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Contact: Elaine Makatura
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Commissioner Campbell's Response to Asbury Park Press Editorial of January 9, 2003

Below is an editorial response sent today to the Asbury Park Press

Mr. Andrew Sharp, Editor
Asbury Park Press
PO Box 1550
Neptune, New Jersey 07754-1550

Dear Editor:

I read with interest the Asbury Park Press editorial (January 9, 2003) concerning recent discussions about a saltwater fishing license and license fee.

Contrary to the editorial's suggestion, the McGreevey Administration has never suggested such a license or fee. The proposal originated in a consultant's report from the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and was discussed at a forum on marine fisheries convened by the statutorily established Marine Fisheries Council on November 12, 2002. The report discussed possible revenue-generating ideas for seven northeastern states, and New Jersey was one of those seven.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is deeply concerned about the impact a license might have on New Jersey's saltwater anglers, and on the range of businesses that would be affected by such a fee. Upon fuller review of the report, I have concluded that while the consultant's report raises several valid points, neither the license proposal nor any of the other proposals discussed in the report were sufficiently developed to be credible from a policy or budgetary perspective. Accordingly, I have advised the Treasurer that none of these proposals should be considered in their current form in preparing the 2004 budget.

Despite the challenges of a staggering budget deficit inherited from the prior administration, Governor McGreevey is strengthening our stock assessment, fisheries enforcement, coastal protection, and other programs that are vital to protecting our saltwater fisheries and the businesses that depend on them.

In taking these important steps, DEP has consulted closely with all affected constituencies, and will certainly do so before any changes in New Jersey's licensing system or related programs are entertained.


Bradley M. Campbell





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