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Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County, New Jersey

Letter from our club to both Senator Cory Booker and Senator Menendez requesting their assistance to having NOAA reconsider their Atlantic Right Whale Reduction Act:

Senator Cory Booker,  

  NOAA Fisheries has proposed an Atlantic Right Whale Strike Reduction Rule (Document ID NOAA – NMFS-2002-0022-0005) that would devastate the fishing and boating industry in New Jersey. On behalf of the Salt Water Anglers of New Jersey, I request your assistance in having NOAA to reconsider this rulemaking and meet with key stakeholders to determine a better course of action that protects Right Whales and also protects the fishing and boating industry in New Jersey.

  Right Whales are an endangered species with approximately 350 of them left in our ocean. NOAA, in a misguided attempt to protect them, proposed a rule that would impose speed restrictions of up to 10 knots (11.5 miles) on vessels 35 to 65 feet in length so that they do not strike a whale. The model used by NOAA to determine this speed restriction assumes a 10-meter draft depth when most of the boats in this range have approximately a 2 to 3 feet draft depth. This speed restriction was developed without any input from the recreational or boating industry. We are willing to meet with NOAA to develop a better alternative to protect Right Whales since we are also deeply concerned about their diminishing numbers.

  Should NOAA’s proposed rule go into effect, boaters would have to operate at much slower speeds to reach their fishing grounds resulting in a loss of fishing trips and its negative effect on the many industries that rely on them such as tackle shops . In the event of an emergency situation caused by weather or other emergencies, boaters would have to travel at slow speed to reach their marina. Violators of the reduced speed could face significant fines.

  Other organizations want NOAA to reconsider this proposed rule such as the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) that represents many fishing and boating industries.

  Senator Booker, we request your assistance in reaching out to Janet Coit, Administrator of NOAA, and to reconsider this reduction rule and meet with stakeholders to determine a better course of action that protects Right Whales and the fishing industry in our state.


John Toth, President

 Member Steven Marengo received this information from Viking Yachts that can be used to assist club members inwriting their own letters to legislators requesting NOAA to reconsider its Atlantic Right Whale Reduction Act:


  I write today to express my concern over vessel speed restrictions proposed by NOAA Fisheries in the North Atlantic Right Whale Vessel Strike Reduction Rule (Document ID NOAA-NMFS-2022-0022-0005). The proposed speed restrictions will put human life at risk, devastate the recreational fishing and boating industry, and threaten small businesses along the Atlantic Coast. 

  Recreational anglers and boaters understand the need to safeguard America’s waters and endangered wildlife, including North Atlantic right whales. We affirm that conservation measures must be developed with the best available science and that they are consistent with the magnitude of risk a particular activity poses. NOAA’s proposed rule fails on these key principles in natural resource management. 

  NOAA developed this rule without input from key stakeholders, including anglers and boaters like myself who access and take care of these areas every day. The proposal lacks concrete evidence – specifically the Agency’s claims of the efficacy of vessel speed restrictions for smaller vessels; larger speed zones, and longer enforcement periods. With less than a one-in-a-million chance a recreational vessel 35 - 65 feet will strike a right whale, the proposed restrictions are unnecessarily severe. The rule represents the most significant maritime regulation ever proposed for the recreational fishing and boating industry and in its development, NOAA vastly underestimated the number of anglers, boaters, and coastal communities that will be negatively impacted by the rule. 

  Vessel speed is a significant safety feature on a recreational boat, and the proposed restrictions will reduce the ability of boaters to outrun weather or otherwise safely operate their vessel in an appropriate manner for the given sea conditions. There is also a safety concern for those who might find themselves offshore in a non-emergency situation (out of fuel/broken down) waiting on commercial tow boats unable to respond in a timely manner under the speed restrictions. 

  Should NOAA’s proposed rule go into effect, thousands of recreational boating and fishing trips will be curtailed each year for practical reasons – jeopardizing a critical economic engine for many coastal communities and a major source of conservation funding nationwide. 

  Please weigh in with NOAA Fisheries Administrator Janet Coit on behalf of anglers and boaters today. The Agency needs to pause this rulemaking and meet with key stakeholders to determine a better course of action that protects right whales and fosters recreational activity for hundreds of thousands of families along the East Coast.

NOAA Told No on Designating the Hudson Canyon as a Marine Sanctuary

  John Toth is a Trustee of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA), and Arnie Ulrich is this organization’s Membership Secretary. A letter on NJOA letterhead was sent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) on August 4 indicating the lack of support for designating the Hudson Canyon as a Marine Sanctuary.

This letter follows: NOAA Docket # NAH- NUS -222-0053 8/5/22

  New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) members John Toth and Arnold Ulrich both attended NOAA’s public meeting at Monmouth University on July 21st to hear its presentation on making the Hudson Canyon a Marine Sanctuary. The goals of NOAA to designate the Canyon as a sanctuary include: supporting conservation of the area’s marine wildlife, habitats, and maritime cultural resources; working closely with tribal partners to identify and raise awareness of indigenous connections to the area and providing a platform of collaborative and diverse partnerships that support effective and inclusive long-term management of the area. Other goals include identifying information on the indigenous and tribal heritage of the area and developing a regulatory framework most appropriate for the proposed sanctuary.
  Throughout NOAA’s presentation, we did not hear specific reasons given why the Hudson Canyon should be designated as a sanctuary. We did not hear that turtles are in trouble; whales are dying or fish are floating on the water. A sanctuary implies that there is something to protect and what we heard was the above goals that do not show compelling reasons why the Hudson Canyon should have this sanctuary designation. NOAA is simply acting on a 2016 nomination to make the Hudson Canyon a marine sanctuary lacking substantial reasons for doing it.
  The real concern for fishermen is that the Hudson Canyon will be closed for the recreational and commercial industries. NOAA indicated at this meeting that recreational and commercial fishing will be allowed in the Canyon and that is at best an assurance and not a guarantee. Concerned that we can have access for fishing in the Canyon, John Toth testified to NOAA that the recreational fishing industry has taken a lot of hits with so many party and charter boats going out of business, including tackle shops, because of so many regulations. The recreational industry relies on fishing in the Canyon for its survival. He also commented that the commercial fishing industry also needs to have access to the Canyon so that we can have local fish to eat and not fish coming from China that has a poor record for the safety of its fish.
  U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone was at this meeting and he indicated his support to have the Canyon as a sanctuary on the contingency that recreational and commercial fishing industries would be allowed to fish in it. He also indicated that NOAA should include representatives from both of these fishing industries in any framework that is formed to develop the Canyon as a sanctuary. While we do not support Representative Frank Pallone’s position on the Canyon, we do want to have a seat on any framework that is established to consider designating the Canyon as a sanctuary.
  The NJOA does not support NOAA designating the Hudson Canyon a Marine Sanctuary since NOAA has not made a clear case that it is really needed. In addition, NOAA has provided assurance that recreational and commercial fishing would be allowed to continue in the Canyon, but a guarantee is needed before any consideration can be given for our changing our position on making the Hudson Canyon a sanctuary.

Closing this Fishing Gap!

By John Toth  


   When one fishing season ends, another one should open up soon after it. When the fluke season ended (September19th) we had to wait until the black sea bass opened (October8th). In the interim, we can only catch one black fish and the striped bass season usually opens up mid-October. Bluefish may or may not be around, but this year was better than several previous years. In essence, we do not have that much to fish for until the sea bass season opens up, usually about three weeks after the fluke season ends. I have written about this issue in this newsletter and I have been in contact with fishing managers in the past trying to close or shorten this fishing Gap between seasons.

  As an Advisor to the NJ Marine Fisheries Council on sea bass, I was invited to attend a ZOOM meeting on October 26th by this Council, along with other members of the recreational community and the NJ Dep., to discuss how we could close this Gap by changing bag and size limits of sea bass so that this species would be available for us to fish after the fluke season ends. We discussed various ways of doing it like raising the 12.5 inch size limit to 13 inches in certain seasons to give us more days to fish, but the downside to this change is that we would have more throwbacks resulting in higher fish mortality.

