Fisheries Management & Legislative Report

by Tom Fote

(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association June 2011 Newsletter)

 

Contents:

 

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
www.nj.gov/dep/saltwaterregistry/index.html

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:

  • Recreationally fish with a hand line or rod and line, spearfish or fish by hand.
  • Recreationally fish in the marine and fresh tidal waters of the State of New Jersey.
  • Recreationally fish in marine waters outside the State of New Jersey but land the catch in New Jersey.

New York Registry
www.dec.ny.gov/permits/54950.html

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:

  • At locations where hunting and fishing licenses are offered (most town clerks; many bait and tackle shops; sporting goods stores; DEC regional offices in Albany, Allegheny, Buffalo, Ray Brook, Stony Brook, and Watertown), -- find a license issuing agent near you or
  • Online: www.dec.ny.gov/permits/54950.html
  • By telephone: 1-86-NY-DECALS (1-866-933-2257)
  • Connecticut and Rhode Island residents: Yes. Anglers that have a marine/saltwater fishing license from Connecticut or Rhode Island are allowed to fish in New York State waters that serve as boundaries with those states without having to enroll in the New York State registry.
  • New Jersey residents: No. New Jersey residents must enroll in New York's registry in order to fish in New York's waters.

 

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

 

Dear Speaker Sheila Oliver,

JCAA is writing to request your support for Assembly Bill A1152/S221 which prohibits the use of traps on artificial reefs. You need to tell Assemblyman Nelson Albano to post this bill for a vote in his committee so you can post it for a full vote in the Assembly. This bill was passed by the full Senate on Monday, March 21st by a vote of 31 yes and 4 no. Now is the time for the Assembly to pass this legislation. JCAA wants this legislation passed before you leave for summer recess. JCAA and the fishing clubs throughout New Jersey will be watching your actions on this matter and we will be judging you and the Assembly on its action or inaction. Our members and 800,000 New Jersey anglers are in support of this issue. Your action will matter to us in the upcoming election.

New Jersey’s artificial reef system is one of the nation’s most successful reef building programs. Though it occupied just 0.3 percent of the sea floor off New Jersey’s coast, a 2000 study by the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife revealed that 20 percent of New Jersey’s recreationally landed fish come from the state’s 15 reefs. As more and more severe fisheries restrictions are placed on the more than 800,000 New Jersey anglers and the more than 500,000 out-of-state anglers who fish New Jersey’s waters, the reef sites have become even more important to the state’s recreational anglers. In the case of summer flounder, aka fluke, the reefs are the best opportunity for most recreational anglers who target fluke to catch one that meets the new minimum size of 18 inches.

This fishing effort provides a tremendous trickle-down economic effect in both shore and inland communities, as these anglers support marinas, boat liveries, bait and tackle stores, fuel stations, restaurants, convenience stores, sporting goods stores, toll highways, hotels/motels, real estate rentals, etc. These considerations add $4 billion to New Jersey’s economy, $150,000 in sales taxes, and provide for 37,000 jobs.

At issue here is the very legality of the use of traps on the artificial reef sites. According to the state-approved 2005 Artificial Reef Plan, the intent of the reef sites is for “hook-and-line” angling activities. Continuing to allow fixed gear on the reefs is in complete disregard for this Department of Environmental Protection-approved measure.

Furthermore, the continuingly increasing use of fixed gear for commercial fishing purposes on New Jersey’s reef system may directly violate federal law. For more than 20 years, the administration of the reef program has been funded by Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish (Wallop-Breaux) Restoration Funds. These funds are derived from an excise tax on recreational fishing purchases, and as a “user pay, user benefit” program, federal law requires that these funds be used to benefit recreational fisheries. Under 50 CRF 80.14 and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Federal Assistance Toolkit, Part 521, Section 2.9 lists ineligible activities for the use of these funds, with paragraph C specifically disallowing their use for “Providing services or property of material value to individuals or groups for commercial purposes or to benefit such individuals or groups.” Violation of these rules is subject to repayment of funds.

The majority of states that have artificial reef programs, including New York, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, have identified traps as incompatible with their reef programs and no longer allow traps on their reefs. Furthermore, this action has been supported federally by classifying reefs in federal waters for a number of those states as Special Management Zones (SMZs), restricting the use of traps on those sites.

The issues are clear and the precedent has been set: Traps are not compatible with the purpose or the laws governing New Jersey’s artificial reefs. JCAA looks forward to your support in enforcing this mandate and voting for Bill S221and A1152. If you have any questions, please contact our legislative chairman, Tom Fote, at 732-270-9102 or tfote@jcaa.org.


