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July 9, 1998

For more information contact:
Bob Soldwedel at 609-292-8642

The New Jersey Fish and Game Council has scheduled a public hearing for the proposed 1999 Fish Code at 7:30 p.m., August 11, at the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife's Assunpink Conservation Center on Eldridge Road in Robbinsville, Monmouth County.

"All New Jersey anglers are encouraged to attend and actively take part in shaping the future of their sport," said Division Director Bob McDowell.

The Fish Code describes the legal angling methods, season dates, size and catch limits, and trout stocking locations for freshwater fishing in the Garden State. The regulations are reviewed annually, updated, appropriately revised based on biological findings and changing situations, and then proposed for the next year's code. Anglers should note the following proposed changes:

The sea lamprey has been added to the list of fish species covered by the provisions of the code. This was done in response to the concern expressed over the increasing unrestricted harvest of this species. Although it is considered an accidentally introduced menace to fisheries in the Great Lakes, it is a native part of New Jersey's aquatic ecosystems deserving professional management.

Opening day of trout season has been set for Saturday, April 10 at 8 a.m. All waters stocked with trout last year will be stocked again this year. Stocking additions include Silver Lake on the Hamburg Mountain Wildlife Management Area and an additional mile of the Whippany River. Nothing has been deleted from the stocking list.

The creel limit for lake trout at Merrill Creek Reservoir has been increased from one to two fish. The reservoir currently has more trout than it can support and anglers are encouraged to keep some of the legal-sized lake trout (those over 15 inches) caught to restore the balance between the predator (trout) and prey (alewife) populations. This will produce bigger and healthier trout.

The practice of individuals tagging fish for their own purposes has become increasingly widespread. These taggings can confuse and interfere with fisheries management evaluations conducted by the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other educational/scientific institutions. In addition, there is potential for a high rate of tagged fish mortality due to inexperienced handlers. The proposed code seeks to limit the tagging of fish to legitimate research projects by requiring a permit for this activity.

The fishery for Atlantic sturgeon has been closed in marine waters for several years and the proposed 1999 Fish Code extends that closure to freshwaters.

To obtain a copy of the proposed 1999 Fish Code, send a self-addressed, stamped (two stamps), 11" x 14" envelope to the Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, P.O. Box 400, Trenton, NJ 08625-0400, Attention: Fish Code. Written comments regarding the code should be submitted by August 19 to Director Bob McDowell at the same address.