  Before this meeting started, I sent an email to Peter Clarke, the Marine Biologist in Marine Fisheries who prepared several sea bass charts for our review, asking that he focus on the 2 sea bass at 12.5 inches that we are allowed to catch from 7/1 to 8/31 and consider raising it to 13 inches to see what effect it would have on generating more days for us to catch sea bass. I chose the 2 fish in this summer season since during this time period we are in the fluke season and catching sea bass while we are fluking is more like a by catch. Surprisingly, by doing this, we would receive approximately 10 more days to catch sea bass! So, instead of sea bass opening up around October 8th, we could see it opening up round September 28th and that helps to shorten this Gap. The Advisors at this meeting were in agreement with this change and that the rest of the sea bass seasons for the year should remain as status quo.

  This is certainly not a done deal and we have to see if we have overfished our sea bass quota for 2021 and also seek approval from fishing management to make this type of adjustment. But, I think that this is a step in the right direction to provide more fishing opportunities for us anglers and for the recreational for/hire industry so that they can be on the water making money instead of remaining idle at marinas until the sea bass season opens sometime in October.





Report on May 10th Meeting with NJ DEP Assistant Commissioner Ray Bukowski

By John Toth

In an effort to obtain feedback on what recreational anglers think that are important issues facing this industry, Ray Bukowski, Assistant Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, convened a meeting on May 10th at the Assunpink Central Region Office with invited anglers and members of the NJ DEP. The recreational anglers included: John Toth (JCAA), John DePersenaire (RFA), Rob Winkel (NJOA), Ed Goldman (RFA, NJ), and Dick Herb, NJ Marine Fisheries Council. Representatives from the NJ DEP included: David Golden, Director, Fish & Wildlife, Joe Cimino, Administrator, Marine Fisheries, and Jeff Brust, Research Scientist, Fish & Wildlife.

This meeting had no set agenda since it was basically a brainstorming session on future objectives the NJ DEP can work toward to support and improve access and the health of critical fisheries. There was no expectation or commitment expected from any guests since the discussion was geared to just open dialogue. This meeting lasted for two hours. I cannot cover all of the issues that were raised at this meeting, but I will give you a brief overview of this meeting.

Flawed Data – This is a major problem that needs fixing! We all know of many instances of data that is terribly wrong like we caught so many fluke just after Sandy struck even though many boats simply disappeared and littered our shorelines. From this flawed data, draconian quotas are applied to fluke, blackfish and other fisheries. These draconian quotas have devastating effects on our recreational fishing industry resulting in many for-hire fishing boats going out of business along with related industries like tackle shops. In essence, we are in a slow death spiral of this industry with 24% less recorded fishing trips in 2019.

What can be done to address this issue? It was mentioned that more funds should be allocated to improve data since only $11 million has been allocated by the federal government to improve data collection methods since 1980! Given the money the federal administration is spending on a variety of programs, this $11 million could be significantly increased to improve data collection. The Magnuson-Stevens Act restrains what actions fishing managers can take to improve our fishing industry. More flexibility with this legislation would be helpful to give more latitude to fishing management to ease restrictions on harmful quotas. In changing the Magnuson Stevens Act, we would need the help of our legislators like Congressman Pallone, our senators and other legislators.

Economic Impact – the Magnuson-Stevens Act stipulates that when new fishing regulations are proposed by fishing management, an economic impact statement must be included. What would be the impact of these new regulations on the recreational fishing industry like the for-hire fleet and tackle shops. I have seen many proposals for new fishing regulations, but I have not seen the economic impact statement that should accompany them.

New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council March 4th meeting on fluke regulations for 2021 -  This meeting generated a lot of controversy since Council members decided to vote for an earlier fluke season (May 22nd to September 19th) even though the majority of anglers voted in a survey for the longer season (May 28th to September 28th). This created a no- win situation for the Marine Fisheries Council since the inshore fishing for fluke in the southern part of our state has fluke entering into its inshore bays and rivers earlier than in the northern part of our state. If the council votes for a later season, this adversely affects fluke fishing in the southern part of our state.

This issue always comes up in the Advisory meetings I attend to discuss fluke regulations for the coming year. Discussion to resolve this issue included a shorter size limit for fluke – perhaps to 17 ½ inches or establishing boundaries to delineate where the southern section would begin in our state. Something needs to be done to resolve this issue since no matter how the NJ Marine Fisheries Council votes to establish a new fluke season it will not satisfy angers who fish in the inshore waters of the southern part of our state or anglers in the north who prefer a longer fishing season.


Why can’t we be like Florida? – Rob Winkel visits Florida regularly and reported how much this state takes care of its salt water angers with nice fishing ramps and other amenities. He pointed out that their bridges have locations on them for anglers to fish from. With the money coming into  New Jersey from the Biden administration, perhaps some of this money can be dedicated to improve amenities in our state like Florida has for its anglers

Angler Registry issue – when it comes to distributing federal funding or having political clout during discussions with members of other states during fishing management meetings, our state is under represented since it only has about 250,000 registered anglers. Other states with lower populations than New Jersey have more registered anglers and receive more federal funding than ours. When it comes to political clout, New Jersey can claim it has only 250,000 anglers while other states can show it has much more anglers than us even though we have a much larger population.

Dick Herb mentioned that when he talked to some anglers, they claim that they are registered, but are under the mistaken perception that they only need to register once with our state. Registration in New Jersey is required each year and it is free. The DEP representatives indicated that they will focus on an outreach program to get more anglers to register for our state.

By the way, to register for New Jersey go to: nj.gov/dep/saltwaterregistry/

Multi-Year regulations – Every year, we go through some type of drama about what our regulation should be for our fisheries. Perhaps we should have regulations for a two-year period instead of annually. This would be helpful for the for-hire fleet since they and their customers would know what the regulations would be to book their charters.

Staggered regulations – When one fishing season ends, another one should start shortly after it. All too often, we have gaps between fishing seasons and the for-hire fleet sits mostly idle until the next one begins. For example, this year’s fluke season ends on September 19th and the sea bass season starts on October 8 (18 days). Since the sea bass stocks are in great shape, why can’t the sea bass season start earlier so that there is not such a gap until October 8?  There other ways to close this gap. But that is just one example.

Only one issue was off the table for discussion and that one is windmills. This issue is complex and would require an entire meeting, limiting discussion on other issues.

I want to THANK Ray Bukowski and his staff for meeting with us to have this open sharing of information with us. Ray indicated that he also intends to meet with other stakeholders for their input


Assistance for Recreational Fishing industry – Adjustments to Fishing Regulations and Seasons

By John Toth


COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on our country’s economy! Prior to this virus, we had a 3% unemployment rate and now our citizens are experiencing an unemployment rate of 20% or more that is close to the Great Depression! Social distancing has required many businesses to be closed and, unfortunately, when these restrictions are lifted a number of them will be out of business.


Social distancing has also had a devastating effect on the for-hire section of our recreational fishing industry and their related industries like tackle shops. While boat captains cannot sail and make money, their costs for insurance, dockage and boat maintenance do not go away and have to be paid. The for-hire fleet could not sail during April’s blackfish season that had a four fish bag limit and while the striped bass fishing was red-hot. Essentially, the month of April was lost for the for-hire fleet for these two species. At the time this article was written (April 30th) it is uncertain when the for-hire fishing boats can sail again with their customers. Even when they can, a number of anglers may not go fishing for fear of catching the virus. With so many people out of work, many anglers may not have the funds to fish. What can be done to help this industry?


A number of us think that we can try to adjust the fishing seasons and their regulations to have more days for anglers to fish and more types of fish to catch. For example, the stocks for black sea bass are in good shape, yet their seasons and bag limits are severely restricted. Only two sea bass can be caught from July 1 to August 31. Why not allow 10 sea bass to be caught during this period? Only 1 blackfish can be caught from August 1 to November 15th. Since anglers can catch fluke during the summer, why not allow anglers to catch 4 blackfish or 10 sea bass right after the fluke season ends on September 19th? Possibly extend the fluke season from September 19 to the end of September? The whole point here is to give the for-hire fleet more days to fish for various species that they cannot do so now and attract more anglers to their boats so that they recoup the money they lost during this virus situation. We do not want to see our for-hire fleet go out of business and closed tackle shops. Once they close up, we may not see their comeback anytime soon.