Sincerely,
<YOUR NAME>

 

 

Letter to your Assemblyman/woman

 

Dear _____ (Your Assemblyman or woman):

We are asking for your support for A1152. The attached letter to Assembly Speaker Oliver states the reasons this bill is crucial to the recreational fishing community. We are asking you to let Speaker Oliver know that you support this legislation and want it voted on in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and then posted for a vote by the entire Assembly. We are asking you to also contact Assemblyman Albano, Chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to request his immediate action to post this bill. Jersey Coast Anglers Association, our member clubs and the 800,000 recreational anglers want this legislation passed before the summer recess. Since the Senate has passed this bill in three sessions and the Assembly has refused to post this bill for a vote, we clearly know that the problem is in the Assembly. We will be watching and hold you accountable for your action or inaction.


Sincerely,
<YOUR NAME>

 

 

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
Organizational Sign-on Statement

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:

  • Removing state standards for beach access points, parking, and amenities
  • Allowing towns to create their own public access plans without any State standards or oversight
  • Allowing public money to replenish inaccessible beaches
  • Removal of references to the Public Trust Doctrine in the State Rules on public access
  • Elimination of public access requirements for urban waterfront development projects

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.

  1. Fishing Access and Amenities No Longer Specifically Required
    The current rule resulted in the creation of many new fishing access areas and amenities. It is an affront to the recreational fishing community that DEP is proposing its repeal. The (No) Public Access Rule would end the requirement that fishing access and associated amenities be required as part of development (including reconstructed bridges) along tidal waterways.
  2. Along the Jersey Shore, the 1/4 Mile Access Standard is Being Reduced to 1/2 Mile
    As surf fishermen who lug gear from the nearest available parking space know all too well, there is a major difference between fishing access being provided every 1/4 mile as opposed to every 1/2 mile. DEP is proposing to repeal its 1/4-mile public access requirement for renourished beaches and instead rely upon the federal Army Corps of Engineers lesser 1/2-mile standard.
  3. No Specific Parking Requirements Proposed
    Without sufficient parking, public access to the waterfront can be meaningless. The (No) Public Access Rule does not contain any specific parking requirements. It is not clear how much public parking, if any, must be provided for in the untested Municipal Public Access Plans. The proposed rule does not state how much parking constitutes is “sufficient” for beach renourishment projects. Moreover, towns are no longer required to remove parking restrictions in order to receive State funding for such projects.
  4. Closed Areas to Remain Closed
    Particularly along the urban waterfront, DEP’s proposed “status quo” approach will keep those areas closed to the public. In many instances, the (No) Public Access Rule would not require existing commercial, industrial, marina, and port developments to provide public access where none presently exists.
  5. Public Access Limited to Business Hours
    Apparently, DEP believes that the public does not fish on weekends, at night, or in the early morning. In many instances, the (No) Public Access Rules would only allow public access “during normal operating hours.” This is true for public projects, industrial developments, marinas and commercial facilities (where additional hours may be allowed).

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
LAND USE MANAGEMENT
DIVISION OF LAND USE REGULATION

Notice of Rule Proposal:
Coastal Permit Program rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7, Coastal Zone Management rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7E

PUBLIC NOTICE
Take notice that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection is proposing to restructure when and how it requires public access to tidal waters and their shorelines under the Coastal Permit Program rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7, and the Coastal Zone Management (CZM) rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7E. The changes are proposed in response to the ruling of the Appellate Division limiting the Department’s authority to require additional parking and restrooms from municipalities receiving State shore protection funding (see Borough of Avalon v. NJ Department of Environmental Protection, 403 N.J. Super. 590 (App. Div. 2008)), due to Legislative action (see Public Access and Marina Safety Task Force Act, N.J.S.A. 13:19-38 et seq.), and because the Department believes that public access to tidal waters can be provided in a more effective and comprehensive manner. The proposed amendments to the CZM rules establish public access requirements for new development based upon the type of development, for example, residential versus marina development. In addition, the scenic resources and design rule is proposed to be modified to exempt governmental agencies from the setback requirement where the proposed structures are greater than 15 feet in height where certain criteria are satisfied. The proposal also modifies the coastal general permit for beach and dune maintenance activities to only apply to municipalities that have a Department-approved municipal access plan. Amendments to the coastal general permit for tourism structures located on beaches are also being proposed to allow certain structures to remain year-round, except when severe weather is predicted.

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.
Liberty State Park Central Railroad Terminal Building
Blue Comet Auditorium
1 Audrey Zapp Drive
Jersey City, NJ 07305

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 11:00 A.M.
Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
Townsend Residential Life Center Multi-Purpose Room
Jimmie Leeds Road
Pomona, NJ 08240

View Third Public Hearing Notice.
View Fourth Public Hearing Notice.

Written comments may be submitted by June 3, 2011 to:

NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Gary Brower, Esq.
ATTN: DEP Docket No. 05-11-03
Office of Legal Affairs
401 East State Street, 4th Floor
PO Box 402
Trenton, New Jersey 08625

 



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