Fishermen, environmentalists, and advocates showed up in Long Branch for the second public hearing on the Department of Environmental Protection's proposed beach access rules for the state.

The proposed amendments delegate more power to municipalities in terms of ensuring compliance of public beach access regulations, however many of members who came out to the meeting in Long Branch felt they were getting ignored in favor of wealthier ocean front property owners and township officials.

Two meetings were held on Wednesday by the DEP, the first being in Avalon, a site of prior beach access concerns.

The DEP introduced several amendments to the beach access rules specifying that day and night time access for recreational fisherman must be provided; provide greater transparency and public involvement with municipalities in creating access plans; not requiring marinas to expand access when improving facilities; and mandate public access on the main route of the Hudson Waterfront Walkway and adjacent piers.

Many of the fishermen and advocates however say that isn't how it is in practice, and though towns must have spots for fishermen to access, anglers are kept away from the water by private homeowners or parking regulations.

"They give you access but they give you no parking, they put "No Parking" signs up." Noted one

A fisherman at the DEP public hearing of Beach Access changes in Long Branch


Another angler feels that every year they are losing another spot to fish.

"I don't know if it deals with the wealthy people. Is it just the city needs more money?"

Many in attendance complained even though beach access was garaunteed in many places, private owners and townships were still preventing public entry.

DEP Chief Advisor Ray Cantor says he understands people are upset by the lack of enforcement in many areas, but he reminds the new access plan is still in it's infancy.

"We're confident once these rules are adopted, once we work with teh towns, we'll have enhanced public access. Right now it's just a regulatory stage, we're not seeing any progress because the regulation are not in place yet."

Cantor adds comments will be accepted until May 17th, and they hope to have the new access rules passed this summer.

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