After months of intense lobbying by the Recreational Fishing Alliance and friends, the New Jersey General Assembly passed Assembly Bill No. 3512 which prohibits the taking of menhaden in state waters for the purpose of reduction including conversion to fish meal, oil, and other components.
Menhaden are small oily fish that largely provide the foundation for the marine food chain in New Jersey waters. Due to predator/prey relationships, stocks of fish that the recreational sector depends on such as bluefish, striped bass, summer flounder, and weakfish are dependent upon healthy stocks of menhaden.
New Jersey was one of the few states that allowed commercial reduction vessels to ply its waters for menhaden. These operations, based in Louisiana, Mississippi and Virginia, use airplanes to spot menhaden and large factory ships to net entire schools of these important fish right off the coast. The fish are then taken and reduced into fish meal and oil. In fact, reduction boats removed 45.6 million pounds of menhaden from state waters (1.2 - 3 n mi) and a total of 75.8 million pounds off the New Jersey coast in 2000.
Assemblyman Steve Corodemus (R-11) sponsored this legislation and many have pushed for it with an acute sense of the important role that recreational fishing plays in New Jersey and how essential it is to have healthy stocks of forage fish. "This legislative campaign is important locally and nationally because it highlights the economic significance of recreational fishing, it highlights the importance of maintaining predator/prey relationships, and most importantly, for the message it sends: politicians must heed the rising voices of the recreational fishing community," said Herb Moore Jr., Legislative Research Coordinator for the RFA.
A3512 will help sustain the foundation of the marine food chain, maintain natural predator/prey relationships and thus, help ensure the survival of thousands of New Jersey businesses. "This is more evidence that government will do the right thing for our marine resources when recreational anglers organize and present a solid case," said Michael Doebley, RFA Pennsylvania State Chairman. The RFA congratulates everyone who has worked so hard on this issue including Assemblyman Steve Corodemus who proved once again that he is a true champion for sport fishermen.