The New Jersey legislature is close to passing a FY 2018 budget for the state. In February, Governor Chris Christie submitted his $35.5 billion proposed budget. The proposed budget included $2.34 million for Shellfish and Marine Fisheries and maintains the number of full-time positions at 34.
“These proposed funding levels are flat-line relative to 2017 and are far too low relative to the size, importance and economic value of New Jersey's commercial and recreational fisheries,” said the Recreational Fishing Alliance.
The 1st District delegation of Senator Jeff Van Drew, Assemblymen Bob Andrzejczak and R. Bruce Land have offered budget resolutions to increase the funding level for marine fisheries by 1.2 million dollars in FY18. These resolutions need to be approved and accepted by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee, which are chaired by Senate Paul Sarlo and Assembly Gary Schaer, respectively. The budget resolutions must be accepted and released from the committees before they can be included in the budget and voted on by the full Senate and Assembly.
"The Recreational Fishing Alliance commends the 1st District delegation for fighting to increase the woefully inadequate budget for the Bureau of Marine Fisheries," said Executive Director Jim Donofrio. "As we saw first hand this year with summer flounder, science is needed to make and win the arguments for more reasonable recreational fishing regulations.
"New Jersey's marine fisheries staff does an outstanding job working on behalf of the recreational fishing community in the state," he added. "It is now up to fishermen who need to fight to ensure that these dedicated individuals have adequate resources to do their job."
The RFA is asking all fishermen in New Jersey to call Chairman Paul Sarlo and Gary Schaer and ask them to accept the budget resolutions offered by the 1st district delegation. You do not need to speak to them directly; you can leave a message with the legislative aids in their offices explaining that you support the budget resolutions put forward by the 1st District that will increase funding for marine fisheries management by S1.2 million to a total of $3.55 million for FY18. The budget committees could be meeting as early as June 26.
Senator Paul Sarlo 201-804-8118
Assemblyman Gary Schaer 973-249-3665
Once released from the respective committees, a budget will go before the Senate and Assembly for a full vote. If passed, the budget will be forwarded to Governor Christie's desk for signing. At that point, the RFA will again call on anglers to take action and contact Governor Christie's office in support of increased funding the Bureau of Marine Fisheries.