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EZZ Zone OIpening - Please read & help!!!

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I received this notice from Tom Fote today. Please read this either way you feel. Comment period is suddenly be closing by August 20th. My personal opiniion is that the Zone SHOULD NOT BE OPENED. the reason for this is that with the new Amendendment 6 going into effect with an increase of the amount of the harvest that has been allowed. We don't have any idea how this effect the over all population. The zone must be kept closed until enough data can be collected. Either Either way, comment will only be talken by FAX or Snail mail. Email will not be accepted .

 

DATES: Written comments must be received at the appropriate address or facsimile (fax) number (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on or before August 20, 2003.

 

ADDRESSES: Written comments must be sent to: Anne Lange, Chief, State-Federal Fisheries Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, NMFS, 1315 East West Highway, Room 13317, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Comments may also be sent via fax to (301) 713-0596.

 

Comments submitted via e-mail or Internet will not be accepted.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Meyer, Fishery Management Biologist, (301) 713-2334, fax (301) 713-0596.

 

.

 

Ask for extending comment period for opening the EEZ for striped bass.

 

Today, August 16th, I just received the actual notice issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service announcing that they are soliciting comments about the opening of the EEZ. Someone sent it to me. I never received this notice from the NMFS. Neither has JCAA. I have not seen a press article or newspaper article about this comment or any mention of the date. I cannot believe they are cutting off the comment period on August 20th. Since I am a commissioner to ASMFC, I would have expected the courtesy of some notice sent to me. I would also have expected JCAA been notified since we were the strongest opponents of opening the EEZ the last time around and helped to keep it closed. I would have also expected a reasonable comment period since NMFS are not allowing emails. JCAA will be calling on New Jersey Congressmen and Senators, demanding that the National Marine Fisheries Service extend the comment period. It is interesting that in the enclosed release that they state that ASMFC voted to support the opening. When this particular motion came before the striped bass board, only 4 states votes for the motion. Five states voted against the motion. The two federal agencies were the deciding votes. Before this possibility is discussed at public hearing, there should be a majority of states voting in favor of the opening and not the federal agencies be the deciding vote. Write to your Congressmen, Senators and the National Marine Fisheries Service demanding an extended comment period. The noticed is below.

 

 

************************************** *********************************************

 

D EPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

 

50 CFR Part 697

[Docket No. 030714172-3172-01; I.D. 063003A]

RIN 0648-AR33

 

Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act; Atlantic Striped Bass Fishery

 

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

 

ACTION: Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR); request for comments.

 

SUMMARY: NMFS announces that it is considering potential revisions to the Federal Atlantic striped bass regulations for the U.S. Exclusive

Economic Zone (EEZ) in response to recommendations from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) to the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). The Commission recommended that the Secretary remove the moratorium on the harvest of Atlantic striped bass in the EEZ after a 13-year closure; implement a 28-inch (71.1-cm) minimum size limit for the recreational and commercial Atlantic striped bass fisheries in the EEZ; and allow states the ability to adopt more restrictive rules for fishermen and vessels licensed in their jurisdiction. NMFS is soliciting comments with this notice regarding possible management measures and issues that NMFS should consider

relative to these recommendations.

 

DATES: Written comments must be received at the appropriate address or facsimile (fax) number (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on or before August 20, 2003.

 

ADDRESSES: Written comments must be sent to: Anne Lange, Chief, State-Federal Fisheries Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, NMFS, 1315 East West Highway, Room 13317, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Comments may also be sent via fax to (301) 713-0596.

 

Comments submitted via e-mail or Internet will not be accepted.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tom Meyer, Fishery Management Biologist, (301) 713-2334, fax (301) 713-0596.

