state legislators for their ongoing commitment to the recreational fishing community, particularly with regard to striped bass. At a meeting this past weekend of the Strathmere Fishing and Environmental Club attended by Donofrio, Capt. Nowalsky and elected officials from the Cape May District, South Jersey anglers learned first-hand that efforts to open up commercial striped bass processing in the state have officially been stalled by one particular Trenton saltwater angler.

“New Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bob Andrzejczak of Cape May County made it fairly clear to his fellow anglers in Strathmere that this unwise legislation would not be going anywhere in his committee,” Donofrio said. “This is a bad piece of legislation which we’re afraid could create a black market for New Jersey fish to enter restaurants and also pose legal problems with the current gamefish status of striped bass.”

“Our thanks to Chairman Andrzejczak for his pledge to defeat those efforts,” said Donofrio.

In New Jersey, recreational size limits are set by the New Jersey Legislature; state law also forbids the commercial harvest or sale of striped bass in the state. “Whatever actions the ASMFC decides to take in the coming months, it’s going to be up to the New Jersey Senate and Assembly, along with our Governor, to come together to make it work,” Donofrio said.

“If you want to see this done right, it’s a good idea to get away from those keyboards for an evening and participate in public dialog with your fellow anglers,” he added.

Wednesday night, April 23 from 7 until 9 p.m. at the Holiday Inn on Route 72 in Manahawkin, approximately 1 mile east of Garden State Parkway Exit 63. It’s on the South Side of Route 72, just past Home Depot on the right. Admission is free.

Logo courtesy Recreational Fishing Alliance

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