Editor’s Log: The Two Mile Fight - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: The Two Mile Fight

After decades of fighting for angler access to Two Mile Beach and the Cold Spring Inlet Jetty in Wildwood Crest I recently learned that the “NOT WELCOME” sign has been re-hung and the public is once again being denied entry to this land based fishing hot spot.

My initial thought was what threatened and endangered specie is it this time? Or could this be Coronavirus related?

Nope.  None of the above.  The reason given was liability concerns due to there not being a lifeguard.  I kid you not.

Per the office of Congressman Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ 2nd District) the U.S. Coast Guard took action to restrict the public’s access due to “liability concerns with non-compliance of NJ State policies regarding guarded beaches.”  And “undecided gray areas” as to whether or not the Army Core of Engineers (ACOE) and State Public Access legislation applies to beaches owned by the military.

So ignore decades of precedent and the public’s right to access tidal waters due a litigious society and government bureaucracy.  Seems pretty much par for the course for 2020 thus far.  I apologize to the birds and turtles for initially thinking it were their fault (insert sarcastic eye roll here).

Land-based anglers don’t fish in guarded areas at the Jersey Shore.  Ever.  So regardless of compliance with State “guarded beach” policies, fishermen and women should never have been denied access to this beach.  And since the public accesses un-guarded beaches for most of the year I’m not seeing the logic in even turning away a day tripper and their beach chair.

Personally, I’d love to know who voiced this possible liability initially and wish that they had reached out to an advocacy group such as the Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) prior to restricting access.  Certainly seems like an issue that could have been resolved without a closure.

The good news is that Congressman Van Drew and Admiral Karl Schultz, 26th Commandant of the United States Coast Guard, both seem willing to work towards a solution that will allow the public back onto the beach.  But as often is the case in these situations anglers need to remain vigilant to ensure we get this beach re-opened.

A phone call or email to the Congressman’s office would go a long way towards getting anglers back to catching fish on Two Mile Beach and in Cold Spring Inlet.  Contact Rep. Van Drew’s Mays Landing office directly at 609-625-5008 and ask for his support of surfcasters within his district.

The author is president of the Merchantville Fishing Club and Association of Surf Angling Clubs, vice president of the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic (the LBI Derby), and the National Shore Access Representative for the Recreational Fishing Alliance.  Image courtesy of Mapcarta.com.

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