NJ animal cops ticket 100 fishermen in a week to protect fisheries
Last month, conservation police officers ticketed about 100 fishermen in just one week for keeping too many striped bass and not following the size requirements.
Fishermen are only allowed to keep one striped bass a day, which must measure about 28 inches.
Most of the summonses were handed out to fishermen along the Hudson River and the Newark Bay. Others were ticketed along the Raritan Bay. First offenders could face a fine up to $100 per fish.
Overfishing and taking the wrong size fish can end up hurting New Jersey fisheries, said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. He said the problem with overfishing, whether it's recreational or commercial, is that it takes out too many fish that's sustainable so the populations drop.
For example, if fish breed a million offspring and fishermen take 2 million, the population will keep dropping annually. Eventually, the fish stock becomes so low that a moratorium is put, banning all fishing or eventually the fish disappear off the Jersey coast.
Making sure fishermen do not overfish is critical if we want fish to eat and catch for sport, Tittel said.
The other problem, said Tittel, is that some of New Jersey waters are polluted. When conservation officers ticketed these fishermen last month, it's because they were fishing in highly contaminated areas.
He said New Jersey has a $4 billion a year fishing industry. So if fishermen overfish and those fish stocks decline or disappear to a point where there is a moratorium, then the fishermen either have to suspend operations for a while or go out of business all together.
Another concern he has is that some fisheries are impacted by water getting warmer and climate change. As a likely result of pollution, millions of menhaden or river herring have been found dead this year because of bacteria. These are important because the larger fish like striped bass feed on these fish.
Tittel said there are two things fishermen need to know before casting their lines in New Jersey waters: fish in certain areas and not in ones that are off limits and keep the fish limit. If a fisherman catches a fish outside the size requirement, release it. He said stripers are fun to catch but they can be released and not killed.
Clean water is important to protecting New Jersey fisheries, he said. The state needs to do more to clean bays and rivers so they don't pollute the fish. Cleaning up toxic sites will definitely clean up the fisheries.
"If we regulate and protect these fisheries, we'll keep them sustainable for years to come. If we overfish them now or leave them vulnerable to climate impacts, it will hurt us in the future," said Tittel.