As of April 1, 2020, new bluefish and striped bass regulations are officially in effect for New Jersey marine waters.  Recreational bluefish bag limits are now effectively the same wherever you fish, that being a three fish limit for private anglers and five fish limit for those fishing with a for-hire captain.

In a statement released by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (Division) in February, it was explained that New Jersey selected this particular option based on the coastwide default measure voted upon by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council.  The Division had submitted a number of conservation equivalency options, most of which however were rejected by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

A recent assessment shows that the bluefish stock is overfished (spawning stock biomass is too low) but the stock is not experiencing overfishing.  According to the Division, the regulatory changes are not explicitly addressing the overfished stock declaration, but are just designed to constrain harvest to the 2020 recreational harvest limits.  “These regulations are expected to keep fishing mortality in check, but more work is needed to address spawning stock biomass,” the statement noted.

As for striped bass, as of April 1 the new limit in effect for New Jersey coastal waters is one fish at 28 to less than 38 inches in length.  The new limit takes ASMFC conservation equivalency into account, allowing New Jersey anglers an extra 3 inches in size over some neighboring states like New York which has a one fish at 28 to less than 35 inches in place.  For Delaware anglers, the new limit is one striper from 28 to 35 inches, except in Delaware Bay, River and its tributaries from 7/1-8/31 during which time angler limit is two fish from 20 to 25 inches during ‘summer slot’ season. No harvest is permitted from spawning grounds along the Delaware from 4/1-5/31.

The application process for New Jersey’s Striped Bass Bonus Program (SBBP) is officially open as of April 1.  Anglers wishing to participate in the SBBP as of May 15 need to download and submit the SBBP application first that’s found at  Effective May 15, the SBBP regulations are one fish per permit 24 inches to less than 28 inches from 5/15-12/31.



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