Notice of Rule Proposal
Fish Code for 2004-2005 fishing season – Proposed Amendments:
N.J.A.C. 7:25-6

Public Notice
Take notice that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection
is proposing amendments to N.J.A.C. 7:25 – 6 Fish Code for the
2004 – 2005 fishing season. A statement of the substance of
the proposal follows: The Fish Code, states when, by what means,
and at which locations, in what numbers, and at what sizes,
fish may be pursued, caught, killed, or possessed. The proposed
amendments to the rule attempt to balance opportunities for
recreational fishing with adequate protection of the natural
resource. Specific ammendments include:

  1. Opening day of the 2004 trout season has been set for April
    10, 2004 (N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.3(a)). All of the dates, throughout
    the Code, which are dependent on this date have been adjusted
  2. 2004 is a leap year and therefore, season dates beginning
    or ending on the last date of February have been adjusted
    accordingly in N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.13(q-r) and N.J.A.C 7:25-6.19.
  3. The Fish and Game Council proposes to amend the definition
    of baitfish listed in N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.2 to indicate that both
    alewife (anadromous and landlocked forms) and blueback herring
    are no longer considered a baitfish in the Delaware River,
    but instead are a foodfish. This change was made to be consistent
    with the definition of foodfish on the Delaware River as set
    forth in N.J.S.A. 23:9-5 and the regulations established by
    the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (58 PA. CODE CHS.
    61). Alewife herring are still regulated as baitfish in the
    remainder of the State.
  4. Under definitions (N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.2) of “baitfish,”
    Gizzard shad was added. The intent of this proposed change
    is to allow greater harvest of gizzard shad. Gizzard shad
    is a highly prolific species which quickly becomes over abundant
    in a number of New Jersey waters.
  5. The proposed amendments of N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.2 also removes
    hickory shad and alewife (anadromous form) from the list of
    foodfish for the taking with nets (N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.11). The
    removal of hickory shad was made to be consistent with recent
    changes to Pennsylvania Regulations (58 PA. CODE CHS. 61).
    Pennsylvania currently has a closed season on hickory shad,
    due to concerns with its lack of abundance in the Delaware
    River. Alewife (anadromous form) was removed to prevent the
    taking of alewife, during their spring spawning run, via the
    use of haul seines, fykes and gill nets in the State’s
    rivers. This recommendation is made to protect the migratory
    spawning run of alewife herring. Since alewife are anadromous
    they are also a marine species. Therefore, under N.J.A.C.
    7:25-6.2, an exclusion for alewife was added under the heading
    of other marine species under the definition of foodfish.
    Landlocked alewives can still be taken in lakes, over 250
    acres, by special permit issued by the Division.
  6. At N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.3(f), the current trout stocked stretch
    on the Passaic River, White Bridge to Dead River, will be
    extended from White Bridge Rd to Rt 24, Chatham Borough. This
    will increase the recreational trout fishing opportunities
    on the Passaic River by two miles.
  7. Due to the excellent reproducing trout fisheries documented,
    the following waters will be designated as Wild Trout Streams
    at N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.5: Saddle River, State Line Road to Lake
    Street; Whippany River, source to Tingley Road; and Jackson
    Brook, source to Hedden Park Lake. This will protect the valuable
    fishery resources within these streams as well as promote
    recreational fishing opportunities.
  8. The baitfish regulations at N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.10(e) have been
    amended to allow the taking of baitfish, other than alewife
    and blueback herring, from the freshwaters of the State by
    special permit. An amendment to a previous year’s Code
    permitted the taking of baitfish only in lakes greater than
    250 acres. The intent of the amendment was to prohibit the
    taking of alewives in streams, not to prohibit the taking
    of all other baitfish within a stream environment. This years
    change rectifies the error and provides protection to the
    alewife migratory run without precluding the taking of other
    baitfish species.
  9. At N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.11(2)(i), to allow for the continuation
    of a historic fishery on the Delaware River but continue to
    protect this valuable resource from exploitation, permits
    for haul seines exceeding 70 fathoms in length will be issued
    for the Delaware River, upstream of the wing dam at Lambertville,
    only for permittees who have obtained approval from the Division
    prior to January 1, 2004. New permittees will be restricted
    to seines not to exceed 70 fathoms in length in this section
    of the Delaware River.
  10. The start date for the 2004 gill net season, and each year
    thereafter, will change from March 1st to May 1st. This change
    at N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.11 (2) (v) was made to protect the spawning
    run of alewife herring (anadromous form), which occurs from
    the beginning of March through the middle of April. Conversely,
