Shore protection, walkway bill clears panel; menhaden legislation advances

TRENTON – The Senate Environment and Energy Committee released a bill dealing with shore protection in the aftermath of Sandy.

S2620: This bill, released 5-0, amends current law concerning funding for shore protection projects. 

Specifically, this bill directs the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection to include eligibility criteria that would provide for the protection, restoration, or maintenance of the shore associated with a public access walkway provided that there is a conservation restriction on that property in favor of the department.

Various condo associations testified about the financial burden they bear regarding walkways and the heavy cost of repairs after last year’s superstorm.

Environmentalists testified about court decisions that said such associations could appropriately have such a financial responsibility and that homeowners know that going in.

But Sens. Bob Smith and Linda Greenstein raised the concern of the special “catastrophic’’ circumstances of a storm such as Sandy.

“This storm has changed everybody’s life,’’ Smith said.

The panel also released a bill dealing with catching of menhaden.

S2726: This bill, released 5-0, would establish regulations regarding catching of menhaden, in accordance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Interstate Fishery Management Plan, and would additionally clarify existing law regarding the taking of menhaden from State waters.

The bill addresses, in part, the situation in which Virginia already catches most of the menhaden and processes a great deal of it into pellets or food, and New Jersey wants to prevent a small minority of fishermen in New Jersey from catching most of what already is a small percentage of the allotment for the state.

Scot Mackey of the Garden State Seafood Association said that starting this year there is now a cap on the total catch coastwide, including New Jersey. Without the bill, a fisherman from another state could catch as much here as they want, take it  home, and it would count against New Jersey’s allotment, he told the panel.

Shore protection, walkway bill clears panel; menhaden legislation advances