The Fish and Wildlife Councils and Committees of the State of New Jersey have a unique role in the management of our fish and wildlife resources. Members of the councils are appointed by the Governor and function as unpaid volunteers who act in the best interest of the state's fish and wildlife resources on behalf of the public. The councils help create and finalize each year's hunting and fishing regulations and enable the professional and scientific management of our resources.
Fish and Wildlife Councils and Committees
There are 6 New Jersey councils and committees. There are also two federal bodies on which the state is represented, and the State Mosquito Control Commission. Below is information on each.
Meeting Schedules, Agendas and Minutes:
The Fish and Game Council, appointed by the Governor, oversees the Division's operations and appoints a Director (subject to the Governor's approval). The council meets monthly.
The Fish and Game Council was created by Law in 1945 (N.J.S.A.13:1B-24) and succeeded the former Board of Fish and Game Commissioners. The Fish and Game Council was transferred to the Department of Conservation in 1948 and its powers were to be "exercised and performed through the Division of Fish and Game in the department." The Division of Fish and Game was placed under the supervision of a director who was given the power to "administer the work of such Division under the direction and supervision of the commissioner." The commissioner in turn was charged by the legislature with the responsibility for the administration of the work of the department, to appoint and remove officers and other personnel and to generally perform all of the executive functions necessary to administer the department.
This law established the composition of the Council as follows: three members of council shall be farmers, recommended to the Governor for appointment by the agricultural convention; six members shall be sportsmen, recommended to the Governor for appointment by the New Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs; and two members shall be commercial fishermen. One farmer representative and two sportsmen representatives in the council shall be chosen from among residents of any of the following counties - Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Warren; one farmer representative and two sportsmen representatives in the council shall be chosen from among residents of any of the following counties - Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset and Union; and one farmer representative and two sportsmen representatives shall be chosen from among residents of any of the following counties - Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem. With the creation of the Marine Fisheries Council in 1979, the commercial fishing representatives were replaced on the Fish and Game Council with the Chairman of the Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee and a public member "knowledgeable in land use management and soil conservation practices."
Powers and Duties
The Legislature has empowered the Fish and Game Council with the independent responsibility to adopt a Fish and Game Code for the purpose of providing a system for the protection and conservation of fish and game. In addition, the Council has been authorized to perform an advisory and recommendatory function in the development of comprehensive policies in this general area and to:
a. Consult with and advise the Commissioner and director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife with respect to the work of such Division.The council appoints the director who is required to be a "person with special training and experience in wildlife management". The council's appointment is subject to the approval of the Governor and the director can only be removed by action of the Governor.
The sole responsibility for the executive administration of the Division of Fish and Wildlife has been placed in the Director of the Division subject to the direction and supervision of the Commissioner. Therefore, Council has no authority under the statutes to issue administrative or executive directives to either the commissioner or the director.
This analysis of the governing statutory provisions has been reinforced by a decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court in Humane Society, supra. Although the issue in that case was concerned with the composition and membership of the Council, the court had occasion to comment on its unique and specialized responsibilities:
"The Fish and Game Council is invested with certain regulatory powers aimed at protecting and developing an adequate supply of fish and game for recreational and commercial purposes. These powers are expressed primarily by the Council's determinations as to when and where in the State hunting and fishing shall take place, and which freshwater fish, game birds, game animals, and fur bearing animals may be taken and in what numbers. The wildlife thus regulated is those animals which are the focus of the sports of hunting and fishing. In addition, the Council supervises a program of wildlife propagation, the expenses of which are supported by fees for hunting and fishing licenses paid for by sportsmen and commercial fishermen"
Therefore, the Council's essential and primary responsibility as noted by the Supreme Court is aimed at protecting and developing an adequate supply of fish and game for recreational and commercial purposes. This limited responsibility is implemented through adoption of the Fish Code and the Game Code and in the development of comprehensive policies for the consideration of the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, the Governor and the Legislature.
The council consists of eleven members appointed by the Governor, with the consent of the Senate. The makeup of the council is set by statute and is composed of four sports fishermen, two active commercial fin fishermen, one active fish processor, two members of the general public, and the chairman of the two sections of the Shellfisheries Council.
Powers and Duties
The forerunner of the present day Shell Fisheries Council, the "State Oyster Commission" was formed in the 1880s by oystermen on the Delaware Bay. This group served as an advisory body to the Department of Shellfisheries which was established in 1915. In 1931, the "Oyster Commission" became the "Shell Fisheries Board". In 1945 a major recodification creating the Department of Conservation was performed. At this time, the "Shell Fisheries Board" became the "Shell Fisheries Council" within the newly created Division of Shellfisheries. The Shell Fisheries Council functioned with the Division of Shellfisheries until 1971 when it was transferred to the newly formed Division of Fish, Game and Shellfisheries in the Department of Environmental Protection. At this time, the Bureau of Shellfisheries was created.
The council meet monthly.
