May 2020 sets global high temperature records

May 2020 was the warmest month of May on record 1 with global temperature records going back to 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Of the 140 years of records, all ten of the warmest Mays have been in recent years. While it didn’t feel especially warm locally, most of unseasonably warm atmosphere and water this year was felt in Asia.

Locally here on both sides of the Delaware Bay coastline it felt like a cold, wet and windy month. We were wearing winter coats outside into the beginning of the 4th week of May. Other signs in nature, like annual crab migration, wild and agricultural plant germination and marsh grass growth, indicated a delayed or slower month of May than we’ve seen in other recent years.

A male osprey perched near the couple’s nest on May 12, 2020. The meadow is still a brown color because the new growth of marsh grass is not yet grown.

1 Actually May 2020 is reported tied with May 2016 as the warmest months of May on record

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

Thanks for the first $50,000!

Baysave is tremendously grateful to the bayshore community for helping us raise more than $50,000 to help struggling businesses in and around Money Island in Cumberland County over the past three years. We achieved this milemark this past month in May 2019. Most of that charitable grant and donation money during this first decade was spent on state financial demands: permit fees, user fees, taxes, application fees, etc. for environmental problems that were the state’s fault for their failures decades ago. Baysave is a 501(c)(3) formed in 2010 and registered with the State of New Jersey as a public charity. Our funding comes from private donors, private grants and the public.

eagle-on-A-Dock-(3)

We still have a long way to go toward restoration of Money Island with about $100,000 in government expenses still unpaid. Most of this is needed for aquaculture permitting to convert a former marina into docks and seafood handling facilities. We also support a range of public access to waterways initiatives. Our diverse stakeholders include universities, environmental groups, recreational public fishing and naturalists. We believe that the community will continue to support the basic goals of food security, restorative aquaculture expansion and shoreline stabilization.

Why Money Island?

Money Island is New Jersey’s second most productive seafood landing port and the target site for a conversion into restorative aquaculture practices. In other words, we’ve taken the challenge of rising tides and turned it into a good thing. We have a “shovel ready” plan of action that has been shared and endorsed by many in state government and the NJDEP. Money Island is also possibly New Jersey’s most remote and most pristine natural environment, surrounded by thousands of acres of undeveloped space.

The disaster after the disaster

We survived the devastating impact of superstorm Sandy but not the corruption in government that followed in the aftermath of storm recovery.

Prior to Sandy, BaySave had a strong track record of working as a partner with the state and was often cited for our innovative projects. Then a few bad government actors got involved. I personally received threats, solicitations for bribes and, to this day, extortion pressures from government officials. These bad deeds are all reported, a few were investigated, but none were prosecuted.

How the battle to adapt to climate change turned into a battle against bad government

How did Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Gurbir Grewal show its appreciation for the environmental compliance progress that this rural Cumberland County community has made so far during the first two years of his administration? By suing Baysave, it’s former directors and executive because we are not moving fast enough. State officials have repeatedly refused to reply to requests for meetings and declined to participate in the NJDEP’s statutory alternate dispute resolution procedures. How did our local elected officials respond? Our local government says they are powerless to help against what they repeatedly refer to as the actions of “DEP terrorists”. Our former State Senator said it is too risky to get involved and our current State Senator  and Assemblyman are apparently taking the same position.

Standing firm for our future

Yet we stand with New Jersey’s independent seafood businesses. New Jersey’s small independent watermen are an important part of the future of our food security, shoreline stabilization, restorative aquaculture and sea level rise response. This is an example of government acting badly against its poorest and most vulnerable populations.

We urge the community to continue to stand united with us against bad government for a strong and sustainable future.

#environmentaljustice

 

Resist!

“Resist much. Obey little”. – Walt Whitman

“Resist much. Obey little.”

