Senator Lauds Assembly Committee Action to Prevent Unnecessary Fishing Fee, Calls for Swift Action in Senate
TRENTON – Senator Jeff Van Drew today testified before the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in support of legislation, which he introduced in the Senate, to create a free registry for saltwater recreational fishing and prevent residents from getting slammed with a fee.
“New Jersey residents are up to their eyeballs in taxes and fees. They’ve had enough,” Senator Van Drew, D-Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland, said following the committee hearing. “We need to make sure New Jersey remains a place where a father can take his son out for a day at the beach and, once the two get there, they can throw a line in the water for free.”
The legislation, A-823/S-1122, was crafted in response to a federal law – the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, reauthorized in 2007 – that directed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to establish a National Saltwater Angler Registry Program. The purpose of the new registry was to create a national database to identify saltwater anglers that could be surveyed by the NOAA for research purposes. Congress, however, authorized the NOAA to begin charging a fee to cover administration costs associated with the registry beginning in January of 2011.
The DEP has estimated the federal program fee would range from $15 to $25 per person. New Jersey, however, has the ability to prevent the fee assessment by creating its own registry and applying for exemption from the federal program.
While the DEP and other lawmakers have suggested creating a state registry and charging a nominal fee, Senator Van Drew remains adamant that registration should be free. He said the state could create an Internet registry for saltwater recreational anglers, which would require minimal cost and be hassle-free.
“The people of New Jersey have suffered enough. This is one thing we should give them a breather on,” said Senator Van Drew. “I commend the committee for taking up and approving this important piece of legislation and believe we should take swift action on the bill in the Senate. The clock is ticking.”
Van Drew added that a free registration program would benefit New Jersey’s tourism industry, since several nearby states – including New York – have implemented fees.
The Assembly bill, A-823, sponsored by Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam, D-Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland, cleared the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee today by a vote of 5-0. The Senate version of the bill, S-1122, was introduced last month by Senator Van Drew and referred to the Senate Environment and Energy Committee.