Update on restorative development at Money Island

As we approach the Memorial Day traditional opening of the Money Island community’s seasonal activities, there are many different stakeholder groups operating with increased energy here. Lately we see an almost daily parade of dump trucks, construction equipment, engineers and government officials. The total redevelopment project will exceed $30 million and will take years. Yet that’s a small price to pay for the $40 million per year economic benefit of our local seafood industry, not even counting the recreational and public uses, that is expected to grow rapidly in the years ahead. We need to plan for increasingly hostile environmental conditions and rising tides that will soon put all of our land areas underwater at high tide.

Baysave’s role is to help coordinate the efforts of the various stakeholders. That’s not an easy job. Recent events highlight that cohesiveness is lacking and, in fact, some government agencies are actually sometimes working against each other.

trucks at Money Island

We focus our work with the various stakeholders on addressing the problems stemming from the long history of environmental injustice. The combination of neglect, local poverty, incompetence and government corruption have taken a significant toll on our community. Still, we manage to retain the title as the second most productive seafood landing port in the state with the potential of increasing economic contribution by more than tenfold over the coming decade. In order to achieve these goals, we need leadership from the top to end the infighting among government branches. That, in turn, will inspire confidence among private entities to invest in restorative and sustainable redevelopment projects here at Money Island.

These are some of the groups currently active at Money Island:

Group 1. Community redevelopment group – Our local mayor is working with a group to bring investment funds to redevelop the front end of Money Island for some public use (“Bayshore Welcome Center”) or educational use. Baysave is working directly with one University that is planning to expand its coastal resiliency program.  The mayor is working with a second University. We can offer accommodations to either one or both schools. Downe Township officials are clear that they believe that the financial survival of Downe Township may depend on favorable resolution of the Money Island issues. We encourage Mayor Campbell to continue to pursue this redevelopment option but we have not discussed any details. The mayor led the group that completed work on Stage 1 of the Money Island seawall construction two years ago. The future of Money Island quite literally depends on our ability to complete Stage 2 of the sea wall project within the next few years. Without this, we will lose use of our only roadway into the community. On Wednesday April 17 a group of high level people (two in of them in limos) arrived here to inspect the marina property. They did not, to my knowledge, look at the commercial docks.

limos at Money Island

Group 2. New Jersey Attorney General – The NJ Attorney General is working through the local Superior Courts to prosecute the individual members of the restoration coalition. There is no ‘carrot’; this is only a ‘stick’ approach. This legal action caused all of the previously approved redevelopment funding to be withdrawn and triggered the resignation of most of our Baysave board members. My initial concern was that the claims are based on faulty underlying information and misunderstandings by NJDEP staff personnel that has never been discussed in a setting that could lead to resolution. I am certain, based on conversations with the various engineers who have worked here in recent years, that some of the premises assumed by the state are incorrect. We have factual evidence of decades of errors in official documents. Unfortunately, the court process is unsuitable for local stakeholders. We cannot get fair treatment in that courtroom environment while higher powers are operating in conflict. Given the past and ongoing bad acts by some within NJDEP, it is difficult to distinguish between those who are trustworthy and the bad actors. We are advised to be patient until higher level people take control of the matter.

surveyors

Group 3. Aquaculture redevelopment group – An experienced professional group meets regularly with various departments within government and outside government and plans to invite us to a meeting soon. They have a solid proposal supported by strong economic potential.

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Group 4. Environmental research partnership – An environmental partnership led by The Nature Conservancy has obtained grants for ongoing research here and, right now, are the most active users of Money Island properties. They are not owners but have access to a land use agreement at no cost.

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Group 5. The oystermen – Led by the Shellfish Commission, our oystermen have been able to get necessary road repairs completed and recently gained approval for channel dredging by the Army Corps of Engineers. The members have determined that our location is the best site in the state to expand oyster aquaculture but will not move forward while the state has open land use litigation based on decades’ old oversights by NJDEP. Four companies have already asked for docks for expansion after the current litigation is resolved.

oyster boat

Group 6. The crabbers – The crab industry is expanding and it’s no surprise that the older established crabbers do not welcome the younger new harvesters. Most of the new crabbers have temporarily moved away this season due to surprise prosecution by Fish and Wildlife over their cooperative marketing plan. The crabbers generally prefer to act quietly in their own interests and do not welcome the input of other stakeholders. That’s a challenge for Baysave but eventually we will accomplish our mutual goals.

crabs in basket

Group 7. The recreational marina – The marina is closed for this season. A local marina owner has agreed to combine the Money Island Marina with his other existing operation and rebuild/restore the marina with appropriate permits. That agreement is ‘on hold’ waiting for resolution of current legal issues. Various agencies and private parties have expressed willingness to invest in the project after the current legal issues are fully resolved. While recreational boating was important in the past, we expect that it will be only a small part of Money Island’s future.

dock fishing at Money Island Marina

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.

Update on crab king case

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, the state’s response and the rebuttal documents will be available to the public.

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).

water covered road in Port Mahon DE   Port Mahon DE sand over road

Port Mahon DE road erosion   building foundation at Port Mahon

Port Mahon DE roadway erosion   Port Mahon DE sand plowed to make a dune

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.

One 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.

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.

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.

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

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