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SMZs approved for Delaware reefs

Discussion in 'Artificial Reefs' started by njdiver1, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. njdiver1

    njdiver1 Barracuda

    Forces fighting to get commercial fishing gear off artificial reefs got a boost on Wednesday at the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) meeting in Virginia.

    The council approved several options for designating the sites as Special Management Zones (SMZs) in the Delaware EEZ. The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife had petitioned the Council for the designation under provisions of Amendment 9 to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The request was made in an effort to mitigate conflicts between hook and line fishermen and fixed pot and trap gear in use at those locations.

    The Council approved options 2a, which designates all five of Delaware’s five reef sites as SMZs; option 3b, which restricts fishing activities to hook line and spear fishing; option 4b, which designates the sites as SMZs for the entire calendar year; and option 5c, which creates a 500 meter buffer zone around each reef.

    Under option 3b, commercial hook and line fishing gear would still be permitted in the SMZs.

    Capt. Peter Grimbilas, chairiman of the Reef Rescue Fund, and a tireless worker to get commercial gear off New Jersey’s artificial reefs called Wednesday, “a really good day.”

    “The best thing about yesterday (Wednesday) was that finally, the MAFMC is paying attention to what the Sport Fish Restoration Funds are all about,” said Grimbilas. Grimbilas was referring to the fact that a good portion of the funding for artificial reefs comes from the Sport Fish Restoration Fund, which is to be used to support recreational fishing.

    Grimbilas said that Dr. John Organ, chief of the fund, has repeatedly warned states that they can’t continue to take funds for reefs that benefit commercial interests.

    These actions by the MAFMC are far from set in stone. The recommendations will go out for public comment and then on to the National Marine Fisheries Service for a final decision.

    “It just so important that Delaware gets their way because we’re (New Jersey) going to be following right on their shirt tails. “We’re going to be asking for the same things for the same reasons,” Grimbilas said.

    Grimbilas said that New Jersey already got it hand slapped for not requesting SMZ status earlier. The state’s funding from the federal government has been put on hold until it resolves the issue of commercial use of its artificial reefs.

    “Delaware was smart enough to request SMZs and because they had the wheels rolling, U.S. Fish and Wildlife didn’t cut the funding,” he said.
    The request for SMZ status for New Jersey’s reefs won’t be too far in the future. Grimbilas believes DEP Commissioner Bob Martin will be making the request once a proposal can be crafted that will be acceptable to all the parties involved.

    Also on Wednesday, the MAFMC approved the Scientific and Statistical Committee’s recommendation to increase the 2013 black sea bass quota by one million pounds. Discussion of the black sea bass quota will continue at next week’s meeting of the ASMFC Winter Meeting in Virginia.

  2. njdiver1

    njdiver1 Barracuda

    I move that the Council recommend to
    the RA with respect to the Special
    Management Zone designation proposal
    to approve 2a (all five reefs), 3b
    (hook, line and spear fishing only to
    include taking by hand), 4b (all year
    round), and a 500 yard buffer.
    Anderson/McMurray (11/3/2)

    11 for, 3 against and 2 abstain. RA means Regional Administrator, referring to the National Marine Fisheries Service. He will have the final say if this goes forward to a public comment on a Proposed Federal Rule or not.
  3. Aquabot

    Aquabot Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Florida.
    I'm not in the Northeast but would second that motion in a heartbeat. We got to protect our reefs. Best of luck!

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk 2
  4. njdiver1

    njdiver1 Barracuda

    These gentlemen need to hear fram us!

    John Bullard
    Regional Administrator, Northeast Region
    National Marine Fisheries Service
    55 Great Republic Drive
    Gloucester, MA 01930-2298
    Phone: 978-281-9250
    Fax: 978-281-9207

    Daniel Morris, Deputy RA - 978-281-9311

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