New Gretna, NJ - An effort is underway by the Navesink Marine Heritage Association to have Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay, the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers and their tributaries declared a "National Marine Sanctuary." According to the proponents, if it is enacted by federal authorities it would add more than 12,500 acres of public-use parkland to eastern Monmouth County, while extending the federal National Park philosophy "in perpetuity" to these local waters.
The idea might sound good, but past experience with Marine Sanctuaries in California, Florida and other coastal areas has ultimately resulted in loss of access for recreational fishermen and having one in such a highly populated area that is also home to some of the best inshore fishing on the coast would lead to just such overzealous regulatory actions.
"This action is a solution looking for a problem," says Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. "The proponents of the NMS claim they want the areas protected and preserved, but New Jersey already has some of the most progressive environmental and development laws of any state so little is to be gained by a listing. What an NMS designation does is open the Pandora's Box of denying public access and recreational fishing is usually the first to lose."
"RFA has dealt with the broken promises of no further restrictions touted by the promoters of marine protected areas for two decades," Donofrio continued. "California, the Dry Tortugas, Biscayne Bay and Stellwagon Bank off Massachusetts just to name a few. The real goal behind the high minded idealism always ends up being reduced access. That's why we are asking fishermen to attend the hearings next week to voice their concerns and to just say no!"
Public hearings on the proposed National Marine Sanctuary initiative in Sandy Hook Bay, the Navesink and the Shrewsbury will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 13 at the Keyport Yacht Club in Keyport, and at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16 at the Red Bank Library, 84 West Front Street in Red Bank. Click on the facebook link below to let us know if will be attending the hearings.
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