N.J.S.A. 50:1-18a defines the composition of the Shell Fisheries Council with ten members; one each residing in the counties of Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic and Salem, two residents of Cape May County, and three residents of Cumberland County; each of whom shall be a licensed and practicing shellfisherman. The Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate appoints each member.
The Council is divided by law into two sections: the Delaware Bay Section, consisting of the members from the counties of Cumberland and Salem, and one of the members from Cape May County; and the Atlantic Coast Section, consisting of the members from the counties of Atlantic, Burlington, Ocean and Monmouth, and one of the members from Cape May County.
Powers and Duties
The Council's duties and responsibilities are set out in N.J.S.A. 50:1-18b. and c.:
"b. The council shall, subject to the approval of the Commissioner, formulate comprehensive policies for the preservation and improvement of the shellfish industry and resource of the State. The council shall also: (1) consult with and advise the commissioner and the Marine Fisheries Council with respect to the implementation of the shellfisheries program; (2) study the activities of the shellfisheries program and hold hearings with respect thereto as it may deem necessary or desirable; and (3) initiate, by resolution of the council, proposed rules and regulations concerning shellfish to the Commissioner.The Delaware Bay Section, subject to the approval of the Commissioner, exercises all the powers and duties of the council with regard to the shellfish industry in Delaware River, Delaware Bay and their tributaries. The Atlantic Coast Section exercises the same in all the remaining tidal waters of the State.
The Shell Fisheries Council, advises the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection specifically on regulations for the management and conservation of the sea clam resource and industry (N.J.S.A. 50:2-6.3).
The Shell Fisheries Council, with the Commissioner's approval sets the terms and fees for leasing shellfish grounds (N.J.S.A. 50:1-27). The Delaware Bay section also fixes the oyster boat license fee (N.J.S.A.50:3-2).
The Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee was established in 1974 under the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act (N.J.S.A. 23:2A-7e). The committee is appointed by the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection and serves as an advisory body to that office in matters of New Jersey endangered and nongame wildlife resource. The original group consisted of five citizens with professional interest in nongame wildlife.
The committee now consists of 11 members from four broad public affiliations. This composition is mandated by N.J.A.C.7:25-4.18. Four members come from the research and academic community, one is a veterinarian or public health professional, three represent nonprofit organizations with strong interest in nongame wildlife, and three are appointed from the public-at-large. (ENSAC Members page)
The Endangered and Nongame Species Program staff present Program research agenda, policies, and controversial topics to the Committee for advice on appropriate handling. The Committee formally recommends status listing changes to the State nongame wildlife list biennially. In addition, Committee members often open and pursue issues of importance and recommend action to the Program and Division. The viewpoint of the committee members based on their personal experience and interest is of great value to the Program, Division and Department. The Committee's formal recommendations become an integral part of the State's development of policy and making of decisions, however, the role is advisory only. There is no legal obligation for the Department to adopt the Committee's recommendations. An excellent working relationship between the Program, Division, Department and the Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee has developed over the years, and policies often reflect the ideas generated at committee meetings.
This Committee was formed in 2012 to provide guidance on how to incorporate input from New Jersey's licensed wildlife rehabilitators to improve the wildlife rehabilitation program and the care that is provided to injured and orphaned wildlife.
The Committee is composed on nine members and includes two avian rehabilitator, three mammal rehabilitators, one veterinarian, one representative from the Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee, one representative from the Fish and Game Council, and a representative from another state department (currently the NJ Department of Agriculture).
The Wildlife Rehabilitators Advisory Committee provides assistance and advice to the Division of Fish and Wildlife on wildlife rehabilitation issues. Committee members discuss issues of concern and recommend actions to the Division, so as to improve the wildlife rehabilitation program and the care that is provided to New Jersey’s injured and orphaned wildlife.
The Waterfowl Advisory Committee was established by the Waterfowl Stamp Act of 1984 and consists of nine (9) public members.
The committee consists of two members from the New Jersey Fish and Game Council; one public member appointed by the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection; and one representative from each of the following organizations: The Natural Areas Council, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., New Jersey Waterfowlers Association, The Nature Conservancy, the New Jersey Audubon Society and the New Jersey Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.
The committee is advisory and provides land acquisition recommendations to the Commissioner of DEP, through the Division of Fish and Wildlife. The Waterfowl Advisory Committee Oversees the Waterfowl Stamp program and recommends each year's stamp design. This committee also has the responsibility for recommending habitat conservation and acquisition projects to be funded by stamp and print revenues.
Funds for land acquisition are derived through the sales of New Jersey waterfowl stamps required to hunt waterfowl and royalties received from the sale of artist signed, numbered, limited edition prints and matching stamps. To date, the program has raised over $4 million and has set aside more than 13,000 acres of wetlands and waterfowl habitat through direct purchases and donations of land. All funds from the sale of the stamps and from royalties on the print sales will go to a separate dedicated account for the purchase and improvement of wetlands
Between 1914 and 1916, most of New Jersey's counties formed mosquito control commissions. In 1955, a Mosquito Study Commission was established to study the feasibility of creating a State commission to deal with mosquito problems which:
a) crossed county linesIn 1956, following the Study Commission report, the State Mosquito Control Commission was created (L 1956, c135) amended 1977, c366.
