How sustainability efforts are helping the state’s fishing industry

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

Pete Dolan is the captain of the Ms. Manya, a commercial scallop boat. He’s ready to set sail on a week-long trip — and ideally, when he and his crew return, they will have caught a hefty 18,000 pounds of scallops. Business is booming in the state’s fishing industry, and Dolan claims federal regulations are to thank.

Before those regulations were put in place in the early 1980s, Dolan and his crew would have to spend more time on trips because anyone could go out and catch scallops, which meant supplies were low. But, sustainability efforts from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have created a more favorable scenario.

“We monitor what is landed, and the fishing industry reports what they land. The fishing dealers report what they purchased, and the agency that I work for makes sure there’s not too much fish coming in and there’s not enough that are left in the sea for future generations,” said NOAA port agent Joanne Pellegrino.

According to NOAA, the Garden State’s commercial fishing industry generated $6.2 billion last year, with recreational fishing adding on another $1.8 billion.

“Our involvement with seafood is that we as a department charged with promoting seafood in New Jersey,” said New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher. “Consumption, industry, the fishery itself in terms of having people understand the value and importance of the industry that it is to the state.”

Captain Dolan asserts that regulations have allowed for a thriving scallop industry, and on his boat, it’s attracted a better crew because trips are shorter and pay is better.