Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation Monday to make it easier for aquaculture businesses to get started, and to bring New Jersey into the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

The aquaculture bills require the state Department of Agriculture and Department of Environmental Protection to develop a coordinated permitting review program, and to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a joint application process for aquaculture projects that need state and federal permits, licenses or approvals.

New Jersey primarily farms hard clams and oysters, and the state currently has more than 160 licensed aquatic farmers, according to the DOA.

The bills (A-793/S-316; and A794/S-317) were sponsored in the Assembly by Bob Andrzejczak, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic; Bruce Land, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic; and Adam Taliaferro, D-Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem.

Sponsors in the Senate were Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, and Christopher Connors, R-Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic.

The Interstate Wildlife Violators Compact allows the state to share information about wildlife violation convictions for illegal activity such as poaching with other states.

States can then suspend hunting, trapping and fishing licenses within their borders for those who have lost their licenses elsewhere.

“New Jersey and Nebraska were the only two states that weren’t involved,” said primary sponsor Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo, D-Atlantic.

New Jersey issued about 35,000 hunting licenses to state residents and another 3,775 to out-of-state hunters in 2015.

“Someone is always trying to beat the law,” Mazzeo said. “If you are not part of it and these type of people know that, it gives them an opportunity.”

Other local sponsors include Andrzejczak and Land.

As a member, the state will now receive notices of violations from other states, and the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife will review the convictions and decide if they meet the requirements for license suspension in New Jersey.

The DEP and state Fish & Wildlife both supported the bill.

New Jersey also will provide information on in-state violations to other states.

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In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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