Thursday, February 21, 2008: Here’s a Tom Fote/JCAA press release: Press Release The Senate Environment Committee voted bill S336 (prohibiting the use of certain fishing gear on artificial reefs) and S75 (Hooked on Fishing Not on Drugs) out of committee today. We want to thank Senator Bob Smith, Chairman of the committee, for posting the bills and voting for both bills.I would also like to thank Senators John Adler (primary sponsor), Christopher Bateman, Andrew Ciesla, and Robert Gordon for voting for both bills. Senator Jeff Van Drew voted for S75 but abstained from voting on bill S336. He is listed as cosponsor for the bill but did not vote in favor of the bill. Senator Sean T. Kean (primary sponsor) attended the hearing and asked for quick passage of the bill. I would also like to thank the NJ State Federation of Sportsmens Clubs, RFA, Reef Rescue and NJ Dive Association for their hard work and support of this legislation. This was the first step. I spoke with Senator Barbara Buono and Senator Leonard Lance about the importance of posting S75 for the appropriations committee. The next step for S336 (Pots Off Reefs) is a vote before the full Senate. Remember this bill passed unanimously at the end of the last session. Please send letters to Senate President Codey thanking him for his past support and encouraging him to post the bill as soon as possible. The information for writing letters is on the JCAA webpage and in the March JCAA Newspaper.
This was an as-expected action, however, it is very important to know that the momentum is still in place. Things should slide through the senate but the Assembly, I think, could be a whole other matter. If you haven’t read it yet, check out the industry-based story below, indicating the slant the commercial sector is throwing on the issue. Yes, the news story is inaccurate when suggesting that state taxpayers footed the bill for artificial reefs, not to mention the implication that the Pot/Artificial Reef Bill would mean a huge loss of fishstuff for the public in general to dine upon.