Another Q & A on the Free Saltwater Registry

Another Q & A on the Free Saltwater Registry
By Anthony P Mauro, Sr (c) 2011

Conservation Corner w/ Anthony P. Mauro, Sr
Conservation Corner w/ Anthony P. Mauro, Sr

USA –-( Q. Mr. Mauro, I think you are missing the main point of why people want a free registry. Nobody owns the ocean but we just keep paying more to the feds or the state to hunt or fish. When the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (CF) says it wants a $2.00 registry it is jamming its foot in the tax door.

A. When the people of the United States chose to have the federal government be the administrator of our national natural resources (by means of various acts and laws) we also chose to assume the financial burden. The same goes for our state government. Our federal and state governments don’t generate revenue by making and selling products, instead they tax people.

The federal government is now telling state governments to implement and manage a saltwater registry. The National Saltwater Angler Registry is the law and is a tool meant to help better count fishermen and their catch. If we are in favor of a “free” saltwater registry then we have to recognize that there are costs to implementing and managing the registry and since it is being done by our state government then the people of New Jersey will likely bear these costs.

If we are demanding that the registry be ”free” as a means of rebelling against federal and state government oversight of our natural resources then our rebellion should be targeted toward removing federal and state supervison of the conservation and management of our fisheries, and not be fooled by thinking that a “free” registry will accomplish the task. On the other hand, if we believe that federal and state government oversight is useful then we will need to consider the broader aspects of the matter in order to be productive.

What I have been pointing out in my commentaries is that as the anglers of New Jersey demand a “free” registry they are gambling with the very resources they hold dear. They are betting that the state of NJ, which is responsible for implementing and managing the registry by using our tax dollars, will take the money from somewhere other than the tax money used for managing our natural resources (fisheries, reef management, etc.)

I’m also warning that it is a high-stakes gamble to think that the money to manage the free registry will come from a place other than natural resource accounts, because New Jersey is facing a $10.7 billion budget deficit. The likelihood is that as anglers demand a free registry our state will respond by taking monies used for managing fisheries and artificial reefs and transfer it to the implementation and management of the registry, which is projected to cost approximately $600,000.

The gamble we now face could have been avoided if the free registry bill specified where the funds would come from to pay for the registry, and it could have easily been included in the bill. The fact that it isn’t should concern all of us because it forces us to gamble. It is also evidence that those responsible for the free registry are gambling since they didn’t specify a funding source in the bill they created.

The bureau responsible for managing fisheries and reefs is so underfunded now that it can not adequately manage its responsibilities. So as $600,000 is transferred from natural resource accounts to manage the free registry then other programs we rely on for our fishing enjoyment will suffer. Will this ultimately create a moratorium on a particular fish species? Will it mean our artificial reef program will suffer? I can’t say for sure I’m simply pointing out there is a likelihood.

So, my point is that if we are advocating for a “free” registry to change federal and state government oversight of our fisheries our efforts are seriously misdirected. If we want a free registry for other reasons I would suggest that when we contact the Governor’s office (1-609-292-6000) we also state that we don’t want the money needed to run the free registry to come from monies currently used to manage natural resources. Otherwise as we advocate for a free registry we may unwittingly advocate to undermine the very things we value. We end up cutting off our noses to spite our face.

The consensus of the majority of NJOA (CF) council members is that a $2.00 administrative fee is needed to cover the projected costs of the saltwater registry and keep our natural resource programs from declining further, but we have not attempted to defeat the bill. We are simply educating people about considerations they may not have been exposed to. Regardless of the fate of the free registry bill the members of NJOA (CF) are committed to finding methods to adequately fund our natural resources.

Color The Green Movement Blue
Color The Green Movement Blue

Anthony P. Mauro, Sr, (also known as “Ant” to friends and associates) is Chairman and co-founder of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance.

In addition to NJOA, Ant’s commitment to the principles of sustainable use of natural resources and stewardship for the environment helped to found the New Jersey Angling & Hunting Conservation Caucus. The NJAHC is the first outdoor caucus of its kind in New Jersey and is designed to educate opinion leaders and policy makers of the principles of conservation and the benefits that confer to the state’s wildlife and ecology.

A lifelong resident of New Jersey, Ant is an international big game hunter and avid conservationist. He has authored two books on conservation and hunting, including “Color The Green Movement Blue“.