The State Mosquito Control Commission has 10 members. Six members are appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the Senate. In addition there are four ex-officio members of the Commission including:
1. Commissioner of Department of Environmental ProtectionPowers and Duties
It shall be the duty of the commission to carry on a continuous study of mosquito control and extermination in the State, to recommend to the Governor and the Legislature, from time to time, changes in legislation which in its judgment may be necessary or desirable to be enacted in order to enforce and carry out mosquito extermination and control work throughout the State, to recommend to the Legislature the amount of money which in its judgment it shall deem necessary and desirable to be appropriated each year by the State for mosquito control purposes and to allocate funds appropriated for State aid to Counties in the performance of such work among the various counties throughout the New Jersey State Agricultural Experiment Station to act in an advisory capacity in all matters pertaining to mosquito extermination and control to cooperate with the agencies of other States and the Federal Government in the elimination of mosquito breeding areas under their control. (L. 1956, c. 1 35, pa.557, 4.)
The Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976, as amended, provides the United States with exclusive management authority over fisheries, except for highly migratory species such as tuna, billfish, swordfish, and sharks within a zone extending from 3 to 200 miles offshore. Eight regional fishery management councils were established to serve as planning units to carry out provisions of the Act throughout the various states and territories.
New Jersey is represented on the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, which also includes representatives from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. The Council consists of 21 voting and 4 non-voting members. The voting members are the Regional Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), a state fisheries official from each state and 13 public members nominated by the state governors and appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. Each state is entitled to at least one public member, with the remaining public members appointed at large. The non-voting members represent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the State Department and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).
Once the Council establishes objectives for a particular species Council staff prepares a draft fishery management plan (FMP), with the review and advice of a citizen (sport and commercial) Advisory Panel and a Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC). Members on the SSC are appointed by the Council and frequently represent institutions of higher education, state and federal agencies. After preliminary review and approval by NMFS, the draft FMP is taken to public hearings throughout the range of the species. A final FMP is then developed, based upon public comments, and approved by the Council. The approved document is then submitted to the Secretary of Commerce for review. If found acceptable, the NMFS promulgates regulations necessary to implement the plan.
Enforcement activities are carried out by both the NMFS and the Coast Guard. Some state agencies are also authorized to enforce federal fisheries regulations. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife is one such agency.
The ASMFC was established in l942 by an act of Congress (Public Law 539 of the 77th Congress) granting its consent and approval for an interstate Compact. The purpose of the Compact was to allow the Atlantic seaboard states to work together as a single entity to recommend coastwide management measures to the individual member's states for those interjurisdictional species found primarily within the states territorial seas and internal marine and estuarine waters.
The Commission is composed of 45 members, three from each of the 15 member states ranging from Maine to Florida. From each state, one commissioner represents the State agency charged with the management of the marine fishery resources, the second commissioner is a member of the Legislature and the third Commissioner is a public member appointed by the Governor.
Interstate Fishery Management Plan (ISFMP) priorities are established by the ISFMP Policy board, made up of the state Commissioners or their delegates and one member each from the NMFS and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Priorities are based upon status of the stock or stocks, importance and economic condition of the fishery and potential effectiveness of plan implementation.Technical committees, composed of Commission staff along with state and federal scientists, develop the plans under the oversight and direction of a species board (a subset of the Policy Committee from states with an interest in the species). This is often done with the cooperation and advice of a Citizen's Advisory Committee to assure good public participation in the plan development process.
Public hearings are usually held throughout the plan development process. After review and approval by the Policy Board, the proposed plan must be approved and adopted by the full Commission. Fishery management plans are also developed jointly between the ASMFC and one or more regional fishery management councils.
Plan implementation and the enforcement of any regulations or laws so promulgated are up to the individual member states. Although the ASMFC provided a forum for the cooperative development of fishery management plans, prior to 1994 there was no mandate to ensure that individual states implemented the regulatory measures of the plans. In December of 1993, in an effort to improve coastwide fisheries management, the "Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative Management Act of 1993" was passed. This Act mandates that states implement and enforce management measures to support approved ASMFC Fishery Management Plans. States failing to comply with the ASMFC plan are subject to a federally imposed moratorium on fishing for the species involved within the waters of the noncomplying state. This provision should ensure that all states will implement those measures necessary to meet the objectives of the respective plans.
Both the ASMFC and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council continue to monitor the resource and the fishery following implementation of the initial plan. Monitoring is necessary to insure that management objectives and regulations remain effective and appropriate as fisheries and fishery stocks change over time and that the regulatory burdens imposed on the sport and commercial sectors are no greater than necessary as changes occur.