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.

Thoughts on lawn mowing

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says 5% of air pollution is caused by lawn mowers. In general, I don’t think most people realize how much more damaging a small engine is With its emissions compared to a modern automobile.

There are demonstrated benefits of not mowing grass, especially here at the bayshore. Grass and it’s root system prevent erosion, reduce evaporation in summer, slow down storm runoff and act as a groundwater filter. Yet many communities, including our own Downe Township, have mowing requirements for land owners. Years ago I tried a re-wilding experiment at my bayside cabin. Dune grasses, bayberry shrubs and cedars dotted my former lawn. My experiment triggered a citation from the township. Now I compromise by mowing some sections and leaving others as designated erosion control zones. Big Brother seems OK with that.

I’ve used both electronic and gasoline mowers. Neither type lasts much more than two years in the salt air. Now I’m back to an electric model. Maybe I can tap into the massive expansion of solar power generation happening here in Cumberland County New Jersey.

The only decision left to make is corded or cordless? My decision came down to this:

  1. I own miles of extension cords; I don’t mind dragging one out
  2. Batteries are heavy, making the mower heavier
  3. Lithium battery technology is safe and environmentally OK
  4. Cordless are more expensive
  5. The corded one comes with a 5 year warranty.

So Baysave properties will be maintained with a new corded electronic mower in 2019.

Progress in redevelopment planning

Dennis and I had a productive meeting today going over Money Island plans on a lot by lot basis. We have a solid strategy and better timeline now. There are still plenty of unanswered questions but we agreed that we don’t need to have all the details immediately. I spoke with two commercial watermen. It’s fair to say they are suspicious of the impact of our work on their businesses.

Phone call with two PhDs

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.

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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.

In the end, our tiny rural seafood landing port will see more than a tenfold increase in its economic contribution to the region. Of course, in a long term saga like this most of the story is yet to unfold.

The End of the Line: How overfishing is changing the world and what we eat

The following is a republished book report of “The End of the Line: How overfishing is changing the world and what we eat”.

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This small crab skiff used in the Chesapeake Bay likely meets more of our societal goals than the larger boats that dominate the east coast crabbing industry today.

Author:

Charles Clover

Publisher:

University of California Press

Date of Publication:

2006

Date initial reading/review:

October and November of 2010

Location of physical book:

Baysave lending library book shelf

Review / margin notes:

The Problem:

75% of the world’s fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted.

Demand continues to grow sharply.

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 – ecological, economic, or social – 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”.

– open access to data will help (p 327)

Some fish are more equal than others.

Other notes:

Wikipedia entry

Suggested Follow-up: Subscribe to Nature Magazine, Science Magazine

Executive Order 63 addresses the NJDEP/Attorney General’s Office mismatches at Money Island

Yesterday, April 2, 2019, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 63 establishing new regulatory principles to foster economic growth and government efficiency and protect the environment, health, safety, and welfare of New Jersey’s residents and communities. The executive order acknowledges that “low-income communities are often subjected to further disadvantages by the lack of attention towards “Environmental Justice,” which includes, at a minimum, ensuring that residents of all communities receive fair and equitable treatment in decisionmaking that affects their environment, communities, homes, and health, and incorporating such considerations into the regulatory process”.

Ironically on this very same day lawyers working for the state of New Jersey’s Attorney General’s Office announced plans to take additional legal action against Baysave’s over our plan to remove boat docks and unpermitted structures. Again, like prior actions, they don’t object to the compliance and restoration plan itself but rather they are not happy with the pace of our progress or the delays in obtaining funding for the work. Meanwhile, specific unnamed individuals within the NJDEP have reportedly worked to block our efforts toward approval of projects that would achieve environmental compliance.

The pace of environmental compliance progress here at the bayshore is dependent on the availability of funding, suitable weather conditions, available contractors and appropriate equipment. We are moving as quickly as possible under the current circumstances. The constant legal attacks by the gang-ups of the NJDEP with the Attorney General’s office continue to erode the welfare of our community and undermine our efforts toward environmental compliance and sustainability.

