Bountiful Seafood Catches

Seafood lovers and fishermen alike find that New Jersey has an abundance of treasures from the ocean that satisfy both sportsmen and consumers with a daily bounty of some of the freshest catches to be found along the East Coast. While the commercial fishing industry in New Jersey is a powerful part of the state's economy that supplies restaurants and retailers across the region, sport fishermen will have no trouble finding day and party boats located in marines all along the coast.

At the southern tip of New Jersey the ports of Cape May and Wildwood comprise the largest in New Jersey and one of the biggest on the East Coast. The two ports have some of the largest vessels fishing on the Atlantic coast and have led the way in developing new fisheries and new domestic and international markets for New Jersey seafood. Major Cape May fisheries focus on squid, mackerel, fluke, sea bass, porgies, lobsters and menhaden. In addition to these, Wildwood boats are also in the surf clam/ocean quahog (an edible claim) business. In Atlantic City's Marina District, the commercial fishing fleet focuses almost exclusively on surf and ocean clams.

Using 70-foot to 150-foot vessels this industry segment provides much of the world's supply of minced clams and clam strips. Barnegat Light, on the northern end of Long Beach Island, is located adjacent to what was the infamous Barnegat Inlet before a multimillion-dollar Corps of Engineers project brought it's fierce currents somewhat under control.

Barnegat Light's two commercial docks service a fleet that ranges from small, local day boats to globe-spanning "longliners" that drag extended fishing lines to catch larger species like tuna and swordfish. To heighten public awareness of the Commercial Seafood Industry, Viking Village, also in Barnegat Light, offers Dock Tours, which provide basic insight into key issues relating to the management of seafood resources plus the mechanics of individual fisheries. Visitors will see the facility in operation, along with a fresh display of seafood products.

Several of Barnegat Light's fishermen pioneered the deepwater tilefish fishery back in the 1970s and through a successful marketing campaign turned this delicious fish into the consumer's poor man's lobster. Located midway on the New Jersey coast, Point Pleasant Beach is a textbook example of a traditional fishing community existing in harmony with the surrounding tourist businesses. With a fleet of medium-sized trawlers and others, the town's boats fish primarily local waters, making trips of from one to several days in duration and bring the fresh, iced fish into port.

The major species caught are fluke, squid, silver and red hake and scallops. For visitors and consumers, Channel Drive has outstanding fresh daily fish eateries and retailers. The Port of Belford is located in the shelter of Sandy Hook on the most northern section of the New Jersey coast. With ready highway access, ocean-fresh seafood harvested by the fishermen based in Belford can be in New York's Fulton market within an hour or to any of tens of millions of consumers in the same day it was caught.