Editor’s Log: “And So Forth” - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: “And So Forth”

“And the equestrian flogging continues…” 

That was the opening line of my first draft of this May edition editor’s log for The Fisherman. Most readers know I’ve spent the past 5 years railing against New Jersey’s lame duck governor, Phil Murphy, and his New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) commissioner Shawn LaTourette, over a pair of vacant seats at the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council (Council).  Apparently, I’ve beaten this dead horse to the point where one top NJDEP bureaucrat refers to me internally as “the heckler.” Well, if standing up for citizen participation and our legally protected voice in the fisheries management process makes me a “heckler” then so be it.

By now, you know the details.  I’ve written extensively of how the Council was established by the Marine Fisheries Management and Commercial Fisheries Act of 1979 (N.J.S.A.23:2B) signed into law 45 years ago by Governor Brendan Byrne “to encourage citizen participation through advisory councils,” noting specifically how “decisions concerning the distribution and allocation of fisheries resources have important consequences for all citizens of this state.” By legal statute, the Council should consist of 11 members, nine of whom are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the New Jersey Senate.

Those nine governor-appointed members are supposed to include four members of the recreational fishing community, two active commercial fin-fishermen, one active fish processor, and two members representing the general public (with the final two seats representing the state’s two shellfish councils).  Since Governor Phil Murphy’s second year in office, the Council has been two members short, one angling rep, and one member of the general public.

A year ago this month I attended a Memorial Day weekend press event in Asbury Park and questioned the NJDEP Commissioner, on camera, about these vacancies.  “I’ve had some conversations with some of our friends in the legislature about this and I do think that we’re going to see some movement there,” LaTourette replied, fidgeting rather uncomfortably in his seat.  “Unfortunately we don’t, we don’t get to control that because while we staff Council from the perspective, from the department, we don’t get to control what the senate schedule is, and so forth,” he added.

And so forth, the words it would seem of a man with nothing truthful to say on the matter.  The senate can only “advise and consent” on names actually delivered by the governor’s appointment office, which they never were; in other words, Commissioner LaTourette was simply trying to “control” the narrative, which this heckler views as a dead horse of a different color.  Factually speaking, state senators can’t approve names not sent by the governor’s office for a vote; that’s a little like putting the cart in front of a dead horse.

This month’s original editor’s log changed on April 9th when I received a tip, “names have left the governor’s office and are in the hands of the senate.”  The next morning I checked the list of senate nominations received by the state legislature and found the two missing Council appointments had finally left the governor’s office!  Sea Girt’s Greg Hueth of the party boat Big Mohawk was officially nominated to take over the sportfishing seat left vacant when Sergio Radossi stepped away from the Council in 2020, while Lakewood’s John Tiedemann, a professor at Monmouth University, has been tabbed for the “at large” seat to replace James Alexis who left the Council in 2019.

The next New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 16 at the Stafford Township Municipal Building at 26 East Bay Avenue in Manahawkin. After nearly 6 long years, it will be nice seeing a full stable again in Galloway, especially one that doesn’t leave New Jersey’s saltwater anglers seriously handicapped at the vetting window.

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