Friday, September 2, 2016

Source Tracking Results for the Navesink

On August 11, 2016, Clean Ocean Action organized the 2nd Rally for the Navesink Public Meeting at the First Presbyterian Church of Rumson to hear presentations about the status of pollution and jellyfish in the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers. Nearly 100 attendees also heard from local groups about citizen-led water quality testing programs and how they are helping to track down pollution.
Dr. Bologna of Montclair State University updated the public on the status of Clinging Jellyfish, an invasive species with a powerful sting, found for the first time in New Jersey in the Shrewsbury River. Bob Schuster, Chief of the NJDEP Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring discussed the results of discussed the results of recent water quality testing during dry and wet weather while Zach Lees of Clean Ocean Action released the results of the “ship and sniff” testing, utilizing a partnership with Environmental Canine Services (ECS) and their scent-trained canines.

Dr. Nicole Fahrenfeld of Rutgers University School of Civil and Environmental Engineering explained results of DNA analysis on bacteria found in the Navesink.

Debbie Mans, Executive Director of NY/NJ Baykeeper, reported that the Royal Flush Pump Out Boat, which operates on Fridays and Saturdays until October 1, has successfully collected 6,500 gallons of waste and chemicals from boats in the watershed. Mans also referred to Baykeeper’s citizen-led water testing program in the Bayshore region designed to help identify and address problem areas. Joe Stark from the Oceanport Water Watch reviewed their successful local water quality testing programs, one of the longest-running in the state that may serve as a model for the Navesink River watershed.

All of these source tracking results generally indicate that there is a signature of human waste, as well as domestic animal and wildlife waste in the river. To wrap up the meeting, Clean Ocean Action announced that the Environmental Canine Services dogs are coming to NJ the week of September 19 to help track down human sources of pollution. COA presented a multi-faceted citizen action campaign to engage all seven communities in the Navesink River Watershed. Activities are coordinated on the Rally for the Navesink Facebook page and include shoreline cleanups, jellyfish spotters, storm drain detectives, educational restaurant placemats, multi-cultural outreach, and water quality testing.

In addition to Facebook, community members are also encouraged to access the Rally for the Navesink Google Drive Folder that contains important research documents, presentations and a fill-able form for volunteer interests. The link to this drive is located on the Facebook page, as well as on the home page of For instant updates and constant connection to Clean Ocean Action and access to Rally for the Navesink download the free application for iPhone and android by texting “COA” to the number: 732-444-8885.
For more information, please call 732-872-0111, email or visit to become involved.

Atlantic Highlands and Margate Achieve Blue Star Win for Water Quality!

On July 27th and August 5th, COA awarded the Borough of Atlantic Highlands and Margate City, respectively, with their Municipal Blue Star Certificates at a ceremony at Town Hall to recognize their efforts to improve water quality.

Both join fellow Blue Star Municipalities, Wall Township, Long Beach Township, Galloway Township, and Howell Township. Since the program was launched in September of 2014, COA has worked with over 20 towns while they obtain Blue Star Certification.

The Municipal Blue Star program combines the visionary Sustainable Jersey Program with Clean Ocean Action’s focus on water quality protection. The Program encourages communities to promote healthy waters, resilient communities, and environmentally sound practices. To achieve Blue Star Award status, a municipality must target “Blue Star” actions for 50% of their total Sustainable Jersey points.

In addition to Sustainable Jersey projects, towns are required to choose one of COA’s additional actions. Both towns completed the Climate Adaptation: Flooding Risk Action, which is designed to identify a community’s vulnerability to flooding impacts (both coastal and inland) along with ways to improve a community’s overall resiliency.

As a town impacted by Superstorm Sandy, it is essential to take action to mitigate their vulnerability. With the completion of the Climate Adaptation: Flooding Risk Action, Atlantic Highlands and Margate are taking an important step in planning for their future.

