Fisheries Management & Legislative Report
by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association June 2011 Newsletter)
Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs Bill Passes Senate Environment Committee
S106 establishes the Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs Program in the DEP and appropriates $200,000 from the Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction Fund. The bill moved out of the Senate Environmental and Energy Committee on May 19th. Don Marantz accompanied me to the hearing. We met Ed Markowski there. Don testified for the Newark Bait and Fly Casting Club, Ed testified for the NJOA and I testified for JCAA & NJSFSC. We were the only recreational groups to testify at this committee hearing. The next move in the Senate is the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee needs to post the bill for a vote. The corresponding bill in the Assembly is A228 and that bill needs to be posted and voted on in the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. JCAA, NJOA and the NJSFSC will be meeting with legislators to help move the Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs bill through the legislature and make sure it gets posted and voted in the appropriate committees. JCAA will keep you posted.
NJ & NY Saltwater Registries
New York and New Jersey now have free salt water registries. New York and New Jersey wrote their regulations differently than other states and each other. New Jersey does not recognize any other registry program. That means you must register in New Jersey if you fish in any of New Jersey’s waters unless your only fishing is on New Jersey registered party and charter boats. The process is simple. Just go to the webpage listed below. I truly think it is a good idea to register everyone who fishes in New Jersey because of the data that will be collected. If you think you only fish on charter or party boats, you don’t technically have to register, but I suggest you do. The registry is free and the data is helpful in that it proves to legislators how many people actually fish in New Jersey. We can stop having an estimate and deal with facts. There has been much talk about the fines listed on the webpage for failure to register. I talked to DEP Commissioner Bob Martin last week and he assured me that the DEP is drafting new fines for the registry to go to public hearing and go through the public process. This step could have been avoided if the legislation had included the fines. But since they weren’t included, we need to go through this process. New York is treating New Jersey differently since we require everyone to register. With that in mind, if you fish in New York waters, you must register on the New York website if you only have a New Jersey registry. Again, this registry is free and you should simply go to the website listed below.
New Jersey Registry
Who Needs To Register in NJ Saltwater Registry?
NOTE: Anglers with a valid registration with the National Saltwater Angler Registry or have a valid license from another exempted state are required to register (for free) with the NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry Program. Registration with NJ will exempt you from having to register with the National Saltwater Angler Registry.
Individual saltwater anglers ages 16 and older MUST register if ANY of the following criteria are met:
New York Registry
The New York registry differs from New Jersey’s in that it does recognize other registry programs for some states. It does not recognize New Jersey’s. You need to go to the webpage to find out exactly who is exempt. Some of the information is below:
How do I Register?
Anglers may register through DEC's automated licensing system (DECALS) in one of the following ways:
New Complications for the Artificial Reef Bill
As you noticed in the article below, we are stressing no compromise for the artificial reef bill. This is important because Don Marantz and I went to Trenton on May 19th to talk with Assemblywoman Celeste Reilly about this bill. She is the vice-chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. To our amazement, she told us she thought the problem had been resolved by a compromise which Assemblyman Albano is suggesting to the current bill. We responded that JCAA, NJ Outdoor Alliance and the NJ Federation of Sportsmen Clubs have not approved any changes to this legislation. The letter from the Fish and Wildlife Service makes it clear that until the recreational fishing community is not impeded in their access to the artificial reefs by commercial gear, New Jersey can no longer use Wallop-Breaux money for artificial reefs. We explained the history of this problem and the legislation in detail. She informed us that Garden State Seafood and some recreational groups were in agreement with the amendments. Since Don and I were representing NJ Outdoor Alliance, JCAA and the NJ State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, we stated our “organizations have not and will not approve any changes to the legislation that has already passed the NJ Senate.”
