Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Saturday, February 05, 2011: Kinda crappy out. It’s rain and drizzle with virtually no chance of snow with temps well into the 40s. Fro the super Plunge tomorrow in Brant Beach, it’ll be pretty nice: sunny and highs in the 40s. After that it gets all screwed up – and frigid by the end of the week – with the chance of a snow event midweek. The only real watcher is a possible low around Thursday. This could be on that cuff for us. Oddly, if it stays somewhat small – and the winds don’t whip it off the ocean, we could see 4 to 6 inches of snow, followed by crazy cold again. If, however, it really wraps up and drops further to our south, we get the NE winds and rain – possibly followed by a batch of wrap-around snow after the storm is well out at sea. No matter how you cut it, the coming week is pure winter junk.
“Jay, Why is it the Weather Service never has the report for Brant Beach? It’s always ‘not available.’ The only time I hear anything on the radio from Long Beach Island is when you do the wave report early in the early morning during the summer. …”
(Funny you should ask. I have that on a waiting list of SandPaper stories I’ll be assigning to a writer. I recall when that info was very reliable – and highly useful. Every time I drive by the Stevens Institute beach mentoring devices on 68th street and the Ocean in Brant Beach, they seem in good shape. When I go to the Steven website, I do occasionally find some newer “live” shots of the beach. It’s currently stuck on January 28, 2011. Still, more often than not, the data for the radio marine forecast out of Mount Holly have been missing or unavailable. Again, I’ll be looking into that this coming week. J-mann.)
As for the NJ angling registry, it has become a nightmare too vile (and complicated?) for even Stephen King to mess with. If you don’t agree, just try to wade through the insane amount of dubious data, contradictory opinions, funding forebodings and growing expenses (lost funding) associated with NJ not yet having a registry in place. The biggest bugaboo comes from trying to extrapolate what damage no registry – no license – is doing to the state’s (not) receiving proper funding from the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration, i.e. Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux. In order to tap that goodly source of money – gained from a tax we pay on the likes of fishing gear – we have to have a count on just how many folks fish in NJ. What’s more, that federal funding (albeit “matched” by 25 percent state revenues), is enhanced when a more exacting read on the fisheries is made by state scientists. New Jersey has the worst ratio of scientists to fish species in the nation. Some state’s have three scientists to every species. NJ has three (or more) species for each scientist. Who cares? The feds do. Simply put, the more data you have to prove a fishery is being fished, the more money comes out of what I call the Wallop-Breaux tax – or which Jersey pays more into that any one else in the nation! Yep, we’re the top contributors and on the bottom in returns – and getting NOTHING while the registry is not in place. Remember, even a free registry qualifies so I’m not making a statement for or against a license.
Here I’ve been trying to stay away from the “insane” complexities of this issue but it sometimes leaks in. For now, sufficed to say our governor has until something like Feb. 20 to sign the Registry Bill.
There remain four things that can happen. He can sign it, veto it, conditionally veto it or ignore it (so to speak).
The signing seems more and more unlikely, as (apparently) certain folks (DEP?) continue to whisper last minute opinions and options into his ear. It could also be he has become aware of the ridiculous complexity of the issue. Still, I believe a veto would be a very costly political mistake – if my read on the large and influential angling public is correct. What’s more, a veto would surely mean that NJ would continue to miss out on the 2011 federal funding, which has actually happened already due to the state not having it registry in place in a timely manner.
A conditional veto is also running out of time, as this is an action which demands amendments to the “passed” bill be developed by the Legislature, thus sending the registry money (and responsibility) into the hands of the feds, as fearful fishing folks buy the registry from them – to assure legal fishing this year. Sidebar: Would you also have to register with the state if you have already registered with the feds for 2011. No. Did the money you spent with the feds help us? Not a bit.
Importantly – and being missed by some folks following this issue closely – the governor not signing, vetoing or conditioning vetoing the bill also makes it law. That could be hugely important.
One thing that seems oddly unannounced is the fact the state could simply run with the current bill – have the Guv sign it now -- and change it for next year. That would at least assure we get federal funding this year and allow anglers who aren’t yet registered to fish legally. I think any other action will mean time and possibly immense amount of lost money.
Below is a minimal accumulation of some data and stances on the registry. Give it a look if you care to be mind-boggled. Remember, much is opinion.
For some more official stances. Check RFA and JCAA websites:
Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration (Dingell-Johnson/Wallop-Breaux)
The Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, commonly referred to as the Dingell-Johnson act, passed on August 9, 1950 and is modeled after the Pittman-Robertson Act to create a parallel program for management, conservation, and restoration of fishery resources.
The Sport Fish Restoration program is funded by revenues collected from the manufacturers of fishing rods, reels, creels, lures, flies and artificial baits, who pay an excise tax on these items to the U.S. Treasury.
An amendment in 1984 (Wallop-Breaux Amendment) added new provisions to the Act by extending the excise tax to previously untaxed items of sport fishing equipment.
Appropriate State agencies are the only entities eligible to receive grant funds. Each State's share is based 60 percent on its licensed anglers (fishermen) and 40 percent on its land and water area. No State may receives more than 5 percent or less than 1 percent of each year's total apportionment. Puerto Rico receives 1 percent, and the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia each receive one-third of 1 percent.
The program is a cost-reimbursement program, where the state covers the full amount of an approved project then applies for reimbursement through Federal Aid for up to 75 percent of the project expenses. The state must provide at least 25 percent of the project costs from a non-federal source. Four amendments to the Sport Fish Restoration Act significantly altered the Program:
Enactment of the Wallop-Breaux Amendment (W-B) in 1984
Inclusion of wetlands conservation provisions in 1990
Creation of a boat-related waste pumpout facilities program through amendments in 1992
Enactment of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998The major element of the W-B Amendment established a new Trust Fund, named the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. Funds are also received from import duties on sport fishing equipment, pleasure boats and yachts. Another source of revenue is a tax from motorboat fuel sales. These motorboat fuel taxes are collected by the U.S. Treasury and then transferred to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for distribution among the States and territories.
The passage of TEA-21 authorized a National Outreach and Communications Program to increase participation in angling and boating while reminding boaters and anglers about the importance of clean aquatic habitats. It also increased the minimum level of spending for boating access to 15% and raised the maximum allowable expenditure of Sport Fish Restoration apportionments for aquatic education and outreach to 15%. TEA-21 created a Boating Infrastructure Program for the construction, maintenance, or renovation of facilities for non-trailerable recreational boats (boats greater than 26 feet in lenght.) TEA-21 raises the amount of Federal gas tax credited to the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund and establishes a "permanent" appropriation for the Boating Safety Account.
Certain portions of these funds must be spent for saltwater sport fisheries and boat access development only. However, the funds available for freshwater sport fish have been enhanced greatly through the addition of the Wallop-Breaux tax.
As with the PR program funds, reimbursements are for approved projects and activities. The state agency has a limited amount of time to document and bill for approved expenditures to obtain the reimbursement or the remaining amounts are reverted. Law enforcement activities are not eligible for reimbursement from the fund. As mentioned earlier, a specific amount of the fund is available only for reimbursement for projects dealing with boat access and a specific amount is set aside for saltwater sport fishing expenditure
Free Saltwater Registry: Show Me the Money
I've written about how we might end up taking money from one pocket and shifting it to another pocket in order to pay for the free saltwater registry. For those of you with an interest in learning more I've detailed how this is so.
During the past week I've spoken with Dave Chanda, Director Division of Fish and Wildlife for a breakdown of the Bureau of Marine Fisheries budget. I've also spoken with John Organ, Ph.D., Chief, Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Mr. Organ is in charge of the Sport Fish Restoration fund, a federal fund from which New Jersey receives money.
The Bureau of Marine Fisheries has a budget of approximately $3.48 million. The prior year the budget was $3.76 million. So, there is already a net loss to the budget of ($280,000).
The $ 3.48 million budget total is comprised of:
~ $1.35 million: received from the federal government (Sport Fish Restoration Act, Wallop Breaux)
~ $345,000 is generated by commercial license sales, shellfish permits, and net licenses.
~ $686,000 is provided by the state treasury through an appropriation (note: in 2009 the State appropriation was $1.97 million).
~ $1.1 million is one time funding being taken from the Nuclear Emergency Response Fund
Total Budget = $3.48 million
Prior Year budget = $3.76 million
Difference from prior year = ($280,000)
It has been estimated that the free saltwater registry will cost $600,000 to implement and manage and was not a consideration when the budget was determined. We can see that not only has the budget decreased by $280,000 from prior year but also an additional $600,000, which was not included in the budget, will have to be taken and spent on the free saltwater registry.
