Legislation sponsored by Senator Jeff Van Drew that would protect commercial and recreational fishing in New Jersey was approved today by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. The bill would limit the issuance of permits for the commercial fishing of menhaden, a popular bait fish, beginning in 2011. The measure was crafted to protect New Jersey from an influx of commercial fishermen from New England looking to harvest menhaden for lobster bait, as a result of a federal restriction on the amount of herring that can be used for that purpose. Beginning in 2011, the bill would require the Environmental Protection commissioner to restrict the licenses issued for commercial menhaden fishing to people who had a valid license for at least one of the years from 2002 to 2009, and possessed a valid license in the preceding year. The bill now heads to the full Senate.