It’s now been more than 30 years since I first learned firsthand the impact of government corruption, bribery, extortion and plainly bad policy execution on the deteriorated Delaware Bay shore communities. I was living and working in Ocean City, New Jersey and has some initial success is environmental justice issues in our neglected communities on the east coast by building relationships and educating elected officials on relevant issues. A property owner at the bayshore wondered if I could have the same impact here. So now it’s been more tha15 years since I’ve actively worked for better environmental policy in Cumberland County on the west coast of New Jersey. I have no positive results to show for it. I was diverted and pushed into working with federal and state law enforcement investigators instead by reporting crimes, the resulting death threats and even the investigation of a failed attempt to shut me up through attempted murder. As far as I know, none of those crimes has been prosecuted. We hear that a book is coming out soon that covers some of the wild adventure.

Baysave has accomplished much thanks to the generous support of the community. Yet our overall effectiveness was slash at the knees by disingenuous government actors that caused us to lose more time and money to fighting hostile government actions than we could have done if we worked together. By my estimate, the State of New Jersey could have purchased the entirety of Money Island at a lower cost than they will spend fighting against us and limiting the role of other agencies and environmental groups here. It is shocking, maddening, illogical, inefficient and wasteful of public resources.

Meanwhile, over the past six difficult years “Leaves of Grass” has become my most often read and cited source of literature as a source of inspiration. This week I am reminded that little has changed here in our world. There is still evidence that high-powered greed empowered by government controls us. The incidents of government bad behavior in the past month were dizzying and are still confusing. But I’m still here spreading the word; perhaps a bit more selectively than in the old days. Only by speaking up do we have any possibility of escaping the pattern of rich politically-connected individuals trodding down the rights of the majority citizens who call this place home.

Here is the full text of “To the States” by Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass:

“To the States or any one of them, or any city of the States, Resist 
much, obey little, Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved, Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city of this earth, ever after-
ward resumes its liberty. “

NEW JOBS PAC

Tony Novak CPA will represent Baysave at the 2019 NEW JOBS PAC “The Voice of Business” Annual South Jersey Legislative Reception for the New Job Political Action Committee as a member of the NJCPA and supporter of its PAC. The annual event attracts local lawmakers to discuss local business and economic development opportunities and hindrances.

New Jobs PAC logo

The group focuses on legislation to improve the business climate in New Jersey by supporting pro-business political candidates. Baysave is involved in revitalization of the bayshore economy and last year received funding from the NJ Community Capital THRIVE Grant to promote the local crab industry through a multi-state marketing cooperative. That effort was stymied by legal action by state government.

Baysave is focused on spreading the word about the huge growth potential of our local aquaculture industry, especially blue claw crabs and oysters at the Delaware Bay region. Advanced and technology open the door to a tenfold increase in total seafood production in the years ahead. That growth means moe infrastructure needed, more jobs created and more tax revenue for South Jersey government.

Change of direction for Money Island

Until this week, we expected that Money Island marina and docks would be redeveloped under new management for this 2019. Seven different groups ranging from nonprofits to recreational boating to commercial fishing companies are working independently to settle old litigation, gain funding and apply for permits to expand their operations here. The process is taking much longer than expected and we see no fast resolution in sight. All groups plans are on hold at this time with no opportunity to move forward.

The delay

The main hold-up is that the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has not yet agreed to end litigation for prior lack of permits and violations dating back to the 1930s. Once that old litigation is settled, new agencies and investors will provide funding for the required permitting and redevelopment. However, all investors and agencies have been clear that no new permits or funding will be offered while the state continues to litigate over old issues. This is a mess that government created on its own and only government can solve.

The best plan for 2019

It no longer makes sense to continue to wait for the state to conclude its litigation before adopting a usage policy for these properties for 2019. For the remainder of 2019 it makes more sense to ‘go with what we have”. The Money Island facilities will be available to Baysave for permitted activities like small scale aquaculture and restoration. Some uses require no government permits so there is no restriction on these uses.

Baysave is a volunteer based charity and it is not immediately clear how the operating costs will be covered. Details of each specific allowable use will be available separately soon.

