Tuesday October 30 grant ceremony

For immediate release
Contact: Tony Novak, 856-237-9199

CRAB INDUSTRY REVITALIZATION GRANT CEREMONY TUESDAY OCT. 30

Baysave is pleased to announce that a grant ceremony will be held Tuesday October 30, 2018, 11:00 at Money Island, New Jersey to present a check from New Jersey Community Capital THRIVE grant. The grant is focused on revitalizing the local blue claw crab industry. The press release from the donor is posted here.

Money Island, located on the bayshore in Cumberland County, is New Jersey’s second most productive seafood landing port. The tiny working waterfront community is struggling for survival under government-imposed costs in the midst of ongoing regional economic depression. Climate-related events, including massive costs from superstorm Sandy recovery, further hurt the recovery of the local seafood industry.

The Delaware Bay blue claw crab population is healthy yet about half of the 312 commercial crab licenses issued by the State of New Jersey are underutilized. Many licensed crabbers are not happy with current economic opportunities so they stay off the water. Baysave proposed establishing a shared use physical facility for the landing, storage and processing of crabs by independent harvesters as well as helping to organize a watermen’s cooperative to improve the marketing and business operations of crabbers to increase their bottom line.

The majority of the grant award will be used for state permitting costs. While the local industry has been in operation for more than seven decades, none of the docks or supporting infrastructure, have ever been permitted by authorities. “New Jersey has a ‘one size fits all’ fee schedule for land use permitting that works well in the northern part of the state but has been impossible for the economically deprived bayshore region. The permitting costs exceed the land value here. Only now are some of the region’s largest seafood companies beginning to tackle this expensive legal requirement” says Tony Novak, CPA Controller for Baysave.  By having a fully permitted crab landing and storage facility for smaller independent crabbers, Novak expects that more investment will then be available for crab processing, marketing and distribution systems to boost income for the local industry. Baysave has already announced plans to offer financing of equipment for crabbers who want to expand their production and hopes to offer vessel financing soon.

Novak notes that this grant is only 1/6 of the amount of funding needed to transform the waterfront community to a sustainable operation but is a welcome positive first step that, he hopes, will draw other investors to the opportunities in regional seafood industry expansion.

“We are grateful for the efforts of Cumberland County Economic Development Director Kim Ayers and the help of Jeff Kaszerman New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants for working with us to find this opportunity”.

Baysave is a 501(c)(3) association registered as a New Jersey charity. The mission is to connect government, educational, nonprofit and industry resources to support sustainable aquaculture.

Blue claw crab research

Yesterday I interviewed Dr. Paul Jivoff, a professor at Rider University, by telephone to learn more about topics at the intersection of science and business of blue claw crabs. Dr. Jivoff is a local expert in blue claw crabs and we’ve communicated several times over the past few years, including our meeting with the Rider Development Office last year about the possibility of a research site at Money Island.

The big picture goal is to ensure that our business plans are aligned with the available science and, to the extent possible, consider the possibility of future biological impacts on the industry.

This is an annotated abstract from one of Dr. Jivoff’s papers that overviews the life cycle of blue claw crabs:

