NJ Saltwater Reg. Summary

2016 Summary of Marine Fish & Shellfish Regulations (Updated May 2016)
This is not the full law. Consult the Division of Fish and Wildlife for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities. Red text in regulations indicates a change for this year.
Vol. May             REGULATIONS             2016 Marine Issue
New Jersey regulations apply to all fish species when they are possessed in state waters or landed in New Jersey regardless of where they are caught.

Resource Information
 
Anyone who takes fisheries resources may be required to provide information on the species, number, weight or other information pertinent to management of resources.

Methods of Fishing
 
No person shall take, catch, kill or attempt to take, catch or kill any fish within the marine waters of the State by any means except in the manner commonly known as angling with hand line or rod and line unless specifically provided for by statute or regulation.

Wanton Waste Prohibited
 
Fish of any species which are purposely killed shall become part of the angler's daily possession limit and shall not be returned to the water from which they were taken. This does not apply to fish which are released alive and subsequently die.

Spear Fishing
 
Spearfishing may be conducted by means of a spear, harpoon or other missile while completely submerged in the marine waters of the state for any species, except lobster.
Persons who fish with a spear for species with size limits are reminded that it is their responsibility to ensure the fish meets the minimum size limits before being killed or injured.
Prohibited Species
It is illegal to take, possess, land, purchase, or sell any of the following species:
    • Atlantic sturgeon
    • basking shark
    • big eye sand tiger shark
    • sand tiger shark
    • sandbar shark
    • shortnose sturgeon
    • whale shark
    • white shark
    • river herring (alewife and blueback herring)
SEE Shark Regulations Page
Sea Turtles and Marine Mammals
It is illegal to intentionally molest, kill or possess sea turtles or marine mammals, or to possess any part thereof.
Finfish
Filleting
 
The filleting at sea of all fish with a size limit, or any species of flatfish, is prohibited except for summer flounder; see Summer Flounder, page 17. No parts of any fish caught on a previous fishing trip shall be in possession. Party boats may fillet fish at sea if they obtain a Special Fillet Permit. Applications may be obtained from Fish and Wildlife's Bureau of Marine Fisheries. (See also Summer Flounder)

Black Sea Bass
 
Black sea bass are measured along the midline from the snout to the end of the central portion of the tail, not to include the tail filaments.
Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits

Bluefish
 
The possession limit for bluefish is 15 fish. This includes juvenile bluefish commonly known as snappers.
Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits

Black Drum
 

Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits

Red Drum
 

Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits

Shark
 
For updates, vist their website at www.njfishandwildlife.com/saltwater.htm or call the 24-hour marine fish information number at 609-292-2083
For Detailed information on prohibited and fishable species, regulations, permits, etc:
Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits

Striped Bass
(includes Hybrid Striped Bass)

 
Anglers participating in the Striped Bass Bonus Program (click link for additional info) may possess an additional striped bass.
It is illegal to take, catch or kill any striped bass form or in any marine waters of this state, by means of a net of any description, or by any methods other than angling with a hook and line or by spear fishing.
It is illegal to possess any striped bass, or parts of a striped bass from which the head and/or tail has been removed (other than while in preparation or being served as food), which is less than the legal minimum size.
Harvest and possession of striped bass from federal waters (outside 3 miles) is prohibited.
Sale of striped bass in N.J. is prohibited.
Note: Non-offset circle hooks are required to reduce striped bass bycatch mortality while fishing with natural bait during the striped bass springtime spawning area closure within the Delaware River and its tributaries. This restriction does not apply to hook sizes smaller than size 2.  *

Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits

 Summer Flounder (Fluke)
 
Anglers may fillet one legal-sized summer flounder from their daily possession limit catch for use as bait. This carcass, commonly known as the rack, shall be kept intact so it can be measured for compliance with the minimum size limit. No parts of any summer flounder caught on a previous fishing trip shall be in possession; only fish just caught on this outing.
IE: no pre-prepared fluke bellies salted in a jar - you can only use a freshly caught fish on the day you are out fishing.

Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits

Tautog (Blackfish)
 

Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits

Weakfish (Gray & Spotted Seatrout)
 

Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits

Winter Flounder
Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits

Additional Marine Fishing Regulations
Recreational Season: See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits
National and NJ Saltwater Angler Registry Program
NEW JERSEY FREE ANGLER REGISTRY
Anglers Must Register In NJ Or Face Fines Of Up To $3,000 (**May be subject to change) According to the state DEP website:

WHO NEEDS TO REGISTER?
NOTE: Anglers with a valid registration with the National Saltwater Angler Registry or have a valid license from another exempted state are required to register (for free) with the NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry Program. Registration with NJ will exempt you from having to register with the National Saltwater Angler Registry.

Individual saltwater anglers ages 16 and older MUST register if ANY of the following criteria are met:
    Recreationally fish with a hand line or rod and line, spearfish or fish by hand
    Recreationally fish in the marine and fresh tidal waters of the State of New Jersey
    Recreationally fish in marine waters outside the State of New Jersey but land the catch in New Jersey
Individual saltwater anglers are EXEMPT from registering if either of the following apply:
    Under the age of 16 Solely fish on for-hire (party and charter) vessels that are registered with the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program
For-hire vessel owners/operators MUST register if:
    Carry individuals who engage in recreational fishing in the marine and fresh tidal waters of the State of New Jersey
    OR
    Carry individuals who engage in recreational fishing in the marine waters outside the State of New Jersey but land their catch in New Jersey
Even if you have the federal registry card, you STILL NEED the new State Registry card. Registering with the Federal Registry Programs does NOT exempt anglers from obtaining any state marine fishing license required when fishing another state's waters.

Please visit the following links for more information.

Main NJSRRP Page
FAQ Section
Individual Registration Start Page
At this time, registration is FREE and can only be done ONLINE. There is no phone number to call to complete the registration.
Delaware Fishing License Requirement
A Delaware fishing license is now required for anglers aged 16 and over fishing the Delaware River and Delaware Bay between the upstream tip of Artificial Island and the Delaware-Pennsylvania state line. In that section of the river, the Delaware state boundary extends to the New Jersey shoreline. When fishing from shore in New Jersey along that section of the river, a Delaware fishing license is not required. Delaware fishing license information can ge found at http://www.fw.delaware.gov/fisheries/pages/newfishinglicense.aspx
New York Licence Requirement
New York's marine fishing license has been suspended. New York is offering a free registry to all marine anglers. Visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/54950.html
Bait Fish
No license is required for the taking of baitfish in salt water for personal use with the following gear:
  1. Dip nets 24 inches diameter or less for the taking of Atlantic herring only (does not include river herring — alewife and blueback herring) for live bait. The taking or possession of river herring is prohibited.
  2. Bait seines 50 feet long or less.
  3. Cast nets 20 feet in diameter or less.
  4. Lift or umbrella nets four feet square or less.
  5. Not more than five killipots.
  6. Not more than two miniature fykes or pots for the taking of eels for bait.
Fish taken in this manner may not be sold or used for barter unless a commercial bait net license is in possession. No person shall take or attempt to take fish by any means from the Deal Lake flume, Lake Takanasse spillway or Wreck Pond spillway on any Monday, Wednesday or Friday during the months of April and May.
Crustaceans
American Lobster
Lobster parts may not be possessed at sea or landed.
There is no harvest or possession of lobster in Lobster Management Area 4 from April 30 – May 31 and Lobster Management Area 5 from February 1 – March 31.
See Saltwater Regulations for current size & limits
No person shall possess any lobster with eggs attached or from which eggs have been removed or any female lobster with a v-notched tail, as illustrated below.
Special Lobster Restrictions: No person shall use, leave, deploy, or tend any lobster, fish or conch pot within an artificial reef located in state waters except in areas designated as a full access zones. Within these designated full access zones lobster, fish and conch pots shall be used, left, deployed or tended only between sunrise and sunset. For information about lobster pot deployment and New Jersey Reef Full Access Zone Locations, go to http://www.NJFishandWildlife.com/pdf/2016/marlet-reefgear02-11-16.pdf. r02-11-16.pdf.
The use of spears, gigs, gaffs or other penetrating devices as a method of capture for lobsters is prohibited.
A recreational lobster pot license is required to use pots or traps to capture lobsters. For details call (609) 748-2020.
Lobsters taken recreationally may not be sold or offered for sale.

