In a vote supported by all member states of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s (ASMFC) Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board, states will now have the option to liberalize the 2010 black sea bass season in state waters by an additional 90 days. The proposed new season will run from May 22 through October 11, with an additional open period of November 1 through December 31. The proposal would keep the size and bag limit the same of 12-1/2 inches and 25 fish per angler.
The changes come following a bitter struggle by East Coast fishermen to save the recreational fishery for black sea bass. When NOAA Fisheries abruptly closed the recreational sea bass fishery last October without any opportunity for public comment, the RFA immediately began working on a legal challenge to fight the closure.
The RFA, United Boatmen and a coalition of industry allies (the “Plaintiffs”) filed suit on November 4, 2009 in New Jersey Federal Court arguing that the sea bass closure should be declared unlawful and set aside for being arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in accordance with law pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act.
“The emergency closure of the recreational sea bass fishery was unprecedented for a fishery that is not ‘overfished’ and where ‘overfishing is not occurring’,” said Jim Donofrio, RFA Executive Director. “This case is about more than just sea bass; it’s about taking a stand against a federal agency abusing its power and hurting individuals and small business owners.