The changing behavioral and feeding patterns of whales of the New Jersey shore have been known to scientists for decades but recently the issue is brought to public attention in an unexpected political association. This is what we know: – The traditional main food of whales is krill, a small crustacen similar to what many of us know locally as “grass shrimp”, although the species are scientifically different. – Krill are among the most abundant species on earth. But human harvesting of krill has increased sharply in the past decade as food for the growing aquaculture industry. – Water warming changes might also be contributing to a decline in krill population. – Along the New Jersey shore, whales feed on menhaden, that we know as “bunker”. – Menhaden schools have rebounded close to the New Jersey shorelines. – New Jersey boat captains report more whales feeding close to shore now. – NOAA believes increased that strikes between ships and whales is responsible for increased deaths along shore. – Political groups tried to exploit public ignorance of the issue to associate local whale deaths at the shore to the wind energy industry when no factual relationship exists.
The recently observed bad behavior of local law enforcement officers combined with national news headlines has watermen, local bayshore residents and our guests on edge. Yesterday’s national news headlines indicated that dozens of environmental activists were arrested in public protests against environmental injustice. That number will likely escalate sooner rather than later as civil disobedience in protest to government actions increases locally and across the nation. Locally, a court’s action to effectively block the marketing efforts of a watermens’ cooperative triggered angry talk of retaliation.
Watermen are wary of both environmentalists and law enforcement officers. Many consider their god-given right to work the water as their highest held value. Some feel they have little to lose messing with the law. One told me that he deliberately gets himself into a little legal trouble each fall to get “three squares and a bed” over the winter months.
It is easy to forget that as recently as 1970 our watermen were engaged in violent battles against federal government officials with occasional gun battles on the water. No one wants to see a return to those lawless days. Yet the animosity of ordinary local citizens toward government is at a record high level. Today watermen and environmentalists are equally likely to wind up in unfortunate encounters with law enforcement officers.
Our focus is on protecting ourselves here on site at the bayshore rather than what happens elsewhere in clashes with government. It seems that government visitors have become a daily occurrence at the bayshore lately and it is not easy to know who is being investigated and for what. We anticipate that the incidence of law officer activity will increase. Virtually every published authority we’ve read predicts that clashes between citizens and government will increase dramatically as citizens unite to demand environmental justice.
The tension is compounded by the fact that a high percentage of us in the fisheries industry are not English-speaking natives and almost everyone knows someone who is struggling to get work papers extended or citizenship paperwork processed.
, we typically have the advantage of seeing an officer approach from a long distance away. That gives us time to go inside a building or boat cabin and close the door if a law enforcement officers appear on the site. Act respectfully, keep your hands visible, do not engage, and do not open the door.
Use these words calmly but clearly and loudly if an officer is on the site:
“I wish to remain silent”.
“I did not consent to this search”.
If detained or arrested
Ask “Why am I being detained?” and “Am I under arrest?”. In one instance here an officer made a detainment and moved a protester without making an arrest. It can happen but might not be legal. It take a tremendous amount of self-restraint to simply keep quiet and ask for a lawyer.
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.
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.
Update on the nicknamed “crab king” case: the hearing details are changed. The information below is no longer accurate. See a more recent update.
Oral argument is scheduled Monday June 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM before Honorable Judge Joseph M. Chiarello, JSC in Court Room 235, Cumberland County Court House, Broad and Fayette Streets, Bridgeton NJ for State vs. Tony Novak, Appeal #2-19. The state will be represented by Danielle Pennino
, Esq. of the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office. The hearing is open to the public.
Because of the case’s potential impact on the future of social media marketing of the Philadelphia region’s “farm-to-table” and “dock-to-table” grower cooperatives, I have invited inquiries for an amicus brief (friend of the court) from other similarly situated groups. So far, no response. Preparing a brief is often an expensive undertaking and I suspect that not many grower and harvester cooperatives are aware of the potential legal threat.
The core issue is whether the state has the ability to hold off-site, online marketers who are not growers, harvesters, buyers or sellers responsible for keeping physical catch records of content they sell that might be related to New jersey fisheries. The language of the statute was written long before the age of social media when the word “marketing” and “selling” had the same implication and were typically under common management control. That is no longer true today. Now in the age of networked online “sharing” of other users content these two words have entirely different meanings. Sharing online content is not selling under most legal authorities. The goal of this legal action is to establish this as the legal standard under New Jersey fisheries management law.
The brief on behalf of Baysave’s controller Tony Novak is filed and the state has until May 28 to respond. The brief
In the realm of ‘firsts’, this was one that I could not have predicted. A surprise phone call came in Friday from our government relations liaison, a PhD with a background in economic development in the office of another PhD Director of Coastal Resiliency at Rowan University.
Government relations and coastal resilience: what a team! That’s exactly the combination we need around here.
It’s not appropriate for me to get into a “he said…” situation in a public blog post like this. But is is useful to say that I am learning about new areas of public policy that were previously invisible to me. The entire topic of what government needs to do in terms of long term planning largely escapes public view. I was introduced to the topics of what is a “win” in the eyes of government, its impact on future elections and even the survival of our economy and society. Simple topics like planning for enough food to feed ourselves is really a big deal. Yet it isn’t something that makes the newspapers every day.