“Blue crabs are considered estuarine residents with all life history stages, except for the larval stages, occurring in estuarine waters. Adult females release larvae into the water column near the mouths of estuaries (Millikin and Williams, 1980). Larvae are carried offshore where at least 30 days are required to go through seven zoeal stages (Millikin and Williams, 1980; Epifanio, 2007). As a result, blue crab larvae represent one trophic link between estuarine and oceanic food webs. The final plank-tonic stage (megalopa) returns to the estuary, via wind-driven currents and tides (Epifanio, 2007), where they metamorphose to form the first juvenile stage (<5 mm carapace width) and become benthic. These juveniles grow rapidly, molting on average every 3–4 weeks depending on water temperature (Smith and Chang, 2007), making them important prey for a variety of fish and birds, but they are also important predators on other small invertebrates (Lipcius et al., 2007). Therefore, young juveniles (<20 mm carapace width) occupy shallow, structured habitats that also contain food sources including seagrass beds, macroalgae, and oyster reefs (Lipcius et al., 2007). During the 12–18 months required to reach sexual maturity (at 90–100 mm carapace width), habitat use expands based on size and density-dependent factors (Hines, 2007; Lipcius et al., 2007). Smaller juveniles (20–30 mm carapace width) move to alternative nursery habitats including marsh creeks and marsh-fringed mud flats (Lipcius et al., 2007). Larger juveniles (>20 mm carapace width) begin venturing into unstructured habitats and, as they grow, inhabit deeper areas where they continue to be important predators but are prey to fewer organisms (Hines, 2007). Unlike females that exhibit a final molt to reach maturity, adult males grow throughout their lives (reaching sizes of >200 mm carapace width), molting every 30–40 days depending on temperature, and they typically return to more protective habitats during molting, as they are particularly vulnerable to predators. As a result of ontogenetic shifts in habitat as well as movement into lower salinity areas, blue crabs can be found in a wide array of habitats, throughout the estuarine-to-ocean salinity gradient (e.g., 5–35 ppt) (Hines, 2007; Lipcius et al., 2007). Because they represent both predator (contrary to popular belief, they are not scavengers) and prey in these habitats, blue crabs are a critical component of the estuarine food web both within and between estuarine habitats. Blue crabs have been an important food item for humans since the early 1700s and have supported a commercial and recreational fishery since the 1800s (Kennedy et al., 2007). As a result, blue crabs are part of the historic, economic, and social fabric of communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States. Blue crabs are consumed as “hard crabs” (crabs with a hard carapace, typically in the intermolt stage) and as “soft crabs” (crabs with a soft carapace as a result of recent molting) (Kennedy et al., 2007). The predominant fishing techniques vary with the season and with the sex of the harvested crabs. During the warmer seasons (late spring-late fall), blue crabs are typically harvested with a trap or “pot,” and the catch is predominantly males. During the winter, particularly in the mid-Atlantic region, blue crabs are harvested by a dredge, and the catch is predominantly females.” (Jivoff, P.R.. (2016). Blue crabs. Encyclopedia of Earth Sciences Series. 109-110. 10.1007/978-94-017-8801-4_4.)

We discussed industry practices that might support a larger crab population; specifically that we will not support winter dredging of crabs. Also, we opened discussion on the possibility that Money Island might be a good location for future crab research.

Grant award to strengthen NJ crabbing

New Jersey Community Capital Awards THRIVE Grant to Baysave Corporation for Blue Claw Crab Industry Recovery Project

“This first community financing success brings us 1/6 of the way toward keeping the Money Island working waterfront marina community viable but only about 1% of the way to long term sustainable total community redevelopment. So the plan is to use this grant to build momentum. We have a series of meetings coming up with investors about additional funding.  In the end, I suspect that a crowdfunding will also be required to transform our community to thrive in the years ahead”. – Tony Novak

New Brunswick, NJ (October 25, 2018) – New Jersey Community Capital (“NJCC”) announced through its THRIVE South Jersey initiative, it has awarded a $15,000 grant to Baysave Corporation to support the Baysave Crab Industry Recovery Project. This investment will fund capital improvements and technical assistance to enhance the  existing  infrastructure  in  Money  Island,  New  Jersey  and  reestablish  the  blue  claw  crab  industry  for  independent commercial crabbers in the community.
As a bay shore community along the coast of New Jersey, Money Island boasts a robust blue claw crab industry. While  the  town  has  suffered  economically  from  the  effects  of  Hurricane  Sandy  and  other  climate‐related  challenges, oyster and blue claw crab fishing remain an in‐demand trade. The $15,000 grant will provide the needed funding to seed the development and operation of an independent crab cooperative.
“New Jersey Community Capital plays a vital role in helping businesses gain invaluable resources to start, grow, and succeed,” says Tony Novak, Executive Director of Baysave Corporation. “This grant further enhances Baysave Corporation’s ability to support small business practices in the blue claw crab industry while growing greater economic resiliency in our community.”
“We believe that providing access to capital is essential for driving economic growth and opportunity for local residents,” says Wayne T. Meyer, President of New Jersey Community Capital. “As mission‐driven lenders, our goal is to help ensure that communities are given the resources and technical assistance to empower and fuel small business success. Through the THRIVE SJ initiative, NJCC will be able to support the projects and activities that supplement job creation and drive long‐term economic impact.”
THRIVE South Jersey works to expand local and regional capacity to generate economic growth in the targeted region of Southern New Jersey that includes Cumberland, Gloucester, Salem, and western Atlantic counties. Through  a  combination  of  strategic  funding  and  capacity  building,  THRIVE  South  Jersey  seeks  to  support  organizations fostering community revitalization activities that generate jobs and sustain low‐income families in the four county region.