I have been trying to avoid any in-fighting among the recreational groups. However, we have reached a point where I need to speak up about what is happening. I am concerned that we are losing sight of the goal and endangering the passage of this legislation. In the beginning all the recreational groups were in agreement. In any press release from any recreational group that I have seen, the need for the all fish pots to be off the artificial reefs has been affirmed. Imagine my surprise when a recent RFA press release called for a management plan on fish pots and asking for further study. I have worked on fishery management plans for over thirty years. A management plan for dealing with all pots would take years. The last time I went through a process like this it was about crab pots in the bays and estuaries. It was worked on for years and the resolution was to allow for the greatest number of pots currently in use by a single person. It did nothing to solve the problem. This is the history. I agree that there should be a management plan for all pots and how this gear is distributed in the ocean or the number of pots an individual can fish. This, however, has nothing to do with removing the pots from the artificial reefs. And to connect the two issues just delays any action to remove the pots. This will only cloud the issue and delay any action. I can’t believe a recreational group would support any action that would delay passage of the original bill. I can’t believe a recreational group would do anything to impede access to the reefs by recreational anglers.
To complicate the issue further, there is a problem with doing outside funding for the reefs. In 2007 New Jersey decided we couldn’t use the present method of funding for the artificial reef program by the state government. We needed an alternative. As you can read on message boards and in the newspaper, this has become another controversial issue. Let me be clear, we must not be distracted by other issues. We must keep up the pressure on the Assembly to pass the original legislation to remove the pots from the reefs. Everything else just delays us again. I would not like to think that this is the goal of any recreational group. We can discuss how to fund the reefs once the legislation is passed. All recreational anglers who fish on the artificial reefs want this legislation passed now. The only way I can see that we can use Wallop-Breaux funds for the artificial reefs is to pass this legislation.
Pots Off the Reefs Legislation Update
The Pots Off the Reefs Bill has gotten even more complicated. We have been working to remove the commercial pots from the artificial reefs for many years. In the beginning we tried to work through the NJ Marine Fisheries Council but that was unsuccessful. The Council tried to find a compromise that didn’t suit anyone. Lisa Jackson, former Commissioner of DEP, decided with the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife that there was no suitable compromise that could be enforced and met the established criteria for the artificial reef plan. The commercial pots needed to come off the reefs. Since the commercial interests have more votes on the Marine Fisheries Council, there was no chance that the Council would find a way to remove the commercial pots from the reefs. That left us with legislation as the only alternative. The first bill to remove the pots was introduced and sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew and Assemblyman Albano three legislative sessions ago.
In two legislative sessions the bill was passed by the Senate overwhelmingly but was never voted on in the Assembly because Speaker Joe Roberts was unwilling to post the bill. When the current session began, we had a new Speaker and Senate President. We were hopeful for speedy action on this legislation. We did get speedy action in the Senate. The bill was posted and voted on positively in the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. Senate President Sweeney posted the bill (S221) and it passed the Senate overwhelmingly. There is no compromise in this bill, it will simply require the removal of the commercial pots from the artificial reefs. We are now in the same situation, we need the bill (S221 and A1152 without amendments) voted on in the Assembly. Thus far Assemblyman Albano has not posted the bill for a vote in the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources. We have been asking Speaker Oliver to tell Assemblyman Albano to post the bill for a vote in his committee or, if he is unwilling, move the bill to another committee for a vote. This is something Speaker Oliver can do.
Please contact Assemblyman Albano, particularly if you are in his district and ask him to post the bill. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver has the power to tell Assemblyman Nelson Albano to post the bill in the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee for a vote. Please contact her and let her know that you want her to tell Assemblyman Nelson Albano to post this bill for a vote in his committee or move the bill to another committee. Then we want Speaker Oliver to post it for a full vote in the Assembly. Tell her that the Senate has shown the way and we will be judging the Assembly on its action on this bill. This bill contains no compromise and should not be amended. There are currently 20 co-sponsors for the present bill in the Assembly. Below is a letter that JCAA is sending to Speaker Oliver and all New Jersey Assemblymen/women. It is crucial that you write Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and your own Assemblymen/women immediately. All Assemblymen/women need to hear from everyone. Please use the letter below to Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and the cover letter to your assemblymen/women as a guide in creating your own letter.
To find the appropriate addresses, go to www.njleg.state.nj.us. You can find the names and addresses of your legislators. You can also check their votes on important legislation. JCAA, Reef Rescue and other member organizations will keep you posted. For more information go to Pots off the Reefs at www.njreefrescue.com or at jcaa.org newspaper archives.
