After having two of three originally scheduled meetings for 2020 already cancelled, the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council (Council) is slated to meet at 5 p.m. on May 14 at the Galloway Township Branch of the Atlantic County Library at 306 East Jimmie Leeds Road in Galloway, NJ, just east of Exit 41 off the Garden State Parkway.
By statute, the Council should have 11 members made up of recreational and commercial fishermen, fish processors, the general public and the Atlantic Coast and Delaware Bay sections of the Shellfisheries Council. Regrettably, the Council is currently short four members, one representative from the sportfish community, one processor, one commercial and one member of the public. As defined by statute, at least six members of the Council members must be present to constitute a quorum; while the March meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19, the January meeting was postponed due to lack of quorum.
A volunteer group, the Council is responsible for advising the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on various issues and management programs related to marine fishery resources. Following regional actions made by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission during their winter meetings, it’s typically the March meeting of Council where annual regulations for the state of New Jersey are finalized after public comment. Because of the late-breaking decision on striped bass and the cancellation of January’s hearing due to not having enough members to constitute a quorum, the Council met to an overflow of public participation in Manahawkin on February 13.
As to the four missing members, state statute dictates that the governor of New Jersey – with the advice and consent of the New Jersey Senate via the senate president – must appoint the members. There’s been no official word from either Governor Phil Murphy or Senate President Stephen Sweeney as to when these vacancies would be filled.
To confirm date and time of the May 14 meeting or to learn about becoming an official advisor to the Council, call the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Fisheries Administration at 609-292-7794.