BY GINA G. SCALA
The New Jersey and New York recreational fishing industries are angling for serious fishermen to take to the waters again as it faces complete financial ruin as more destruction from Hurricane Sandy is unearthed.
When Sandy made landfall two weeks ago, she obliterated coastal communities in both states; leaving behind a path of devastation and damage unseen of before in the metropolitan area. But that was all on land. In the Atlantic, Sandy left fish and a lot of them. The fishermen, however, aren’t biting.
"The New Jersey coast was devastated and there is limited access to many areas. However, those businesses that are open desperately need our support," said Paul Haertel, board member of Stripers Forever, and a local high liner. "The bass are here. I recently caught 9 to 33" eeling from shore near Barnegat Light."
Stripe bass head south for their winter grounds in late fall, gorging themselves in the waters off the Garden State and New York. In the past, strip bass fishing has raked in more than $440 million for the region and accounted for thousands of jobs, according to Stripers Forever.
"Guys are hurting. We've lost property and equipment because of Sandy, but worse, we are now losing time on the water and the income we and our communities need to recover", Captain Frank Crescitelli SF board member and chairman of the NYC based Fisherman's Conservation Association, told Fly to Reel. "Sandy is gone. The fish are still here, but not the fishermen."
Whether recreational or commercial, the fishing industry is significantly impacted by inclement weather; particularly hurricanes – seldom, though, in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean. Still “because oysters require two or more years to grow to marketable size, full recovery from these hurricanes may take years, and some oyster habitats may be lost permanently,” according to a 2007 NOAA report.
The commercial fishing industry was slammed even before Sandy touched down when the East Coast restaurant capitals of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington shut down ahead of the storm, eradicating any demand for fish, the Huffington Post reported.
International air transport was also banned ahead of Sandy, purging supplies to the European markets while keeping most boats in port, according to the Huffington Post.