After Smith reaches out to NOAA, the federal agency reverses course on limiting fishing of porgiesSmith advocates for fishing community, NOAA listens
Late yesterday afternoon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) advised Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04), who represents several NJ shore communities, that the agency will not—as it first proposed—be closing federal waters to recreational scup fisheries, commonly referred to as porgies.
“This is good news for the New Jersey shore, and I am pleased that NOAA heard our concerns about the proposed rule,” said Rep. Smith, who had petitioned the agency to withdraw its original proposal released April 22, 2018.
“NOAA has repeatedly stated that Scup is an underutilized specie, and the Mid-Atlantic stock is not overfished,” said Smith. “Continuing to allow access to scup fishing in federal waters is the right move for our economy, our families, and our fishing communities.”
NOAA published its revised final proposal in the Federal Register today, Thursday, June 9, 2022, but the response Smith received Wednesday directly from NOAA clearly states the win:
“We are not implementing a proposed closure of the Federal recreational scup fishery. Instead, we are increasing the federal recreational minimum size for scup by 1 inch, which results in a federal minimum size of 10-inches total length. We have decided not to close the federal recreational scup fishery for a number of reasons including the anticipated social and economic impacts, and ability to prevent overfishing by implementing a less restrictive change.”
“With inflation at record highs and the cost of fresh seafood off the charts, now is not the time for the federal government to close the federal fishery of a popular dinner catch,” Smith said.
“While many in the area have recovered from Superstorm Sandy, the recovery has been inconsistent and the storm left lasting personal and economic impacts that must be taken into account, particularly in regard to recreational and commercial fishing,” Smith added.
After hearing from several concerned constituents, Smith petitioned the agency to withdraw its original proposal to cut access to Scup along the Jersey shore.
In his June 4th letter to Janet Coit, the Assistant Administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service of the NOAA, Smith expressed his “strong concerns” of the “serious and negative consequences” the action would have on the local fishing community, for-hire fishing fleets, the shore tourism industry, as well as families that rely on fishing to put dinner on the table.
“I am so strongly opposed to a ban on recreational scup fishing in federal waters,” said Smith. “It would have significant damaging effects to local anglers and the economy.”
“Recreational anglers and for-hire fishing fleets in the district, including but not limited to vessels sailing from Point Pleasant, Belmar, and Brielle, will be negatively impacted by a full closure of scup fisheries in federal waters,” Smith said. “Additionally, decreases in tourism—a critical industry to the New Jersey economy—driven by the COVID-19 pandemic have further added to the economic strain on local business owners.”
Smith also argued that along with recreational fishing communities, New Jersey shore businesses that rely upon the industry, the governments that depend on the revenue generated by these activities, and other affiliated industries that are a staple along the Jersey Shore would all suffer from the proposed rule.
Smith said that the new final rule, which was published today and goes into effect immediately, demonstrates that NOAA agrees and was willing to respond to the concerns raised by NJ’s local fishing community.
“We appreciate the rule reversal and the positive impact it will have on our area,” Smith said. “We thank the Assistant Administrator and NOAA for hearing our pleas and responding in a way that will help our community.”