About New Jersey Community Capital
New Jersey Community Capital is a nonprofit community development financial institution (CDFI) that creates thriving communities through strategic investments and technical assistance. NJCC supports the preservation and development of affordable housing and sustainable community development ventures that increase jobs, improve  education,  and  strengthen  neighborhoods.  For  more  information,  visit:  www.newjerseycommunitycapital.org.

A check presentation ceremony and photograph session are planned for Tuesday October 30 at 11:00. Please RSVP if interested in attending.

Slow pace of aquaculture development at Money Island

11/6/2016 – For the past eight years we have been working through the nonprofit BaySave Corporation on necessary legislative and policy reforms to New Jersey’s outdated land use and aquaculture regulations with very little governmental result. During that same time we’ve watched Virginia, Maryland and now Delaware soar past us in this blossoming industry that is crucial to a sustainable future here on the Delaware Bay.

In 2010 New Jersey oyster-focused nonprofits became the target of a NJDEP cease and desist order for oyster restoration research and then in 2015 and continuing into this year became the target of local township’s prosecution on Certificate of Occupancy law for our use of a bankrupt marina property as a nonprofit aquaculture co-op operation in Money Island while we are waiting for necessary government permits. This is surprising based on the strong degree of support expressed by state and federal elected officers and their staff. There is no debate about how powerful aquaculture could be in restoring our local economy. The $20 million annual seafood crop coming from Money Island could increase by tenfold with appropriate government cooperation.

At the pace we are moving, I won’t live long enough to see Money Island established as the hub of aquaculture development here in the state. Yesterday I received this email from the well-respected government relations specialist and political lobbyist for the New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants:

“Tony, it sounds to me like you are doing almost everything humanly possible to move this issue forward. Very often, stupid regulations are simply never removed, despite the need for it. All I can suggest is that you stay in touch with Van Drew and that you forward your concerns about these regulations to the NJ Red Tape Review Commission. One other thing you might try is to get more people to write to the Governor on this issue. There is strength in numbers and ultimately all rules are repealed or initiated with the input of the Governor”.

I am already working with State Senator Van Drew, the Governor’s office and the Red Tape Commission (through a peer CPA who is a member of the commission) but have not tried to organize any mass public appeal directly to the governor’s office. Perhaps that is something I need to learn next.

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The language of climate change at the bayshore

My work involves speaking with a wide range of people about observations in nature. I am clear that this is the largest issue affecting our lives, our community’s future and our society but this ‘heavy stuff’ is of course not the message of day-to-day communications. More likely, I get questions like “Why are the fish coming in later?” or “Why can’t I get a building permit?” These are not simple topics to discuss. Like many others in a similar position, I struggle to find the right words to use to communicate the extent of what I observe on a day-to-day basis here at the bayshore. I’ve had more formal training is science in general, and climate science in particular, than most people. Some call it indoctrination. I call it command of facts. But that’s not necessarily an advantage when it comes to leadership. A leader must engage a wide community group base but how is this possible on the issue of climate?

When I think about local media coverage like last June’s front page article in the Philadelphia Inquirer where I was one of several intelligent, educated and well-informed business owners (I know them all pretty well since this is such a small community) who deal with climate issues on a day-to-day basis at the core of their businesses. The writer chose to give more print and apparently did not make any attempt to fact check the statements of the local mayor who said “There is no sea-level rise, and it’s a bunch of hogwash”. The mayor admits that he has no training in science or climate issues. Yet his statement as given more prominence that the considerable better-informed sources. Why would a major newspaper allow this? Would they have printed the story the same if the mayor said the earth is flat or that the planet was created 5,000 years ago? If not, then what possible basis are we using to justify the public expression of these unchallenged false climate statements? This is just one example. I am also aware of a local book writer whose work in progress seems to give credence to climate deniers.

