Response to 2019 NJDEP Annual Report of Division of Fish and Wildlife

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection recently published its 2019 annual report, available at https://www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/2019/ann_rprt_2019.pdf.

This response was sent to the Commissioner via email on January 14, 2020.


Catherine R. McCabe, Commissioner
State of New Jersey
Department of Environmental Protection
Division of Fish and Wildlife
Mail Code 501-03
P.O. Box 420
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420

Dear Commissioner McCabe:

I read with interest the ” Fiscal Year 2019 Annual Report for the Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife covering July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019″. The report includes your opening comments: “I encourage you to read this report and learn about the great work the Division of Fish and Wildlife does.  I also encourage you to get outside and experience what New Jersey has to offer.” We thank you for your leadership and support of the Division.

It is especially  encouraging to read that one of your three stated goals: “To maximize the recreational use and economic potential of New Jersey’s fish and wildlife for both present and future generations.” Yet we notice that this annual report has some significant omissions, at least from our perspective as resident users of state resources here on the Delaware Bay.

Two of those issues are summarized below:

BLUE CLAW CRABS

New Jersey has a vibrant commercial and recreational crab industry. This fishery is not mentioned at all in the annual report. We fear that this implies that the industry’s critical issues are not recognized or being addressed at the highest levels of appropriate government. In fact, that seems to be the case: management reforms seem to be stalled.

It may be important for the NJDEP to note these significant issues about our state’s crab industry:

  1. We enjoy a sustainable blue claw crab stock.
  2. The blue claw crab fishery  is supported by local research including Rider University’s accomplished professor Dr. Paul Jivoff.
  3. Blue claw crabs are one of the few New Jersey commercial fisheries species expected to thrive and expand under the forecasted changing water conditions ahead.
  4. The last blue claw crab research sponsored and promoted by a NJDEP report was produced more than a decade ago (https://www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/bluecrabresearch.htm) and does not likely reflect conditions today.
  5. The commercial crab harvesting industry continues to face difficulty with the state’s harvest licensing program that remain unresolved and stalled within NJDEP despite the best efforts by the state legislature. In short, more than half of the state’s licenses are “parked”, not being used but held as a potential future financial asset. This protects the status quo, established larger harvesters, but creates a bottleneck for younger prospective watermen in the efficient distribution of licensees in areas that could otherwise benefit from sustainable increase in harvest.
  6. Unrelated to state management per se, the New Jersey blue claw crab industry is going through a period of change after the industry’s largest regional wholesaler died in 2019. This enabled some smaller crab harvesting businesses to begin exploring a dock-to-table vertically integrated expansion. Dock-to-table is generally recognized as a way to increase economic value of the fishery, along with several other benefits. It may be in our best interest to support this industry in this opportunity.

Recreational oyster harvesting

Recreational harvesting of oysters is not mentioned in the report. While we notice anecdotally an increased public interest in the hand tonging of oysters, there appears to be no state data to reflect this. The 80 page report on the “Stock Assessment Workshop New Jersey Delaware Bay Oyster Beds (21th SAW) February 12-13, 2019” (https://hsrl.rutgers.edu/SAWreports/SAW2019.pdf) does not mention the recreational oyster industry, and, as far as we can tell, does not include any sampling of stock from areas open to recreational harvest. Part of the reason is that Delaware Bay oyster stock in publicly available harvest areas has declined despite an overall increase in oysters in private lease and commercial harvest management areas. We believe that recreational oyster harvesting could be a wonderful area of expansion of outdoor enjoyment if encouraged by the state.

We welcome the opportunity for continued dialog with NJDEP, especially on these issues that are so important to our bayshore communities.

Sincerely,

Tony Novak, Controller
tnovak@bayave.org

Baysave Association
228 Nantuxent Drive
Newport NJ 08345

Baysave Recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business

Small businesses across New Jersey are starting to save money, share their successes and inspire other businesses by implementing sustainable business best practices. Joining this list of small businesses, Baysave located in Millville, New Jersey, became one of the first businesses in the state to be recognized as a New Jersey Sustainable Business.

In August of 2014, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC) launched the New Jersey Sustainable Business Registry. The registry is an Internet site where businesses that have implemented sustainable business practices can register their achievements and be recognized.

Baysave first achieved recognition for work stabilizing the bayshore community of Money Island. Their living shoreline stabilization efforts resulted in the reduction of erosion that resulted in substantial savings of dry land. Recent efforts include coordination of government programs and commercial fishing operations to promote economic stability.