300 word summary of Baysave

We were asked to provide a 300 word summary of Baysave as part of the on-boarding process for a community project. Here it is so far (revisions are likely):


The professionally written version:

BaySave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association formed in 2010 and based at Money Island, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Past projects include living shoreline stabilization, oyster shell recycling, marina repair and management, crowdfunding, educational programming, and community seafood events. Baysave was cited by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection for exemplary dune grass replanting projects.

Baysave is registered as a New Jersey charity with a mission of advocacy, stabilization, restoration, and sustainable economic redevelopment of the Delaware Bay and communities along its shoreline. Baysave operates in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania with some programs reaching Maryland, New York City, and Virginia. Our unique value is in making measurable progress toward common goals by bringing together recreational users, environmentalists, commercial watermen, elected officials, and community leaders. This allows us to combine the resources of diverse stakeholders in government, industry, nonprofit, and education.

In 2018 Baysave received funding from the NJ Community Capital THRIVE Grant for the redevelopment of the local recreational crabbing industry to provide infrastructure, marketing innovation, and an organizational framework to operate as a cooperative with greater autonomy and opportunities. Those efforts continue into 2019.

Our 2019 priorities are: 1) influencing New Jersey legislation and regulations associated with sustainability, fisheries and aquaculture management, 2) transitioning local commercial and recreational marinas into compliance with existing state regulations, and 3) expanding funding sources to meet the remaining unmet requirements for existing partially-funded projects.

Baysave is proud to be a member of the Millville Chamber of Commerce and the Vineland Chamber of Commerce. We are grateful to have received assistance from the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, the NJ League of Municipalities, and the NJ Society of Certified Public Accountants. We have also been offered a site license for long term projects to a coalition of environmental groups led by The Nature Conservancy.

 


 

BaySave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit association formed in 2010 and based at Money Island, Cumberland County, New Jersey. Baysave is registered as a New Jersey charity with a mission of advocacy, stabilization, restoration and sustainable economic redevelopment on the Delaware Bay and communities along its shoreline. Baysave operates in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania with some programs occasionally connecting to Maryland, New York City and Virginia. Our unique value is in the ability to combine the resources of diverse stakeholders in government, industry, nonprofit and education in making specific progress toward common goals by bringing together recreational users, environmentalists, commercial watermen, elected officials and community leaders.

Past projects include living shoreline stabilization, oyster shell recycling, marina repair and management, crowdfunding, educational programming and community seafood events. Baysave was cited by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection for exemplary dune grass replanting projects.

In 2018 Baysave received funding from the NJ Community Capital TRIVE Grant for the redevelopment of the local recreational crabbing industry to provide infrastructure, marketing innovation and an organizational framework to operate as a cooperative with greater autonomy and opportunities. Those efforts continue into 2019.

Our 2019 priorities are: 1) influencing New Jersey legislation and regulations associated with sustainability, fisheries and aquaculture management, 2) transitioning local commercial and recreational marinas to comply with existing state regulations, and 3) expanding funding sources to meet the remaining unmet requirements for existing partially-funded projects.

Baysave is pleased to be a member of the Millville Chamber of Commerce and the Vineland Chamber of Commerce. We are pleased to have received assistance from the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, the NJ League of Municipalities and the NJ Society of Certified Public Accountants and offers a site license for long term projects to a coalition of environmental groups led by The Nature Conservancy.


The website is www.Baysave.org. Contact controller Tony Novak at 856-447-3576 or tnovak@baysave.org for more information.

Baysave announces 2019 environmental priorities: permitting and plastics

At its December 2018 meeting, the Board of Directors of Baysave Association resolved to take additional steps toward cleanup and legalization of previously abandoned properties at the New Jersey bayshore. The resolutions include an approach to federal and state government permitting and an approach to addressing plastics in local waters. These two programs – permitting and plastics – will be the focus of Baysave’s 2019 environmental agenda.

