In November 2015 the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) petitioned the Council to designate 13 artificial reef sites as Special Management Zones (SMZs) in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) under provisions of Amendment 9 to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass FMP. The justification for this request was based on the need to ameliorate gear conflicts between hook and line fishermen and fixed pot/trap gear at those sites. In July 2018 NMFS published a final rule to designate 13 New Jersey artificial reef sites as special management zones.
October 2016: The Council received a report from the SMZ Monitoring Team (MT), which was formed to evaluate the NJDEP request. The report concluded that the designation of the NJDEP 13 reef sites appears to be compatible with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable federal laws. Based on evaluation of all relevant factors, the MT recommended that the Council designate all 13 New Jersey's artificial reefs located in the EEZ as SMZs. This designation would stipulate that no fishing vessel or person on a fishing vessel may fish in the 13 New Jersey Special Management Zones with any gear except hook and line and spear fishing (including the taking of fish by hand). The MT analysis indicated that commercial fishing vessels deploying pot/trap gear off the coast of New Jersey would likely face minimal to no losses in ex-vessel revenue if the artificial reefs are designated as SMZs.
December 2016: The Council voted to recommend that the National Marine Fisheries Service designate 13 artificial reef sites in federal waters off the coast of New Jersey as year-round special management zones (SMZs). Under this designation, fishing at each site would be restricted to hook and line gear, spearfishing, and take by hand.
February 2018: NMFS published a proposed rule for this action.
July 2018: NMFS published a final rule to designate designate 13 New Jersey artificial reef sites as special management zones.
Final Rule, 7/6/18
Proposed Rule, 2/13/18