After nine long years of lobbying legislators, the administration and the US Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of NJ’s recreational reef anglers and divers, Reef Rescue’s efforts are paying off with big rewards. Last week the long awaited reef regulation was published in the State Register and became law: traps off over 80% of our state reefs! Today, as promised by the Christie administration, Assistant Commissioner Rich Boornazian sent a letter petitioning the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) to remove all fixed gear traps from NJ’s remaining (13) reefs that lie in federal waters. See DEP letter below:
The state has also started the permit process needed to commence construction of the new ‘compromise reef’ that is charted just two miles due east of Manasquan Inlet. The proposed reef site, which was agreed to by both recreational and commercial fishermen, will encompass one square mile and will actually be larger than the small dual-use portions of state reefs where fixed gear trapping will still be permitted. The new reef will be restricted to hook, line and spear fishing only.
So congratulate everyone who was part of the ’traps off the reef’ effort, slap each other on the back, great job, thank the Commissioner and Governor ……… but get braced for the next battle at the MAFMC federal level.
There's a real need to stay vigilant and involved! The commercial industry has already vowed to strongly oppose any SMZ request on NJ’s offshore reefs. Delaware achieved SMZ status last year and now it's our turn! So to fortify our position, continue to collect signed petitions, get ready to write some letters, watch for Reef Rescue and NJOA’s action alerts, and above all, plan to attends and be vocal at the MAFMC hearings.
At the next MAFMC meeting, Assistant Commissioner Boornazian has asked for time to request SMZs thereby starting the 2-4 year process. Please try to attend this most important kick-off meeting. The dates are next month, December 7-10, 2015 in Annapolis, MD. Reef Rescue will publicize the date and time scheduled for SMZ discussions. Your involvement could make the difference.
Thanks to all for your continued support and for our recent successes!
Hope to see you in Annapolis,
Captain Pete Grimbilas