Windmills & Haymakers - The Fisherman

Windmills & Haymakers

Did you know the last South Jersey native elected governor of New Jersey was Richard J. Hughes? Born in Burlington County, Hughes was governor from 1962 to 1970. The last time we had a governor who actually hailed from a Jersey Shore community was the mid-1930s when Harold Hoffman of South Amboy was governor. Hoffman was quite the character; other than embezzlement and promoting a state sales tax, he was best known for getting into fist-fights with reporters (Sounds a little familiar, doesn’t it?). There have been a couple of Monmouth, Burlington and Gloucester County natives at the governor’s desk, but no one born in Ocean, Atlantic or Cape May counties. No, I really don’t have a point; I just find it fascinating that the Jersey Shore can’t find a coastal fisherman to hang his waders at the mansion door at Drumthwacket. Of course, there was that sandals incident at the governor’s mansion at Island Beach a few years back…

While our state capital and every elected official that works there are easy marks for editorial attack, I must say the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (Division) have kept pretty busy behind the scenes based on the monthly Division updates I receive on marine fisheries initiatives. On the artificial reef front, Division staff is developing six artificial reef deployment projects this year, with three caisson gates slated for deployment on two South Jersey sites, one in North Jersey. As of mid-spring, sponsorship is under development and partially secured for four of the six projects. In addition to these large lock gates, there are also three boats – a 210-foot fishing vessel and a couple of tugs – projected to be sponsored by North Jersey fishing clubs. Anglers should take note that Division staffers are also conducting an Artificial Reef Pot Survey at the Little Egg, Sea Girt, and Manasquan Inlet reefs this summer; keep an eye out for the high flyers with the Division logo on the flag, and do your best to avoid them if possible.

Division workers are also in the field doing intercept data for recreational harvest surveys. What was once a task undertaken through third party vendors working for the federal government is now being run by qualified folks working with the Division to get a better understanding of our local catches, which hopefully will help improve the Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) overall. By the way, as of April 30, there were 60,745 individuals and 450 for-hire vessels registered for 2019 with the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program, which is what’s supposed to feed that MRIP engine. In terms of bluefish, the Division said their landings data indicates that state commercial fishermen only harvested 5 percent of its allowable quota in 2018, while the recreational harvest was the second lowest recorded since 1985 (Actual recreational “catch” was seventh lowest during the same timeframe.). Even more disheartening is that the young of the year index taken from the Delaware River seine survey was the lowest in the time series, while New Jersey’s ocean trawl bluefish index was seventh lowest. Bluefish was last assessed in 2015, and is currently undergoing an operational assessment.

Finally, the Division has been compiling data and research recommendations in response to Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Board of Public Utilities (BPU) offshore wind energy projects proposed off the Jersey Coast. Don’t think these offshore windfarms will affect fish and fishermen? To quote the Bureau of Marine Fisheries, “these projects will have significant impact on both recreational and commercial fisheries for New Jersey.”

Again, just something I find fascinating. If Governor “Windmill” Murphy was a little more like “Haymaker” Hoffman, I would probably keep my dukes up, just in case he should ever stumble across this reporter’s observations.
Enjoy the Fourth my friends, and God bless America!

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