 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

 

Background

 

This ANPR is promulgated under the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act (Act), Public Law 100-589, reproduced at 16 U.S.C. 1851 note. Section 9 of the Act requires the Secretary to promulgate regulations governing fishing for Atlantic striped bass in the EEZ that the Secretary determines:

 

(1) are consistent with the national standards in Section 301 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C. 1851);

 

(2) are compatible with the fishery management plan for managing Atlantic striped bass and each Federal moratorium in effect on fishing for Atlantic striped bass within the coastal waters of a coastal state;

 

(3) ensure the effectiveness of State regulations on fishing for Atlantic

striped bass within the coastal waters of a coastal state; and

 

(4) are sufficient to assure the long-term conservation of Atlantic striped bass populations. In developing the regulations, the Secretary is to consult with the Commission, the appropriate Regional Fishery Management Councils (Councils), and each affected Federal, state and

local government entity.

 

Atlantic Striped Bass management is based on the Commission's Atlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan (ISFMP), first adopted in 1981.

 

From 1981 - 1994, four ISFMP Amendments were developed that provided a series of management measures that led to the rebuilding of the stocks.

 

In 1995, the Commission declared the Atlantic striped bass population fully restored and implemented Amendment 5 to the ISFMP to perpetuate the stock so as to allow a commercial and recreational harvest consistent with the long-term maintenance of the striped bass stock.

 

Since then the population has expanded to record

levels of abundance. To maintain this recovered population, the Commission approved Amendment 6 to the ISFMP (Amendment 6) in February 2003 (copies of Amendment 6 are available via the Commission's website at www.asmfc.org).

 

The Commission believes that the measures contained in Amendment 6 are necessary to prevent the overfishing of the Atlantic striped bass resource while allowing growth in both the commercial and recreational fishery.

 

Development of Amendment 6 took almost four years and involved extensive input from technical and industry advisors, and provided numerous opportunities for the public to comment on the future management of the species.

 

Amendment 6 incorporates results of the most recent Atlantic striped bass stock assessment, developed by the Atlantic Coast States, the Commission, NMFS, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (see section 1.2.2 of Amendment 6). In summary, the 2001 stock assessment concluded that the overall abundance of the stock is very high and fishing mortality remains below the target rate. The stock's abundance increased steadily between 1982 and 1997 and since then has remained stable. The fishing mortality rate increased steadily until 1999, but decreased slightly in 2000. Amendment 6 also includes recommendations to the Secretary on the development of complementary measures in the EEZ. Management of Atlantic striped bass in the EEZ was one of the issues that was considered throughout development of Amendment 6.

 

Recommendation to the Secretary

 

On April 24, 2003, the Secretary received a letter from the Commission with the following three recommendations for implementation of regulations in the EEZ: (1) Remove the moratorium on the harvest of Atlantic striped bass in the EEZ; (2) implement a 28-inch (71.1 cm) minimum size limit for recreational and commercial Atlantic striped bass fisheries in the EEZ; and (3) allow states the ability to adopt more restrictive rules for fishermen and vessels licensed in their jurisdictions.

 

In support of its request, the Commission provided a number of reasons to justify opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing. These reasons include:

 

(1) In 1995, due in part to a closure of the EEZ in 1990 to striped bass harvest, the population of this species was declared fully

restored by the Commission. The purpose of closing the EEZ was to protect strong year classes entering the population and to promote

rebuilding of the overfished population.

 

(2) The commercial harvest is controlled by hard quotas; when they are reached the fishery is closed; and overages are taken out of next

year's quotas. The Commercial quota will be landed regardless of whether or not the EEZ is opened.

 

(3) Currently, recreational and commercial catches are occurring in the EEZ and these fish are required to be discarded. Opening the EEZ

will convert discarded bycatch of striped bass to landings.

 

(4) Because of management measures implemented since 1990, the striped bass population has recovered to a point where further examination of whether this fishery should occur in the EEZ is appropriate.

 

There are expectations among a number of fishing industry stakeholders that their past sacrifices would result in future opportunities to harvest striped bass, and therefore, there are potential credibility issues associated with keeping the EEZ closed, especially in light of the current status of the Atlantic striped bass stock.

