Public Access

by George Browne
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association October 2020 Newsletter)

This will be a short public access column this month. Not sure what is going to happen with the pandemic or what the towns’ reactions will be. We did see some towns close parking and waterfront access this past spring. We will have to monitor what is happening and see if we can prevent shutdowns. Closing off public access does not just affect the beach or waterway in the town that shuts down access; it puts additional fishing pressure on adjoining towns. This is where your participation becomes important. If your town is considering closing public access, it is important you let the elected officials know you are opposed to closing the beaches to fishing. This is not the same circumstance as it was in the spring when everyone wanted to get out, go to the beach and beach use was increasing. As we go into the fall, beach use should be declining and, by the November run, it may only be anglers on the beaches. We social distance as we fish because we must. Local bait and tackle, as well as other businesses that we support (restaurants, hotels, etc.), should make sure the elected officials know it affects their businesses too.

In late August or early September, a homeowner in Long Branch created their own “official” looking “Emergency No Parking This Side” signs. Whoever created the signs added duct tape to hold an official looking paper with the ordinance number on the sign. When another public access advocate saw the signs, they contacted the City of Long Branch and the signs were taken down. It turns out the signs were not official, but a ploy by a homeowner to limit on-street parking and deny public access. If you see new No Parking Signs call the city and ask about the parking restrictions.

Clean Ocean Action will be coordinating beach cleanups on Saturday, October 24th. Go to the this link to find out where beach sweeps are being conducted near you. Wear something that identifies you as an angler and consider making it a club event for your fishing club. We need people to see anglers care about the beach and actively contribute to making the beach better.

The Edwin B. Forsythe NWR Fishing Plan has been approved and is now available. We have been successful in improving shore-based access in The Refuge. The following is a synopsis of what is in the fishing plan and was included in an email from Virginia Rettig, the Refuge Manager.

“We have approved the opening of 6 new sites for fishing on the refuge in the future. These include: Middle Branch in Lacey Township; Parker Run in Eagleswood Township; deCamp Wildlife Trail and a new Mantoloking Fishing Trail near Traders Cove in Brick Township; a new trail at Cedar Bonnet Island in Stafford Township; and a new trail that will require significant development at Good Luck Point in Berkeley Township. To be clear, none of these new sites is open now, but we will begin to open them in the next few months. Some are fairly straightforward and require few resources; others will be fairly large projects and require permits and funding beyond the refuge's annual budget and may take years to implement. However, we think they are all great opportunities and many of them came from YOU, so thank you very much.

The final plan includes the eventual implementation of a refuge-wide lead ban. I recognize there is much concern about this type of transition, but the health-related concerns about lead are undeniable.

Our intention is to develop a lead-free fishing program so that actual implementation would occur at the end of 2025. The refuge will be working with partners (including any of you that are interested!) to develop an education program, find reasonable alternatives, and work towards improving access to lead-free gear.”

These changes to Refuge access will require support from fishing clubs to complete them. We will keep you informed as the plans move forward.

If you have any public access questions or issues, please email me at Provide a phone number or other way to contact you and I will get back to you.

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