As the beach season continues to heat up during a global pandemic, we feel it is important to continue to remind municipalities of certain aspects of beach access and the Public Trust Doctrine in NJ. Recently, there have been multiple reports of beach badge checkers attempting to charge surfers and fisherman a fee to access the water. While we are experiencing unprecedented times, that practice could violate the Public Trust Doctrine. An angler simply carrying fishing equipment should not be charged to enter the beach. An angler with a beach chair, towel etc. can be charged accordingly. Similarly, a surfer only carrying a board should be allowed on the beach for free.
Of course, a municipality can charge beach fees to produce revenues necessary to offset legitimate beachfront related expenditures. However, if a person is simply walking along the wet sand area below the mean high-water line, or accessing the shore for surfing, fishing, swimming, etc., then a fee should not be charged. We feel this information should be shared with badge checkers at the very least in an informal way. See below for full letter.