Blue Claw Crabs
    1. Crabs may be taken recreationally with hand lines, manually operated collapsible traps or scoop nets without a license. A non-commercial crab pot license is required for the use of not more than two non-collapsible Chesapeake-style crab pots (see illustration on page 23) or two trot lines to harvest crabs. See page 23 for the non-commercial crab pot license information.
    2. It is illegal to harvest or possess more than one bushel of crabs per day per person or offer for sale any crabs without having in your possession a valid commercial crabbing license.
    3. Minimum size for crabs that may be harvested (measured from point to point of shell) are as follows:
      a) Peeler or shedder crab: 3 inches
      b) Soft crab: 3½ inches
      c) Hard crab: 4½ inches
      Measure crabs point to point.
    4. All female crabs with eggs attached and all undersized crabs shall be returned to the water immediately.
    5. Recreational trot lines shall not exceed 150 feet in length with a maximum of 25 baits.
    6. All pots and trot lines shall be marked with the identification number of the owner.
    7. All crab pots must be tended at least once every 72 hours.
    8. No floating line may be used on any crab pot or crab pot buoy.
    9. No crab pot shall be placed in any area that would obstruct or impede navigation or in any creek less than 50 feet wide.
    10. Only the owner or a law enforcement officer may raise or remove contents of a legally set fishing device.
    11. Crabs taken with a bait seine may be retained for personal use only if the fisherman possesses a bait net license, and may not be bartered or sold unless the fisherman possesses a commercial crab license.
    12. No crabs may be harvested from the Newark Bay Complex.
    For more information see the state website for information on health advisories. Visit NJFGW Website.
  1. Crab Pot licence seasons:
      Delaware Bay and tributaries--
      April 6 to Dec. 4;
      All other waters--March 15 to Nov. 30.