Mapping Marine Life Pros & Cons

On August 17, Clean Ocean Action traveled down to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, to participate in a workshop held by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) and its Portal Team. The workshop updated a select group of government consultants and environmental non-government organizations  (NGO) on the status and development of marine life and habitat data in support of the Mid Atlantic Regional Planning Body’s (Mid-A RPB) Ocean Action Plan. The Mid Atlantic Ocean Plan calls “Ecologically Rich Areas” (ERA).

Portal Team seeks to take the thousands of marine ecosystem data points collected throughout the years by marine mammal observers, trawl surveys, scientific expeditions, satellite and remote sensing, and other sources, and turn them into visual “heat maps” in order to understand the distribution and movement of fish, mammal, and bird species, areas of high plankton counts, and other information. These visual products are excellent tools for better understanding of our ocean ecosystem and identifying areas where more research is needed. However, the end purpose of this visual mapping exercise is not just to increase understanding and the availability of research, but to support the identification of what the

COA supports MARCO’s and the Mid-A RPB’s commitment to obtaining and analyzing the best available marine science and data. However, we have repeatedly emphasized the limitations and gaps of the data collection, and the interconnectedness of the ocean ecosystem. COA’s commitment has always been the protection and restoration of the entire ocean, and not the piecemeal protection of select areas. COA expressed its concerns about the unintended consequences of pursuing the identification of ERAs, including the creation of “winners and losers” in our ocean, and critical decisions and environmental review of projects based on incomplete data. COA is continuing to advocate for ocean-wide protection and will be submitting comments on the Mid-Atlantic RPB’s plan. Members of the public are encouraged to provide comments to the MidA RPB by September 6 via email: or by writing to:

Robert LaBelle, Federal Co-Lead for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
45600 Woodland Road
Sterling, VA 20166

Beach to Table: 2016 COAST Campaign Highlights Local Activism

The 2016 COAST program finished its seven-week summer season with a series of accomplishments that emphasize the “power of the people” and its impact on change.

In just one August weekend, volunteer ocean advocates reached out to beach and festival-goers at TEN informational tables from Monmouth County to Cape May County. Special thanks go out to the Elberon Beach Club that turned advice into action by changing their snack bar policy so that members would not receive a lid or a straw with a beverage unless they asked. That action, in addition to a very generous donation from the beach club, demonstrates Elberon Beach Club’s serious support and dedication to the health of the ocean and beaches of the Jersey Shore.

COA also applauds and appreciates the high level of commitment from Ocean Grove’s display of the Marine Debris Degradation chart, as well as other educational materials, to make people aware of the dangers of non-point source pollution.

A special thanks to all of the venues who warmly welcomed our COAST volunteers and housed our equipment throughout July and August:

Allenhurst Beach Club, Asbury Park, Avon by the Sea, Bradley Beach, Brick, Chapel Beach Club, Edgewater Beach Club, Elberon Beach Club, Ideal Beach Community Festival, Island Beach State Park, Jenkinson’s, Lavallette, Loch Arbour, Long Branch, Monmouth Beach Bath and Tennis, Monmouth Beach Pavilion, Ocean City EnviroFair, Ocean Grove, Promenade Beach Club, Sands Beach Club, Sea Bright, Seaside Park, Ship Ahoy Beach Club, Surfrider Beach Club, and Tom River’s Beach Ball a Palooza.

Importantly, this program would not be possible without our volunteer ocean advocates who selflessly dedicated precious hours of their sizzling summer weekends to staff COAST tables. Cool, clear waves of thanks to:

Tom and Barb Dyer, Sebby Freeman, Lauren Kosakowski, Kate Dolly, Joyce Grant, Amanda Duerkes, Margot Fernicola, John Bosman, Sofia Escandon, Jim Sharkey, Linda Swenarton, Johnny Swenarton, Nicole Swenarton, Nik Pavincic, Robert Delfino and Family, Andrea Andruk, Kirk Murdoch, Cindy Brincha, Mark and Ava Haviland, Cheryl Castles and Family, Patrick and Christine McGrath.

September weekends are filling up with festivals in anticipation of our “Local Summer”. Check out the website for more information and to sign up to staff a table this month and/or contact Amanda Wheeler ( for more details.