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The coastal storm not only eliminated fishing opportunities in the short term, but also resulted in postponement of the Thursday N.J. Marine Fisheries Council meeting and ASMFC public hearing on sea bass to next Thursday. With more bitter cold on the weekend, water temperatures will continue falling as ice flows out of the Hudson and other rivers and the snow eventually melts into them. That may only be good news for the possibility of a winter cod run, while big blackfish remain a target in deep waters such as 17 Fathoms and the Farms. The winter mackerel run hasn't developed as yet, and there aren't many expecting any change in that situation. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar took advantage of a good weather window on Wednesday to fish for tog on a calm sea with warmer air temperatures. Once again, some very large tog responded -- including a 13-pounder and two in the 11-to-12-pound class. Other large ones were lost. Whole whitelegger crabs worked best, and anglers in the bow did best as the high hooks had three to four keepers. Dogfish interfered with the fishing. The Ocean Explorer hopes to get out over the weekend, and the wind is predicted to drop off to 10-15 mph NW on Sunday. Surf waters have become very cold for even the small stripers which had been providing some action, though it's not unheard of for them to reappear in the surf during the winter. Very few anglers have even been trying the surf recently due to the extreme cold. If you think that cold has been unusual, it's not your imagination. The last time temperatures dipped that low at the end of the year was in 1917 -- which was even before my time! Let's hope we 're not going to experience another winter like 2014-2015, which came after a Princeton professor expressed concern for the children who would never get a chance to use their sleds due to Global Warming. Not only were we buried in snow that winter, but Boston set an all-time record for snowfall in that city.  The NJ Marine Fisheries Council meeting and public hearing on Draft Addendum XXX to the ASMFC Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan scheduled for January 4, has been rescheduled to Thursday, January 11. The Marine Fisheries Council meeting begins at 5:00 p.m. The public hearing begins at 7:15 p.m.  Both will be held at the Stafford Twp. Municipal Bldg., 260 East Bay Ave, Manahawkin. Paul Haertel of the JCAA reports: "At the NJMFC meeting and amongst many other topics on the agenda, the council may consider opening the sea bass season in February. However, based on public sentiment against it at the last council meeting and now with the recently released preliminary wave 5 (September - October) MRIP numbers showing that we harvested more fish than projected, it is unlikely that they will vote to do so. The problem is that we would have to subtract our state's allotment for February from our target quota for the rest of the year which could result in fewer days to fish during the regular season. Still, it would be good to be on hand at this meeting to voice your opinion.            However, JCAA believes it is extremely important to attend the meeting that begins at 7:15 PM as it will only be about sea bass. Addendum XXX will be explained and the public will be allowed to comment on it. We are facing a coast wide reduction in quota from 4.29 million pounds in 2017 to 3.66 million pounds in 2018, despite the fact that the spawning stock biomass is at 230% of its target. It is time to let the ASMFC know this is not acceptable and that we do not want any more stringent regulations forced upon us for the upcoming season. Specifically, regarding the addendum JCAA supports: Regional management as opposed to coast wide management as the fisheries in the various states/regions are quite different. Regional allocations should be based on both exploitable biomass and historical harvest as this method would better address the changes in the resource's abundance and distribution. New Jersey should become its own region as we are a transitional state in which our sea bass fishery doesn't really fit in with the states to our north or to our south. This option would also allow spatial variation in size and abundance to be taken into account. The ten year timeframe of 2006-2015 should be used to establish allocations. This option includes a more historical average of our harvest as well as accounting for the northward shift in biomass during recent years. The other option of only using the five years from 2011 to 2015 would be very unfair to those in New Jersey as its share of the harvest was at historic lows during that period of time. Provided our recommendations are followed, we support a 3 year management program, otherwise we would prefer just the two year plan. JCAA encourages all fisherman to come to this meeting and comment. It does not do much good to just attend the meeting and sit there. Please get up and speak even if it is just something simple such as saying you support the JCAA position. For those who choose not to comment at the meeting or who are unable to attend, written comments will be accepted until 5:00 PM (EST) on January 22, 2018 and should be forwarded to Caitlin Starks, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St., Suite 200 A-N, Arlington, Virginia 22201; 703.842.0741 (fax) or at comments@asmfc.org (Subject line: Draft Addendum XXX)."  

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