Baysave’s business listing and programming records are available at http://registry.njsbdc.com/business-profile/459/483/baysave .

For more information about the registry visit: http://registry.njsbdc.com/
For more information about Baysave Association visit: www.baysave.org

The Disaster After the Disaster

Halloween evening, seven years ago tonight, I was on the phone planning a return trip to check on my home and business on the New Jersey Delaware bayshore wrecked by superstorm Sandy. I knew that we would rebuild and recovery from the physical damage. That’s what we do. We are a tough resourceful community.

What I didn’t know then was the extent that government would go to hinder our recovery with blatant fraud, extortion, opportunism and conflicting personal agenda of bad actors at all levels of government. Those of us at the lowest level of income and opportunity were victimized a second time by post-Sandy government. The struggle for environmental justice continues today.

Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate

Excerpt:

“Choices being made now about how to respond to sea-level rise profoundly influence the trajectory of future exposure and vulnerability to sea-level rise. If concerted emissions mitigation is delayed, risks will progressively increase as sea-level rise accelerates. Prospects for global climate-resilience and sustainable development therefore depend in large part on coastal nations, cities and communities taking urgent and sustained locally-appropriate action to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to sea level rise.”

https://report.ipcc.ch/srocc/pdf/SROCC_FinalDraft_Chapter4.pdf

Baysave Plans for 2020

Baysave is committed to a plan for 2020 that emphasises activating diverse community interests at Money Island NJ.

GOVERNMENT– After an intense year of dealing with government, we anticipate that government will play a decreased role as we move forward. The board of directors adapted rules specifically designed to avoid the need for government integration and we do not anticipate that government support will the largest factor in future sustainability plans.

DOCKS – We will emphasize the use of the Money Island site as a port for large vessels. The demand is growing and our facilities are less expensive than other options. While smaller boats are welcome here, dry dock is more affordable than boat slips. In general, the cost of boat slips (costs imposed by government, not by us) exceeds the amount that small boat owners want to pay and exceeds the price of other docks in the region. For all boat sizes, we will emphasize long term relationships rather than single season arrangements.

CRABS – Commercial operations will remain in Delaware until New Jersey updates its laws to allow transfer of crab license and the use of online cooperative marketing. We hope to expand support of recreational crabbing with boats and rafts if public interest is sufficient.

OYSTERS – There is growing interest in recreational oyster tonging. We have no specific plans at this time

INVESTORS – Private investments are available. A significant goal is to create long term tax-free investment gains.

CHALLENGES – The largest challenge for founder Tony Novak is balancing the desire to make facilities available to as many people as possible with the need to reduce financial losses. In 2018 the losses to to abuse and vandalism were substantially more than public donations. That is obviously unsustainable. We will continue to try different approaches, technologies and operating practices to deal with these challenges.

Another long term challenge is building engagement with the community. The trend toward depopulation has been going on for decades and now we see only a few people each day. A key to sustainability is connecting with the fewer but more interested individuals who have an interest in the bayshore.

Comments and feedback are welcome.

List of suppressed food security and climate documents released by U.S. Senate

This shocking science news yesterday (September 19, 2019) was buried beneath all of the other shocking national news; 1,400 scientific papers on food security and environmental science were suppressed or hidden from us by the federal government since January 2017. The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture apparently had enough with the corrupt and dangerous politics and compiled this 634 page list of the important documents for release to the public. The title of the report is “Peer-Reviewed Research on Climate Change by USDA Authors January 2017-August 2019“.

The full 634 page report of 1,400 peer reviewed documents is available online:

https://www.politico.com/f/?id=0000016d-4aa1-de7e-ab6d-efb938460000

Environmental cleanup will be a huge business

The cost of delay in failing to address human-caused environmental damage is estimated to be in the tens of trillions of dollars.

The Bank of England added to the climate change cleanup message recently when its governor said “Companies that don’t adapt, including companies in the financial system, will go bankrupt without question.” He added that some companies will make fortunes in cleaning up from the effects of climate change.

A core belief at Baysave is that strict product liability law is the key to our survival. In other words, if you sell a gallon of gasoline, then you have a primary financial liability for the damage caused by the chemical gases released when the gasoline is burned. We continue to see huge opportunities for environmental cleanup in the the Delaware Bay. We just need to get the big polluters on board to pay for it. That will take legal and legislative action.