 

(5) The recommendation to open the EEZ is part of Amendment 6 which incorporates new management standards to ensure stock conservation including targets and thresholds for both mortality and spawning stock biomass. Fishing mortality is currently below the target level, and spawning stock biomass is 1.5 times the target level.

 

(6) Amendment 6 includes monitoring requirements and triggers that will allow the Commission to respond quickly to increased mortality.

 

(7) The bulk of the public comment (greater than 75 percent) received in opposition cited expansion of the commercial fishery as rationale not to open the EEZ. The Commission believes the rationale is incorrect because the commercial fishery is controlled by a hard quota.

 

The Commission stated that its Atlantic Striped Bass Technical Committee would monitor annually the Atlantic striped bass population,

and, if at some point in the future the Commission determines that the Atlantic striped bass population is overfished or that overfishing is occurring, it may recommend further management measures for the EEZ.

 

NMFS is considering proposed rulemaking to revise the Federal Atlantic striped bass regulations to be compatible with Amendment 6 and is seeking comments on implementation of the Commission's recommendations in the EEZ. After review of comments received from this notice, NMFS will decide whether to initiate a lengthy review and decision-making process, which would include preparation of either an Environmental Impact Statement or an Environmental Assessment, and the development of management measures to revise current Federal regulations for Atlantic striped bass in the EEZ.

 

Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1851 note.

 

Dated: July 15, 2003.

Rebecca Lent,

Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine

Fisheries Service.

 

Tom Fote

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I don't know why Tom didn't know about this. We have had numerous discussions here on SOL about it since 8/6/03 or there abouts.

 

Plus it was in the Fed Register even earlier.

 

BTW, I requested and receive a daily table of contents of the Fed Register which I get by e mail. I kinda forget how I did it, but if anybody's interested, I'll try to duplicate my quest.

 

Walt

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Here are two letters sent out today to NMFS on the proposed EEZ opening. One was sent by Tom Fote as one of NJ Commissioners to ASMFC and the other was sent by the president of JCAA.

 

 

Thomas Fote

NJ Commissioner to Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

22 Cruiser Court, Toms River NJ 08753

732-270-9102--Fax 732-506-6409

tfote@jcaa.org

 

 

Anne Lange, Chief

State-Federal Fisheries Division

Office of Sustainable Fisheries

National Marine Fisheries Service

1315 East West Highway

Room 13317

Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

 

Dear Ms. Lange:

 

On August 16th I received a notice issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service announcing that you are soliciting comments about the opening of the EEZ. I am extremely disappointed that this notice was not issued as a formal press release or mailed/emailed to interested parties. As you know, I am one of the commissioners from New Jersey to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. As a commissioner I never received formal notice and only became aware of this when someone emailed the notice to me. This is no way to keep the public informed. I was at the ASMFC meeting when the topic of opening the EEZ was voted on and the opening did not have the support of the majority of states voting. The vote was four states for opening, five states opposed to opening. The deciding votes were made by the federal agencies. This hardly represents an endorsement from ASMFC. New Jersey's Fish and Wildlife Service employees were also not notified of this proposed action. They would have prepared written comments and had these comments available by the deadline.

 

It is essential that you extend the comment period for this proposed action. Everyone needs the time to prepare written comments. Please consider this a formal request for your immediate action. I also think the National Marine Fisheries Service should not consider moving to public hearings without the overwhelming support of the states that will be affected. Only by extending the comment period so that you get information from all interested parties and states will you have a reasonable idea of the support or lack of support for opening the EEZ.

 

I will not use this letter to list all my objections to opening the EEZ. I will make that information available as part of the extended comment period. However, it is essential that you begin by considering one important issue. New Jersey's waters have been closed to the harvest of striped bass since 1985 because of the elevated levels of PCB. The western end of Long Island including New York Harbor has the same type of prohibition. The states can only enforce this ban within state waters. How will the National Marine Fisheries Service protect the health of consumers if the EEZ is open?

