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Changes in Black Sea Bass and American Shad Regulations in 2013

December 21, 2012

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is informing recreational anglers about regulatory changes regarding black sea bass and American shad effective January 1, 2013.

For the first time since 2009, the recreational black sea bass fishery will be open from January 1 through February 28. The minimum size limit remains at 12.5 inches and the possession limit will be 15 fish. These regulations pertain to both New Jersey state waters as well as Federal waters. The Division is also advising that recreational black sea bass measures will likely change from 2012 regulations later in 2013 - all new regulations will be announced on the division website and via the NJ Marine Fishing E-mail List when they are determined.

Also, effective January 1, 2013, all American shad fisheries (both commercial and recreational), with the exception of the Delaware Bay, Delaware River and its tributaries, will be closed (no possession, take or harvest). The recreational possession limit in the Delaware Bay, Delaware River and its tributaries will now be 3 fish with no minimum size and an open season all year. Commercial net regulations for American shad in the Delaware Bay, Delaware River and its tributaries will remain the same.

These new American shad regulations were taken to comply with Amendment 3 to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) management plan for American shad and river herring due to concerns about the significant coastwide decline of American shad stocks. Amendment 3 of the ASMFC fishery management plan for American shad prohibits both the recreational and commercial harvest of American shad in the waters of states that do not have an ASMFC-approved sustainable management plan. Working in conjunction with state partners from the Delaware River Basin Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative (CO-OP), a sustainability plan for American shad was developed for the Delaware River estuary and subsequently approved by ASMFC's Shad and River Herring Board. There was insufficient information available to develop sustainability plans for other American shad stocks along New Jersey's coast.

The division is also reminding saltwater anglers to register or renew their registration for 2013 now with the NJ Saltwater Recreational Registry Program to take advantage of the winter sea bass and tautog fisheries. ALL saltwater anglers they must register with the New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program (NJSRRP) prior to fishing in 2013. Anglers who registered in 2012 are reminded that registrations expire at the end of each calendar year and must be renewed annually.

Anglers with a valid license/registration from another exempted state, or a New Jersey freshwater license, are still required to register (for free) with the NJSRRP.

For more information on the NJSRRP or to register for 2013, please visit To renew a 2012 registration, select "RENEW ANY REGISTRATION". Anglers or for-hire vessel owners/operators who have not registered with the NJSRRP previously should select "NEW INDIVIDUAL REGISTRATION" or "NEW FOR-HIRE REGISTRATION" respectively.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: December 21, 2012