Edited by njdiver on 2/9/2016, 6:39 pm
New Jersey now has a split closed season for lobster in 2016 based on Area 4 and 5. NJ had previously required the southern parts of NJ in Area 5 to comply with the April 30th thru May 31st closure in 2015 to keep the closure date uniform for the state. However, the ASMFC overturned that decision.
The line between Area 4 and 5 extends east and west several miles above Barnegat Inlet at 39 degrees, 50 North and extends out to 74 degrees, 09 West. Area 4 is north of that line and Area 5 is south.
This may cause confusion for the recreational sport diver and dive boat captains. If the dive boat is in Area 4, it may not have lobsters on board starting April 30 thru May 31st. If the dive boat is in Area 5, it may not have lobsters on board starting February 1st thru March 31st. Boats out of Barnegat Inlet must avoid Area 4 from the last day of April and all of May if intent on taking lobsters. For boats out of Manasquan Inlet, avoid area 5 in February and March if intent on taking lobster.
NJ Marine Fisheries tried to avoid this situation but was forced into it by the ASMFC. Marine officers will assume you took the lobsters in the closed area even if you are just transiting the area by boat with lobsters aboard. The NJCDC apologies for this late notice, but we did not know about the notice dated Dec 23rd, 2015 from NJ Marine Fisheries. That notice is available at the site below: