PALLONE INTRODUCES LEGISLATION PROHIBITING THE COMMERCIAL HARVESTING OF BLACKFISH
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), a member of the House Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans, introduced legislation yesterday that would prohibit the commercial harvesting of blackfish, also known as tautog, in the coastal waters and the exclusive economic zone of the United States in order to enable coastal populations to return to historical abundances.
"The blackfish is a valuable resource along the Atlantic coast and is one of the most important fisheries for recreational anglers in New Jersey," Pallone said. "It is important that we take action now so we can protect and preserve the blackfish and so we can avoid the potential threat of a collapse in the future. It is in this spirit that I would like to designate the blackfish as a federal game fish."
The blackfish has been popular amongst the recreational fishery since the 1980's, when the seasons were shortened for catching summer flounder and winter flounder. Since 1981, the recreational blackfish harvest has declined by 63 percent.
According to the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA), this level of reduction, combined with relatively stable legal commercial landings, was ineffective in spurring recovery. RFA believes that this demonstrates that it is unlikely any further reductions on the recreational sector will result in any improvement to the blackfish stock, and that a significant source of mortality is not currently accounted for in the management of the stock. RFA concludes that the evidence points to a massive illegal fishery.