The beginning of spring ushers in another start to New Jersey’s saltwater recreational activities and as with any new season it brings changes to the way the Division of Fish and Wildlife manages these favorite pastimes along our coast. The excitement of a new fishing season, whether fluking in the back bays, chasing tuna on the high seas or clamming on the flats, always adds a little something special to our shore communities. Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Fisheries Administration strives to advance our knowledge of the state’s recreational fishery. This enables our agency to make accurate decisions regarding future regulatory actions.
Obtaining recreational angler effort and catch statistics are an important component to manage all fisheries. In the past this information was gathered by NOAA Fisheries and federal contractors to provide sound estimates of angler participation and fishing effort along the coast. New Jersey consistently ranks at the top of Atlantic Coast states in the number of anglers and in numbers of fish harvested for all the major recreational species. New for 2016, Fish and Wildlife has assumed responsibility for or the Access Point Angler Intercept Survey portion of the NOAA Fisheries Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) that will result in improved statistics and better support by our recreational community. (See related article, Could You Be Intercepted While Fishing?) New Jersey anglers now have the ability to contribute valuable data to help maintain and improve their marine fish seasons, size and bag limits while interacting directly with Fish and Wildlife staff.
It is estimated that there are as many as one million recreational saltwater anglers fishing in New Jersey (both non-residents and residents). Unfortunately, this estimate does not reflect the number of individuals registering each year in New Jersey’s free Saltwater Angler Registry Program. This program was initiated as an alternative to the federal registry that would have been imposed on New Jersey saltwater anglers. The New Jersey registry serves as the contact list for NOAA Fisheries to conduct the telephone interview and mail survey portion of MRIP which is used to estimate total fishing effort and fishing trips taken by anglers in New Jersey. This helps develop precise estimates of angler participation and harvest which is why it is crucial to ensure that all saltwater anglers register at the earliest opportunity. It’s free and easy; just visit www.SaltwaterRegistry.nj.gov.
Finally, the New Jersey Recreational Saltwater Angler Survey is an online fishing reporting method that anglers should utilize every time they fish (www.NJFishandWildlife.com/marinesurvey.htm). The goal is to obtain accurate recreational catch and effort information from New Jersey marine anglers in a way that would promote public confidence in the data being used for the management process. Because this data provides information on harvest and discards, Fish and Wildlife can utilize it in a way to maximize options for recreational anglers. This information was instrumental in developing the 2016 summer flounder regulations for Delaware Bay. Please help us to help you by visiting the survey and providing a fishing report for every trip you make.
So register, take time for an interview and provide information on your fishing trip—all quick and easy opportunities to become engaged in the fishery management process and help make a difference. We hope you will embrace these changes and help us develop sound, accurate recreational fisheries data that will enhance your fishing experience into the future.
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.