According to Mr. Organ, Ph.D., federal funds (Wallop Breaux) can not be used for purposes of implementing or managing the saltwater registry. (See letter below).
According to Dave Chanda, Director, DFW, the $345,000 in commercial license sales, shellfish permit and net licenses sales are strictly used for managing the resources used by those that pay these fees.
The angling community doesn't know which marine programs will have $600,000 removed in order to pay for the costs of the free saltwater registry. The money could come from the artificial reef program. It might come from the firing of a biologist that works on species management plans for weak fish, black fish, etc. The question we should ask ourselves is whether it will impact our ability to enjoy our marine resources and to what degree?
But, it doesn't have to be this way. We can contact the Governor and request that when he signs the free saltwater registry bill he also designate a funding source that doesn't come from monies used to manage our fisheries and natural resources. He is faced with a $10.7 billion budget deficit and the pressure will be on him to take it from our fisheries programs. (A link and letter are provided for you below).
Here's a noteworthy fact: New Jersey's Marine Fisheries Bureau budget of $3.48 million budget is used to manage 130 miles of New Jersey shoreline. This budget is less than the New Hampshire marine fisheries budget, which is used to manage 13 miles of shoreline. According to USFWS data (2006) NJ ranks dead last in total State Marine funding per angler among every Atlantic Coast State.
It is no wonder the other Atlantic Coast States are in a better position to compete for Coastwide Fisheries quotas. Plus, we have a lot to lose since New Jersey's average recreational harvest ranking from 2002 - 2006 among all 14 Atlantic Coast States was # 1 for species such as summer flounder, bluefish and black sea bass and # 2 for species such as tautog and striped bass.
The other states have surely noticed that New Jersey has been slipping in its ability to manage fisheries. It is likely they are interested in obtaining some of those fish. Removing $600,000 from an already inadequate budget will give them an advantage. The time to get engaged is now. Contact the Governor by going to the following link:
http://capwiz.com/njoutdooralliance/issues/alert/?alertid=24287511 Please do not forget to use the "Tell A Friend" option and share this link with others who may not have received this call to action.
Letter stating federal funds cannot be used on the free saltwater registry:
Dear Director Chanda:
I have received inquiries from many interest groups regarding the eligibility of funding the Saltwater Angling Registry with Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Registration (DJ SFR) dollars. We have determined that this would be ineligible and would not be approved by this office. Our rationale is provided below:
The purpose of the DJ SFR Act (Title 16. Chapter 10B, Sec. 777) is for the Fish and Wildlife Service to cooperate with State fish and wildlife agencies on fish restoration and management projects. Federal Regulations under 50 CFR Part 80 identify eligible undertakings for DJ SFR as:
"Projects having as their purpose the restoration, conservation, management, and enhancement of sport fish, and the provision for public use and benefits from these resources."
50 CFR 80.13 requires projects to be substantial in character and design, having a clearly demonstrated need necessary and reasonable to meet the State's need in restoring and managing sport fish.
Based on the above, it is our determination that use of DJ SFR funds for the Saltwater Angler Registry is not eligible because it does not comport with the purpose of the Act, does not meet criteria for substantiality in character and design, and fulfills a regulatory requirement. The purpose of establishing the Registry would be to meet a requirement imposed by NMFS as opposed to a fishery management priority of the State. The high cost of this coupled with the availability of the data from NMFS for 2010 and possibly 2011 does not measure up to our substantiality criteria.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. John F. Organ, Ph.D., CWB
Chief, Division of Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration
Adjunct Associate Professor of Wildlife Conservation, UMass Amherst
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
300 Westgate Center Drive
Hadley, MA 01035
What We've Been Told & What We Can Do
We were told that a Conservation Lottery would fund the Free Saltwater Registry. We then reported that Hazel Gluck, former Executive Director of the New Jersey State Lottery said it wasn't practical.
We were told a Conservation License plate would fund the Free Saltwater Registry. We then reported our research found that it wouldn't even contribute $50,000 towards the $600,000 cost to fund the free registry.
We were told that federal Wallop-Breaux funds would pay for the registry. We then provided a letter from the person in charge of the federal program stating these funds can not be used for a free saltwater registry.
We were told that the Free Saltwater Registry bill was worked on for many years. We then reported that a fundamental aspect of the bill was overlooked -- it was mistakenly written as a regulation, possibly subjecting the registry unnecessarily to a lengthy delay while exposing people to a $15.00 federal fee.