 

Thank you for your consideration in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you promptly and to a reasonable extension of the comment period. You can reach me by phone at 732-270-9102 or by email at tfote@jcaa.org.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Thomas P. Fote

Commissioner, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

 

Copy to: Dr. William Holgarth

Rebecca Lent

New Jersey Congressional Delegation

 

 

********************************** ***************

 

 

JERSEY COAST ANGLERS ASSOCIATION

Working For Saltwater Resource & Marine Anglers

1201 Route 37 East, Toms River, NJ 08753

Phone 732-506-6565

FAX 732-506-6975

Web Site http://www.JCAA.org

Email jcaa@jcaa.org

 

Anne Lange, Chief

State-Federal Fisheries Division

Office of Sustainable Fisheries

National Marine Fisheries Service

1315 East West Highway

Room 13317

Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

 

Dear Ms. Lange,

 

As the president of Jersey Coast Anglers Association, I am writing to demand that you extend the comment period for opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing. In New Jersey we have many concerns about the possible opening of the EEZ. Jersey Coast Anglers Association, many of our member clubs and many of our members would be interested in providing comments prior to the consideration of any public hearing. However, we did not receive notification of this comment period until it was brought to our attention by email on August 16th. We never received any type of formal notice from the National Marine Fisheries Service and this is totally unacceptable. Your office faxes or emails us on a regular basis regarding changes or proposed changes to regulations, so I would have expected to receive a notice directly from your office. I have contacted all the outdoor writers in New Jersey and none of them received notice either.

 

The only way for you to resolve this issue is to immediately extend the comment period to allow all the interested fishermen, groups and agencies to provide you with formal comment. I hope to hear from you immediately that the National Marine Fisheries Service is taking this action.

 

JCAA has historically been opposed to the opening of the EEZ to striped bass fishing and there is currently no information available that would cause us to change that position. We have frequently made the reasons for our opposition known to the public and to the National Marine Fisheries Service. While I anticipate that you will extend the comment period, I am enclosing a brief summary of some of our concerns for the record.

1. Opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing will increase the overall mortality rate. Amendment 6 allows for the relaxing of the regulations both recreationally and commercially. We are not sure what the consequences will be. No decision on the EEZ should be made until we have, as a minimum, data for 2004 and 2005 and this data has been thoroughly analyzed.

 

 

2. New Jersey and New York both have PCB closure areas for the harvesting of striped bass. Our states have been enforcing this ban in state waters. If the EEZ is open and striped bass can be harvested in federal waters, the states will not be providing the enforcement. Given the current pressure on the Coast Guard, we have no faith that the federal government can provide enforcement of any PCB related closure. The health of the consumers must be paramount and we have no information to suggest that the National Marine Fisheries Service could deal with this problem.

 

 

3. Frequently the proponents of opening the EEZ state that this would allow for the use of the bycatch of striped bass. They say these fish are being caught anyway and opening the EEZ to striped bass fishing would simply end the waste. With trip limits and other limits in place the bycatch does not disappear. Quite the contrary, this encourages highgrading and higher mortality. This was clearly demonstrated by what happened when the commercial quota in the winter fishery was increased in North Carolina. We need more time to fully understand how this change increases the mortality for striped bass.

JCAA would like the opportunity to provide you with a more comprehensive paper if you extend the comment period. JCAA has a striped bass committee that would provide you with a more in-depth commentary. However, the short notice, particularly in the summertime, made this impossible. New Jersey takes great care not to issue notices of this sort in the summertime. They realize this is when the recreational fishing industry is in full swing and anglers are not available. This is the time of year for party boat, charter boat and fishing stores to make a living, not deal with the National Marine Fisheries Service.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Thomas Siciliano

