Regulations in red are new this year.Regulations remain in effect until changed. For the most current regulations, go to NJFishandWildlife.com/njregs.htm#marine.
Highlights of Regulation Changes:Rules for the recreational harvest of striped bass and cobia have changed.
- A new interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) mandate requires using inline (non-offset) circle hooks when fishing for striped bass with bait. See New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife for more information.
- The recreational cobia regulations are: 1 fish per vessel per trip with a minimum size of 37 inches and no closed season.
Resource InformationAnyone who takes fisheries resources may be required to provide information on the species, number, weight or other information pertinent to management of resources. Anglers are encouraged to report all fishing activity after each trip. Visit Fish and Wildlife's Volunteer Angler Survey at NJFishandWildlife.com/marinesurvey.htm.
Methods of Recreational FishingNo person shall take, catch, kill or attempt to take, catch or kill any fish within the marine waters of the state by any means except in the manner commonly known as angling with hand line or rod and line unless specifically provided for by statute or regulation.
Delaware Fishing License RequirementA Delaware fishing license is required for all non-resident anglers aged 16 and over fishing either fresh or tidal waters of Delaware. Delaware fishing license information can be found at www.fw.delaware.gov/Fisheries/Pages/NewFishingLicense.aspx.
New York Fishing Registry RequirementNew York offers a free registry to all marine anglers fishing in New York. Visit www.dec.ny.gov/permits/54950.html.
Bait FishNo license is required to take baitfish for personal use with the following gear:
- Dip nets 24 inches diameter or less for taking Atlantic herring only for live bait. The taking or possession of river herring (alewife and blueback herring) is prohibited.
- Bait seines 50 feet long or less.
- Cast nets 20 feet in diameter or less.
- Lift or umbrella nets four feet square or less.
- Not more than five killipots.
- Not more than two miniature fykes or pots for the taking of eels for bait.
Wanton Waste ProhibitedFish of any species which are purposely killed shall become part of the angler’s daily possession limit and shall not be returned to the water from which they were taken. This does not apply to fish which are released alive and subsequently die, but does apply even to species without size/possession limits.
SpearfishingSpearfishing may be conducted by means of a spear, harpoon or other missile while completely submerged in the marine waters of the state for any species, except lobster. Persons who fish with a spear for species with size limits are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure the fish meets the minimum size limits before being killed or injured.
Sea Turtles & Marine MammalsIt is illegal to intentionally molest, kill or possess sea turtles, including terrapins, or marine mammals, or to possess any part thereof.
- Atlantic sturgeon
- Diamondback terrapin
- Shortnose sturgeon
- River herring (alewife and blueback herring; see herring illustrations, Marine Species Identification)
- Various shark species (See below for the full list of prohibited shark species.)
FilletingThe filleting at sea of all fish with a size limit, or any species of flatfish, is prohibited except for summer flounder; see Summer Flounder, below. Anglers shall possess no parts of any fish caught on a previous fishing trip. Party boats may fillet fish at sea if they obtain a Special Fillet Permit available from Fish and Wildlife’s Bureau of Marine Fisheries.
BluefishBluefish recreational regulations: 5 fish (no size limit, open season all year) while fishing from a party/charter vessel with a valid federal party/charter vessel permit and captained by a properly credentialed operator with a valid U.S. Coast Guard endorsement (see important additional information regarding for-hire trips at: NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/marine/bluefish4hire.pdf); 3 fish (no size limit, open season all year) for all other anglers.
River HerringThe taking or possession of any river herring (alewife and blueback herring) in New Jersey is prohibited. See the fish ID illustrations on Marine Species Identification for herring species identification. www.fisheries.noaa.gov/resources/educational-materials, to download helpful materials such as the NOAA Fisheries Shark Identification Placard and the Careful Catch and Release Brochure, which provide a pictorial guide to identifying sharks and tips on handling and releasing large saltwater pelagic fish. All sharks harvested must have heads, tails and fins attached naturally to the carcass until landed, although anglers may still gut and bleed the carcass. Filleting sharks at sea is prohibited. Recreational size limits for sharks are specified in the state and federal regulation charts on State Size & Possession Limits and Federal Size & Possession Limits. Refer to the illustration, below, for the proper measurement of fork length.
Dr. William Driggers, III/NMFS
- In state waters, there is no minimum size limit for non-blacknose small coastal sharks and blacknose sharks* in the recreational fishery, but federal regulations include a 54-inch minimum size limit for blacknose and finetooth small coastal sharks.
- All sharks within the Aggregated Large Coastal and Hammerhead groups* will have a closed season within state waters from May 15 through July 15 to protect spawning female sharks during the pupping season.
Additional Marine Fishing RegulationsSee Marine Species Identification for the fish ID and State Size & Possession Limits and Federal Size & Possession Limits for the regulation charts.
Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact
Beware!New Jersey participates in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact which means that a violator with repeat convictions of New Jersey marine fishing laws may face license suspensions in participating states.
Be the First to Know! Get on the ListThe Marine Fisheries and Shellfish e-mail list, that is. Get the latest information on Fish and Wildlife events, public hearings and other marine resource issues. Our six other lists help you get the most out of New Jersey’s fish and wildlife resources. Sign up today at: NJFishandWildlife.com/lstsub.htm
Top 8 Tips for Releasing Fish UnharmedProper handling and releasing techniques reduce fish mortality.
- Land fish quickly, except when retrieving from depths of 40-feet or more. Fighting a fish to exhaustion increases mortality as does rapidly bringing fish up through the changing water pressure and temperature gradients.
- Keep fish to be released in the water as much as possible. Plan ahead with tools and camera.
- Minimize physical injury. Do not touch gills or eyes. Support the weight of the fish along the length of its body. Do not allow fish to flop around on deck.
- Carefully remove hooks using a dehooker or needle-nose pliers.
- Use plain hooks, not stainless, which rust away quickly if one must be left in a gut-hooked fish. Be prepared with a long-reach tool to cut the leader at the hook, close to the hook’s eyelet.
- To bring a fish out of the water momentarily, use a neoprene net or one of knotless nylon. Handle the fish carefully using wet hands, wet cotton gloves or similar material to minimize loss of the fish’s protective slime layer.
- To revive lethargic fish, hold in a normal, upright position. Move the fish forward in an “S” or figure-8 pattern so that water flows over the gills only from front to back.
- Use circle hooks (not offset) for species that bite and flee, such as striped bass, weakfish or sea bass. Consider pinching hook barbs with pliers.
Striped Bass Bonus ProgramThe Striped Bass Bonus Program will continue in 2021, where anglers possessing a bonus permit may keep a striper at 24 inches to less than 28 inches. The open season for this program is May 15 through December 31. Check website for updates at NJFishandWildlife.com/bonusbas.htm. The current allocation from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is 215,912 pounds. Should New Jersey exceed this quota, any overage would be subtracted from the following year’s quota. Application Process: Striped Bass Bonus Program permits are issued via mail only. Go to NJFishandWildlife.com/bonusbas.htm to apply and for regulation or program updates. The permit is non-transferable and valid for the current calendar year. Only one permit can be used per day. Fishing logs must be kept and harvest reporting is mandatory. Striped Bass Bonus Permit Harvest Reporting: The Striped Bass Bonus Permit must be securely attached to the fish through the mouth and gill immediately upon capture and prior to transportation. Harvest reporting is mandatory and must be reported online or by leaving a message at (609) 748-2074.