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Captain's Focus

N.J. Marine Administrator Brandon Muffley provided an update on the status of regulations at Thursday night's meeting of the N.J. Outdoor Alliance in Assunpink WMA. As noted in a previous blog, the striped bass proposal under conservation equivalency is for one bass from 28 to 43 inches, plus a second of 43 inches or more. This must be approved by the ASMFC Striped Bass Management Board which meets on Feb. 5 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Westin Alexandria hotel in Virginia. Muffley doesn't anticipate any problem there, and is also working on getting legislative sponsors for those regulations as striped bass regulations can only be changed in N.J. through the legislature. Fluke regulations will also be decided when the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board meets from 3:30 to 6:30  on Feb. 4. Muffley said the best we can expect under regionalization with  N.Y. and Ct. is the same as last year -- an 18-inch minimum with a 128-day season.  New York would prefer a higher minimum in order to get more days. Muffley is trying to get a separate Delaware Bay regulation that would require Delaware to increase to 17 inches. The Island Beach State Park shore fishing exemption for the smaller fluke that some thought would put the state way over quota produced a total of a mere 176 fluke. Though sea bass are not overfished and overfishing is not occurring, there will have to be a 33 percent cut in that species. The Winter Flounder Management Board meets at 8 a.m. on Feb. 3. Muffley said that species remains in such poor shape that they aren't even showing up in N.J. trawl surveys any longer. Don't look for any relief in tautog regulations as that species remains overfished with overfishing occurring. The Tautog Management Board meets from 12:30 to 2:30 on Feb. 5.

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