I know that certain words trigger an angry response, can cause our businesses to lose customers and may even cause us to lose government infrastructure funding. I’ve been physically assaulted and verbally threatened for my talk about climate-related issues. Yet I’ve been clear that climate denial is not a logically or legally defensible position. In fact I would be willing to be a witness for the prosecution in future cases that challenge climate change deniers.

In our local market dominated by trumpist thinking, even mention of the term “climate change” in print sets off angry responses. Other words like “strategic retreat”, “inundation”, “sea level rise”, “fact”, and even “science” itself are controversial.

So how then do I talk about the things I see and the things I can’t explain without an understanding of climate issues? It his latest book Thomas Friedman1 offers some suggestions from his conversations with Greenlanders:

“Just a few years ago,… but then something changed…”

“Wow, I’ve never seen that before…”

“Well, usually, but now I don’t know anymore…”

“We haven’t seen something like that since…”

That’s all climate-speak—“surpassing,” “highest,” “record,” “broken,” “biggest,” “longest.”

The fact is that the impact of climate change, acidification, sea level rise and warming temperatures affect me and my industry more than anything else. It would be nice to be able to talk about it.


1Friedman, Thomas L.. Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations (p. 162). Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Six years after Sandy

The government-created “disaster after the disaster” continues to dominate much of our lives at the bayshore. After the physical effects of the storm faded in memory, we continue to battle the effects of government mismanagement that emerged after the storm. 

This month will mark six years since superstorm Sandy devastated our communities. Much of the damage has not yet been repaired and may never be repaired. The telephone line in front of my house, for example, was never replaced. I still have the downed wire that I cut down and rolled up myself during the cleanup when Verizon did not respond to repeated service calls. For most other issues it was a combination of fraud, mismanagement and red tape within the government systems that administer post-Sandy rebuilding programs are mostly to blame.

We have plans to redevelop a new type of sustainable aquaculture-based community. Funding is just beginning to flow. We still lack government approval to proceed with any part of these plans.

Many of the local people who initiated the “No retreat – Save the bayshore communities” campaign have sold their properties and moved out over the past year. Those who remain are deeply entrenched in a battle with government to negotiate a plan for recovery and sustainability.

Some of the issues that specifically hamper Money Island, New Jersey recovery are:

  1. New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance declined to investigate sales practices of insurance companies that sold inappropriate and inadequate coverage.
  2. The National Flood Insurance Program admitted fraud and mismanagement in handling flood insurance claims but continued to deny payment on those claims anyway. Policyholders have been forced to settle for lesser amounts or give up die to high legal costs of pursuing their claim in court.
  3. Most recovery programs were denied to homeowners and businesses on the New Jersey bay shore region. We read that 98% of all post-Sandy Small Business Administration loan applications were denied.
  4. Almost all of the applications and project proposal applications for post-Sandy recovery work at Money Island have been denied.
  5. On Monday June 11, 2018 when NJ activist Doug Quinn addressed FEMA administrator Brock Long about specific policy provisions at the National Flood Conference in Washington, DC on Monday to address the Congressman’s’ letter this week, NFIP administrator Brok Long said “I’m not going to answer that”, then shut down the meeting to questioning and walked off the stage. Quinn later wrote that the event “was a learning experience. We have no friends there”.
  6. On the same day, June 11, 2018, at the public meeting of Downe Township Committee mayor Bob Campbell said that FEMA officials admit that post-Sandy projects they intend to see completed are still incomplete here in our township. There was no discussion of a timetable for the federally funded projects.
  7. Last month the New Jersey Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Tony Novak and others for failure to make progress on post-Sandy recovery despite the track record of more than ten applications and pre-application proposals to do so.

It is clear that our struggle is with government, not nature. Given the history of what we call “the disaster after the disaster” I am not optimistic about any immediate change in government’s role in our future recovery. We will continue to push for our recovery and long term sustainability at a grass roots level for years to come. We are able to rebuild under the various regional and local recovery plans but we need government permission and cooperation to do so. We also need funding for those aspects of the recovery projects that benefit the public interest rather than just private businesses and homeowners. Virtually all government cooperation is still lacking at this point five and a half years after Sandy.