Money Island and its working waterfront businesses are located among the lower working class income sections of New Jersey in rural Cumberland County. Watermen here typically do not have access to the economic, educational, or technological resources that people in other areas take for granted. Our local governments, community organizations and businesses are no match for the awesome powers and unlimited budgets of the out-of-sync state lawyers and disorganized policymakers in Trenton. The state has proven again and again to be unable to effectively address corruption and incompetence within its ranks. The result: those within the poorest communities become victims of government’s abuse of power.

Baysave representatives have called, written and emailed Governor Murphy’s office about the apparent mismatch in government actions and resulting injustice inflicted on the businesses at Money Island. Last month Baysave’s Tony Novak submitted public comment to Governor Murphy’s executive order on environmental justice to the NJDEP’s Office of Environmental Justice. No response has been received other than an acknowledgement of receipt of the comment.  Yesterday we asked Baysave’s government relations liaison and proposed compliance project engineer to please step up their efforts to establish communications with state government on Money Island permitting and sustainability planning. Obviously there is a serious disconnect on the progress of what is theoretically possible and what is actually happening.

The Governor’s new executive order becomes effective June 1, We will likely be involved in communicating with the Attorney General’s office and the Commissioner of the NJDEP – two of the state officials charged with responsibility for carrying out this executive order – about the observed actions in violation of this state policy. Meanwhile we have asked our government liaison and civil engineer to step up efforts to communicate with government to curb the next round of proposed government abuse of power.

The executive order states “we should also strive to identify ways to maximize regulatory efficiency by simplifying and streamlining the public’s ease of access to the machinery of government and to enhance the ability of regulated communities to communicate and interact with the regulatory agencies that oversee their actions, professions, occupations, and endeavors”. Yes! That’s exactly what we’ve been talking about! The complete lack of communication and mismatch of planning between the state, county, local government and community groups like Baysave is a disaster for our community.

We must do better. Baysave remains committed to getting state government to work with our communities and not against us.

Soft footprint housing at the bayshore

One of the greatest challenges to sustainability at the New Jersey bayshore is housing. The conventional and widely supported shoreline management strategy known as “strategic retreat” is likely best social, economic and political strategy. But that doesn’t mean that we intend to withdraw 100% of the people for 100% of the time. We anticipate a continued need for some housing at the bayshore to serve both recreational and aquacultural uses. Baysave intends to support new approaches to the need for housing in ways that conform to evolving standards.

Sustainability means serving the needs of all users and stakeholders. Environmentalists effectively make the point that the best way to sustain any of our natural areas or resources is to simply keep humans away from them. But that’s not realistic and it’s not the goal of sustainability planning. Humans are part of the equation and we need to balance the demands of human use with the best practices to preserve and sustain our natural resources.

One of the requirements of human use is housing. At it’s core, housing is primarily a means to stay protected from the extremes of  weather while also providing us with some level of protection and privacy. At the New Jersey bayshore, considering the current physical environment, available technologies and current laws, sustainable housing in our means soft footprint housing. This blog post considers the goals, current conditions, and future possibilities for soft footprint housing at the bayshore.

Goals

  1. Short term use – We do not anticipate the need for permanent 365 day a year living at the bayshore. It is simply not the best choice for a permanent residence. The overwhelming demand for housing is for short term seasonal use. Increasingly frequent flooding, extremes of weather, lack of public utilities, etc. make future demand of permanent housing here seem unlikely.
  2. Affordable – The bayshore region of New Jersey is a low income area compared to the rest of the state and the rest of the middle Atlantic region. Planners argue that the state’s “one size fits all” approach to land use and building codes is a leading contributor to the current state of economic depression and long term depopulation of the bayshore region.
  3. Legal – Housing at the bayshore is controlled primarily by state laws including the Coastal Wetlands Act of 1970 and subjects us to permit requirement rules known as CAFRA. While there are efforts to update and modernize existing laws, our focus is to operate within the law as it exists today.
  4. Physically resistant – The history of housing at the bayshore is a circular story of building, destruction at the hands of storms and erosion, then rebuilding, then destruction again. We intend to break the cycle.

