(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Bob Andrzejczak, Vincent Mazzeo, Bruce Land and John Burzichelli to expand dredging by limiting the application of the Department of Environmental Protection shellfish habitat rules for certain dredging activities was approved by an Assembly panel on Monday.
“Dredging is essential for marinas and boaters to thrive in this economic climate,” said Andrzejczak (D-Salem, Cumberland, and Gloucester). “Specifically, dredging regulations in areas where shellfish may have occupied the site has directly impacted small boat owners and marinas in the state – leaving money on the table for small businesses – especially in areas such as Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland counties.”
“We need to be working to help small businesses, marinas and boat owners,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “This is an important industry to Atlantic County, and limiting DEP’s outdated rules which are hurting businesses is something we need to be working towards.”
“Dredging is an effective tool for many fishermen to harvest shellfish,” said Land (D-Cape May, Cumberland, and Atlantic). “Fishermen need this tool available to them to compete in a regional and national marketplace, and continuing these outdated regulations is a burden on our local businesses and economic output.”
“Fisherman, marina owners and small businesses need access to their channels, and by limiting the DEP’s outdated rules, we’re better able to aid the industry which was been struggling,” said Burzichelli (D- Salem, Cumberland, and Gloucester).
Specifically, under the bill (A-4152), the DEP would be prohibited from requiring a person to comply with the requirements under the law, or any substantially similar rule or regulation concerning shellfish habitat, when the person applies to the department for any permit or other approval to dredge:
(1) the established footprint of a functioning marina in operation on the date of enactment of this bill;
(2) along a 75-foot wide direct channel between the existing, functioning marina and its docks and the closet state or federal navigation channel serving the locality for the marina;
(3) within 250 feet of a vertical timber or other material bulkhead supporting an upland development with a water dependent use, as authorized by a riparian grant or lease in effect on the date of enactment of this bill into law.
A person dredging as allowed under the bill could dredge only the area of the bay floor that is essential to the water dependent use of the development existing on the date of enactment of this bill into law.
This bill would not apply to new development or to an expansion of any water dependent use at the existing development. A person dredging as allowed under the bill would have to obtain all other permits and approvals for the dredging as may be required pursuant to state or federal law, rule, or regulation or local ordinance.
The Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee approved the measure; and it now heads to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.