Capt. Dave Monti with a summer flounder (fluke) caught off Rose Island, Newport in August, 2016.
I run a charter fishing business in Rhode Island. I have always felt it a privilege to fish and take people fishing to experience the joy of catching fish for consumption and sport.
Therefore I was alarmed to learn that New Jersey Congressmen LoBiondo and Pallone recently announced through a press release their intention to introduce legislation that would prevent NOAA Fisheries (aka National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS) from implementing regulations that would reduce summer flounder harvest limits. Recreational harvest limit reductions of summer flounder are needed to rebuild this fish stock whose spawning biomass has been on the decline for six years in a row. In addition, overfishing relative to biological reference points is occurring on this stock.
The fish we catch do not belong to us, nor do they belong to the fishermen or congressmen in New Jersey. The fish we catch belong to the people of the United States of America; those living in Kansas, and Minnesota own the fish just as much as those living in New Jersey and Rhode Island. The fish should be managed for the benefit of all Americans and not just for local interests.
The Magnuson-Stevens Act has given NOAA Fisheries the authority to manage the fish to grow them to abundance for all. Under this federal fishing law, 40 fish stocks have been rebuilt. The Magnuson-Stevens Act puts fish first, not local or state interests.
Local political leaders have the interests of their constituents at heart; this is the case with the legislation being considered by New Jersey congressmen. However, the legislation being considered is not in the best interest of the fish which need help to rebuild. Nor is the legislation in the best interest of the people of the United States of America who all share in this public natural resource.
To weaken federal fishing laws with legislation that is motivated by the self-interest of a state (or states) and not in the best interest of the country or its public resources is wrong. I am opposed to the spirit of the legislation being considered by New Jersey congressmen.