Friday, March 31, 2006

In the News: Crab egg harvesters could get state money during moratorium

Balancing the needs of aquatic species with the financial concerns of fishermen in New Jersey, the State recently suspended the harvesting of horseshoe crabs and provided $168,000 in aid to local fishing businesses. The move alleviates the environmental pressures being placed on crab and should provide more time for the species to reproduce while also enhancing the overall ecosystem by providing food for migratory shorebirds who feed on horseshoe crab eggs. Fisherman weren't completely happy with the outcome however, countering that the species was healthy and could sustain continued commercial harvesting states this recent article by the Asbury Park Press. JB

Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 03/31/06

GALLOWAY - New Jersey's last 34 licensed horseshoe crab harvesters could get $168,000 in financial aid over two years while the state enforces a moratorium on taking the crabs for commercial fishing bait, state environmental Commissioner Lisa Jackson and environmental activists said Thursday.

Faced with the Corzine administration's apparent determination to shut down the horseshoe crab business for two years — to maximize the crab eggs available to feed migrating shorebirds — the state Marine Fisheries Council last night voted to go along.

To oppose the Department of Environmental Protection could have led to legislative action to shut down crab harvests, said council Chairman Gilbert Ewing Jr., who voted with the majority against a move to reject the moratorium.


In the News: Swimmers From the North Delight Scientists and Sightseers

Efforts to clean up the often neglected NY - NJ Harbor Estuary have increasingly shown benefits for people and wildlife alike. Over the past five years, one particularly noticeable marine mammal, the harbor seal, has visited the region with more and more regularity. Recently, several seals were spotted off Hoffman and Swinburne Islands in the lower New York Harbor/Bay. The question that many scientists continue to ask though is, "are the harbor seals visiting with more frequency because of improved water and habitat quality and, if so, what pollutants are they being exposed to when visiting the highly urbanized waters of our estuary?" The results of studies looking into those questions will take some time to come to light, but in the meanwhile scientists and local residents are enjoying the presence of this charismatic species in our waters writes the NY Times. JB

By Andy Newman
Published: March 25, 2006

The inhabitants of Hoffman and Swinburne Islands, man-made piles in Lower New York Bay off Staten Island, have tended to be there not because they particularly want to be, but because they have to.

In the 19th century, the islands were a holding area for new immigrants feared to be carrying diseases. Later, they housed soldiers with venereal disease, quarantined parrots and, until the 1940's, merchant marines in training.

But yesterday the 20 plump bathers lazing on rocks in front of ruined hospital buildings and paddling the flat waters off Swinburne had come of their own free will, and they seemed to be having a fine time. And for the scientists and students on a nearby boat, this was a very good thing.

The bathers were harbor seals, bewhiskered 250-pound ambassadors from the icy north, and they appeared as oblivious to the traffic whizzing by on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge two miles away as the drivers above were to them.

A few seals were first noticed on the islands in 2001, after decades of absence from New York Harbor. But as the seal population along the Atlantic coast has continued to recover and their wintering range has extended southward, the seasonal seals of Swinburne have returned and flourished.


CRESLI harbor seal page

Monday, March 27, 2006

Conserving our Coasts & Waterfronts: The New York City Council's Committee on Waterfronts

As part of the CMRC's Harbor Bight Policy Initiative we periodically explore the different government agencies, elected officials, conservation organizations, and academic institutions that are involved with coastal conservation in the Harbor Bight. This week's installation takes a brief look at the New York City Council's Committee on Waterfronts and their recent efforts to protect and restore our coastal marine resources. JB

The New York City Council is composed of 51 elected officials who are responsible for representing the voices of millions of constituents throughout the five boroughs. A majority of the City Council's work takes place in multiple committees and subcommittees that focus on specific topics of concern such as education, health and the environment. One of the most important of these groups for our coastlines is the NYC Council's Committee on Waterfronts.

