New Reef Solely For Recreational Fishing

jacksNew Jersey plans to create a new artificial fishing reef north of Barnegat Inlet exclusively for the use of recreational fishermen.

State officials said the agreement is expected to resolve federal concerns that commercial fishing is intruding on and hampering recreational fishing in artificial reefs in state waters, which extend to three miles offshore.

The reefs, which are magnets for fish, are funded by excise taxes on recreational fishing gear and motor boat fuel. Private donations also support the costs of obtaining, cleaning and deploying suitable material to build the reefs.

The new reef is expected to take one to two years to design and build, and even longer to become fully productive.

The state holds permits for 13 artificial reefs in federal waters and two in state waters. They are made of materials from concrete and steel to old ships and barges, creating surfaces for marine organisms to grow, providing both food and shelter for fish.

The DEP said it will petition the federal Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council for a designation that would allow commercial gear to be prohibited on all 13 existing artificial reefs in federal waters. The council has sole authority over reefs in federal waters.

In New Jersey, recreational saltwater fishing brings in more than $640 million in retail sales and is directly responsible for nearly 10,000 jobs and $165 million in state and local taxes.

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