Notice of Rule Proposal
Proposed Amendments to 2014–2015 Fish Code N.J.A.C. 7:25-6

Take notice that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Fish and Game Council is proposing amendments to N.J.A.C. 7:25-6, the Fish Code.  A statement of the substance of the proposal follows:  The proposed 2014-2015 Fish Code, N.J.A.C. 7:25-6, states when, by what means, at which locations, in what numbers, and at what sizes, freshwater fish may be pursued, caught, killed, or possessed.  Since the turn of the century, the Fish Code has provided a system for the protection, propagation, introduction and conservation of freshwater fish in this State and for their use and development for public recreation and food supply. Biennial revisions of season dates, creel limits and other regulations based on scientific investigation and research ensures the greatest likelihood of success in reaching these goals.  The Fish Code governs when, by what means, at which locations, in what numbers, and at what sizes, fish may be pursued, caught, killed, or possessed.

Proposed amendments include the following: The Council proposes to regulate a 4.2 mile section of the Big Flat Brook, from Route 206 bridge downstream to the Roy Bridge, and the South Branch of the Raritan River, Ken Lockwood Gorge section, as catch and release only, artificial lures and flies only.  As a result of this change the Council proposes to no longer regulate the Ken Lockwood Gorge as a Year Round Trout Conservation Area.  The Council proposes to add four waterbodies, Manalapan Lake (Middlesex), Franklin Lake (Monmouth), Nomahegan Park Pond (Union), and Mountain Lake (Warren), to the Division’s trout stocking program.  In addition, three waterbodies are also proposed to be removed from the Division’s trout stocking program, Farrington Lake (Middlesex), Shadow Lake (Monmouth), and Takanassee Lake (Monmouth) from the Division’s trout stocking program.  The proposal also includes extending the upstream boundary of the trout-stocked section of Lawrence Brook from the Farrington Lake dam to the Davidson’s Mill Pond dam, upstream of Farrington Lake to assure appropriate protection of stocked fish.  Due to the popularity of other early season fisheries the Council proposes to exempt Mountain Lake and a portion of the newly expanded trout-stocked section of Lawrence Brook, from Davidson’s Mill Road bridge downstream to the Farrington Lake dam, from the pre-season stocking closure.  Any trout caught in these waters during the three week pre-season stocking period would have to be immediately released.  The Council also proposes to regulate Tilcon Lake as a Holdover Trout Lake, establishing a 12-inch minimum size limit for Atlantic salmon, and a daily creel limit of two salmon per day.  The lake is a potential candidate for the introduction of landlocked salmon.  A 15-inch minimum size limit and a daily creel limit of three for largemouth and smallmouth bass in Lake Audrey (Cumberland County) is proposed to replace current catch and release regulations.  As more creative ice fishing devices, both commercially manufactured and personally devised, are being used by anglers, the Council proposes to restrict ice supported tip-ups, fishing rods and hand lines to a single line per device.  The Council also proposes to expand the types of devices that may use natural bait to include all allowed ice fishing devices.  Traps for the taking of snapping turtles are proposed to be required to be set so that the topmost two inches of the trap remains exposed above the surface of the water and that flotation devices in the traps be designed to maintain the trap afloat for 24 hours.  The harvest of snapping turtles is also proposed to be prohibited from waters that are subject to specified Department of Environmental Protection fish consumption advisories.  The Council proposes to reflect the Emergency Closure Notice (Fish and Game Council, March 2012) prohibiting the possession, take or sale of alewife or blueback herring from any freshwater stream or river in the State Fish Code.  As such, landlocked herring may only be taken from freshwater lakes in Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties and Spruce Run Reservoir in Hunterdon County; may only be used on the lake from which they were taken; must be released upon the conclusion of the angler’s fishing trip; and must be no greater than six inches in length.  Possession of purchased herring no greater than six inches in length may be possessed for up to seven days from date of purchase, when accompanied by a receipt only in freshwater lakes other than those specified above.  As landlocked alewife populations in lakes are considered stable the Council proposes to increase the daily creel of landlocked alewife herring, for personal use, from 10 to 35 in freshwater lakes in Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren counties and Spruce Run Reservoir in Hunterdon County.  The Council also proposes to reflect the Emergency Closure Notice (Fish and Game Council, March 2013), closing all State waters American shad fisheries (both commercial and recreational), with the exception of the Delaware Bay, and Delaware River and its tributaries in the State Fish Code.

The proposal is scheduled to be published in the New Jersey Register dated September 16, 2013.  A copy of the proposal (PDF) is available from: https://dep.nj.gov/wp-content/uploads/rules/proposals/20130916a.pdf; LexisNexis Customer Services at (800) 223-1944 or www.lexisnexis.com/bookstore.  Be advised that there may be a fee for obtaining a copy of the proposal from some sources.

A public hearing(s) concerning the proposal is scheduled as follows:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 7 pm
NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife Central Region Office
Assunpink Wildlife Management Area
1 Eldridge Road
Robbinsville, NJ 07719

Written comments may be submitted electronically by November 15, 2013 at https://dep.nj.gov/rules/comment-on-dep-rulemaking-2/; or
In hard copy to:

Gary J. Brower, Esq.
ATTN: 05‑13‑08
NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Office of Legal Affairs
Mail Code 401-04L; PO Box 402
401 East State Street, 4th Floor
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402