Current conditions

Land use laws – New Jersey’s bayshore communities face competing laws requiring support for affordable housing, laws that cover private property use and laws that restrict land use to protect the environment. We must seek out the balance point between those. The cost of compliance with existing land use laws at the bayshore precludes the application of a land use permit that would likely more than double the cost of a typical proposed project. This means that our legal compliance strategy must focus on allowable land use that does not require a state permit.

Affordable housing crisis – While New Jersey has a requirement for communities to address affordable housing issues but the local communities have made no progress in this area. The number of housing units within reasonable commuting distance to the waterfront continues to decline and we have no current ability to provide necessary on-site housing to rebuild the local businesses. The closest affordable housing is a 30 minute drive away whereas the aquaculture industry (especially crab shedding) and recreational industry (boat launch management) requires full time 24-hour on site staffing.

Carry-in, carry out – Our current environment demands that we bring in the things we need to sustain a comfortable stay: food, water, electric and other energy sources, internet, and other supplies. We must also carry out our solid waste and wastewater for handling at an approved facility.

Owner-occupied – Current laws do not provide for any multi-unit rental or campground type of use and the rezoning possibility has not been assessed. For now, we are focused on single owner-occupied dwellings.

Tidal flooding – The effects of more frequent tidal flooding must be considered. While wet-proof infrastructure is relatively easy to construct, the long term effects of salt water corrosion on vehicles, machinery and infrastructure is significant. We have a local anecdotal system for measuring tidal flooding that casually monitors the number of times that the roadway is under water and translates that to a percentage of time the local area is flooded. The overall percentage of time we have tidal road flooding is still small (less than 5% of the time) but this condition is increasing at an alarming pace.

Technology – New technologies have not been tested in the bayshore environment due to legal and financial restrictions.

Economic impact – It is clear that the lack of workable housing solution is having a massive adverse impact on the aquaculture and recreational use industries. It is probably accurate to say that this is now the #1 impediment to economic recovery of our bayshore region.

Future possibilities

RVs – Motorized vehicles that provide a short term dwelling and drive away when not used or when threatened with adverse weather conditions. Regulation of these as vehicles and not as dwellings makes this the most “doable” but also most expensive option.

Campers  or trailers – This is the historically popular method. Most of the bayshore’s housing (including the author’s) originally started with a camper or trailer. Current restrictions limit the use of campers or trailers on private property.

Tiny houses – This is a hybrid type of dwelling that legally classified as a trailer but designed more like traditional housing. New Jersey laws are currently not not supportive of tiny houses as long term dwellings. The primary draw of this approach for us is it ability to draw together creative contributors. The popular momentum of the tiny house movement compared to the other options means that this area may see legal change sooner than other types of new dwellings.

Boats and floating dwellings – Almost a third of our former residential land is now below mean high tide level. 100% of our land is occasionally below water in tidal flooding conditions. Both sea level rise and tidal flooding conditions are expected to accelerate. The most common type of floating housing, of course, are cabin-equipped boats and occasionally a houseboat. Cabin boats account for majority of overnight human  stays along bayshores yet these are not common here in our region simply because most users could not afford to own and maintain a boat of that size. We see the possibility of additional types of floating housing. The use of floating housing on lots that are below mean high tide and are therefore sometimes dry but sometimes below water is unresolved. I’ve personally designed and built several outbuildings or structures (including a floating tool shed, a floating deck, and a floating car port) and found that our local building inspector expressed frustration that these do not fall under any clear set of regulations.

