In the Bag - The Fisherman

In the Bag

Starting June 1, single-use plastic bags are officially banned in the town of Brigantine. According to the Atlantic City Press, the Brigantine City Council unanimously adopted the new ordinance back in September to make it “unlawful for businesses including supermarkets, drugstores, food marts and restaurants to provide single-use carryout bags made of plastic.” The ordinance was passed to address plastic bag litter on streets, beaches, parks and coastal environment.

There are a couple of commercial exemptions; 40-inch dry cleaner’s poly garment bags are okay, as are single-use carryout bags that are a maximum of 11 by 17 inches, without handles, provided for customers to transport produce, bulk food, meat, or seafood from one department within a store to the cash register, or to hold prescription medication dispensed from a pharmacy. Single-use carryout plastics can also be provided exclusively “for the purposes of transporting any live or previously live and now frozen substance used to attract and catch fish and/or crabs.”

“We are exempt as far as the bait goes but if you are buying a pack of hooks or rigs and there is no fresh or frozen bait with it then we will not be able to use the single-use plastic bags,” noted Capt. Andy Grossman of Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine. He’s advising that customers bring their own, small cooler or reusable bags when making purchases at the shop, and said his crew will gladly put bait into customers’ reusable bags if they wish.

“Like most of us know, our anglers usually clean up the spot that they are fishing at so that it is a much cleaner area when they leave than when the got there,” noted Capt. Andy, adding “I do understand and I support the plastic bag ban and thank you all for your anticipated understanding and involvement.”

A hassle? Perhaps in the short term; but take note of how many of these single-use bags find their way to our inshore waters, and it’s pretty understandable. In fact, I think most fishermen in particular can appreciate the rationale behind a plastic bag ban.

My wife and I have gotten into a habit of keeping nylon and canvas bags in her vehicle when shopping; honestly, our original purpose was when shopping at those bag-less wholesale clubs and purchasing pallets of toilet paper and twelve-packs of peanut butter. After getting over the initial annoyance, it’s become pretty commonplace for us.

You’ve no doubt seen a news report about the problems with plastics in our oceans. If not just Google “ocean plastics” and you’ll find enough reading to last a month. Interestingly enough, the problem has been exacerbated in the past year, ever since China officially banned the import of “foreign garbage” into their country. Lost in all the spring debate over trade wars and tariffs is the fact that America’s greatest export prior to 2018 was probably the recycled waste we shipped to China, which they converted into plastic products ultimately resold back to the American public. That’s no longer happening, and U.S. cities in particular are having a difficult time dealing with previously recycled waste, which is now forcing smaller communities, especially those along the coast, to take preemptive measures.

At least two dozen New Jersey towns currently have some sort of plastic bag ban in place, and you can bet that more are coming. Riptide rotters, bunker, and bloods are cool in plastic; but your hooks, swivels, plugs and other miscellaneous tackle will have to leave the shop by something else. Just don’t tell my wife that she’s short one Trader Joe’s bag from the back of her car!

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