South Jersey Bullied By Casinos, Dune Builders & Fishing Agencies

Is South Jersey the target of bullies, snake-oil salesmen and fishing pirates? It kinda looks that way, when casinos, dune builders and fish management agencies run roughshod over our coastal shore towns.

Casinos make a fortune in Atlantic City and pay very low taxes. The State of NJ seems to have little concern for the financial disruption that dune building brings at the height of the summer season. And recreation /tourism takes a hit when flounder ‘keeper’ sizes are raised to 19 inches.

A few audio clips from the recent ‘Shep on Fishing’.

Back in 1999, we could catch up to 8 summer flounder (also known as fluke) in NJ state waters. The minimum (keeper) size was 15.5 inches. Fishing was plentiful. Summer flounder season was May 15 thru October 11. Boy, that was fun. Plenty of party boats, tourists, recreational anglers, bait & tackle shops, rentals & charters were helping make our coastal economy hum.

Today, 17 years later, 3rd party agencies are ready to make the ‘keeper’ size a whopping 19 inches. Geez. Why not just shut down the whole freekin’ fluke & flounder season? New proposed rules will virtually do just that.

Competing states, and bureaucratic agencies jealous of SJ fisheries, claim our NJ waters are over-fished. That’s their devious way of shutting us down, while they pillage from our abundant coast. The waters off Atlantic City, Margate and Brigantine have currents, bays, inlets and other salt water havens that flounder love.

Often, it’s in the other states best interest, to vote against NJ and saddle us with non-nonsensical fishing regulations.

On May 11, NJ will argue for keeping the status quo…at the current, barely acceptable 18 inches. In-accurate research & data, most of it from the fishing-challenged research vessel called the ‘Bigelow’, is what’s gonna really hurt NJ’s # 2 industry.

And much like summer dredging & dune building in Margate & Ventnor, raising flounder keeper sizes, and placing too much focus on the casino industry, New flounder rules is just one more punch in the gut to our South Jersey coastal economy.

Recreational and commercial fishing in NJ employs 65,000 people and generates $2.5 billion in annual economic benefits to the state.

Summer flounder, also known as fluke, is one of the state’s most sought-after recreational fish species, prized for its delicate flavor and easily found close to beaches and in the back bays.

Too many throwbacks are killing the stock.

A DEP analysis determined that undersized, throwback fish that die after being returned to the water, will be greater than the number of keeper fish.

For the first time in history, at 19 inches, more flounder will die by being discarded (throwback). This number will be greater than number harvested.

This would be the first-ever such imbalance for NJ state. Flounder, like all fish, are susceptible to mortality (death) from hook wounds and stress.

NJ also wants to no longer be connected to NY & Connecticut. The NJ fishery is bundled with these two northern states. Both have substantially different fisheries, and should not be tied to New Jersey.

North of NJ….. in NY & CT, it’s easier to catch a big flounder. The 18 & 19 inchers. They migrate north from NJ….and grow.

Note: We wonder why some didn’t play a larger, more vocal role in this battle over the recreational fishing economy.

  • Greater Atlantic City Chamber
  • Bass Pro Shops
  • City of Atlantic City
  • Mayor Don Guardian
  • CRDA
  • Atlantic County, which wants to diversify economy
  • Congressman LoBiondo
  • Senator Whelan
  • Assemblymen Brown & Mazzeo

The number of full time residents along the shore are decreasing at an alarming rate. This plays a considerable role in the challenge of growing awareness and support for this issue.

The growing 2nd homeowner population…along with regional visitors, are not reached by local papers & radio. That’s a significant problem that’s only getting worse. Too many have NO IDEA what’s going on. Not only with Fluke regs….but with that nasty dune-building this summer too.

Summer flounder in New Jersey tend to be smaller than in northern states. That’s due to biological needs and migration patterns. 90% of summer flounder in New Jersey waters, greater than 19 inches, are females. The breeders.

By increasing in size limits to 19, we’re being encouraged to catch reproductive fish. That’s not only counterproductive to sound fishery management, but it’s another example of how the Jersey Shore continues to get bullied by outsiders.

Bullies prey on the weak. No matter what we do to be ‘good neighbors’, they’ll never play nice. We’ll just get bullied even more. Maybe it’s time to finally hit back?

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