I anticipate at least two more years will be required to settle existing post-Sandy litigation and appeals and then return to the process of rebuilding. The legal battles are a waste of time and money that only enrich the lawyers on both sides but we don’t think that it is likely that government will act responsibly or come to our aid anytime soon.

One Step Forward; One Step Back

1/10/2018 – In our long-term effort to restore Money Island and redevelop the resources for a future of sustainable aquaculture, it often feels like we are taking one step forward and one step back. Today the two extremes hit particularly hard.

“Fall seven times. Get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

On December 30 Senator Booker sent an online message to Tony saying that he was interested in receiving more information about Baysave’s project at Money Island. That sparked a flurry of follow-up activity, calls and referrals that kept us busy all week. It is clear from multiple sources that the federal government wants to see us succeed. Early this morning I had a scheduled phone call with one of New Jersey’s best business financing experts. She works in North Jersey but was referred by Stockton SBA and has been helping us for several months. She said that she had brought our redevelopment plan to a lender who wants to fund the project and match the USDA’s program to expand aquaculture here. Great news! I worked on some spreadsheets to support the idea and we scheduled another call for Friday.

Then only a few hours later a representative from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Resources called to say that the state declines to discuss a resolution of the old land use and permitting issues that existed before the Baysave project began. She seemed surprised to support the result. We discussed that this is unusual for the state to refuse to participate in alternate dispute resolution. This is copy of the confirmation letter denying alternative dispute resolution: BaySave ltr from NJDEP.

I can imagine no respectable reason why the state would refuse to enter into discussions on resolution of environmental issues under any circumstances. Most personnel in the department support our efforts. I have occasionally been critical of the agency and once even turned in an employee for attempted bribery years ago. This most recent action, unfortunately, represents the agenda of a small minority of NJDEP officials.

In reality, the state’s action today probably has little to do with us and has more to do with swampy politics. Nevertheless, we will continue to work our restoration and redevelopment plan one step at time, relying on the strong support expressed by the many other forces of government and the community.

Letter to State Senator Jeff Van Drew Urging Action

At the time of republishing on October 22, 2018 the Senator’s office had not replied to the letter or email. A follow-up phone call urging response did not trigger any further response.

May 23, 2018 – This is a copy of an email and the attached letter sent to State Senator Van Drew today. Our community working to sustain Money Island believes that Senator Van Drew is in the best position to influence the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to address the inconsistent and possibly illegal internal actions of a relative few staff members who do not support the larger redevelopment and compliance plans of Money Island.

“Dear Senator Van Drew:

I’ve attached a letter drafted with the help of our community advisers to call your attention to the mean-spirited and sometimes illegal actions of the NJDEP in blocking the sustainable recovery of Money Island, New Jersey since superstorm Sandy. We believe this issue can be resolved by your influence in pushing NJDEP to negotiate with me and our community leaders.

Money Island is the state’s second largest seafood landing point and the planned site of future aquaculture expansion. We serve five local universities and a range of recreational users and environmental tourists. We have a viable plan for a sustainable and fully compliant future as the region’s second largest seafood landing. We are poised to support the anticipated tremendous growth as an aquaculture site. Yet NJDEP has blocked 10 of our 11 attempts at obtaining state permitting over the past five years and now taking legal action against those committed to Money Island’s recovery. I’ve been financially crippled by the Department’s actions and their unwillingness to even hold discussions. This pattern of behavior is not in line with the best interests of public policy nor the leadership of the NJDEP so we think that stronger action is required to address this problem.

I thank you and your staff for your long term support on bayshore issues and I look forward to the opportunity to discuss how we can make this a ‘turning point’  in recovery of our bayshore regional economy and, specifically, the environmental and economic future of our small working waterfront community of Money Island, New Jersey.

Tony Novak, Controller of Baysave Association

Conference on local water politics March 2018

water

I was thrilled to join some of the region’s most involved environmental activists under the leadership of Mark Z. for a great program. Some of the take home lessons:

  • make sure the members of your group have strong ‘talking points’
  • emphasize economic impact and size of constituency when talking to government officials
  • video content is best for social media impact

Hearing the stories of other environmental activists makes me feel more confident that we are on the right track here on the bay.