Friday, July 7, 2017

Ocean Under Siege: New Attacks

In addition to the above threats from ocean blasting and drilling, the Trump Administration continues to bombard the oceans with the America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.  On June 26, 2017, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean Service (NOS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that they will be conducting a review of all Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments designated or expanded since April 28, 2007. The Secretary of Commerce will then use this review to prepare a report in accordance with Trump’s Executive Order to provide an “analysis” of the lost “opportunity costs” of potential energy and mineral exploration resulting from designations of Marine Sanctuaries or Marine Monuments. This “lost opportunity” analysis paired with the current America-First Offshore Energy places even more ocean areas at grave risk for destruction.

This specific notice opens the comment period, which ends on July 27, 2017,  for 11 Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments, including the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument, which are located immediately off the NY/NJ coast. The other areas included are the Channel Islands, Cordell Bank, Greater Farallones, Marianas Trench, Monterey Bay, American Samoa, Pacific Remote Islands, Papaha ̄naumokua ̄kea, Rose Atoll Marine, and Thunder Bay. The damage does not stop there, this one notice is part of greater efforts that could lead to the reduction of more than two dozen monuments and sanctuaries designated and expanded within the past 10 years.

Organizations and citizens have from June 26 to July 27 to voice their opposition by mail or electronic submission. To view the official notice and submit your comment visit the Federal Register and search “Review of National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments Designated or Expanded Since April 28, 2007; Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment.” For more information or guidance on how to access the notice and comment feel free to contact

Thursday, July 6, 2017


On July 13, 2017, the NJ/NY Baykeeper will be holding a public meeting to discuss actions that communities and individuals can take to help stop the Transco Pipeline. Williams, a provider of energy infrastructure, has proposed a 23.4-mile pipeline project to expand its existing Transco transmission system to transport natural gas. The 50-year-old pipelines would transport natural gas from fracking wells in the Marcellus shale region in Pennsylvania and the Gulf Coast, across Mercer, Somerset and Middlesex Counties and under the Raritan Bay in New York. The potential impacts are grave due to compression stations and pipeline leaks of methane and exhaust which contain carcinogens and other toxic chemicals. This dangerous pollution will impact fishing, boating and recreational activities in our communities. The meeting will be held Thursday, July 13, at Keyport High School at 351 Broad Street, Keyport, NJ 07735. 

For updates or clarifications on any of these issues contact COA’s Policy Intern Melanie Daly by email at

Spotlight on Seals, Seismic and MMSC

Photo courtesy of Marine Mammal Stranding Center

In the past year the Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) has released 19 seals back into the wild after successful rehabilitation efforts. MMSC is a nonprofit organization that is committed to responding to impaired marine mammals and sea turtles from all of NJ waterways. In June, COA’s live Facebook video of a release scored approximately 75,000 views on Facebook – our first video ever to go viral!

Also in June, “Phil” the seal was released by the National Aquarium, a non-profit public aquarium based in Baltimore, MD.  Phil was rescued in DE as he crawled his way through the mud from one pond to another and rehabilitated at the aquarium.

The many shares, likes, and views of these videos prove that people care about protecting these beautiful ocean community members. The seals are just one kind of marine life that will be shocked, stunned, and possibly killed by seismic blasting. In fact, through COA’s social media these images were linked to a Citizens’ Call to Action against seismic blasting. Numerous citizens wrote to NOAA and NMFS and voiced their vehement opposition to seismic blasting in the Atlantic.

Navesink River Citizen Water Quality Monitoring Program

On June 14, 2017, COA and the NJDEP launched the Navesink Ambient Citizen Water Quality Monitoring and Source Tracking Program. This is a weekly sampling program that will be conducted for 52 weeks at 18 sites until June 2018 by citizen scientists in the watershed. This collaboration between the DEP and COA, along with support from Navesink River Municipalities Committee, is the first time that citizen scientist volunteers will participate to help “Find and Fix” the sources of bacterial pollution in the Navesink River. COA is the field coordinator for this sampling program and is mobilizing volunteers and other resources to help collect samples, then courier them to NJDEP’s Leeds Point Laboratory every week.

Every Wednesday morning from 8am – 10am, our citizen scientists arrive eager and ready to move into the field and collect water quality samples. There are 18 sampling locations, covering five towns in the Navesink watershed. Once volunteers return with their samples, COA collects the bottles and transports them to the DEP’s Marine Water Monitoring station in Leeds Point, where each sample is analyzed for fecal indicator bacteria, including Enterococci.    Two weeks of sampling have occurred thus far, and COA is receiving excellent feedback from our volunteers. The results from the DEP’s water quality analysis will be forthcoming.

COA is confident that this collaborative citizen monitoring program can be used as a model for bringing together different groups and entities to find and fix water quality impairments in other watersheds. All updates related to this sampling program can be found on the Facebook page, “Rally for the Navesink.”