Previously chaired by Councilman David Yassky, the Committee recently inducted a new representative, Michael Nelson of Brooklyn, as its Chair for the upcoming term. Other members of the Waterfronts Committee include:
  • Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.
  • Gale A. Brewer
  • Vincent J. Gentile
  • Alan J. Gerson
  • Melissa Mark Viverito
  • James Vacca

As part of the Committee's responsibilities, its members convene monthly to introduce new legislation and discuss important waterfront matters. The most recent meeting of the Committee was held on February 16th, 2006, and was classified as an "organizational meeting" to set the agenda for the group in the current legislative session. Several topics were identified during that meeting as critical to maintaining the waterfronts of the Harbor as an environmental and economic resource in our region. Major agenda items included:

  • Port Maintenance and Development
  • Waterborne Transportation
  • Parks and Open Spaces
  • Environment

In addition, the City Council and its committees are responsible for introducing legislation that affects the residents, businesses and natural resources in the region. Recently, multiple laws were introduced by the City Council's committees that would potentially benefit the local coastal environment and our waterfronts. They are:

Int. No. 97 by Council Members McMahon, Fidler, Foster, Gentile, Koppell, Mark-Viverito, Nelson, Recchia Jr., Sanders Jr., Weprin, Lappin, Liu and Lanza. A local law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York in relation to reducing the emission of pollutants from marine vessels that handle, transport or dispose of the City's solid waste and recyclable materials.

Int. No. 188 by Council Members Yassky, Brewer, Fidler, Gentile, Koppell, Mark-Viverito, Monserrate, Nelson, Recchia Jr., Sanders Jr., Weprin, Foster, Vallone Jr. and Lanza. A local law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to creating a plan to combat illegal dumping into the waterways of New York City.

Int. No. 189 by Council Members Yassky, Brewer, Fidler, Gentile, Mark-Viverito, Nelson, Recchia Jr., Sanders Jr., Weprin, Foster, Vallone Jr. and Lanza. A local law to amend the administrative code of the City of New York, in relation to increasing fines for violations of the law for illegal dumping along Waterfront property into New York City waterways.

Each of these pieces of important legislation, if and when adopted, will certainly have a positive impact on our local coastal resources. The New York City Council Committee on Waterfronts is a great example of democracy in action and with their continued good work we can look forward to increased conservation and restoration of the Harbor Bight.

For more information...

NYC City Council

Committee on Waterfronts

Monday, March 20, 2006

Exploring Our Coasts & Waterfronts: Barbados, West Indies

CMRC's Sustainable Coasts Program periodically explores different shores and waterfronts to facilitate an information exchange among coastal communities and increase the knowledge of regional conservation and management practices worldwide. As part of this effort, the CMRC examines the social and economic history of these areas and describes the environmental issues facing coastal communities today. In this issue of Exploring Our Coasts & Waterfronts, we focus on the socio-economic and conservation issues found in the eastern Caribbean island of Barbados. JB

Located deep in the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is the easternmost island found in the windward Caribbean. Its unique geographic positioning, rich history and heavily British influenced culture make the island one of the most desirable locations to live and visit in the Northern Hemisphere. Barbados is positioned approximately 100 miles east of the islands of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada and is several hundred miles north of the South American Countries of Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname.

The island itself is relatively small measuring about 20 miles long by 10 miles wide. However, the country is packed with a high diversity of natural resources that include traditionally productive agricultural lands and amazing coastal ecosystems that are home to numerous tropical species of wildlife and plants. In addition, Barbados is one of the most highly populated areas of the eastern Caribbean, with almost 300,000 individuals inhabiting the island, and many, many more coming to visit each year.

Barbados - known by many as the "little England of the Caribbean" - was under British control for nearly 350 years leading up to its independence in 1966. For several hundred years the economy of Barbados was strongly agricultural, anchored by a thriving sugar industry and byproducts such as rum and molasses. In addition, the region produced several other local agricultural crops including yams, sweet potatoes, peanuts and cut flowers. Today Barbados is a independent state of the Commonwealth and keeps close ties with UK culture (especially in their love of the sport of cricket).

More recently, the local economy has shifted dramatically towards revenues from tourism associated activities. In 1970, tourism officially overtook agriculture as the island's number one source of income. Today nearly 75% of the islands GDP is derived from visitors to the island who come from near and far to enjoy the wonderful natural resources and exceptional weather the island has to offer.

The environmental resources of Barbados continue to be the centerpiece of the economy and "Bajan" (pronounced bay-jun) culture. Numerous beaches fringe the island and many coastal communities are based on ocean uses that have historically included fishing, swimming and boating. On the country's east coast, near Bathsheba, amazing beaches, rolling mountains and powerful surf are on display. The Bathsheba region has remained quite rural over the years and still retains its agricultural feel.

Near the west coast centers of Speightstown and Holetown the beaches are considerably calmer, and consequently many of the island's resorts have set up along the coast. The end result of the increasing development pressures has led to some environmental issues along the coast. However, the region is still rich in coastal resources, including amazing coral reefs with a multitude of colorful aquatic species such as barracuda and groupers; several species of sea turtles; and, many birds that patrol the nearshore zone for sustenance.

