New Jersey closer to offering free saltwater registry

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The New Jersey General Assembly's Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee this week unanimously approved a bill that would create a free saltwater registry in New Jersey.

If passed by the full assembly, the law would mean coastal anglers in New Jersey would not have to file with a federal registry next year, and would also be exempt from having to pay a federal fee starting in 2011, the Recreational Fishing Alliance reports.

The bill matches an identical bill introduced last month in the state Senate.

Successful passage of both versions of the free registry bill would exempt all recreational anglers who fish in New Jersey coastal waters from having to pay NOAA to put their name, contact information and fishing habits on file.

As mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act, federal surveyors who keep track of recreational fish harvest will be required to use the saltwater angler registry to contact fishermen about their fishing habits.

As of 2010, those fishing in New Jersey coastal waters are required to register with the federal government in an effort to improve data. As of 2011, NOAA has said it may begin charging anglers up to $25 apiece to register online with the federal system, unless states come up with their own system of gathering angler information, according to the RFA.

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