Ocean County resident replaced on interstate commission on fishing Published in the Asbury Park Press 05/24/05 BY KIRK MOORE
Dover Township fisherman and longtime conservation advocate Thomas P. Fote will be replaced as a New Jersey representative to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, after the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday confirmed Cape May commercial fisherman Erling A. Berg to take the seat.
The Atlantic states commission is based on an interstate compact dating to 1942 that allows a board assembled from the member states to coordinate fish management and conservation plans. The commission’s decisions have a big impact on New Jersey’s fishing and tourism industry by setting the rules for catching striped bass, summer flounder and other popular food and sport species.
Each state’s governor sends three representatives: a manager from the state fish and wildlife agency, a state legislator and one public member, traditionally chosen to collectively represent a state’s fishermen.
“That’s the way politics work,” Fote said Monday. “I don’t take it personally. I felt I did a good job for the commercial fishermen and recreational fishermen of New Jersey.
“It just means more free time for fishing, I guess.”
“Tom has been pretty strong on environmental issues,” said Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club chapter, which counted Fote as an ally on issues such as water quality and mercury pollution.
Fote is legislative chairman for the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, a federation of recreational angling clubs, and was appointed a governor’s representative to the commission from 1990 to 1996. He served the next five years as a proxy delegate for the state’s legislative representatives and was a governor’s appointee again in 2002.
It takes about 60 days of unpaid volunteer work to keep up with various commission meetings and public hearings, Fote said. But Fote said he can look back fondly at some of the commission’s accomplishments in helping to restore fish populations battered by overfishing and pollution.
During the 1990s, Fote and other fishermen’s advocates helped make the commission process more transparent, he said.
“It went from being a good-old-boys’ club where you weren’t allowed to speak in public,” Fote said, recalling one meeting in 1988 where he and other fishermen were muzzled until a New Jersey representative intervened for them to speak to commissioners. “Now the process is a lot more open.”
Kirk Moore: (732) 557-5728
Asbury Park Press – Asbury Park,NJ,USA