New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Report
by John Toth
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association March 2011 Newsletter)
On behalf of the JCAA, I attended a January 24th meeting of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) and the following issues were discussed. Two previously scheduled meetings of the NJOA were canceled due to winter storms that will not end!
Pete Grimbilas reported that the struggle to get the Pots Off The Reefs bill passed has not been forgotten and is still very much alive. Anglers have been stymied for a number of years in getting this bill passed because several legislators have refused to post the necessary legislation due to their close ties to the commercial fishing industry. Pete indicated that this is an election year and legislators will need votes to win and he exhorted us to call, write and visit your legislators to have them post the bills (S-221 and A-1152) in the two houses of our legislature and pass them! Pete indicated that he is available to visit your fishing club and explain to them on how they can help to get the Pots Off The Reefs bills passed. Pete can be reached at (973) 454-0315. Also, the NJOA and the JCAA will have Pots Off The Reefs petitions for anglers to sign at their booths at the Somerset Fishing show. So be sure to stop by and sign the petitions to show your support for this important issue. Senator Sean Kean also attended the meeting and reaffirmed his support for this legislation that he has sponsored and attempted to pass through the legislature.
Pheasant’s Forever Ken Sass reported that his organization is trying to get a number of pheasants from the Meadowlands area to be moved to the Six Mile Park in Hunterdon County to increase their numbers. Pheasants used to be very numerous in NJ in the past, but their numbers have been significantly reduced to loss of habitat, pesticides and other factors. The discussions with the Meadowlands staff on this issue are ongoing.
The Registry issue generated a lengthy discussion. The NJOA has consistently supported a minimal fee to cover the administrative costs of the registry. However, Chairman Anthony Mauro indicated that while the NJOA can support a no-fee registry, it also wants funding in place to cover the administrative costs ($600,000) associated with this registry so that the Division of Fish & Wildlife does not have to use its already depleted budget to pay for this registry. Anthony stressed that it is unwise to have a no-fee registry bill passed and then hope that funds can be found later from some unknown source. The time to request a designated funding source is while the bill is being considered by the Governor, not after it is signed.
The concern is that if the Division has to absorb the administrative cost, then it will not have the funding and staff to adequately respond to the fishing management programs required by the federal government and other projects that it needs to do and our fisheries will suffer in the long run.
A vote was taken of all of the NJOA members present at the meeting and they supported the current bill for a registry with no-fee attached, with the understanding that administrative funding for it not come out of the budget of the Division of Fish & Wildlife.