Letter to Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver
Letter to your Assemblyman/woman
New Public Access Proposal by DEP
During the administration of Governor Corzine, DEP began a proposed change to the public access regulations. At that time we thought some of the proposals went too far. The new administration has gone too far in the opposite direction. The new proposals are turning over responsibility for public access regulations to the local municipalities. When I began to fish in New Jersey in 1973, purchasing a four wheel drive, I joined the NJ Beach Buggy Association, the United Mobile Sportfishing Association and the Berkeley Striper Club. These organizations were working to guarantee fishermen access to New Jersey’s beaches and jetties. JCAA was formed with concerns about public fishing access for herring. In addition to striped bass, this was my earliest interest as a concerned angler. I know that local municipalities do not have the interest of the general public and the fishing public when they propose access rules. Just look at Monmouth Beach, Sea Bright and Deal. Their concerns are their own residents and making money. This has been an ongoing battle to guarantee access, parking and other ways to get to the beach. We used to have a public advocate who would represent us in these matters. Those days are gone. Jose Fernandez, who we lost last year, was one of the original public advocate lawyers who worked on public access. He knew these rules were coming and we will miss his support and counsel. We need to be diligent. By the time you get this newspaper, 3 of the public hearings will have been completed. The last Public Hearing on the new proposed access rules is on June 2nd, 7PM, at the Long Beach Township Municipal Building, 6805 Long Beach Boulevard, Brant Beach, NJ 08008. There are also opportunities to send in written comments. Those web addresses are below. I have also included links to articles on this issue and a letter you can sign written by the Surfrider Foundation. JCAA, NJOA, New Jersey Beach Buggy Association and NJ State Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs are all signing this letter. Many other organizations will also sign.
Support for Public Access to NJ Beaches and Waterways
Public access to beaches and waterways is a fundamental right of NJ residents protected by the Public Trust Doctrine. Yet, public access is limited in many places despite this strong legal doctrine. Some beaches are still inaccessible due to limited or nonexistent parking, lack of amenities, or other local laws and ordinances which fail to protect and promote public access. Industrialization and pollution along our urban riverfronts and waterways has limited public access for decades. Similarly, residential development along our suburban bays and rivers has limited public access and use. The State of NJ must take a strong leadership role in protecting the public’s rights and increasing access to public waters for all its citizens, in all communities.
We are opposed to the following provisions of the DEP’s draft public access rules because they will result in less access for the public, not more including:
The undersigned organizations therefore oppose the Christie Administration’s attempt to roll back public access rules concerning our beaches and waterways.
Fact Sheet put out by the American Littoral, NJ/NY River Keeper Surfrider Foundation
The N.J. Department of Environmental Protection is presently proposing to scrap and replace important rules that protect and create public access to the State’s tidal waterways, including the Jersey Shore, the Hudson River and other urban waters. The new rule proposal— the (No) Public Access Rule—threatens to drastically reduce the public’s right to view, use and enjoy the State’s rivers, bays and coast for fishing, surfing, bathing, diving and all other water dependent recreational activities. This Fact Sheet is one in a series of Fact Sheets detailing why DEP’s proposal must be stopped.
For more information about this proposal, and what you can do to help us stop it, read (No) Public Access Rule Fact Sheets #1 Overview, #2 Municipal Public Access Plans, #3 Renourished Beaches, #4 Urban Waterfront, and #6 What You Can Do to Help, brought to you by:
NJ DEPARTMENT of ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Notice of Rule Proposal:
The proposal is scheduled to be published in the New Jersey Register dated April 4, 2011. A copy of the proposal is available from: the Department’s website; at County libraries, or by contacting LexisNexis Customer Service at (800) 223-1944 or www.lexisnexis.com/bookstore. Be advised that there may be a fee for obtaining a copy of the proposal from some sources.
Public hearings concerning the proposal are scheduled as follows:
Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 11:00 A.M.
Written comments may be submitted by June 3, 2011 to:
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
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