Atlantic panel votes on cuts in catch limits for bluefish

October 01, 1995|By PETER BAKER | PETER BAKER,SUN STAFF

There was a time when big, slammer bluefish made runs up Chesapeake Bay each spring, following the baitfish, feeding heavily and delighting fishermen. Those runs have not been seen for a decade, and now bluefish action on the bay is principally for 1- to 3-pounders.

While the bay fishery for blues diminished and size and creel limits were set, the coastal fishery also was dwindling, and anglers and fisheries managers have been trying to find a solution to the decline.

Tomorrow in Alexandria, Va., the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is to vote on a reduction of the catch limits for recreational and commercial fishermen, slashing the recreational creel limit from 10 fish per day to three.

A quota of 7,938,500 pounds would be set for the commercial catch.

The catch reductions, which would take effect in 1996, are designed to reduce the take in each segment of the fishery by at least 20 percent. The management plan calls for a 50 percent reduction in the bluefish catch in coastal waters.

James Phillips of Annapolis, Maryland's representative on the ASMFC bluefish advisory board, said that the numbers game being played is somewhat confusing.

"This is all directed toward the coastal fish, those 12- and 15-pounders we don't see in the bay anymore," Phillips said. "And while there is a 10-fish limit out there, no one is catching that many per day, anyway."

So in order to reduce the percentage of the actual catch, the reduction in the creel limit cannot be directly proportional.

If the proposal is passed, states still would be able to set alternative regulations, as long as they meet or exceed the conservation standards set by ASMFC. The options range from a three-fish creel with no size limit to a 10-fish creel with a 13-inch or greater minimum size.

Smithsonian hunt

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will again conduct a managed hunt for antlerless white-tailed deer at the Smithsonian Institution's Environmental Research Center in Anne Arundel County this year during the state's modern firearms season, which is set for Nov. 25-Dec. 9.

Hunters will be restricted to the use of shotguns with rifled slugs, will be required to hunt from tree stands that are at least 10 feet off the ground and must have passed a hunter safety course. Hunting hours will be from 30 minutes before sunrise until 2 p.m.

Hunters, limited to 14 per weekday and 22 per Saturday, will be picked by lottery drawing on Oct. 17.

Interested hunters must send a 3x5 index card and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to DNR Wildlife Division Office, 5625 Myrtle Grove Rd., La Plata, 20646, so that it will be received no later than noon on Oct. 13.

The card must contain the following information: Full name and address, daytime and evening telephone numbers, current hunting license number, valid hunter safety certificate number, five preferred hunting dates and, for those with mobility impairments, the number of a hunt-from-vehicle permit.

The drawing will be held Oct. 17 at Myrtle Grove and those selected will be notified by mail. All individuals selected must pass a firearms sight-in proficiency test to be held on Nov. 11.

VHF radio fee cut

The Federal Communications Commission fee for VHF radio licenses has been reduced from $115 to $75. The FCC, at the direction of Congress, had increased the fee from $35 to $115 over the past two years.

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