A strategy to approach permitting on a site-by-site basis was approved to allow us to partner with, sell, or gift land to others who may have similarly aligned environmental and sustainable community redevelopment interests. It is unclear whether the NJDEP and NJ Attorney General will agree to this plan since in the past the department has taken an unusual “whole community” approach at one cleanup location and has declined pre-permit requests for addressing individual site cleanup issues. The Controller is authorized to lobby local and state government to support this more practical cleanup approach.

A plan was approved to remove waste plastics that are already in our waters as well as to reduce overall future reliance on plastics in the future. This past year the NJ Fish and Wildlife bureau and some Baysave members noticed a problem with plastic shell bags used in oyster reef restoration.  We will discontinue the use of these bags on our sites and advocate for their replacement in other sites. The board resolved to commit funds and volunteer labor to remove Styrofoam floats from the water and replace the Styrofoam with more sustainable materials. This program will need additional funding. The Board authorized its Controller to seek additional grant funding for this project.

Baysave renewed its commitment to run its multi-user facilities at Money Island New Jersey provided that funding is available through future grants. The former Money Island Marina community is being converted to a nature preserve through combined action of the NJDEP Blue Acres Program and the NJ Attorney General. Public access will continue to be based on membership, however support for boating and docking activities is discontinued until and unless allowed by law.

For more information, contact Tony Novak, Controller, at tnovak@baysave.org.

 

Small local fisheries and aquaculture play an important role in economy and food security

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO.org) lists among its priorities “Recognizing small-scale fisheries as a fundamental contributor to poverty alleviation and food security“. While this concept is widely recognized in economic planning of third world countries, it is just as important in disadvantaged US seafood landing port communities.

Baysave is working to promote healthy, sustainable local aquaculture and fisheries industries in the rural and disadvantaged bayshore region of New Jersey on the Delaware Bay. The key to success in revitalization of this industry is the availability of high impact investment funds from angel investors with a vision to convert today’s low priced fishery and aquaculture assets into more productive facilities using technology that is already successfully employed in other places.

Success in this area isn’t ‘rocket science’. We know that the Delaware Bay crab and oyster industries are poised for sustainable long term expansion. This conclusion is based on observation of tenfold go twentyfold overall production increases in nearby Chesapeake Bay and Barnegat Bay. We simply need to align government permitting so that we can attract investment capital for infrastructure and business development. Unfortunately, New Jersey has a history of ineffective governance in this area and a political structure that resists change.

Small local fisheries and aquaculture remains dependent on two factors:

1) Ability to obtain state government permitting

2) Ability to attract investment funds

We remain committed to addressing these needs for the local bayshore community.

Port Mahon Delaware

Sea level rise is causing erosion that has all but swallowed this once-thriving town on the shore of the Delaware Bay.

These pictures taken in March 2011 tell the story of the current state of Port Mahon, Delaware. Once a popular bayside community, now all that is left is a boat launch lamp accessible at low tide. At high tide the road is impassible.

Physical deterioration was evident in March at the beginning of the spring storm season. It appears that if the road is not heavily maintained, it may be completely washed away with a few months. (See the photos with broken asphalt).

These sobering photos were taken on March 23, 2011, on a calm overcast day with light rain. Since this was not a full moon or any other lunar cycle, I concluded that this was a normal high tide. We generally expect tide levels to increase over the spring.

Two watermen had pulled boats and were leaving Port Mahon Road as I entered. It was about an hour before high tide. I wondered if they knew that the road became impassable at high tide, but I drove ahead anyway. The deepest water was about six inches, which is about the maximum my little SUV can handle.

On the long drive back home, I reconsidered the possibilities of hardening to resist erosion (the strategy used by my local community in New Jersey) as compared to a strategic retreat (the strategy endorsed by the scientific community). My guess is that we’ll do everything possible to avoid addressing the issue in a responsible and effective manner.