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The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council will meet on Thursday, November 2 in Galloway Township at 4 p.m. where it's expected that black sea bass will once again take a lead role in public discussion.
By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  |  October 30, 2017
Black Gold, formerly known simply as sea bass, is expected to generate another round of discussion and debate at the November 2 meeting of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council in Galloway Township.

The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council (Council) will meet this Thursday, November 2 at 4 p.m. at the Galloway Township Branch of the Atlantic County Library at 306 East Jimmie Leeds Road in Galloway, NJ.

While a tentative agenda has yet to be released by the Council, sources said the Thursday meeting in Galloway should be heavily attended by members of the recreational for-hire community with varied opinions on the potential reopening of black sea bass in February.

Earlier this month, both the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) voted to approve a limited black sea bass fishery for all recreational anglers along the Atlantic Coast during the month of February.

However, allowing 28 days of black sea bass fishing for those boats that remain in the water and continue sailing during the height of the winter would ultimately result in some loss of allowable fishing days during the height of the 2018 black sea bass season.

Speaking dockside with a few members of the New Jersey for-hire fleet over the weekend, it’s clear that not everyone in the community is onboard with the February opening if it’s going to result in lost days during the spring or summer fishery. While the partial Wave One (January/February) opening would apply to all recreational anglers in New Jersey, given that only a handful of boats will be in the water and sailing in February has become a sticking point for many captains.

An added issue sure to be discussed in the Galloway Township library on Thursday is the initial data coming out of the Marine Recreational Information Program, or MRIP, the NOAA Fisheries recreational data collection program. According to preliminary MRIP estimates discussed at the October fisheries meetings of MAFMC and ASMFC, overall recreational landings projections of black sea bass in 2017 could warrant additional cutbacks in 2018 and potential loss of a month or more of season. As such, any February allocation would be in addition to necessary reductions in the 2018 season.

While those final figures will ultimately get hammered out by the MAFMC/ASMFC joint session from December 11-14 in Annapolis, MD, the ultimate decision by the state of New Jersey as to whether or not that February opening is adopted may actually come to a head in Galloway Township this Thursday afternoon.

For more information on the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council meeting call 609-292-7794 and be sure to check back later in the week for the posted tentative agenda.

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