U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) Friday wrote a letter to Governor Christie urging him to not wait any longer in signing legislation that would fix an inadequate fisheries management system and eliminate the unnecessary burden of registry fees on New Jersey fishermen.
"With the governor's signature, fishermen won't have to foot the bill for this registry and New Jersey will have access to lower implementation costs for improved data collection," said Pallone. "In this economy, I urge the governor to act in a way that will keep jobs in the state and benefit one of our largest industries."
Currently, New Jersey is the only state in the contiguous United States that doesn't use existing state infrastructures to collect fisheries data which exempts fishermen from the $15 federal registry fee.
"The impact of forcing our fishermen to pay this fee will extend into the local coastal economies. From bait and tackle shops that provide supplies to sandwich shops that fuel one's long day on the water, the recreational fishing sector is an important part of New Jersey's economy," Pallone wrote.
The text of the letter appears below.
Dear Governor Christie:
I am writing to ask that you sign legislation currently sitting at your desk to create a saltwater fishing registry in New Jersey. Once enacted, New Jersey will have the opportunity to join its fellow coastal states in developing a saltwater registry that will take advantage of the state government's infrastructure and efficiencies to ensure the best possible data is collected and with the lowest costs of implementation.
New Jersey fishermen have faced overly restrictive quotas and unfair management of important fish stocks due to the poor information generated by the Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistics Survey (MRFSS). The legislation approved by the Assembly (A823) and by the Senate (S1122) will improve fisheries management and allow recreational fishermen in New Jersey to have free access to one of our state's most popular past times.
At the federal level, Congress recognized this problem and mandated better data collection. As a result, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) developed the Marine Recreational Information Program. NOAA has successfully worked with every coastal state in the continental United States to use their state infrastructure to develop a state registry and avoid higher costs of a federal registry. New Jersey fishermen have started paying a $15 fee to register with NOAA this month and if you fail to sign the legislation before you New Jersey residents will continue to be the only fishermen in the continental United States to pay the fee.
The negative impact of forcing our fishermen to pay this fee will extend into the local coastal economies. In 2008, recreational fishermen in New Jersey took almost seven million trips, supported 10,000 jobs and generated $1.6 billion in sales. From bait and tackle shops that provide supplies to marinas that gas boats and facilitate our tourism industry the recreational fishing sector is an important part of New Jersey's economy.
NOAA has begun providing financial assistance to states that have developed saltwater registries. These federal funds are available to states to support the development of their registry and to meet the requirements of maintaining a registry that provides for better fisheries management. As NOAA continues to financially and materially support the development of state registries, I am committed to working with you on attaining assistance for New Jersey.
I implore you to protect our recreational fishermen, the recreational fishing industry and thousands of small business along our coast by making the free saltwater fishing registry law.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to continuing to work with you to protect our coastal communities.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress