Editor’s Log: Pork Roll vs. Taylor Ham - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Pork Roll vs. Taylor Ham

Forgive me if this sounds like I’m making light of a grave conflict overseas, but the “two-state solution” debate has raged along the Jersey Shore for decades, at least since 1980 when five southern counties voted to secede from the north to create a 51st United State.  As a teenager with a new driver’s license and dirt brown ‘72 Buick LeSabre in the mid-80s, I remember driving from Barnegat to visit my grandmother at my family’s home in Ocean City.  After helping with a few outside chores – and sharing a Voltaco’s cheesesteak – I grabbed my keys and kissed grandmom goodbye.  “You heading back to North Jersey,” she asked with a sarcastic smile.

Suffice to say, wherever you are in the Garden State, anything north of you is probably North Jersey!  That concept was thrown into a tailspin last summer when Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation establishing a new “official” boundary for the state tourism map, with Central Jersey now recognized as Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset counties, with North Jersey officially ending around the Raritan River.  Thus, according to Trenton legislators, South Jersey is officially comprised of every county south/east of Mercer and Middlesex counties; I have to think my Cape May County ancestors are laughing in their graves at the thought of Sandy Hook being legislated into South Jersey!

At the March 7th meeting of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council (Council) the pork roll vs. Taylor Ham divide reared its ugly head again when the meeting, originally scheduled for Manahawkin, was moved 20 miles south to Galloway Township due to a scheduling conflict.  Perhaps 20 miles isn’t a big deal to most people, but for a Bergen County angler, that’s the difference between a 4-hour and 3-hour round trip, a pretty big deal if you ask me!

You may have seen the folded map example I gave in my February 29th weekly video fishing forecast, but try this at home sometime; take a printed map of New Jersey and fold the northeast corner in Bergen County down to meet the southern tip of Cape May to find the north/south demarcation line, which falls smack dab in the middle with Toms River along the fold.  So, does this mean that when Council comes together every March to memorialize a new season of bag and size limits that they should hold the meeting in Toms River as a centrally located location?  You’re darn right it does!

Truth be told, the “fluke vs. flounder” divide is not something that’s lost on the Council either.  When presenting the advisory panel’s recommendation for the 2024 regulations (see News Brief on page XX) coming out of their final meeting before the March 7th vote, the advisory panel’s chairman Pat Donnelly noted:

Additional comments were made at the meeting regarding the location of the Marine Fisheries Council meetings held in southern New Jersey providing challenges to stakeholders in the northern region of the state and their ability to attend in person given the time of day and the location of the council meetings.”

I’ve covered a lot of Council meetings over the years, and I can honestly say that the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife did a terrific job ensuring that management options were delivered in a more timely fashion prior to decision day 2024, while also ensuring that all public comments were heard during the meeting itself.  That said, the Galloway Township public library maxes out at around 100 or so people, which is probably a third of the crowd to be expected to meet in the middle for such an important management hearing.

You don’t need new legislation in Trenton to make sense, or to address fairness in regional politics; you either have it or you don’t.  Clearly, Gov. Murphy and his DEP leadership ain’t got it!

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