Q & A on the Free Saltwater Registry
By Anthony P Mauro, Sr (c) 2011
USA –-(Ammoland.com)- I've received a few good questions about the free saltwater registry. I thought the questions and my answers might be of interest.
Q. Would it be possible to use some of the funds from the taxes paid on saltwater fishing products and supplies?
A. It might not be legitimate to use money received from the taxes on fishing products/supplies to be put towards a registry. I am still waiting for an interpretation from the federal government.
However, it doesn't matter. Let's say that the total budget for Bureau Marine Fisheries (BMF) is $X. This total ALREADY includes the money from the feds that you are questioning. So, even if it were legal to use the money we get from the feds the total budget doesn't increase – we simply siphon off the funds from one area to another.
My point is that the total BMF budget pie remains the same so the cost of the registry is a matter of taking out a new slice from a historically shrinking pie. The funds will come from an existing program(s) to pay for the registry. There is one thing on which the angling community agrees — the BMF is critically underfunded — therefore something will suffer unless the state increases funding. Since there is a $10.7 billion budget deficit in New Jersey it is a long-shot that the state will actually take funding from outside of natural resource management.
It seems to me that we are giving our total attention to how we spend a small amount of money, but we're being careless with the larger amount it might cost us. I don't believe any of us want the money to come from natural resource management to cover the cost of the registry. Perhaps there is an inexpensive way to manage the registry but unfortunately the sponsors and backers of the bill have not identified one.
Q. Is it possible to have a conservation license plate or state lottery to pay for the registry?
A. A license plate isn't expected to bring in even $50,000. If the license plate idea were a viable means to fund the registry I would imagine that it would have been included as a funding source in the free saltwater registry bill — but it isn't. The registry is expected to cost $600,000.
As for the lottery, I spoke with Hazel Gluck former Executive Director of the New Jersey State Lottery last year and asked her opinion about the viability of a conservation lottery to fund the registry. Ms. Gluck is one of New Jersey's most well known and respected straight talkers in politics. She politely smiled and told me a conservation lottery is impractical if not impossible. Even if we were to get past the enormous political obstacles it would then have to go to the public to vote on as a constitutional amendment. Of course, there is the distinct possibility the constitutional amendment would fail.
The conservation lottery threatens to take a piece out of someone else's lottery “pie.” She told me that the monies collected from the current lottery system aren't necessarily being spent on the things they are supposed to be spent on. The conservation lottery does not appear to be a legitimate suggestion as a means to fund the registry.
Q. Don't you feel the priority should be to implement the registry and avoid the Federal fee of $15.00?
A. Absolutely. I have done nothing to suggest a delay in implementing a Federally mandated registry. I have not suggested that anglers try to defeat the free registry bill. However, I am making the angling community aware that there is a cost associated with implementing the registry and that the costs are likely to come out of our own pocket. Therefore, if anglers don't want to experience a further weakening of their fishing experiences I recommend that they request that the Governor find the funds from a place other than the management of our natural resources.
Q. How can we contact the Governor to let him know that we don't want funding for the free saltwater registry to come from natural resource management?
A. I will be providing a means for anglers to contact the Governor with their request in the next few days.
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“.