TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senators Jeff Van Drew and Jim Beach to drastically reduce penalties associated with the new state fishing registry received final approval yesterday in the Assembly, and was sent to the desk of Governor Chris Christie.
“The purpose of creating the state registry was to prevent individuals from having to pay a $15 federal fee to fish. Imposing an initial fine of up to $3,000 for failing to register with this free database is completely unacceptable,” said Senator Van Drew (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “This bill scales back the penalties for noncompliance significantly so that anglers are not forced to fork over hundreds, or possibly thousands, of dollars simply because they were unaware of the new program. The goal now is to ensure that people are familiar with the requirement to register, which we are addressing by placing program information in bait and tackle shops across the state.”
The state implemented the free state registry for recreational saltwater anglers in May. The intent of the registry was to prevent anglers from having to pay a $15 federal fee for recreational saltwater fishing, which would have been assessed in New Jersey had the state not established its own free registry. As structured by the Department of Environmental Protection, individuals who fail to register, or who comply with the registration requirement but are caught fishing without the registration document in their possession, will be assessed a fine of between $300 and $3,000 for a first offense and $500 to $5,000 for subsequent offenses.