We were told that using $600,000 from the existing Bureau Marine Fisheries budget would have minimal impact on its operations. We then reported the Bureau's actual budget and detailed how the Free Saltwater Registry might need to be paid for by cannibalizing fishery programs that are already critically underfunded.
We were told that the Department of Environmental Protection has a swollen budget and can fund the Free Saltwater Registry, but it is reported regularly that the state faces a $10.7 billion budget deficit.
If there is a viable funding source readily available to fund the Free Saltwater Registry there was time to include it in the bill. Even our legislators, including sponsors of the bill, have said that they don't have a source for funding the free registry.
We can't say what the newest claim for funding might be, but the 23 council members of the NJOA CF aren't comfortable with relying on wishes and optimism. We'd prefer to determine the future of our fishing experiences for ourselves. The NJOA CF and its members are volunteers and our agenda does not compete with the need to increase our membership rolls so that we may pay for salaries. Instead, we are free to focus on our commitment to the stewardship of our natural resources.
If you feel the same, please contact the Governor and ask him to fund the Free Saltwater Registry. Regardless of what we've been told - this is something we can do. A letter has been written for you at the link that follows:
A saltwater fishing license is the way to go for New Jersey. The federal taxes generated by New Jersey angler purchases were estimated to be in the $141million range in 2006-07; the highest in the nation.
But New Jersey forfeits Wallop-Breaux federal monies every year by not having a licensing program for saltwater anglers.
What is Wallop-Breaux? The 1952 Sport Fishing and Boating Enhancement Fund or the Wallop-Breaux Trust Fund is derived from fees and taxes imposed on recreational fishing equipment, non-commercial motorboat fuel, imported watercraft, and fishing tackle.
“It's an invisible tax. Most people don't even know that they, through the manufacturers, are paying it," said Dan Tredinnick, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, which based its $43 million 2003-2004 budget, almost entirely on license revenues and funds from Wallop-Breaux.
Under this law, 10 percent of the wholesale price is paid by manufacturers and importers to the U.S. Treasury, which gives it to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to apportion to states. (This 10 percent excise tax is in addition to NJ state taxes.)
License sales and Wallop-Breaux are what sustain most state fisheries management.
The federal registry that goes into effect in January, 2010 will not meet the guidelines of Wallop-Breaux and by the end of 2009, New Jersey could be the only state without a saltwater fishing license. What do other states know that we don’t?
New Jerseyans are not only losing a revenue source, we are losing fish.
States that receive their fair share of Wallop-Breaux money can afford three biologists per each fish species. In New Jersey we have three species for every biologist.
When our representatives go to meetings to set regulations for species catch allocations, we are up against states that have larger and more secure funding sources and therefore better research data to plead their case. Once we have lost allocated pounds of a particular species, it will be extremely difficult to get it back up again.
The Cape May Party and Charter Boat Association is joining with other groups in the state, including the NJ Federation of Sportsmen, to prepare legislation enacting a saltwater fishing license that would be tourist friendly while securing increased funding for fisheries management.
This consortium is gaining momentum. The goal is to document the number of saltwater anglers in the state and thereby increase our share of Wallop-Breaux funds. Because of the way this bill (Wallop-Breaux) was written, states cannot take monies for their ‘general’ fund. No state has ever successfully raided the Wallop-Breaux funds. It’s our best chance at ‘dedicated’ monies.
Captain Fred MacFarland agrees.
“Wallop-Breaux monies have more strings than a marionette,” he told me.
Another captain said he’d “rather trust the federal government than the state of NJ.”
New York and Delaware have pretty much agreed to reciprocal licenses which is really a moot point if New Jersey doesn’t have one.
“We’re financing our own demise,” argues MacFarland. New York and Delaware will have the funding to garner a greater allocation of fish.
Right now, by merely estimating the number of saltwater fishers in the state, we are entitled only to the minimum return from Wallop-Breaux. For every angler over and above the minimum, fisheries management could see as much as $7 for each in increased funding.
No one ever wants more taxes or licensing fees. However, the reality is that a NJ saltwater fishing license adds basic funding, accesses a greater portion of our fair share of Wallop-Breaux funds and gives us a level playing field when it comes to yearly fishing regulations. It’s time to back up our recreational fishing industry and environmental management data with a real commitment and that means a fee-based license.