December 8, 2015 — New Jersey is very interested in a new federal grant program designed to create more black sea bass habitat and also to answer scientific questions about what this particular fish needs to thrive in mid-Atlantic waters.
Black sea bass are both a popular fish for anglers in New Jersey and an important catch for commercial fishermen. For a type of fish that relies on underwater structure, which ran range from a shipwreck to a natural rocky outcrop, a key question is whether building artificial reefs creates new black sea bass or simply concentrates ones already in the ocean.
“That would be a great question to ask. We’d absolutely be interested in that,” said Lisa Havel, a coordinator for the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership or ACFHP.
The partnership, through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, is offering grants of up to $225,000 for projects that restore black sea bass habitat or qualify as research projects to learn more about the habitat needs of a fairly strange fish species, known for, among other things, the ability to change sexes (hermaphrodite transition) as needed.
The restoration or research proposals are for a region that runs from Long Island Sound to Cape Hatteras. While black sea bass range from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, there is a distinct population in the Mid-Atlantic region the study wants to address.