      The following waters are closed to the use of crab pots and trot lines:
      Cumberland Co.: Cohansey River and creeks named Back, Cedar, Nantuxent, Fortesque, Oranoken, and Dividing
      Cape May Co.: West and Bidwell Creeks and the Cape May Canal
      Atlantic Co.: Hammock Cove (Dry Bay)
      Ocean Co.: on East shore of Barnegat Bay, that area of Sedge Islands Wildlife Management Area enclosed by a line drawn from the northern bank of Fishing Creek on Island Beach State Park to the northern tip of the Sedge Island (Hensler Island), then south from point to point along the western side of the Sedge Islands WMA and terminating on the most southwestern point of Island Beach State Park.
  2. The Division will issue a non-commercial crab dredge license for the harvest of not more than one bushel of crabs during the crab dredge season. Crabs so taken may not be sold or offered for barter. There is a fee of $15.00 for this non-commercial crab dredge license. Call the Marine Fisheries Administration at 609-748-2040.
Notice: All non-collapsible Chesapeake-style crab pots must be constructed to include a biodegradable panel designed to create and opening to allow crabs and other organisms to escape if the pot is lost or abandoned. All Non-collapsible Chesapeake-style crab pots set in any manmade lagoon or any water body less than 150 feet wide must also include a turtle excluder device inside all pot entrance funnels.
To see law: Go to  Bio-Degradable Doors and Turtle Extruders---NJ Fish & Game Page (Scott's Bait and Tackle:  We carry traps and turtle excluders to comply with the 1998 law.)
Horseshoe Crabs
The harvest of horseshoe crabs is prohibited. Possession of horseshoe crabs is also prohibited except for those individuals holding a scientific collecting permit for research and education and those fishermen that can provide suitable documentation that the horseshoe crabs in their possession were harvested outside of New Jersey.
 Mollusks (Shellfish)
  1. All persons must be licensed to harvest any shellfish. See license information, page 23. Shellfish means any species of benthic mollusks (except conch) including hard and soft clams, oysters, surf clams, bay scallops and mussels.
  2. It is illegal to harvest shellfish from condemned waters, even for bait purposes. It is also illegal to harvest shellfish including surf clams from beaches adjacent to water classified as condemned. Shellfish water classification charts are available from license agents or any state shell- fish office. See page 23 for shellfish license information. Charts are updated annually.
  3. Shellfish harvesting is prohibited before sunrise and after sunset. Shellfish harvest is also prohibited on Sundays except in the seasonally approved areas of the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers, when harvesting is permitted between Nov. 1 and April 30.
  4. Harvesting shellfish on public grounds is restricted to the use of hand implements.
  5. It is illegal to harvest shellfish from leased grounds. These grounds are delineated by stakes or buoys set by the lease holder. Charts of the leases may be examined at Fish and Wildlife's Nacote Creek or Delaware Bay shellfish offices during regular business hours. Invasion onto leased grounds is punishable by penalties up to $3,000 and loss of all equipment.
See additional information in the NJFishandWildlife.com Site Hard Clams
  1. No holder of any recreational shellfish license may take more than 150 clams per day. Only certified shellfish dealers may purchase clams from commercial harvesters.
  2. A non-resident recreational shellfish license is valid only during the months of June, July, August and September.
  3. Anyone engaged in any shellfish harvesting activity with someone holding a commercial shellfish license must also possess their own commercial shellfish license.
  4. It is illegal to dredge shellfish. Hand implements are the only legal harvest method.
  5. The minimum size of hard clams that may be harvested is 1-1/2 inches in length. Clams less than 1-1/2 inches in length must be immediately returned to the bottom from which they were taken. Specific seasons, regulations and size limits exist for oyster beds in Great Bay, Delaware Bay, plus the Mullica, Great Egg Harbor and Tuckahoe riers. Check with the nearest shellfish office (Nacote Creek or Delaware Bay) for these detailed regulations.
  6. It is illegal to harvest shellfish on Sunday except on the seasonal waters of the Navesink and Shrewbury Rivers between November 1 and April 30.
  7. Shells taken in the process of harvesting oysters must be culled from the live oysters and returned immediately to the area from which they were taken.
See additional information in the NJFishandWildlife.com Site Commercial Shellfish License
  1. Shellfish may be sold only to certified dealer. All persons selling shellfish commercially must tage each container listing date of harvest, name and address of the harvester and the waters from which the shellfish were harvested.
  2. It is illegal to dredge shellfish on public grounds. All harvesting on public grounds is restricted to the use of hand implements.
  3. Shells taken in the process of harvesting oysters must be culled from the live oysters and returned immediately to the area from which they were taken.
  4. The minimum size of hard clams that may be harvested is 1-1/2 inches in length. Clams less than 1-1/2 inches in length must be immediately returned to the bottom from which they were taken. Specific seasons, regulations and size limits exist for oyster beds in Great Bay, Delaware Bay, plus the Mullica, Great Egg Harbor and Tuckahoe riers. Check with the nearest shellfish office (Nacote Creek or Delaware Bay) for these detailed regulations.
  5. The minimum size of hard clams that may be harvested is 1-1/2 inches in length. Clams less than 1-1/2 inches in length must be immediately returned to the bottom from which they were taken. Specific seasons, regulations and size limits exist for oyster beds in Great Bay, Delaware Bay, plus the Mullica, Great Egg Harbor and Tuckahoe riers. Check with the nearest shellfish office (Nacote Creek or Delaware Bay) for these detailed regulations.
  6. It is illegal to harvest shellfish on Sunday except on the seasonal waters of the Navesink and Shrewbury Rivers between November 1 and April 30.
See additional information in the NJFishandWildlife.com Site
See Also:
Summary of NJ Saltwater Regulations
for Detailed Information!

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