Thursday, August 21, 2014

Turtle Treasures

Written by: Scott Thompson

Last week (week of July 14th) during a “liquid lunch” surf session in Sea Bright, I observed a mid - sized (12 to 14” shell size) sea turtle cruising within the lineup hopefully enjoying his or her “lunch “ as well. Needless to say I was thrilled with the visual and saw the turtle multiple times in the area during the hour or so in the water enjoying the water more than ever.

This is the first time in my 49 years of surfing that I have ever seen a turtle this close to the shore here in the Atlantic. Is it a good thing? I don’t know, maybe they should be further offshore, however I can indeed attest to the fact that it looked healthy and happy swimming vigorously in and around the breaking surf.

Will there be more? Let’s hope so. However, with all the pressure from outside interests to “explore” the oceans for “data” how can that disruption be positive for the turtles and their environment. Now more than ever we need the CLEAN OCEAN ZONE. Why? Be COZ ! The turtles and all marine life need us to advocate for them so the “data” gathers cannot drive them from their habitat for the good of a few pennies on someone’s spread sheet and account balance.

Call, email and connect with all your legislators and tell them the President and his Cabinet do NOT represent the people. They represent special interests that will sell out our natural ocean resources for a dollar. Is it really worth it in the end?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Shark Bite Trivia Night

Who is Clean Ocean Action?
How can I get involved with COA today?
How can I help to keep the ocean clean?
What are major threats to the ocean's health?
What species of shark are found on the NJ coast?
Come find out the answers and celebrate Discovery Channel's Shark Week with a shark themed, COA trivia night! Test your knowledge about COA history, current programs, ocean pollution and SHARKS! Prizes will be awarded and food will be served. This event is free and open to all ages. Don't miss a night of food, fun, 
and friends!

Contact Abby  
or Heather ( at 
732-872-0111 for more information.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Coastal Management Rules Revisions

In June, The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) announced that it would be consolidating the rules that determine how development occurs in coastal areas. These changes are being billed as administrative in nature, to streamline permitting and reduce paperwork.  However, some of the changes proposed could have significant consequences for our coastal waters.

Staff Scientist Cassandra Ornell spoke at the first of three public hearings, held in Long Branch on June 25.  She highlighted the fact that the proposal does not specifically address actions that will be taken in the permitting and development process to increase resiliency at the coast, and protect coastal communities from sea level rise and extreme storm events. To the contrary, several provisions in the new rules would allow more development in sensitive coastal areas, only increasing future risk. The ability to develop more properties on a single lot in shoreline coastal areas will not only endanger residents and their livelihoods, but increase polluted stormwater runoff, and further impact the quality of our coastal waters.

The rules also change several aspects of dredged material management.  The conditions that determine maintenance dredging are being relaxed, so that dredging in areas that were last dredged long ago would now fall under the definition of “maintenance dredging,” and therefore be dredged back to historical levels. This change would allow for less restrictive dredging protocols in areas that are not currently used for navigation, and opens the way for new development in farther upstream areas. Similarly, time restrictions for dredged material management areas would be relaxed, thereby allowing historical sites that are now productive functioning wetlands that filter pollutants from the water and that may contain threatened or endangered species to potentially be reverted back to dredged material management areas.

Marina expansion and new development would be permitted (under specific conditions) in shellfish areas.  Although these areas may be small, there is no limit in the law to how many of these areas can be developed, that is, there would be no limit to the amount of total shellfish area that would be lost.  This change will impact water quality and further reduce already dwindling shellfish resources, as well as affect those who depend on the resource for a living.

At over 1,000 pages, the details of the rule changes are too numerous to mention. Clean Ocean Action and several other environmental organizations met with the NJDEP in July to gain further clarity about the proposed changes, and to discuss the potential implications of these changes.  COA has since  prepared and submitted extensive written comments on the rule proposal. Please stay posted for any updates.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Amid great public outcry about the Rutgers ocean blasting study off Barnegat Light, NJ, two larger-scale seismic projects have recently been announced that together span the entire Eastern Seaboard.  This triple-threat of ocean blasting includes a United States Geological Survey (USGS) seismic study of the continental shelf for sovereignty and tsunami hazard investigations and the Obama Administration’s approval of seismic testing in the mid- and south-Atlantic for the purposes of locating potential oil and gas deposits.
Photo by Ryan Morrill

Although Rutgers University was given the final approval on July 2 to conduct their 30-day seismic survey, it is unclear if the researchers have been able to conduct any ocean blasting since that time.  First, the State of New Jersey went to the District Court and then to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals to request a temporary halt to the study, which they were ultimately denied.  Also, the ship to be used in the testing has twice experienced equipment failures and returned to port; the vessel was still moored in Brooklyn as of July 29.  Rutgers’ time with the ship is running out, as their federal approvals expire on August 17 and the USGS has reserved the same vessel from mid-August to mid-September for the first leg of their two-part seismic survey of the Atlantic continental shelf.  The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued conditional approval for the USGS to harass 19,497 marine mammals with their study.  COA submitted extensive comments to NMFS, which urged further environmental review of the project’s impacts to marine life and greater consideration of alternatives and stronger mitigation measures.  On July 18, the Obama Administration issued its final authorization for seismic surveys in the mid- and south-Atlantic Ocean associated with oil and gas exploration.  The Atlantic coast has been under a drilling moratorium for decades, and this decision brings oil and gas companies one step closer to offshore drilling by allowing them to start looking for fossil fuels off our shores.

Visit to sign the petition against ocean blasting approved to take place now off Barnegat Light.