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NJ UPDATE: FISHING THROUGH COVID-19

Regular updates from New Jersey, Delaware Bay edition of The Fisherman Magazine related to regionally fishing through the COVID-19 crisis.
By Jim Hutchinson  |  March 27, 2020
NJ UPDATE: FISHING THROUGH COVID-19
A social distancing flyer issued by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife website at www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw.

For continual updates during the COVID-19 crisis see additional links below.

On March 24, 2020 The Fisherman reported efforts by the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) to seek a waiver from the New Jersey State Police to allow bait and tackle shops to continue operating as an “essential business” - should those owners choose to do so – in an effort to safely provide fresh bait and/or essential fishing tackle by way of curbside delivery response to phone orders with payment by credit card.

Signed by RFA executive director Jim Donofrio, the letter to Col. Patrick J. Callahan seeks the Superintendent’s consideration of “those in the recreational fishing industry, bait and tackle shops and licensed for-hire operators catering to legal, sustainable harvest of seafood for personal consumption” as essential retail operations, so long as those businesses take precautions for the health and safety of both workers and customers, similar to what’s being done in the commercial fishing sector.

As of Friday morning, March 27, there has been no official word from the State of New Jersey as to the status of curbside delivery of bait and tackle, or the lawful operation of for-hire vessels in the state. **On April 7, The Fisherman Magazine posts NJ Curbside Bait & Tackle is open.

However, in addition to the original list of essential brick and mortar businesses outlined in New Jersey governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order No. 107 issued on March 21, the governor officially added mobile phone retail and repair shops; livestock feed stores; nurseries and garden centers; farming equipment stores; and bicycle shops, only for service and repair, to the list of essential businesses on Tuesday, March 24.

New Jersey anglers and recreational fishing industry leaders are encouraged to stay tuned to TheFisherman.com, The Fisherman's Facebook page and The Fisherman's YouTube channel for late-breaking news and updates.

As for being allowed to fish while ensuring “social distancing” practices, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) did post recommendations for those visiting State Parks, advising anglers specifically to “keep your distance” as you drop your lines, adding “As warmer weather and the spring trout fishing season approaches, anglers are reminded that the six-foot distance rule remains in effect. If the required distance cannot be maintained, find another area to fish.” The NJDEP noted that entrance fees are not being charged at state parks and forests, but did explain how “Trails are open for exercise such as walking, fishing, hiking and biking as long as social distancing requirements are observed.”

Marine Trades Association of New Jersey offers online resources for businesses during the Coronavirus emergency.

Those anglers looking to hit the local beaches in search of spring stripers should consider checking first with town websites or social media accounts first, as a number of municipalities are closing their beaches and boardwalks amid the coronavirus pandemic.

For more advice and recommendations from NJDEP along with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) see the following links.

New Jersey - NJDEP ADDRESSES COVID-19 “SOCIAL DISTANCING” IN STATE PARKS

Pennsylvania - PFBC RESPONDS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT COVID-19

Delaware - DNREC OFFERS TIPS TO ENJOY OUTDOORS SAFELY

New York - NYDEC SAYS RECREATE LOCALLY, SAFELY & RESPONSIBLY

Learn how NOAA Fisheries is actively monitoring and adjusting to the COVID-19 national health crisis.

LATEST UPDATES
On April 18, NJ Governor Phil Murphy, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, and CT Governor Ned Lamont announce that marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers will be allowed to open for personal use during the COVID-19 crisis.

On April 7, The Fisherman Magazine posts NJ Curbside Bait & Tackle is open.

During his April 7 daily press briefing Governor Phil Murphy announces that all state and county parks in the state of New Jersey will close as of 8 p.m. while leaving local towns and municipalities to make determinations for their own parks.

April 3 release of COVID-19 Fishing Guidelines from the state of New Jersey which states “anglers must fish alone or with immediate family members and cannot fish in groups of any size (no matter how small), either on land or by boat.”

On April 3, small businesses and independent contractors can apply for funds from the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) established by the CARES Act. This program provides businesses forgivable loans to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs and benefits, interest on mortgages, rent and utilities resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more about the program from the U.S. Treasury Department fact sheet (PDF).

April 2, the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife issues Spring 2020 Hunting and Fishing FAQs confirming that charter and party boats are not allowed to take customers fishing during the COVID-19 crisis.

April 1 video by Dave Golden, Director of the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife on COVID-19 fishing guidelines.

On March 31, it was announced by NJDEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe that catch and release fishing on trout-stocked waters in the Garden State would commence on April 1. “This is to help us, to help you maintain safe, social distance while fishing," McCabe said during the governor's daily press briefing, recommending that angler keep 6 feet of "social distancing" space between other anglers. The actual opener in which legal harvest of trout may occur remains April 11 in New Jersey.

On March 31, the state of Delaware and its DNREC issues emergency order limiting recreational options for out-of-state visitors while allowing for restricted surf fishing.

March 27 video by Olivia Glenn, NJDEP Director of Parks and Forestry on "social distancing" in New Jersey state parks.

March 27 letter from the American Sportfishing Association to New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy requesting "essential" business status waiver for bait and tackle shops.