Legislators Request the Legislation Be Posted For a Vote in Assembly Committee

WALL, NJ - Assembly members Dave Rible and Mary Pat Angelini have written to the Chairman of the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee requesting that legislation they have sponsored, which would prohibit the use of certain fishing gear on artificial reefs, be posted for a vote.

The bill, A-1152, which is sponsored by Senator Sean Kean (R-Monmouth) in the Senate, would prohibit, within the marine waters of the State, any person from using, leaving unattended, setting, or deploying fishing gear, other than rod-and-reel, hand line, spear, or recreational gig, within 100 feet of artificial reefs created under the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s artificial reef program.

The legislators noted that the large amount of commercial traps being placed in artificial reefs negatively affect recreational fishing and violates the Sport Fish Restoration Act, which provides federal funding for the artificial reef program.

“Recently, federal funding has been pulled from the New Jersey artificial reef program due to the lack of regulations in place,” said Angelini. “Funding can be restored if appropriate action is taken to eliminate the conflicts that currently interfere with recreational fishing on these reefs.”

Under this legislation, the Department of Environmental Protection would be required to apply to the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to designate New Jersey artificial reefs in federal waters as Special Management Zones, which would limit commercial fishing taking place on New Jersey’s artificial reefs in federal waters.

“The commercial traps being placed in the artificial reefs prevent recreational fishermen from accessing these resources,” said Rible. “This legislation seeks to protect the recreational fishing industry in New Jersey, which includes over one million people who are spending over one billion dollars annually.”

The Senate version of the legislation, S-221, passed with overwhelming support in March.