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Captain's Focus

Ray Bogan, who chose the law as his profession, rather than joining the famed family party boat business in Brielle, has been appointed as the U.S. recreational fishing commissioner to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Ray Bogan, whose law office is in Point Pleasant Beach and is also a captain, has been involved for many years in all aspects of fisheries conservation. He's well-qualified to handle the new position as he's been monitoring ICCAT activities for decades. In some cases, the overfishing of tunas in Europe and Africa may also impact local abundance. Though the title implies that ICCAT only manages tunas, they also develop conservation plans for other highly migratory fisheries. Since most of the rest of the world is only concerned with commercial fishing, ICCAT had to be dragged into protecting species with lesser commercial value. After being appointed to the first Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, I became that council's representative to the Southeast Council in establishing tuna regulations within our then new 200-mile limit before the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) later took over highly migratory species management. At one meeting, an U.S. marine biologist said ICCAT wouldn't do anything to conserve blue marlin until there were only two left – and both were males! It's not quite that bad now, but recreational fishing still takes a back seat at ICCAT. The bluefin tuna "conservation" regulations result in such minimal quotas for school bluefins that the cost of pursuing that recreational fishery can hardly be justified, while spawning giants are targeted with high commercial daily boat limits in order to fill quotas. Will there be any winter flounder left in Shrewsbury River this spring? As if the overfished condition of that species isn't bad enough, the public was treated to the sight of over 100 seals hauled out Sunday on Skeleton Island, inside of Sandy Hook? Seals are very efficient predators with big appetites, and I doubt there's much else to feed on there right now except whatever few flounder might have escaped from draggers before returning to the river last fall to overwinter before emerging from the mud to spawn next month. It looks as if Mother Nature has screwed up again as those previously rare cold water seals have been building up in local waters rather than fleeing to the north in accordance with climate change theory. Actually, seals have been moving south for years. While working as a manufacturer's representative for Garcia in the 1960s I covered New England and learned striper fishing from such legends of the sport as Stan Gibbs and Bob Pond. I did most of my fishing on Cape Cod, and never saw a seal. Yet, the last time I fished off Monomoy that sandy shore looked to have turned rocky until I saw one of the "rocks" moving. Now anglers casting for stripers and even the speedy little tuna at Cape Cod and Nantucket are fortunate to land a fish before a seal grabs it – and if he gets lucky the seal will come ashore to attack the landed fish. On March 1, winter flounder and internal waters striped bass fishing opens, but there will also be an interruption in blackfishing. That won't be a problem in cold inshore waters, but some legal tog have been biting further offshore all winter. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported a few up to 8 pounds on Monday, along with a cod, though the bite was poor until the water temperature rose in the afternoon. A 12-pound black was boated Sunday. The Jamaica from Brielle has room on Saturday's 1 a.m. cod trip. Some cod and pollock were caught last Saturday when Eli Posluk of N.Y. took the pool with a 12-pound cod. The fare is $165, and reservations are available by calling 732 528-5014. Sea bass regulations for 2016 are still up in the air due to the reduction that N. J. has to take after exceeding last year's quota. The options available have to be approved by biologists before being announced this week. Check my blog at nj.com/shore/blogs/fishing for that information. It will then be up to the Marine Fisheries Council to make the decision at their next meeting on March 3. The dates for the fluke season will also be set then. The Canyon Runner Long Island Seminar at the Huntington Hilton will be run this Saturday, and some $99 tickets may still be available by calling Adam La Rosa at 732 842-6825. La Rosa is also providing those tickets at no charge to the military and veterans at no charge. The Canyon Runner Fleet will be fishing commercially for giant tuna out of Morehead City, N.C. starting next week – and extend the same offer just as they did last year, when about 100 military and vets were hosted during that fishery. The Berkeley Striper Club holds their 20th annual Fisherman's Flea Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on March 6 at Toms River Intermediate School North. The Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County are running their first Fishing Flea Market on March 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the American Legion, 33 West Passaic St. in Rochelle Park. For information call Bill Fish at 201 566-1510. The 39th annual World Fishing & Outdoor Exposition runs from March 10 to 13 at Rockland Community College in Suffern, New York. Saltwater fishermen have their big show when the Saltwater Expo moves into the N.J. Convention Center at Somerset from March 18-20. I'll be presenting a striped bass seminar, and the first 100 participants will receive a valuable Tady jig courtesy of Gary Quon, who'll be displaying at the Expo. The annual trout stocking public meeting is this Saturday, February 27, at 10 a.m. in the Pequest Trout Hatchery. The meeting provides an opportunity to ask questions, voice opinions, and give suggestions regarding the trout program. Presentations include the 2016 stocking season, changes to the Fall and Winter Trout Programs, and an open discussion on Wild Trout Stream regulations. A comment period will allow everyone in attendance to engage in meaningful discussion with NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists. Visit http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/news/2016/troutmeeting16.htm for more information, including directions.

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