NJDEP Commissioner issues Administrative Order to close remainder of terrapin season
by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager
The harvest of terrapins from New Jersey waters is now banned! Photo by Ben Wurst
Northern diamondback terrapins can no longer be harvested from New Jersey waters. Yesterday NJ Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin signed an Administrative Order closing the remainder of the commercial harvest season.
“People who live in coastal communities or visit the shore have long treasured the diamondback terrapin,” Commissioner Martin said. “Unfortunately, due to significantly increased harvesting, more needs to be done to ensure the species remains a viable part of our coastal ecosystem.”
Terrapins have long been an under-served species in New Jersey. In the past there have been many unknowns with regards to their commercial harvest from Nov. 1 to March 31. No permits. No bag limits. No reporting. All while the pet and food trade in Asia is rapidly growing. It wasn’t until last year when a federal permit was filed to export terrapins to Asia which brought more scrutiny to their harvest. The incident found that a total of 3,500 individuals were harvested from NJ waters in 2014! Then in late December, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers caught fishermen who illegally harvested 800 terrapins (which were all released) on Absecon Bay!!
CWF is the project leader for the development of a regional, multi-state strategy for Northern diamondbacks aimed at achieving long-term sustainability for terrapins throughout the Northern and Mid Atlantic Region (35 partners/8 states).
This is a step in the right direction for terrapins. Next is changing their classification from a games species to a non-game species so they can get the protection they need. We applaud NJDEP and the NJ Fish & Wildlife COs who have helped this amazing and unique species of turtle!