To start this process of possibly making changes to our fishing seasons and regulations, I have written the following email to Commissioners who are directly involved in the decision process to make the changes in question. I will keep you updated if these changes are made. This email follows:


To: Chris Moore, Ex. Director, Bob Beal, Ex. Director, Peter Hughes, Tony DiLernia, MAFCC Council Board, Adam Nowalsky, ASMFC Board Chairman

From: John Toth

Date: April 29, 2020


Subject: Assistance for Recreational Fishing Industry – Adjustments to Fishing Regulations/Seasons


C0VID-19 has changed the world we live in, especially with the recreational fishing industry. Social Distancing has basically shut down the charter/party boat industry and boat captains are facing financial ruin. We are in this lockdown situation until May 15th when Governor Murphy is expected to make his decision on whether our state will continue to be in this lockdown mode or relax his current restrictions on COVID-19.


Because of COVID-19, our state’s blackfish season for April has been lost and while the current striped bass fishing season is red-hot, our recreational fleet is tied up at dock. What is not tied up are the costs associated with running fishing boats such as insurance, dock fees, and maintenance costs. Faced with these costs and no business to offset them, the prospect of going out of business becomes more realistic and the only way out. Also, even if Governor Murphy lifts his present COVID -19 restrictions, a number of anglers may still be fearful of contracting this virus and delay or even stop fishing resulting in less business for the for- hire fleet. Given how many people have lost their jobs, many anglers will not have the income to go fishing, even if they want to.


What can be done to help this industry by Commissioners and Council Members that is fairly quick and without involving financial compensation? Consider adjusting fishing regulations/seasons so that there are longer seasons in the fall and have the possibility of different bag limits; anything to provide better opportunities for party/charter boat captains and the related industries that depend on them for summer flounder and black sea bass to recoup some of their losses. This consideration should also be extended to species that closures have had an effect on like the April 2020 season for Tautog that was essentially lost because of Social Distancing.


The joint MAMFC and ASMFC meeting scheduled for a webinar meeting on May 6th and the June 16 to June 18 meetings in Virginia Beach can provide a perfect opportunity to place this loss of business caused by COVID-19 on the meeting’s agenda for discussion and resolution. This issue needs quick attention so changes can be made in time to help make the recreational fishing industry recoup some of its losses before the 2020 fishing season ends.


Your support to assist the recreational fishing industry during these trying times would be most appreciated by the entire recreational community!


John Toth

President, Jersey Coast Anglers Association

Trustee, New Jersey Outdoor Alliance


Cc: Joe Cimino, Ray Bukowski, Tom Fote


Update on the NJ DEP Public Access Meeting held on October 7th

By John Toth

  With the urging of many fishing and environmental organizations, Governor Murphy signed the Public Beach Access Bill into law on May 3, 2019 and it became effective on July 3rd.  It codifies the Public Trust Doctrine (PTD) into law and confirms the public’s longstanding right to use our state’s tidal waters and adjacent shorelines. It also provides direction to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to protect and enhance public access when permitting development and approving publicly funded projects. The NJDEP is now directed to make all tidal waters and their shorelines available to the public and remove physical and other impediments that limit this access.

  The NJDEP Division of Land Use Management has taken the lead on implementing this new law and has had a number of stakeholder meetings with a number of associations and individuals to receive input on developing and codifying the new Public Access Rules that the NJDEP would enforce.  The NJDEP is looking to have a draft of these new regulations for review during January of 2020 and final rules in place during 2021. To receive more input from the public, a stakeholders meeting was held on October 7th at the NJ DEP office in Trenton with anglers, home owners, business trade groups and others to receive comments from a wide spectrum of individuals. Approximately 50 individuals were in attendance and I represented the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) and the jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA). This meeting was chaired by Ms. Ginger Kopkash, Assistant Commissioner, NJDEP Division of Land Use Management. This meeting lasted for two hours and while I cannot record all of what was said, the following bullet points capture some of the main points that were raised at this meeting:

·        Ms. Kopkash indicated that this is a complex issue involving competing interests with home owners, municipalities, anglers and “we are on a journey” to arrive at the new regulations to enforce the PTD.

·        We need to look at not only the deficits that currently inhibit the PTD, but also new opportunities to enhance it.

·        Dialogues with stakeholders will still continue well after this October 7th meeting.

·         Access not only includes beaches, but waterfront locations as well (a couple living by the Hackensack River complained how people walk over their private property and wanted to know how the new regulations would address this issue). Walking over private property for access to and from beaches and waterways is a major comment that has emerged from previous stakeholder meetings.

·        New locations for beach access by municipalities should be explored including new offsite locations to increase fishing opportunities. A new funding mechanism to develop these new locations should be considered through new permit fees or funding from other sources and placed in an escrow account. (I made the comment that if this new funding is approved, it has to be secured so that it is not diverted to other budget shortfalls).

·        All municipalities should develop an access plan, possibly by following the guidelines of a new access template developed by NJDEP.

·        Determine what is required through an access plan and what is not, like repairing a bulkhead.

·        When new projects are being considered in the design process by a municipality, consideration should be given to access first and not last.

·        Specific violations of access were raised in Avon and Deal.  Ms Kopkash indicated that they were being put on a spread sheet for future resolution. I indicated that these were so egregious that they should receive immediate corrective action so that anglers would have more faith that something is being done as a result of this new law. She responded that NJ DEP would look into these violations but they may have some legal ramifications that need to be reviewed first.

·        The question was raised about what type of system will be in place that anglers can not only report access violations but, also be aware of the progress being done by NJDEP to correct them. Ms Kopkash indicated that NJ DEP will work on its design and implementation.

·        Ms. Kopkash asked the audience if it had any objections to the creation of a special fund dedicated to expand access opportunities at municipal locations or other locations like possibly bay areas. The audience response was positive and nobody responded that it was a bad idea.

·        After this meeting, I approached Ms. Kopkash and indicated that I have attended a number of these access meetings in Trenton. I said to her that there are so many competing interests that make accommodations for access in shore communities for NJ residents very difficult to achieve. She recognized this problematic issue and that is why she is seeking access to beaches and waterways at other locations instead of what are the traditional locations.

·        The question was raised on how the audience can be aware of future progress being made on access and she gave us the contact of Jill Aspenwall who has our emails from the signing in process of this meeting.


  In summary, I have given you some of the many issues that were raised at this meeting. I thought that overall this meeting gave Ms. Kopkash a lot of useful information that can be used to develop legal guidelines to improve access. This is a “journey” as Ms. Kopkash indicated in the long road to follow the legal requirements of the Public Trust Document. I will keep you updated on the progress of this journey as it unfolds.

Summary of Public Comments at Striped Bass Hearing in the Bay Avenue Community Center in Manahawkin, NJ  September 12, 2019

By John Toth

  The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) published Striped Bass Addendum VI in response to the overfishing of striped bass. The ASMFC has proposed options to help bring back the stocks of this fish to a higher level and two of the options have a least an 18 % reduction or more of our striped bass quota during 2020.The ASMFC scheduled several hearings to receive public comments on these options, and I attended the one that was held at the Community Center in Manahawkin. This meeting lasted for about 2 ½ hours and I will try to present only the main points presented at this meeting.

  The format of this meeting was to first give an overview of the Addendum and its three options, solicit questions from the audience only on the overview of this addendum and then hear comments from the attendees on this addendum. There were about 100 in attendance and a significant number of them were boat captains and others very concerned about the striped bass fishery. I have been to many of these management types of meetings and I can’t recall seeing so many boat captains as this one.

  The three options included:

1.     Status Quo – no change

2.     Reductions of 18% or more for both the recreational & commercial anglers

3.     Reductions of 20% for recreational & 1.8 % for commercial anglers. (Striped bass is a game fish and is not commercially harvested in New Jersey. In other eastern states, commercial fishing for striped bass is legal).

  Option 1 received limited discussion since almost everybody in the room recognized that something has to be done to improve striped bass stocks. Only one person supported Option 1. Nobody supported Option 3 that would impose a 20% reduction for the recreational sector and only 1.8% for the commercial industry. It also received little discussion.

