Recreational Fishermen Worry Beach Replenishment Will Ruin Fishing Conditions

By Lauren Wanko

Recreational fisherman Dan Russo worries he won’t be able to walk onto the jetty and fish because the Army Corps of Engineers plans to slice the top off, or notch up to six jetties between Asbury Park and Elberon as part of the beach replenishment project.

“Once that’s gone, they’ll be no reason for fisherman to come here from all different places,” Russo, of Asbury Park Fishing Club, said.

Notching is a process which removes a jetty’s top layer so people can’t walk onto the structures, which means people can’t walk onto the structures, particularly at high tide.

“The jetty will be sort of a island,” said Russo.

The Army Corps of Engineers says notching allows the sand to move freely along the shore line. The Corps’ goal: to maintain a uniform shoreline width, which is required for uniform risk management. Notching allows for sediment transport from Manasquan to Sea Bright. Twenty-eight jetties have already been notched in Monmouth County in the past 20 years, but Russo insists notching isn’t necessary.

“In areas where these jetties haven’t been notched, the sand is moving any way,” said Russo.

Russo says recreational fisherman from many of the area clubs recently met with Congressman Frank Pallone, along with representatives from the Army Corps and the Department of Environmental Protection to address their concerns about six jetties from Elberon to Asbury Park. Russo says those jetties haven’t been notched yet and the fishermen hope it stays that way.

“I don’t think you should notch any of the jetties, but if you are gonna look at these six and say they should be notched well at least eliminate as many, don’t notch all six, let’s see if we can eliminate some of the notching,” said Rep. Frank Pallone.

Russo calls jetties the prime fishing spot for anglers because the jetties support the lower end of the food chain.

“Which attracts the game fish we’re after. When sand gets placed around the jetty, it smothers the lower end of the food chain,” said Russo.

The Army Corps tells NJTV News while some habitats and species in them will be temporarily impacted by the construction project. Marine populations impacted will return to normal levels over time. But fishermen also insist the jetty notching will have a ripple effect within the entire industry.

“All of the economic activity that surrounds the fishing in the area will be gone for good,” Russo said.

“I’m sure the business would be way down if they can’t get on the jetties,” said Fisherman’s Den employee Bob Matthews.

The Fisherman’s Den sells supplies to anglers headed for the jetties.

“The guys who use the jetties buy the plugs which are the artificial lures to fish on the jetties, they buy the rod reels, they buy spikes to walk on the jetties with,” Matthews said.

The Army Corps says it’s heard the concerns raised by the public and are currently exploring potential refinements to its plans while still ensuring the coastal storm management project performs successfully.