At the end of this call I felt more confident of the role that Money Island will play in the future as the region’s seafood landing port. Many shore towns will need to dissolve: “strategic retreat” is the popular phrase in public policy discussions. Yet some seaports will need to remain open for our survival. We will see a deeper channel for even larger oyster boats. Heavy duty commercial docks for the expanding aquaculture industry are already in the works. Loading dock
, refrigerators and freezers need to be upgraded. The seawall project will be continued. We are one of the chosen few ports that will be supported; even at the massive costs required to adapt to climate change and rising tides.
Commercial fisheries use modern “fish-killing machines” (p 42); technology creep increases catches over time actual catch is 8 times the declared amount (p 48)
recreational fishing is 30-50% of total catch (p 274)
dredging damage: hard substrate bottom produced greater variety of species (p 55)
over-fishing is 1000 times more dangerous than drilling – Han Lindeboom
Orange roughy naturally outlives humans but few live to sexual maturity now (p 93)
“The trouble is there is not enough fish for everyone. It does not matter what system you have.” Gislason (p 247)
By-catch and Waste by-catch is 1/3 of total worldwide per UN Food & Agriculture Org. Only 10% of total fish killed is consumed as protein by humans
breakdown of menhaden use: 34% for feeding fish, 29% of hogs, 27% for poultry, <10% human and other uses tuna by-catch (p 211)
Fisheries Management comments on fisheries management (p 100) – fisheries are managed to preserve jobs – current overall worldwide management system is a direct cause of over-fishing irony of government’s fish monitor boat (p 99)
– US has several management successes: pollock in Alaska, shrimp in Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic scallops, herring, black bass, striped bass.
– European Union Common Fisheries Policy is the worst management program
– examples of “garbage in / garbage out”; Canadian cod management in the 1980s “A scientist’s first duty is to the truth. His secondary duty is to the public interest and his third duty is to the minister.” – Professor John Shepherd of Southamptom University in England. scientists who manage fisheries get offended (p 216)
“Everywhere in the world the fisheries manager is there just to perform the traditional role of keeping the fishing industry happy”. (p 219)
quota management (p 235)
Conservation amount of ocean for conservation (p 262)
No take zones work (p 269)
4 year ban on herring was successful (p 64)
Aquaculture fish farming is the fastest growing industry (p 291)
– commercial growing will save blue fin tuna (p 303)
– short comparison to land-based agriculture learning curve (p 326)
Failure of Subsidies (p 136)
“The only equilibrium in a subsidized system is zero fish. The system is set up to fail necessarily. Randy Myers, Newfoundland (p 133)
“So what lies at the root of a democratic politician’s impulse to dish out subsidies? First is a disgraceful need to buy votes with other people’s money, often dressed up as the redistribution of wealth. Second is the misguided belief that subsidizing fishing is somehow investing in the industry. In fact, in a hunter-gatherer economy, you invest only by leaving the resource alone. The way to defeat subsidies in well-governed countries is to create transparency, a free press, and proper scrutiny by public auditors’. (p 140)
– subsidies create a mathematic model that must fail.
ownership of the sea issue (p 151)
“tragedy of the commons’ concept published in Science (p 154)
Consumer Issues labeling (p 200, 281)
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eat / don’t eat list (p 285)
Certification of fisheries works – eventually 6% of world’s fisheries will be certified sustainable
– eat more blue whiting; low in PCBs and dioxins or antibiotics
Conclusion “the time has come to change the laws of the sea so that they are more like the law of the land.”
“You have to be willing to write off one of the three dimensions â€“ ecological, economic, or social â€“ to solve the problem of sustainable fisheries management” – the conclusion of UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at Rome conference
“The idea of leaving part of the sea alone is very simple. It cuts across the ideas of traditional scientific fisheries management with its impressive-sounding professionals telling us how much they know”. (p 269)
Amount of ocean needed for conservation: 10% to 50% depending on goal (breakdown on p 262) – consumer environmentalists are effective (p 324)
“sustainability is part of the overall quality standard the top eateries should be hitting”. (p 191)
Environmental education is effective “It strikes me that one ways of feeling less concerned about one of your fellow creatures is to not give it a name”.
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.
This cartoon by Darrin Bell of The New Yorker illustrates the obsession we have with the false belief that “bigger is better”. Our State of New Jersey and the Marine Fisheries Council have fallen into the trap that encourages recreational fishermen to harvest the largest breeding stock fish while throwing smaller ones back
Our fisheries scientists know that this practice is unsustainable. Yet we as a society refuse to change it. Yet we are not alone. History provides plenty of example where denial of the facts led to extinction of species, even of humans. One thing we do know about extinction is that it happens more rapidly than anyone would have guessed. We are living dangerously when we focus on “bigger is better”.
Sustainable fishing depends on managing the harvest of smaller and more abundant juvenile fish. Large trophy fish should be protected
, or at least should not be the target. There is no shame in that, and in fact should be promoted as a positive approach. I’ve been told directly by industry and government leaders that this practice won’t change in my lifetime no matter how loudly the scientific and environmental communities object.
We live in an age where ignoring and/or denying facts is popular. All I can do is to be a voice for the truth. I am individually committed to encouraging sustainable fisheries and my small business will do what it can to change the current culture of “bigger is better”.