  Option 2 (That all jurisdictions would implement) received the most discussion and this option has several sub options:

    Sub- Option (2-A1) One Bag Limit - - 35 inches minimum – 18% reduction

    Sub – Option (2-A2) One Bag Limit - 28-35 inches- slot – 19% reduction

    Sub- Option (2-A3) One bag Limit -30-38 inches - slot – 18% reduction

    Sub-Option (2 - A4) One Bag Limit - 32-40 inches - slot- 21% reduction

  Included in this Addendum is the use of circle hooks to catch bass – should their use be mandatory or preferred.

  With about 100 anglers in the room, consensus on the above sub options could not be achieved, but most anglers preferred (2-A1) 35 inches and also the Sub- Option (2-A2) - 28-  35 inches slot.  Only one fishing club preferred Sub-Option- (2-A4) 32- 40 slot inches which provide a 21% reduction.

  In regard to circle hooks, a number of anglers wanted their use to be mandatory to reduce mortality of striped bass.  It is estimated by the ASMFC that 9% of striped bass die when returned to the sea. Other anglers indicated that the use of circle hooks should only be encouraged since surf anglers would have difficulty in using them to land fish. Anglers use bunker spoons to troll for bass and circle hooks would not be effective for trolling. Tackle shops would be adversely affected since they would not be able to sell bunker spoons and similar tackle to land bass.

  Our NJ DEP representatives, and not the staff from the ASMFC, conducted this meeting. That is a very positive development since it shows that our state is listening to what NJ’s anglers have to say about striped bass. The ASMFC will review all of the comments made by anglers during this comment period that will last until October 7th. It is most likely that the ASMFC will approve all or most of the options of 2 and 3 and their sub-options when it will convene again from October 27-31 in New Hampshire. What this means is that these options could be pre-approved by the ASMFC and states can choose one of them. However, this addendum allows for Conservation Equivalency which means that each state will be allowed to develop its own striped bass regulation provided it results in the mandated reduction of at least 18%. For example, a state might choose a minimum size of 28 inches, but reduce the length of their season. However, what the state chooses as its regulation has to be submitted to the technical committee of the ASMFC for approval to ensure that it meets the 18% reduction. The New Jersey Marine Fishery Council will meet possibly in November or later in January with its advisors to discuss the striped bass regulation it wants to have for our state in 2020.


  There were many comments and questions raised during the presentation of the three options and I will give you a sample of them:

·        Sandmining is destroying our fishing grounds and, consequently, our ability to catch not only striped bass, but other fish like fluke and bluefish. Have you taken into account how sandmining is contributing to the 18% reduction of our striped bass quota?

·        Sea bass stocks are up by 230% according to ASMFC numbers, yet the fishing seasons for them are so restricted in spite of their abundance. If we could fish for them like we should, it would take some of the pressure off striped bass fishing.

·        Close striped bass fishing during their spawning season.

·        Close striped bass in the summer months since their release in warn waters increases their mortality.

·        Striped bass is a game fish and cannot be sold in New Jersey, yet other states allow it, especially Massachusetts that issues 3,500 permits to boats to allow commercial fishing and selling of striped bass. While we are fighting over crumbs, the guys in Massachusetts are laughing at us!

·        The data used to show striped bass stocks are in trouble are so wrong – just a guess! (This comment was made several times).

·        Circle hooks are difficult to use for many anglers not accustomed to them.

·        Surf anglers will have a very difficult time catching a striped bass if the minimum size is 35 inches. Smaller bass are the norm. Some boat captains expressed concern that their customers would have a harder time catching a 35 inch bass.

·        We need to act quickly to improve the stocks of striped bass since they are in trouble.

·        Protect smaller striped bass (24 inches) from the 2014 & 2015 stock assessment since they will be the right size for breeding in 2020.

Making use of circle hooks mandatory would be difficult to enforce.

Public Access Bill Update
by John Toth

  With the urging of many fishing and environmental organizations, Governor Murphy signed the Public Beach Access Bill on May 3, 2019. This law becomes effective on July 3, 2019.

  The Public Access bill codifies the Public Trust Doctrine into law. This Doctrine states that the tidal waters are held in trust by our State for the benefit of the public. The bill confirms the public’s longstanding right to use our state’s tidal waters and its adjacent shorelines. It also provides direction to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) on how to protect and enhance public access when permitting development and approving publicly funded projects. The NJDEP is now directed to make all tidal waters and their shorelines available to the public and remove physical and other impediments that limit this access.

   The passage of this bill was the culmination of a long struggle that began in 2015. The Hackensack Riverkeeper won an appeal of the NJ DEP’s Public Access Proposal since it would have stripped back protections of the Public Trust Doctrine.  Shortly after this appeal, Senator Bob Smith, head of the Senate’s Environmental and Energy Committee, convened a task force in 2016 to help our legislature develop provisions for a new Public Trust Doctrine that would codify and strengthen our state’s obligations to provide public access to its beaches and waterways. This task force was comprised of various organizations and led by the American Littoral Society and the NY/NJ Baykeeper. Approximately 40 to 50 people attended these task force meetings that were held in Trenton. I attended three of them and I can attest that these meetings sometimes became heated with individuals advancing their special interests that collided with the interests of other organizations. After a number of meetings and hearings with Senator Bob Smith, language for this bill (A) 4221 and (S) 1074 was finally developed and acceptable for passage by our legislature during March of this year and passed on to the Governor for his signature.

   In the past, municipalities have restricted public access with restrictive parking measures, vacating street ends and non-maintenance of necessary dune/bulkhead walk ways that are needed to access the water’s edge. In short, many municipalities passed ordinances with the focus of keeping anglers off “their” beaches. This type of mindset will be a challenge to change even with this new access law in place.

   A meeting was held on June 14th at the American Littoral Society’s office in Sandy Hook and chaired by Tim Dillingham with representatives from various fishing and environmental organizations. The purpose of this meeting was to unite members of these organizations into a new coalition to ensure that provisions of this new bill are properly managed and enforced by the NJDEP. This will not be an easy task. I represented the JCAA, New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) and the Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County. This meeting started at 10:00 a.m. and ended at noon. The following are some of the major points that were raised at this meeting:

·        Identify and inventory those municipalities where access is restricted and is in clear violation of the new law. George Browne of the JCAA will lead this effort.

·        When tax monies are spent on various public projects, new or improved access must be provided.

·        When new building permits are initiated for shore/waterway locations, municipalities must have public access included in them.

·        This law is new and the details of it have to be developed as in a model ordinance so that they are easy to understand for municipalities to follow and also include in their town’s Master Plans.   

·        The public also needs to understand the rights it has for access under this new law so that it can report any violations they experience.

·        When violations occur, who in the NJDEP will be the contact person(s) for taking reports and taking corrective measures? Enforcement is the key to the success of this new law.

   Tim Dillingham agreed to develop a summary of this meeting with input from the coalition members. When this summary is completed, he will send it to NJDEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe for her review and discussion.

  This new law for public access will not make changes overnight to the restrictive measures anglers have endured for many years blocking their access or limiting access to beaches. However, I do believe in time, we will see better public access to our beaches and waterways.  I will keep you updated as changes occur.


13 Artificial Reefs in Federal Waters now Cleared of Traps – Ending a 12 Year Struggle

By John Toth

  Background: A number of readers may be under the impression that the 13 artificial reefs in federal waters off New Jersey’s coast have already been cleared of commercial traps. Others  may have totally forgotten about this issue. Other readers may not even know that it was a problem since removing commercial traps off 15 of New Jersey’s artificial reefs has taken over 12 years to do! Our memories tend to grow dull when resolving an issue like this over a 12-year period that has taken so many twists and turns. Let me highlight some of the major points in the struggle of recreational anglers to remove these traps.

  Under the direction of Mr. Bill Figley, our state DEP in the 1980’s began the development of creating 15 artificial reefs, two in our state’s waters and 13 in federal waters.  These reefs provide a habitat for a large number of salt water species and they also enhanced fishing opportunities for recreational anglers. These reefs were built with funds provided by the federal government under the Federal Sport Fish Restoration Program and by various fishing clubs and private monies. The federal monies come from excise taxes on our fishing tackle. Essentially, these reefs were built with funds from recreational anglers and were intended to be for general use, like a public park system for everybody to use. It is estimated that 20% of the fish caught in New Jersey come from these 15 reefs.

