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On Tuesday, September 25, Rutgers Cooperative Extension will host a seminar on black sea bass discard mortality in recreational fisheries in Toms River and remotely via webinar.

By Jim Hutchinson, Jr.  |  September 23, 2018
Researchers from Rutgers University perform an extensive amount of study and research on critically important local fisheries like black sea bass, and are active in sharing findings with the public through the Rutgers Cooperative Extension and its Marine Extension Program Seminar Series.

New Jersey’s 2018 summer flounder season came to end on Saturday, and while a few true 10-pound doormats were registered in the waning days, wind, rain and a good heave left a lot to be desired of the final few weeks of the year.

While good porgy action, an influx of decent bluefish and hungry stripers now piling on peanut bunker and mullet, the local bottomfishing fleet in New Jersey is looking forward to the October 8 black sea bass reopens with a 12-1/2-size limit and 10 fish bag for the month of October, followed by a 15 fish bag and 13-inch minimum size limit from November 1 through December 31 in New Jersey.

While fisheries managers are currently in the middle of a benchmark stock assessment to determine the present status of the fluke stock, black sea bass remains a healthy, not statistically or biologically overfished with no overfishing taking place. Despite the robust numbers in the sea bass fishery, restrictive language written into the federal fisheries law (Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act) has kept seasons, sizes and bags to a bare minimum throughout the region.

One aspect of black sea bass management where NOAA Fisheries has dedicated much of its research effort is on developing ways to minimize discard mortality in the recreational fishery (dead fish related to catch and release of sea bass). While perhaps it’s overly simplistic to say that the best way to reduce the mortality on sea bass during closed seasons when anglers are targeting other species like porgies or fluke, complexities arising from Magnuson and the management process keep researchers at accredited universities constantly studying the issue.

This week, Rutgers Cooperative Extension is hosting another in their Marine Extension Program Seminar Series (MEPSS) on Tuesday, September 25 from 7 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. on black sea bass discard mortality in recreational fisheries. This will be a "HyFlex" seminar where people can participate live in-class at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County (1623 Whitesville Road in Toms River) or remotely via webinar.

Douglas Zemeckis, Rutgers University’s Marine Extension Agent said those interesting in attending the seminar - Estimating and Reducing the Discard Mortality Rate of Black Sea Bass in Deepwater Recreational Fisheries – should contact Kelly Jurgensen (kjurgensen@co.ocean.nj.us; 732-349-1152) as soon as possible.

“We will accept walk-ups for those who wish to come in-person and the absolute deadline for signing-up for the webinar will be 1 p.m. on the day of the seminar, Tuesday September 25,” Zemeckis said.

To reach Zemeckis for more information on this and other MEPSS session, email zemeckis@njaes.rutgers.edu or call 732-349-1152.