With 2020 behind us, I know everyone is ready for some hot fishing action off the beaches and in the offshore waters. I’m happy to say it’s all here for you in New Jersey! With 120 miles of ocean coastline from Cape May to Sandy Hook, multiple coastal bays such as the Raritan, Barnegat and an amazing coastline along the Delaware Bay — abundant opportunities for anglers exist along the beaches, in the back-bays and in the nearshore and offshore waters of the state.
The challenges over the last year have increased our appreciation for the therapeutic value of the outdoors and many have made their way to the New Jersey coast to experience its beauty and bounty. The staff at New Jersey Fish and Wildlife remained hard at work during this time to ensure all the elements are in place for you to enjoy a safe and exciting 2021 marine fishing season. The article Covid-19 Effects on Marine Resource Surveys
describes how Fish and Wildlife staff not only adjusted but continued to get the job done.
Working with the public to manage fish and wildlife populations is a critical component of our overall strategy. As resource managers, we are charged with maintaining stable and healthy populations and to optimize the public benefit of these fish and wildlife populations. Nowhere is this truer than within New Jersey’s marine ecosystem, and therefore public input is of the upmost importance in our management strategy here.
Faced with new challenges in staying connected with stakeholders, councils, commissions and other biologists during the pandemic, Fish and Wildlife staff turned challenges into opportunities. A seamless incorporation of new technologies into Fish and Wildlife’s daily operations provided new avenues for public engagement during a period where “social distancing” was paramount. The result has been improved and expanded opportunities for stakeholders to get involved. Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Fisheries Administration now holds all New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council and New Jersey Shellfish Council meetings online through virtual platforms creating a more convenient opportunity for the public to provide input on important regulation changes. Visit our website to find out how you can log on and have your voice heard.
Great information continues to be shared with the public through Fish and Wildlife’s many listservs and social media platforms. Make sure you’re signed up to receive the latest updates and announcements by visiting NJFishandWildlife.com/lstsub.htm
and joining our Facebook page at facebook.com/NJFishandWildlife
New for 2021, we have expanded our citizen science reporting tools to improve data collection in marine and estuarine waters of New Jersey. A new platform for our New Jersey Volunteer Angler Survey program is now available (nj.gov/dep/marineanglersurvey
), which is optimized for use by smartphones or tablets and makes it easier and more convenient to enter data during or following your fishing trip from any digital device - our goal is to receive at least one report from every angler each year. The flexibility of the new platform also allowed for development of a new app (nj.gov/dep/njmarinewildlife
) for the reporting of federally or state listed endangered or threatened marine species including marine mammals, sea turtles, sturgeons and prohibited shark species. Data received from the public is a critical component in the proper management of these protected resources. Information about the updated New Jersey Volunteer Angler Survey, and how to report your catch or sighting, can be on New Online Map Services
I’m excited about 2021 and I hope your adventures along the coast are memorable. We all know saltwater fishing in New Jersey can be a great family or solitary experience. We hope you’ll share these experiences with us through our angler surveys. Remember, we are most effective at managing this public resource when the public stays engaged. Get out there and go fishing — and tell us about it when you do! Together we’ll continue to manage the state’s fish and wildlife to ensure that the opportunities we enjoy today are available for generations to come.