  Unfortunately, these reefs were so successful in attracting fish and lobsters that they also attracted commercial fishermen who completely covered these reefs with their traps. Recreational anglers got their gear continually snagged by these traps, rendering the reefs virtually unusable for them.

  Recreational anglers, fed up with their inability to use the reefs, organized to take these reefs back by forming Reef Rescue, a group of recreational anglers, clubs and divers pushing for new rules to remove commercial traps from the reefs.  Removal would be through new state regulations and the reefs declared as Special Management Zones (SMZS) that would prohibit the use of traps on the reefs.

  Reef Rescue, a Council Member of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA), spearheaded a number of initiatives to remove the traps by galvanizing anglers to sign petitions, sending emails to their legislators and meeting with them to get legislation passed for the removal of these traps. On several occasions, Reef Rescue was successful in getting a majority of New Jersey’s senators and assemblymen and women to support this legislation, but the Speakers of the Assembly (Albano and Roberts) would not post the bill due to their ties to commercial anglers. Angered by this frustration, Reef Rescue organized an official protest in front of Assemblyman’s Albano’s office in Cape May on April 9th, 23rd and April 30th of 2011 with anglers (including JCAA members) carrying posters with the message “Give Us Back Our Reefs”! Close to 100 anglers were at these three demonstrations. In addition to these demonstrations, funding for reefs from the federal government was suspended due to recreational anglers not being able to use them according to the regulations of the Federal Sport Fish Restoration Program.

  What these demonstrations accomplished was to draw public attention to this issue that eventually led to Assemblyman Albano chairing a meeting of the Assembly Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee on March 8, 2012 proposing that the two reefs in New Jersey’s waters (Sandy Hook and Axel Carlson) be split for use by both recreational and commercial anglers. It became apparent to Reef Rescue and NJOA Council members that further efforts to remove all of the traps on these two reefs through legislation would go on endlessly since the commercial industry had important ties to legislators that would thwart total removal of the traps. So a compromise was reached in 2015 whereby these two reefs would be split for usage by both commercial and recreational anglers. To appease recreational anglers for the loss of their space on the two reefs, agreement was also reached that the New Jersey DEP would build a new artificial reef for use only by recreational anglers by the Manasquan Inlet that would occupy approximately one square mile.

  While the usage of the two reefs in New Jersey’s waters was resolved, what about the 13 reefs in federal waters?  Would they also be split for usage like the Sandy Hook and Axel Carlson reefs?

  In 2016, our state DEP petitioned the Mid-Atlantic Council (MAMFC) to designate these 13 artificial reefs as Special Management Zones. The MAMFC Steering Committee reviewed this issue and it recommended that the 13 reefs should have SMZ status. One issue that did not help the commercial sector is their claim to the IRS that they only made $25,000 in profits a year from using the 13 reefs! This bolstered the argument that the commercial anglers would not be adversely affected if these reefs became SMZS.

  At a December 12th MAMFC meeting in Baltimore a vote was taken on whether to have the 13 reefs designated as SMZS and it passed (9 votes for and 8 against).  The usual suspects on the MAMFC who vote against recreational anglers did not prevail – including the New York representative who said we need to study this issue more even though thousand of anglers signed petitions to have the traps removed!  

  However, before the reefs could be finally declared SMZS, public hearings and input from both the commercial and recreational communities had to be received by the MAMFC. A final decision was delayed with the departure of John Bullard being replaced by Mike Pentony.

  On July 9th, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) finally ruled that the 13 artificial reefs can be fished with hook & line and spears by divers. All traps must be removed by August 8, 2018.

  This whole story could be made into a book, but I have tried to give you 12 years of our struggle to remove the traps off our reefs in a few pages. I want to THANK ALL of you and NJOA Council members, especially Reef Rescue for making this happen! Sometimes, recreational anglers win one!

New Windmills off New Jersey’s Coast – By John Toth

  On July 19th, I attended a meeting hosted by the Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) a federal agency that would regulate the placement of windmills of our coast. Governor Murphy wants to have these windmills in place by 2030 to generate 3,500 Megawatts of power to diminish our dependence of fossil fuels. BOEM presented a number of charts to show possible placement of these windmills. They would be positioned 17 miles off our shores. In attendance were commercial as well as recreational anglers and developers who would build the windmills. While on the surface the purpose of weaning off fossil fuels and increasing our source of electrical power sounds well and good, there are a number of problems associated with it. Some comments voiced:

  Commercial fishermen – the windmills would be placed on prime fishing areas and that would put scallop and clammers out of business. BOEM response was that possible funding would be in place to compensate them. Also, windmills would be positioned close together and commercial anglers want them to have at least two miles between them so that they could drag between them. BOEM would not give any commitment to his request. When asked if BOEM would at least place the two miles specification in bid documents for windmill developers, BOEM responded negatively and commercial fishermen were livid over this.

  Recreational anglers – we asked if we would be able to fish by the windmills and we seem to receive a positive reply. I am not totally convinced of this. This is a very big and expensive project and I think that the developers of these windmills would want these windmills to be very secure and not have strange fishing boats floating around them.  Those European countries that have windmills, with the exception of Britain ban anglers from fishing by them.

  Also, I indicated that several years ago there was a big brouhaha over seismic testing being done by only one boat. Clean Ocean Action led the protest against it since the noise created by this boat was very harmful to sea life, especially migratory fish like whales. I asked if one boat making loud noises caused so many problems for sea life, how much more noise would be created by pile driving for these windmills that may reach heights over 300 feet (the windmills proposed for the New York region will be 650 feet). The BOEM representative indicated that this is a big issue and they would try to mitigate the noise issue someway. I also asked the BOEM representative how many windmills do they thing will be deployed and he indicated that he did not know.

  There is certainly more to come on this windmill development and I will keep you all updated as it moves along.    

Fishing Management Issues – By John Toth

  It seems to me that challenges to our recreational fishing rights never end with regulations that make no sense like sea bass stocks up 230% yet we can only catch 2 sea bass from July 1st to August 31st. Now, the Atlantic States Fishery Commission (ASMFC) and the Mid-Atlantic Marine Fisheries Council (MAMFC) are considering transferring more of our recreational bluefish quota to commercial anglers! On June 28th, I attended a meeting held in the Toms River’s Public Administration Building by the ASMFC and the MAMFC to hear public comment on this proposed transfer. I read the following testimony to stop this increased transfer. I wrote this letter on our club letterhead and presented it on behalf of our club and the JCAA, NJOA and the NJ Federation of Sportsmen’s Club.

  The ASMFC and that MAMFC are holding similar public comment meetings with other coastal states and during the spring of 2019 there will be another meeting held by them to present their preferred options for this transfer. Most of the comments at this meeting favored keeping the status quo.

ASMFC & MAMFC,                                                June 28, 2018

  The Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County have the following comments to offer on your Bluefish Management Plan (BMP) and its proposed Bluefish Allocation Amendment. We are totally against transferring an increased amount of our recreational quota of bluefish to the commercial sector.

1.     Why do this now? Does a benchmark stock assessment of bluefish support this increased transfer?  What if this assessment indicates that recreational anglers have exceeded their bluefish quota? If that becomes the case, then our recreational quota could be significantly reduced and resulting in a shortened season and even a closed season for recreational anglers to catch fish. 

2.     Because of efforts to conserve this fishery, we have not overfished our bluefish quota.  We want to rebuild the stocks of bluefish and not reduce it!  What do we get for our efforts to stay within our quota – we have to transfer some of it to the commercial sector. This is not fair and it definitely supports our impression that commercial fishermen receive better treatment from your management than recreational anglers. 

3.     Historically, the split for bluefish has been 83% for recreational anglers and 17% commercial. This has worked for many years and now we are contemplating changing it. What is going to be now? Will it get to 60% for recreational and 40 % commercial? What about the following years? An even split of 50/50 %? We have experienced confusing seasons for our fisheries and sea bass is a prime example. So, with changing allocations of the bluefish fishery between the two groups, we may end up with confusing fishing seasons for bluefish just like sea bass in the future. 

