New Jersey’s 210 miles of bayshore and beaches and seemingly endless inshore and offshore waters offer spectacular recreational fishing opportunities that annually attract a half million anglers. Those anglers spend more than 5.5 million days pursuing marine fish and shellfish in our bountiful waters. Each year, marine angler expenditures contribute nearly 1.5 billion dollars to the state economy. Public access to our marine waters is critical both to meet the public demand for saltwater fishing and for sustaining its critical role in the health of New Jersey’s economy.
Marine anglers should be aware that this spring, the Department of Environmental Protection proposed rules that will provide enhanced public access for recreational fishermen by ensuring that municipal public access plans include defined and guaranteed points of access for day and night fishing. The rules also provide greater transparency and public involvement in the development of municipal public access plans by requiring municipalities to notify the DEP two weeks in advance of the dates and times of any scheduled public meetings on Department-approved Municipal Public Access Plans. The Department will post the meeting information on its website at nj.gov/dep/bulletin/ and will also send the information by email to individuals who have requested notice of Municipal Public Access Plan applications. Individuals can subscribe to the DEP’s Municipal Public Access Plan email list at nj.gov/dep/cmp/access/subscribe.htm.
The DEP has also launched a fabulous website at nj.gov/dep/cmp/access/ that has a wealth of information about marine public access points, including public restroom and parking facilities, amenities such as restaurants, boat and kayak launches, marinas, water quality, handicapped facilities, and places to fish. The site features an interactive state map that anglers will find extremely useful for finding marine access points anywhere along the Atlantic and bayshore coasts.
This year, marine anglers have added incentive to find their favorite access points due to an expansion of recreational fishing opportunities for two of New Jersey’s most sought after fish, summer flounder (fluke) and black sea bass. For the first time in over 10 years the minimum size limit for fluke was decreased and for 2012 the minimum size is 171⁄2 inches. The 2012 fluke season is also longer than it was in 2011 and runs from May 5 through September 28 this year. The black sea bass season will also be longer than it was in 2011 while maintaining the same 121⁄2 inch minimum size and 25 fish possession limits. Anglers should visit NJFishandWildlife.com for the most current black sea bass regulations.
The improved information resources for locating public access points for marine fishing and expanded fishing opportunities for fluke and sea bass make 2012 a great year to get on the water and enjoy the tremendous saltwater fishing New Jersey has to offer.
Dave Chanda is the Director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.