SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [PRNewswire] - February 20, 2008 -
TRENTON, N.J., Organizations representing the interests of New Jersey's seafood lovers, including the Garden State Seafood Association and the New Jersey Restaurant Association, are coming together to oppose legislation which they say would strip people who don't fish of their right to enjoy ocean-fresh New Jersey lobsters, sea bass, blackfish and other species.
On Thursday, the State Senate's Environment Committee will consider legislation that these groups warn would deny consumers their right to enjoy fresh seafood harvested from New Jersey's artificial reefs. The legislation, sponsored by State Senator Sean Kean (R - Monmouth), would effectively ban commercial fishing over the State's artificial reefs, and direct the State to push to expand the ban beyond New Jersey waters. The legislation comes in response to complaints by some recreational fishermen that their lines occasionally get tangled in commercial boats' gear.
Deborah Dowdell, President of the New Jersey Restaurant Association, sees the debate as a matter of fairness, adding, 'New Jersey citizens are equally entitled to the rich harvest of our coastal waters, whether they catch it themselves or depend on the efforts of New Jersey's commercial fishermen to catch it for them. Ocean fresh New Jersey seafood is second to none, and isn't the exclusive property of any one group.'
Greg DiDomenico, Executive Director of Garden State Seafood Association, says his group has been seeking a mutually satisfactory solution to the complaints of some recreational fishermen. 'Empowered by their ongoing success in maintaining their monopoly of New Jersey's striped bass stocks, recreational anglers seem to believe the New Jersey legislature will reserve any fishery they want for their sole catching-and eating-pleasure. Striped bass first, then the fish on these reefs. What will follow? This attitude ignores the fact that our seafood is a public resource. It belongs to all of us, and folks shouldn't have to catch it themselves to enjoy it.'
The reefs, attracting fish and shellfish from surrounding areas, were created and are maintained with public funds, and have been used for commercial fishing since before reef-building programs officially started in the early 1980s.
The hearing on the bill, S- 336, is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 21 in Room 6 of the State House Annex.