4.     The recreational fishing industry is dying a slow death in New Jersey with many charter/party boats going out of business, including marinas. Closed seasons and restricted seasons for sea bass, blackfish, and fluke mean anglers are taking less fish home and sometimes nothing. Why should anglers pay to go on party/charter boats under these circumstances? We have heard this from captains and an overwhelming number of recreational anglers! Now, we are hearing that we should transfer more of our bluefish quota to commercial anglers! How much more punishment should we receive! Bluefish helps us get through those periods when fishing gets tough for fluke and other species. But, that safety valve can be taken away with this new allocation. What’s next – you can catch only five or 3 bluefish instead of 15. 

An article in the June 5th edition of the “Record” points out that there have been fewer party and charter boat trips since 2016. Recreational fishing remains an economic engine for New Jersey that supports 20,000 jobs and contributes $1.5 billion to New Jersey’s economy.   The Bluefish Allocation in question will contribute to the slow death of New Jersey’s recreational community.

Thank you for this opportunity to express our comments on this Bluefish plan. 

John Toth, President

Vice President, Jersey Coast Anglers Association

Fishing Management Issues - Sand Mining-by John Toth


     Background - Super Storm Sandy damaged/destroyed so much of our beaches and now coastal communities want sand to bring their beaches back to what they were pre-Sandy. Beach replenishment has been an ongoing process when storms periodically hit our beaches, but the beaches now need a lot of it because of Sandy. The Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet Coastal Storm Reduction Project calls for beach fill construction along the oceanfront between Point Pleasant Beach, and the northern boundary of Island Beach State Park. This project calls for using sand from offshore sources for 50 years! Project cost - $513.9 million!

    Where to Get the Sand Needed for this huge project? - The Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) has its present focus on the Manasquan Ridge which was formed perhaps hundreds/thousands of years ago (the last Ice Age?). This ridge is the home of numerous sand eels and other species that attract all types of fish that is targeted by both recreational and commercial fishing. In 2014, commercial fishermen netted $4.8 million worth of summer flounder on the wholesale market according to NOAA. The Manasquan Ridge is huge, about 1,700 acres or 1,500 football fields, and it has underwater sand hills that rise about 20 feet off the bottom. There are also a few shipwrecks and rock ledges on it. The Corps maintains that there are not many economically viable land sources of sand for the large quantities needed for these replenishment projects. This ridge's sand is also the right texture for the Corp's use. It has 38.6 million cubic yards of suitable beach fill material. The Corps would like to take sand from this ridge (and others) since it is a big pile of sand and makes their job easier to pick up this sand and the cost to do it less than looking for it elsewhere. Not all of the ocean floor has sand on it.

    Conflict - Fishermen have been weary with the Corps over this ridge and others nearby, which they depend upon to hold fish. They are still bitter over the Corps use of nearly half of the Harvey Cedar Lump for the Long Beach Island to Little Egg Harbor Inlet beach replenishment project. The coastal communities want this sand to restore their beaches, especially for the tourism industry. The Corps does not unilaterally act on its own to remove this sand, but acts on the direction provided by our NJ Department of Environmental Protection in concert with federal agencies like the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) since this ridge is in federal waters. The NJ DEP has given its approval for this project that may begin as early as next year. At this point, BOEM has not and it is waiting for the NJ DEP to submit a formal application to do so.

    What's Next? - In an effort to come up with some type of resolution to this conflict, a meeting was held in Trenton on July 28th with the Director of the NJ DEP, Bob Martin, and his staff. Representing commercial anglers was Jim Lovgren and Scot Mackey from the Garden State Seafood Association. Ken Warchal represented the Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA). I represented the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) since I am its president and our club is also a member of NJOA. The above issues were discussed and the following is a quick snapshot of the major points that were raised:

     While it was not the intention of the NJ DEP to disrupt productive fishing areas, the fishing community should have been invited to review the DEP’s plans for sand removal before it began.
     Options other than taking sand from the Manasquan Ridge and others like it included - taking sand from areas where it is has been concentrating due to the normal washing away from the beaches (in the Wildwood area or other locations like it) or even from areas close to beaches that have unusual buildup from sand that washes away from the nearby shores - taking it from one of the ridges that is not that productive for fishing (lesser of two evils) - and taking sand that has been dredged from inlets and then usually dumped not far away them.
     The Corps will not stop doing beach replenishment due to the existing contracts that it has with the DEP. However, the NJ DEP staff will do a comprehensive review of alternate locations that sand can be taken from to lessen their impacts on our prime fishing areas. When this review is completed, the NJ DEP will invite us to another meeting to review their findings.
This meeting was constructive in that solutions were being offered to mitigate the problems created by beach replenishment. I will keep you updated as this sand mining issue unfolds.

Public Access Update - by John Toth

    Background - Senator Smith is working on a bill (S-919) that will incorporate language to provide better and definitive rules for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to manage public access to our beaches, parks, waterways and other facilities. Senator Smith wanted input from various stakeholders on what they wanted to include in this bill. Four separate meetings were held in Trenton with various stakeholders during Spring 2016 to develop language that he could use for his bill. These stakeholders included environmental, business and industry, municipalities, fishing organizations, NJ Chamber of Commerce, etc. Given the diverse background of these stakeholders, Senator Smith charged this task force to develop a list of what they agreed upon and what they disagreed upon and then give it to him for his review. I attended these meetings representing the JCAA and the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA). These meetings at times became contentious with some stakeholders demanding almost unlimited access and others wanting limited to almost no access to our state's facilities.
    Conflict - In addition to the differences of opinions with the stakeholders at these meetings, the DEP sees Senator Smith's draft version of his bill as very problematic having a number of legal issues. For example, according to DEP's legal representative, Ray Cantor, this bill as currently written would allow anglers to traverse private properties to gain access to beaches and that would generate a lot of lawsuits.
    Public Comment - Senator Smith held a meeting in the Municipal Building in Toms River on August 18th to receive public comment on his proposed bill. (His bill has not been brought in the Senate or Assembly for a vote and it is still in draft form). At this public comment meeting, a number of people expressed comments such as: NJ Builders - bill does not respect constitutional rights of property owners, NJ Chamber of Commerce - wants more clarity in the bill and specificity on homeland security issues, Marine Trades Associations/marinas - does not want public access for security reasons. Ray Cantor testified at length on the legal problems that the DEP sees are inherent in this bill. Senator Smith, irritated at the length of his testimony, instructed him stop his testimony and to place all of DEP's problems/legal issues with his bill in writing and forward it to him.
    Next Step - Senator Smith, after receiving this public input and others like it, may make changes to his bill and then schedule it for a public hearing in Trenton at a future date in his position as Chairman of the Senate and Environmental Committee. Date unknown at the time of this writing.
    My Take of All of This - New Jersey is the most densely populated state in our country and there are so many competing interests in providing access to our beaches and other facilities. Take any New Jersey beach and there is limited space for parking purposes with so many people who want to park there, especially in the summer on any given date. In addition to this and other issues, many municipalities are not welcoming hosts to anglers who want to surf fish. At one of the four hearings I attended, I heard one municipal person, (name and town I do not wish to identify) say something to the effect " When the Sandy Hook Recreational Park closes because of capacity, all those beach goers come down to my town looking to be on OUR beach and that makes life miserable for us". In the way she said it, I visualized that these beach goers are like raiding Huns, Vikings, Visigoths or other tribes riding on horses with the purpose of pillaging and rape!
On one side, you have business/industry municipalities/marinas wanting limited to no access, and the other side environmental/fishing organizations wanting improved access or totally unimpeded access. While the Public Trust Document says that our citizens have a right to public access to our beaches and other facilities, the reality is that this is a very complicated issue and achieving compromise within the various groups trying to reach resolution on it seems very problematic to me. I think that it is going to take some time to iron out all of these differences and that there will be more meetings/hearings to arrive at a bill that reflects the access we are entitled to according to the Public Trust Document.
I have tried to give you just a quick snapshot of what is going on with public access and doing more would more than fill up this entire newsletter. As this public access issue moves forward, I will keep you updated on its progress.


Fishing Management Issues - By John Toth
Report on Making Sandy Hook Bay a Natural Marine Sanctuary


   On behalf of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association(JCAA) and the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA), and our club, I attended a presentation given by Mr. Rik van Hemmen who is proposing to implement a Sandy Hook Bay Natural Marine Sanctuary. It would stretch roughly from Sandy Hook to the Earle Naval pier and to parts of the Navesink and the Schrewsbury rivers. This presentation was given at the Red Bank library at 7:00 p.m. on March 16th and it was attended by approximately 200-250 angry recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, oyster harvesters, clammers, and waterfowlers. Only about 60 could fit in the conference room and the rest waited outside the library. This turnout was due to the threat that this sanctuary would have on one of our most productive fishing grounds for both recreational and commercial anglers.

  Mr. Hemmen started his presentation by showing us a bunch of pictures of this area with boats and birds, but nothing concrete about WHY it should be a sanctuary. He did not stress any positive results we would expect to receive by having this sanctuary. He seems to love the area in question, but is oblivious to the repercussions that would result by having a sanctuary. In fact, Mr. Dan Ferrigno, a former and retired staff member of our NJ DEP with 30 years of experience, remarked that the sanctuaries we now have around our country (about 5 of them) all end up with tough restrictions on fishing, boating, jet skis and diminish the enjoyment people should receive by having them. Others in the audience voiced over and over again that this sanctuary status would lead to more fishing restrictions and that we do not need more regulations! Hemmen responded that he is not trying to impose these regulations, but he seemed oblivious to this major concern voiced by the audience.

  One person told him that he lives by the affected area and that the waters are cleaner than they have ever been and have more fish and that he did not see a need for this sanctuary, but Hemmen just blew off this remark. Building on this no need for a sanctuary, I remarked that "you obviously love the sanctuary concept to keep things the way they are for you, but YOU HAVE NOT MADE A CASE WHY WE SHOULD HAVE IT! He responded that "we will have more fish"! One person yelled out "do you have the data to prove it" and he said that he did not! His answer to me like the one he made earlier about a trash problem seems to be made up as he goes along with his presentation since he has no real answers to the important questions raised about his sanctuary proposal.

  My take on this sanctuary issue is that Hemmen does not understand the negative implications that a sanctuary has, but worse is that he is not accepting the comments that were mostly made by anglers in the room. The danger I see is that in spite of what was conveyed to him about restrictions, he will still go forward with this sanctuary and, of course, like- minded organizations may back him and this can gain traction to move it further.

  For this sanctuary to go to higher levels in our federal government it has to be first approved by our state government and that is our best hope to stop it. I will carefully track the sanctuary issue and keep you updated. We all need to stay on top of this important issue and all be united against it!

Support for Public Access to NJ Beaches and Waterways

We are lose our rights to access waterways?

Summer over but not beach access rules.

          Rule change hi light:

·         It takes effect Nov. 5,

·         individual towns to develop their own plans

·         change to access points every half mile. Under the old rules, it was every quarter mile

·         Towns can close existing access points

·         Access can be even an area where there is inadequate parking or lack of access to public restrooms

LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jerseyans have to put up with taxes, tolls, toxic waste and, occasionally, Snooki. So an occasional trip to the beach is all that keeps some folks here sane.

Now officials in the nation’s most densely populated state are rewriting public beach access rules that could make it easier for well-to-do towns to keep out-of-towners off their beaches — and a sandstorm is brewing.

The state says it had to act and give more local control over access after a court decision struck down more stringent rules that spelled out uniform standards for each shore town. The state feels it can accomplish more by working with shore towns and giving them flexibility rather than dictating a “one-size-fits-all” access policy to them.

But many beachgoers fear the new rules, if adopted, would reward the very people who have made it so hard for outsiders to reach the beach for decades.

Joe Woerner, an official with the Jersey Shore Surfrider Foundation, said he was handcuffed as a teenager 20 years ago as he came out of the ocean with his surfboard. He was taken to a police holding cell in Sea Girt. Crossing a hundred yards or so of sand without a beach badge.

“I was a 15-year-old boy arrested for using the ocean,” he said. “These are the kind of people who will be making our rules.”






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Pots Off The Reef Update – By John Toth

   We have been trying to get the pots (traps) off the artificial reefs for almost seven (7) years by writing letters, contacting legislators, signing petitions and even demonstrating in front of Senator Van Drew and Assemblyman Albano’s office in Cape May on three weekends since they are responsible for holding up progress in getting the traps removed from the reefs. Our legislators are tired of this issue not being resolved and NJ’s DEP Commissioner Robert Martin, after meeting with representatives of the NJ Outdoor Alliance (NJOA), has offered a compromise solution to this issue. In a letter to Anthony Mauro, Chairman of the NJOA he proposed a number of agreements that include but are not limited to:


·Traps and fixed gear will be permitted at the two inshore reefs (Axel Carlson- (ACR) & Sandy Hook- SHR). The fixed gear areas will only permitted to not exceed 15% of the total existing size of the two reefs.

·A New Reef will be constructed, in the vicinity of the Manasquan and Shark River inlets, equal to or greater in area than the permitted zones of the two reefs – ACR & SHR).

·The new agreement may restore the reef program to satisfy the US Fish & Wildlife Service for the continuance of the reef program that was suspended due to the commercial dominance over these two reefs.

·There are a series of penalties if the commercial trappers do not follow established guidelines concerning the reefs leading to the suspension of their license to fish on these reefs.

·The NJ DEP will petition the MAMFC for Special Management Zone (SMZ) for the thirteen artificial reefs in federal waters that effectively ban commercial anglers from using them. There are two artificial reefs in NJ’s waters (ACR & SHR) and thirteen (13) in federal waters.

·There are downsides to this proposal that include commercial anglers not agreeing to the restrictions on them using only specific areas of the reefs, the enforcement affecting them and they likely will object to our receiving a new reef because it will interfere with their dragging operations.


  There are many more points covered in this agreement and it would take more than one page to list all of the issues covered in it. I just wanted to highlight a few of the major points covered in this agreement. The issue is should we agree with this proposal or stick with our position that all of the pots should be removed from the reefs? While I would like to have all of the pots removed, I wrote down all of the positive and negative points of this agreement (which is a good way to make a decision on any complex issue) and I presented these points to our members that this agreement should be pursued since the positive points outweigh the negative ones. A vote was taken by club members belonging to the NJOA and the majority of the clubs voted to pursue the compromise agreement offered by Commissioner Martin.  This was not a unanimous vote with the JCAA voting against it and the NJ Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs voting for it. There is pressure on the NJ DEP to come up with some type of compromise solution since the NJ DEP has to balance both the interests of the recreational and commercial anglers. This issue will not be determined overnight.  It has to be reviewed by the Federal DEP Commissioner (John Organ) to determine if the compromise proposal from Commissioner Martin meets federal guidelines concerning commercial usage of the reefs.  The entire issue will require back and forth discussion with the parties involved. The terms of this agreement may change and even more discussions will be needed to come up with agreement that can be pursued. I will keep you all informed of its outcome. We all have expended a lot of time and energy on this issue and, hopefully, we will see an outcome we can be satisfied with.





New York Saltwater Fishing License Experience – By John Toth


   When I was president of our club during the mid1980’s, there was serious talk about instituting a saltwater fishing license and I was even interviewed by a reporter at that time from the Bergen Record about my thoughts of this issue. I told her that I was against it, but she erroneously reported in that paper that I was for it.  Consequently, I took a lot of heat over this erroneous reporting from many sources, including our members.


   Fast-forward to today and that debate about the saltwater fishing license is still alive.  However, a saltwater fishing license was instituted in New York a few years ago by anglers who were first enthusiastic about it and thought that the license would reap huge benefits for anglers.  Instead of using the funds from the license to construct more piers, ramps etc., for anglers, it did not take too long for New York’s politicians to look at this golden egg of revenue.   They got their greedy hands on it and used this revenue to apply to their general funds, most likely to plug some revenue shortfall or gimmick.  Consequently, NY anglers would get NO benefit from this license and they could look forward to paying more license fees or perhaps even a special license to catch blues like freshwater stamps to fish for different species.

