New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Report
by John Toth
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association January 2012 Newsletter)
On behalf of the JCAA, I attended a November 28th meeting of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) and the following issues were discussed.
NJOA Board member Pete Grimbilas indicated that one of the main goals for the NJOA in 2012 is to increase NJOA membership. The NJOA will reach out to prospective new members at the upcoming hunting/fishing shows like the Raritan show scheduled for January 12th to the 16th.
NJOA Executive Director Anthony Mauro reported that it takes money to be a “Player” in Trenton for lobbying efforts and influencing legislators to sign on to our hunting and fishing initiatives. The NJOA is going to implement a $10 membership fee so that more hunters and anglers will join this organization and raise the needed funds for the NJOA to pursue its goals. It is felt that more hunters and anglers will sign on to NJOA membership at $10 than say at a $25 or higher membership fee. The new $10 membership fee will be first promoted at the upcoming Raritan show.
The Traps Off The Reef Bill – generated a lengthy discussion and NJOA frustration over its lack of posting for a vote in the Assembly by Assemblyman Albano and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver who has not met with the NJOA on this issue in spite of the NJOA asking her for such a meeting on several occasions. Approximately 53 out of 80 members of the Assembly have signed on to support this legislation and Sheila Oliver will not bring it to a vote due to pressure from the commercial industry and their allies in the First District such as Assemblyman Albano. Incredibly, he has signed on to support the Pot Bill, but he will not push to bring it to a vote in the Assembly! Is it any wonder why the public has such a low opinion of politicians like Albano who gives the appearance of supporting a bill but has no intention of passing it.
There has been some discussion (rumor) about a compromise in the works on the Pot Bill and a possible vote for passage in the Assembly before the end of the year during its Lame Duck session. Bills sometime get a new life and may become very altered from their original posting during the Lame Duck session of the legislature. Pete Grimbilas indicated that the NJOA will be closely watching what, if anything, comes up in Trenton on the Pot Bill since we do not want to be stuck with a Pot Bill that does not remove the pots that NJOA members have been trying so hard to achieve. Also, there is a possibility that the HOFNOD bill may come up for passage in the Lame Duck session.
If the Pot Bill is not passed during the Lame Duck session, the Pot Bill will have to be again submitted through the legislature like it is a complete new bill with new senate and assembly numbers. Anthony Mauro indicated that if this does happen, the NJOA members will NOT give up on the Pot Bill and the NJOA will continue to pursue its passage no matter how long and difficult it will take to get this bill passed. Senator Smith indicated that if the Pot Bill is not passed this time, he will introduce it in the Senate’s new session for 2012.
Board member Jerry Natale indicated that the NJOA will be participating in a number of shows during the winter months and he is looking for volunteers to staff the NJOA booth. The first show is the Raritan show (Edison, NJ) that will be held during January 12-15, 2012.
Beach access is an ongoing problem and the fishing community still has not seen the new regulations on access by NJ’s DEP even though a number of meetings have been held by the DEP to hear the comments by anglers. The NJOA will continue to monitor this issue.
Senator Robert Menendez was the keynote speaker at the JCAA’s annual Sportsperson of the Year dinner and he was well received by the attendees. Congressman Frank Pallone also made a brief attendance at the dinner and commented on the poor information that is used to develop our fishing quotas.