    the spawning run of blueback herring occurs at the beginning
    of May through June. Alewife herring is similar in appearance
    and easily mistaken as a blueback herring. However, gill net
    permits are issued for the taking of blueback herring only.
    The later start date will reduce the number of alewife herring
    inadvertently being captured.
  11. Under N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.11 the exclusion for striped bass
    for the taking by haul seines, fykes and gill nets was removed.
    Striped bass is not listed under the definition of species
    approved for the taking by nets, N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.2, so therefore
    the additional inclusion under N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.11 is unnecessary.
    However, since striped bass are anadromous they are also a
    marine species. Therefore, under N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.2, an exclusion
    for striped bass was added under the heading of other marine
    species under the definition of foodfish.
  12. The foul hooking of alewife and blueback herring will be
    banned under N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.12. Snagging herring as a method
    of collecting fish causes a high degree of collateral mortality
    that often includes striped bass and other game fishes.
  13. Under N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.13(a) the minimum size for muskellunge
    and tiger muskie will be increased from 30 inches to 36 inches
    and the creel reduced from two fish per day to one fish per
    day at Mercer Lake. This regulation change will be consistent
    with other state waters that are stocked with true strain
    muskellunge and have an established and targeted fishery.
  14. Under N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.13(t) the daily limit for sunfish
    at Rainbow Lake, Salem County, will be reduced from 25 (N.J.A.C.
    7:25-6.13(c)) to 10 per day and a minimum size of 7 inches
    be set. This will serve to protect the excellent panfish population
    as angler access, and interest in the lake, has greatly increased.
  15. Fishing within the flumes of Deal Lake, Wreck Pond and Lake
    Takanasee will be prohibited from March 1 to June 30 under
    7:25-6.16(a). The outlet structure design of these impoundments
    congregate fish through narrow raceways making fish extremely
    vulnerable to capture particularly during spring spawning
  16. For consistency with regulations with the Pennsylvania Fish
    and Boat Commission pertaining to the Delaware River (58 PA.
    CODE CHS. 61), a closed season has been included on hickory
    shad at N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.20(a). Hickory shad are an uncommon
    species in freshwater and there are concerns about the abundance
    of this species within the Delaware River.
  17. At N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.20(a), the daily bag limit for alewife
    and blueback herring has been reduced from 50 to 35 Statewide,
    including the Delaware River. This reduction in bag limit
    is to be consistent with newly adopted Pennsylvania Regulations
    (58 PA. CODE CHS. 61.2) and to limit the number of alewives
    which may be captured on a daily basis for personal use.
  18. Application requirements were added to permitting requirements
    for baitfish, netting and snapping turtle harvest under N.J.A.C.
    7:25-6.10, 7:25-6.11 and 7:25-6.22. Permit conditions, similar
    to those for baitfish and snapping turtle permits, were outlined
    for netting permits under 6.11(a)6. These conditions include
    a reporting requirement. Harvest information received from
    commercial anglers is extremely valuable for successful species
    management. Under 6.22(a)3, a condition preventing the transfer
    of turtle and frog permits to other operators was included.
    In addition, the Code, under N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.10, 6.11, 6.13,
    6.20, and 6.22, was further clarified that the intent of issuance
    of gill net, haul seine, baitfish, and snapping turtle permits
    was for the sale of the species collected under these permits.
  19. For clarification purposes two sections, N.J.A.C. 7:25-6.25
    and 6:26, were added. Section 7:25-6.25 outlines penalties
    for failure to comply with permits issued by the Division.
    Revocation of permits was also outlined for failure to abide
    by conditions set forth in the permits issued. Revocation
    would be in addition to penalties already outlined in the
    statutes. Section 7:25-6.26 defines appeal procedures for
    permit denial and revocation in accordance with the Administrative
    Procedure Act, N.J.S.A. 52:14B-1.

The proposal is scheduled to be published in the New Jersey
Register dated July 21, 2003. A copy of the proposal is available
from: NJDEP
Division of Fish and Wildlife website
; NJ Division of Fish
and Wildlife, Bureau of Freshwater Fisheries P.O. 400 Trenton,
NJ 08625; NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife Regional Offices;
Westlaw Publishing at 1-800-808-WEST). Be advised there may
be a fee for obtaining a copy of the proposal from some sources.

A public hearing concerning the proposal is scheduled as follows:

Tuesday, August 12, 2003 at 2 pm
Assunpink Wildlife Management Area
Central Regional Office – Conference Room
Robbinsville, New Jersey 08691

Written comments may be submitted by September 19, 2003 to:

Mr. Martin J. McHugh, Director
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Fish and Wildlife
PO Box 400
Trenton, New Jersey 08625