|This is a request from the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance to support Special Management Zone (SMZ) status for New Jersey’s offshore artificial reefs.
A brief history;
NJ’s artificial reefs are built with recreational angler dollars, either thru direct contributions or via Wallop-Breaux taxes on sporting goods. This is part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sport Fish Restoration Funding. SMZ status is needed to limit fishing activities on NJ’s artificial reefs to hook and line and spear fishing. This is part of almost a nine year effort to eliminate gear conflict and ensure hook and line and spear fishing access to New Jersey’s Artificial Reefs.
The following excerpt is taken from the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) press release.
In November 2015, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) petitioned the Mid-Atlantic Council to designate 13 artificial reef sites as SMZs under provisions of Amendment 9 to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. The petition was based on the need to reduce gear conflicts between hook and line fishermen and fixed pot/trap gear at those sites. The SMZ designation could prohibit the use of any gear except hook and line and spear fishing (including the taking of fish by hand) within the 13 potential SMZ sites. The Council’s SMZ Monitoring Team (MT) evaluated the NJDEP request and recommended that the Council designate all 13 artificial reef sites as SMZs. The MT analysis indicated that commercial fishing vessels deploying pot/trap gear off the coast of New Jersey would likely face minimal to no losses in ex-vessel revenue if the artificial reefs are designated as SMZs. The Council is scheduled to review public comments and make a decision relative to NJ SMZ designation at its December 2016 meeting in Annapolis, MD.
The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance is requesting that you submit a written public comment which states the following… I support the MAMFC SMZ Monitoring Team’s recommendation to designate all 13 artificial sites as SMZs.
Use this form HERE or send e-mails to Rich Seagraves at firstname.lastname@example.org please be sure to include “NJ SMZ Request” in the subject line. (Please submit your comments before November 25, 2016).
Send comments via postal mail to Dr. Chris Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE, 19901 (Please include “NJ SMZ Request” on envelope and submit before November 25, 2016)
If you have the time available, please attend one of the public hearings closest to your location. (Bring a friend)
· Tuesday November 15, 2016, 7:00-9:30 p.m., Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Blvd., Brooklyn NY 11235, Room M239 of the Marina and Academic Center (The Lighthouse).
· Wednesday November 16, 2016, 7:00-10:00 p.m., Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, 815 Route 37 West, Toms River, NJ 08755.
· Thursday November 17, 2016, 7:00-10:00 p.m., Congress Hall, 200 Congress Place, Cape May, NJ 08204.
These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should be directed to M. Jan Saunders, 302-526-5251, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.
Why are your comments important?
Based on the public comments and other inputs the MAFMC will take a formal vote and make a recommendation to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The target date is expected to be sometime in 2017.
The NMFS can be expected to generate a rule proposal and then put this out for public comment (once again) probably to the states which are affected (New Jersey, Delaware and perhaps New York, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.)
Implementation of the new regulation can be as late as 2018.
New Jersey’s recreational angling community has been working towards SMZ status for New Jersey’s offshore artificial reefs for almost nine years. Help us land this fish!
Thank you in advance for your help with this project,
The members of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance on behalf of New Jersey’s Sportsmen and women.