Tents or Yurts – Until recently, New Jersey maintained and rented yurts for short term living at its state parks. These were abandoned after reports of mold problems. Tents are still popular as short term use from beaches to woodlands. Conventional commercially available tents tested at the bayshore are unsuitable and are typically destroyed at the first windstorm. More durable tents have not been tested.

Hurricane resistant housing – domed structures on coastlines in other parts of the country offer the possibility of hurricane resistant housing. These structures have not been tested locally despite increased interest after the destruction of superstorm Sandy.

Action plan

Baysave intends to facilitate the development and testing of housing innovations that:

1. Do not require land use permitting.

2. Are supported by public and/or private investors.

3. Have the highest chance of gaining acceptance at the bayshore.


Conclusion

We believe that the most successful bayshore dwellings of the future will likely combine the past methods in ways that incorporate new technology that has not yet been field tested here. There is interest in funding and field-testing new dwelling concepts and we think that this should be an integral part of the sustainability planning for the bayshore.

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This photograph taken in 2017 shows part of a former residence constructed on dry land decades ago that was consumed by sea level rise and storms. It was finally destroyed in superstorm Sandy in 2012. Now the structures are completely removed. Almost 100% of the lot is now below mean high tide line and the state has acquired the property for open space.

Is the future even gloomier than our worst fears?

Are climate change threats even worse than the sustainability experts warned us about? While some politicians who profit from the status quo continue to spread propaganda and deny the severity of environmental stress, climate scientists have migrated to far gloomier forecasts than we’ve become accustomed.

It is shocking and scary that this new generation of books on sustainability are quite different from the last generation on the same topic. Older books like Eaarth, Storms of My Grandchildren, The Earth is Flat, The World Until Yesterday, Hot, Flat and Crowded, and such that held out hope for the next generations aging gracefully as a planet. I’ve read dozens of books on many aspects of sustainability from agriculture to economics and political impact, all with some version of this theme. It is a scary warning but maybe not scary enough.

These new books like The Uninhabitable Earth and Losing Earth forecast a grossly worse future and lack of sustainability: massive death, migration, political upheaval and war; our worst nightmares.

I haven’t read the two latest books but I will soon. I wish everyone would. Yet we know from historical and archaeological accounts of past mass extinctions caused by environmental stress, major segments of the population continue to will deny the existence of the environmental threats until shortly before their mass deaths as a result of the tragedy. Islanders, for example, in past civilizations who starved after they chopped down and burned the last of trees needed to make canoes for fishing required to feed themselves. So what’s the point, really? We really need to ask the tougher questions about how we plan to deal with these new severe threats of climate change in the face of political denial of those in power who profit from its cause. How do we deal with those on our island who chop and burn trees when we really need to be conserving trees and growing forests?

Messaging about sea level rise

I am disturbed by the blanket statements like “Eastern cities would disappear” in presentations like this 2017 example in Business Insider. It’s the wrong message to communicate. More accurately, “Eastern cities will be below sea level and will need massive adaptation and transformation to continue to exist”. It’s not as if we can’t come up with the sea level rise adaptation plans but rather the likelihood, based on current information, that big cities won’t implement them. Just last week New York City announced plans for an ambitious and extremely expensive sea wall around lower Manhattan. To be clear, this is just a small piece of the sustainability plan that NYC will require to survive.

In contrast, rural seaboard communities like mine are making the slow transition from farming to aquaculture and so we might stand a better chance of successful adaptation. That’s the message at the core of Baysave’s communications.

But sustainability for the long term beyond, say, 30 years is all speculative at this point. We are increasingly confident that we can make expensive adaptations to give us sustainability for that period of time and that, IMO, should be the primary message in these types of media presentations. In other words, for our lifetime sustainability of coastal cities is a budgeting issue, not so much a natural disaster issue unless we allow it to be so. Planning beyond that I’ll personally leave to the sharper minds of younger generations.