New York anglers angered by this turn of events got legislation recently passed to eliminate NY’s saltwater fishing license during March of this year


  There are many strong positive and negative arguments about instituting a saltwater fishing license. The Administrator of New Jersey’s fisheries, Mr. Tom McCloy, was at one of our club meetings and used graphs to show us how much our state’s fisheries is underfunded compared to other states that are vying for the same fish quotas. More funding (through a license) for his Marine Fisheries Division would help our state to better maintain its fisheries. One of, and perhaps the most important points that has to be resolved, is that the funds raised by a saltwater fishing license cannot be used for a state’s general fund or for any other purpose other than to benefit recreational anglers!  This may sound easy to do, but it is not!  I have sat through a number of meetings concerning fishing legislative issues and I have repeatedly heard that no fund is safe from gimmickry by our legislators (from both parties).  Until this issue can be resolved, we do not want to repeat New York’s experience and debacle with a saltwater fishing license.


Support for Public Access to NJ Beaches and Waterways

Will we lose our rights to access waterways?

Reported in 2011 BY BILL SHEEHAN The Record

Captain Bill Sheehan is Riverkeeper and executive director of Riverkeeper Inc.


  To put it plainly, the New Waterfront Public Access Rules (“New Rules”) that were published by the Christie Administration April 4, 2011 will vastly reduce the ability of the citizens of New Jersey to avail themselves of the State’s beaches, shorefronts and riverwalks.

  Under the proposed New Rules, determination of the beachfront permitted for use by the general public will be determined, not by federal standards adopted by the state in 1973 but ultimately by the local shore municipalities. The NJ Department of Environmental Protection, the agency empowered to protect the access rights of the general public, will lose its ability to oppose those local decisions. Over the years there have been numerous attempts by various shore communities to bar the general public from their beaches. These New Rules will allow them to diminish public access as much as possible with little or no hope of being able to effectively challenge or overturn court decisions that favor local municipalities. The Christie Administration is saying to them, "Go to it."

  Even more importantly, the New Rules strip away the term “public trust” from every section of the present rules that refers to public usage. The reason for such a drastic move is that almost every court case brought in an attempt to override public access has been defeated because judges have consistently upheld the Public Trust Doctrine (“Doctrine”). This principle is based on a centuries-old Roman law, which requires the government to provide the public with use of the waterfront. It has appeared in NJ legal decisions from 1821 (Arnold vs. Mundy) to 2005 (Raleigh Ave. Beach Association vs. Atlantis Beach Club). The Doctrine has been a powerful tool in preserving the concept of public usage. Now, however, that these critical words “public trust” are removed from the New Rules, it will make it easier for courts to rule against the public interest and in favor of local municipalities. Altogether, the Christie Administration wants to reduce the power of the Doctrine as well as diminish the right of citizens to the access long guaranteed to their waterfront.

  Lastly, there is a popular saying about a baby and bath water, which means destroying everything for one less important cause. That is what the New Rules do. They are too sweeping in scope and unnecessarily destructive. There are other ways to change existing and long-standing rules. Rather than governing with a hammer why not try building something together. These New Rules do not do that and need to be withdrawn.

Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy of NJ, Inc.








Report On NJ Angling, Hunting & Conservation Caucus

By John Toth

Our legislators have established a New Jersey Angling, Hunting and Conservation Caucus to hear firsthand the input of anglers and hunters about the issues that are important to them.  This caucus enables our legislators to help them understand these issues and ask questions about them so that they can possibly draft legislation or take action to improve fishing and hunting in New Jersey.  On June 6th, a caucus was held in NJ’s State House Annex.  The first order of business was to introduce legislators to the meeting’s attendees and they included:  Senate Democratic Chair, Donald D. Norcross, and Senators James W. Holzapfel and Christopher Bateman..  On the Assembly side, Alison Little McHose, Assembly Republican Chair, John J. Burzichelli, Assembly Democratic Chair and Caroline Casagrande.


The Issue: Member clubs of the New Jersey’s Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) and other fishing associations have identified the lack of funding for the Bureau of Marine Fisheries and its shrinking number of staff as a major problem making this Bureau increasingly unable to effectively manage our state’s fisheries despite its important multi-billion dollar industry for our state.  Without additional funding, New Jersey will also lose its competitive edge to other states that are well funded and staffed and they are always seeking to take more of our state’s fishing quotas from us.  This issue was requested to be on the agenda of the caucus by NJOA’s Legislative Liaison, Tom Connors, and this issue was the main focus for this caucus.


The first speaker was Brent Miller representing the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucus and he touched upon the economic importance of fishing and hunting in New Jersey to our state’s economy.  According to statistics compiled in 2011, 794,000 anglers and hunters (resident and non-resident) fished or hunted in New Jersey and spent more than $1.26 billion while doing it.  This spending supports 16,905 jobs and generates over $151 million in local and state taxes, including $176 million in federal taxes.

The second speaker was David Chanda, Director, NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife who told legislators of the increasing challenges he faces in trying to do more with less staff in managing our state’s fisheries.  His staff has to respond to the fishing management plans required by our federal management officials and he does not have enough staff to adequately respond to them.  For example, in the case of blackfish (tautog) his staff could not do the necessary research to support the position that our state’s stock of blackfish was healthy enough and did not need any reduction to its quota.  Consequently, our state had to have its blackfish season reduced even though this action was most likely unnecessary.  This same example applies to river herring, sharks and winter flounder.  The Bureau of Marine Fisheries has to respond to almost 20 federal management plans that require staff and time to do the stock assessments and technical research necessary to adequately respond to them.  Staff members who retire are not replaced.  We could possibly have better fishing in our state with possibly increased quotas for winter flounder or blackfish, but our Bureau of Marine Fisheries does not have the funding or staff to help us reach this goal.


The Bureau of Marine Fisheries receives $900,000 from state appropriations and with license fees and other sources of revenues it has a current budget of $4.1 million.  In contrast to New Jersey, other states like New Hampshire or Massachusetts have budgets in the $20 million range and even have twice the number of staff in comparison to our Bureau staff.


The third speaker was Chris Zeman, member of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery management Council, who made the very eloquent but pointed remark “lack of data means less fish”.  Chris indicated that our state needs better technical data to defend its stock assessment of its fisheries and our Bureau of Marine Fisheries does not have the resources to do it.  He told our legislators that each state is going after our quota for each fishery and it is a tough fight to defend our fishing quotas allocated by the federal management.  Chris represents our state in this constant battle with other states that have better funding and staff to define the status of their fisheries and to make a case to federal management officials that they should have some of our fishing quotas.  Data is necessary to defend what quotas we have and our state is having an increasing problem in handling this issue.  Chris said that our river herring season might have been unnecessarily closed recently because we did not have the necessary data to indicate to federal management that it should stay open. Chris asked for an additional $ 1.2 million of state funding for the Bureau with more funding over the years to follow.


Jersey Coast Anglers Association’s Legislative Chairman, Tom Fote, made the important point to legislators that in the 1980’s, the Bureau of Marine Fisheries had a budget of $3 million dollars. It should at least be funded to a level of up to $5 or $6 million to start with and increased each year thereafter.  We all know that our state has budget problems, but this is an important economic industry for our state and its importance should not be diminished due to the lack of funding by only several millions of dollars when it generates so much revenue for our state.  He also pointed out that our Marine Fisheries is not attending important technical committees that help to determine fishing stocks and other related matters due to lack of staff.  We need to be involved in these technical committees to keep abreast of the latest fishing issues or we will not be able to shape or respond to them due to our lack of participation.


The last speaker was Ed Markowski, President of NJOA’s Outdoor Alliance Projects, who made brief remarks about upcoming hunting legislation.  Ed commented that New Jersey’s hunting associations are very mad about the proposal to replace firearms identification cards with a driver’s license endorsement and it should not even be considered. 


Assemblywoman McHose pointed out to the legislators present that the Division of Fish & Wildlife is the only branch of NJ’s government that has to pay rent to the state for its facilities and for the benefits of its staff.


The legislators thanked all of us who attended this hearing and to the NJOA for organizing it.  They also indicated that they will use the information generated from this caucus in determining the next budget for the Bureau of Marine Fisheries.