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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2004


Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994


State Environmental Agency Holds Public Meetings on Protecting the Coast

(04/35) TRENTON- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell will host two meetings to get public comment on how to better protect New Jersey's coastal areas and ocean waters. U.S. Senator Jon Corzine, Congressman Frank LoBiondo and Congressman Frank Pallone will join Campbell in hosting the discussions this month.

"We want to present the public with a series of options for coastal protection and a healthy marine environment," said Campbell. "Scientific research points toward accumulating evidence that our oceans are at risk from pollution, climate change and over-development. We need business, environmental, and fisheries communities to help develop recommendations to protect the integrity of our coastal waters."

The first meeting co-hosted by Senator Jon Corzine and Congressman Frank LoBiondo, will be held 10:30 a.m. April 19, at the Performing Arts Center, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey in Pomona.

The second meeting co-hosted by Congressman Frank Pallone, will be held at 7 p.m. April 26, at Wilson Auditorium, Monmouth University in West Long Branch.

The DEP recently issued a white paper proposing a number of coastal protection initiatives. Among the proposals are regulatory and policy changes on ways to manage coastal and ocean resources; implementation of improved coastal water quality measures; additional funding sources for existing programs; expansion of public access; and potential state and federal legislative initiatives including barring offshore drilling and protecting ecosystems.

Concern about the nation's coastal areas led to the creation of the Pew Oceans Commission in 2000 to address the need to treat the ocean as a public trust. In response to the Pew Commission's report released in 2003, Governor James E. McGreevey directed DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell to consult with representatives of various organizations and constituencies to develop recommendations.

The federal Oceans Act of 2000 mandated the creation of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, authorized by Congress, and comprised of members appointed by the President. The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy is charged with making findings and developing recommendations to the President and Congress for a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy.

The new federal policy will address a broad range of issues, including the stewardship of marine resources, pollution prevention, and enhancing and supporting marine science, commerce and transportation. Upon release of the draft report, state governors will have until May 21 to review and comment on the report. The comments will be included in the final report to the President and Congress.

The white paper outlining proposed initiatives presently under consideration by DEP can be accessed at http://www.nj.gov/dep/cmp/czm_news.html.
 

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I got word that we recreational fishermen have nothing to worry about concerning the MPAs. I'm not sure what those exact proposals are, so I'm a little leary. I do know that some of the proposals which relate to marine fisheries have been in the works for quite some time, before the present administration. I plan on being there to listen and put my 2 cents in.
 

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DEP gets public input on protecting coastal areas
By DAVID BENSON (609) 272-7206

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - The first of two public meetings on how to better protect the state's coastal areas and ocean waters drew political and environmental heavy-hitters to Stockton College's Performing Arts Center on Sunday.

Stormwater run-off, the Intracoastal Waterway, and marina and back bay dredging were three of the major concerns.

Bradley M. Campbell, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, told a group of about 100 that there are significant pressures on the state's beaches, and substantial challenges facing both the public and the state.

"It's a set of challenges surrounded by troubling data: declining fish stocks, beach closings and sewage discharges," Campbell said. But these challenges create an opportunity for the current administration to "protect and restore the shore," he added.

Campbell said he doesn't think New Jersey is in crisis today, but will be in the future if no action is taken.

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, drew loud applause from the small crowd when he took a firm stance against drilling for oil or gas off New Jersey's coast.

"I have introduced legislation opposing this," he said. "We don't even want exploration for what the potential is: It's off limits, period."

Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, agreed with LoBiondo's assessment of offshore drilling.

U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine, D-N.J., pointed out that global climate conditions have an effect on the state's shoreline.

"We need to address this," said Corzine, who attended the meeting on crutches after aggravating an old high school football injury last week.

"The (Garden State) Parkway is not an environmental demarcation line for the eco system in New Jersey," state Sen. Bill Gormley said.

Referring to the Intracoastal Waterway that feeds the aquifer, Gormley said that the Pinelands and the Atlantic Ocean are one: "We can't put blinders on for the other side just because it's the Pinelands."

Regardless of what is decided, Dillingham called on the politicians to set specific timelines for those things to get done.

Dillingham said shellfish numbers are down drastically in Barnegat Bay, and blamed stormwater run-off for the decline. Shellfish are a good barometer to use when measuring the health of the environment, he said.

"Clams and oysters are filter feeders," he said. "When you see them drop off, it's a warning sign that the health of the bay is in danger.

"The health of Barnegat Bay is overstressed by nutrient pollution," Dillingham said. "That is primarily nitrates and phosphorus coming off the land. It's exceeded the ability of the bay to utilize those nutrients."

He said the overabundance of nutrients promotes algae growth, which can kill eelgrasses, which are an important habitat for crabs and small fish, he said.

Willie deCamp, president of Save Barnegat Bay, said the state should also focus on an aggressive purchase of open space. "That's the definitive way to protect the coast," he said

Stone Harbor Mayor Suzanne Walters; Melissa Denko, director of the Marine Trade Association of New Jersey; and Walt Westcoat, a longtime supporter of the Intracoastal Waterway, all highlighted the state's need to address dredging and what to do with the spoils generated.

LoBiondo, Gormley and Corzine, "need to go back to Washington to get money for the Intracoastal Waterway," Westcoat said. "It didn't get a dime this year."

While Campbell told those at the hearing to think about finding places for dredging sediment. Some said there may be use for the substance, commonly referred to as spoils.

Wayne Conrad, president of the Baywaters Alliance, said dredging materials could have economic benefits, such as in road building and landscaping.
 
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