President

Jersey Coast Anglers Association

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Walt, I and many others were aware of this, but as for Tom not knowing, no one can be on top of everything all the time. We often come to rely on the notices/e-mails, etc. we automatically get sent to remind us of important things or let us know about new ones. Between paybacks, the Striped Bass Producer Area debacle, Winter Flounder and other topics it's no surprise to me that some people missed this deadline announcement. As I said, he and others have very full plates at the moment. It is an awfully short comment period, and the no e-mail thing is ridiculous. I find it strange the manner in which this whole thing has been handled by NMFS, especially what Tom mentions about the USF&W and NMFS swinging a "no" vote by the states to a "yes" vote. I was there at that meeting, and voiced my concerns and opinions on the EEZ as well. Bruce Freeman and others also voiced their concerns over the services choosing to vote on this particular topic, when they so often abstain on anything other than a topic the service has already voiced a position on, and especially the fact that they "out voted" the majority of states by making the state minority vote the deciding one.

 

Curiouser and curiouser.

CaptTB

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On second thought, here is a post I made on the original thread:

 

You know what's funny TimS, that request for input was posted in the Federal Registry on 7/21. If a friend hadn't sent me an e mail about it today, I may not have known about it until it was too late to comment. Even though I spend hours every week reading about fishing legislation and trying inform, I still don't know the fastest way to get up to the minute info about our sport. I think Rhodster and CaptTB know how but they won't tell- I've asked. Although I think the good CaptTB is in Baltimore right now at a meeting and can't comment.

 

Can anyone tell me how to keep up to date on this information? I'm all ears!

 

Walt

 

And another:

 

PCF- thanks, I have a new favorite site. BUT, if I go to the daily updates, no mention of this striped bass/EEZ issue in the month of July. I'm goina check the main NOAA site to see if I can find a notice.

 

Walt

 

And finally:

 

I tried the main NOAA-NMFS web site and still can't find any mention of this topic.

 

Well, I just went to those web sites again, and STILL NO MENTION of this issue. Come to think of it, I also don't recall reading anything in any of the papers I read on line- Asbury Park Press, Star Ledger, AC Press etc. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

 

Now, to top it off, NO E MAIL COMMENTS will be accepted. Another Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

 

Me thinks something stinks here. IMHO.

 

Walt

 

CaptTB, I did not see your post until I posted the above. Hope this explains my concerns also. As you said- curious things happening here!

 

[ 08-17-2003, 10:41 PM: Message edited by: HaysWalt ]

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This was posted in the Federal Register on July 21st. They only need to accept comments for 30 days. I don't know how they could possibly notify everyone individually that has an interest in this.

 

Federal Register / Vol. 68, No. 139 / Monday, July 21, 2003 / Proposed Rules

 

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/state_f...3003A_ANPR.pdf

 

 

SUMMARY: NMFS announces that it is considering potential revisions to the Federal Atlantic striped bass regulations for the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in response to recommendations from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) to the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). The Commission recommended that the Secretary remove the moratorium on the harvest of Atlantic striped bass in the EEZ after a 13- year closure; implement a 28-inch (71.1- cm) minimum size limit for the recreational and commercial Atlantic striped bass fisheries in the EEZ; and allow states the ability to adopt more restrictive rules for fishermen and vessels licensed in their jurisdiction. NMFS is soliciting comments with this notice regarding possible management measures and issues that NMFS should consider relative to these recommendations. DATES: Written comments must be received at the appropriate address or facsimile (fax) number (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Eastern Standard >Time on or before August 20, 2003. ADDRESSES: Written comments must be sent to: Anne Lange, Chief, State-Federal Fisheries Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, NMFS, 1315 East West Highway, Room 13317, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Comments may also be sent via fax to (301) 713-0596. Comments submitted via e-mail or Internet will not be accepted.

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PCF, no one ever suggested they should notify every individual that had an interest. Yes, they only need to accept public comment for 30 days. That, again, is not the point. Doing the absoulte minimum required as relates to this topic speaks volumes as far as I'm concerned.

Capt.TB

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Doing the absoulte minimum required as relates to this topic speaks volumes as far as I'm concerned.

Capt.TB

 

Amen...especially when compared to the lengthy public comment periods for much less potentially devastating issues cwm13.gif

 

TimS

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