Bridgetown, the country's capital, is located in the protected southwest of the island. This area, when combined with the southern portion of the island, is the most developed and home to a large portion of the population. The capital contains major ports for both the local fishing fleet (flying fish is the national dish) and a thriving cruise industry. The southern portion of the island still contains many beautiful beaches despite the large amount of development.

The environmental challenges have recently come to the forefront of Barbados life. Continuing development of the tourism industry, especially in the coastal zone, has led to management issues such as habitat and species impacts, as well as increased pollution from stormwater runoff. While many beaches in the eastern shore have remained unspoiled, the western shore now has numerous shore protection structures, including seawalls, jetties and groins that accelerate erosion. Increasing pressures on infrastructure due to the rapid development of coastal resorts and golf courses has led to many pollutants draining directly to the ocean due to the limited treatment facilities and catchment basins. In addition, the popularity of eco-tourism related activities has led to a very active nearshore zone that is affected many aquatic species. Most notably, the practice of feeding sea-turtles has led to obesity in many of the local turtles.

Fortunately, a few groups are actively minding the shores to ensure that the coasts of Barbados remain both environmentally and economically viable. The Barbados Sea Turtle Project works to conserve the green, hawksbill, leatherback and loggerhead turtles that are found in the area's waters. The Project especially focuses on protecting the eggs and breeding beaches found along the shores of the island and also is examining the interaction of humans with different species to assist in developing a sustainable eco-tourism industry.

In addition, the Barbados government has a Coastal Zone Management Unit that focuses on conservation and management activities in throughout the islands shores. The Unit has created an Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan that put forward guidelines and next steps for the conservation of the island's coasts that looks to examine and manage the following:
  • integrated coastal zone management
  • sustainable development
  • marine environmental protection
  • sustainable use and conservation of marine living resources
Finally, several local resorts and tourism related activities have taken it upon themselves to act as stewards of the Bajan environment. Many facilities have attempted to create plans for reducing their impact on the islands natural resources. Several resorts reuse their wastewater for irrigation and limit the use of pesticides on golf courses. The international benchmarking program, Green Globe 21, is implemented by many tourism companies looking to limit their impacts and attract conscious travelers.

Barbados is an amazing country with impressive natural resources and a near perfect climate. For many years, the unique location of the island made it a hidden secret of the Caribbean. More recently, tourism has provided a great economic asset for the Bajan community, bringing travelers from the entire globe to its shores. However, the increase in tourism has also brought along development and associated environmental issues, especially for coastal ecosystems. Several organizations and businesses have focused their efforts on protecting the environmental and economic assets but only time will tell whether Barbados will be able to create a balance between development and conservation in the future.

For more information...

Barbados Sea Turtle Project

Barbados Coastal Zone Management Plan

Green Globe 21

Wikipedia Information on Barbados

Lonely Planet Barbados Guide

Google Map of Barbados,-59.563065&spn=0.295494,0.462799&t=k

Monday, March 06, 2006

In the News: Long Beach Sand Replenishment Project?

The City of Long Beach, New York, will have a public meeting on Tuesday, March 7 to discuss the fate of a proposed Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) sand replenishment project that claims to offer protection to residents and businesses in the City by creating a barrier from hurricanes and nor'easters. The project, which has been proposed for several years by the ACOE, is being presented with recent modifications that would change the overall impacts of the effort. However, local residents and the Surfrider Foundation are continuing to fight the project, citing the impacts it will have on the environment, recreational opportunties, and the local economy states the following Newsday article. JB

March 4, 2006

One of the main questions arising from a proposed $98-million project to protect the Long Beach shoreline is whether it's worth spending money to fight Mother Nature.

Some feel such sand-replenishment projects are a waste of money because erosion is an unstoppable process. Others argue that people have interrupted natural processes by building ports, dams and jetties, thereby making it necessary to replenish the shoreline."

The only way to engineer with nature is to replenish the sand from one place to another," said Gilbert W. Hanse, director of emergency preparedness for the Town of Babylon. "That's what dredging does. It takes the sand from one area and puts it where it's needed."I

n the past 10 years, Gilgo Beach in Babylon has been replenished three times with 1 million cubic yards of sand from the Fire Island inlet. The projects' cost, $27 million, was borne by the state and federal governments, Hanse said.

The town, Hanse said, is hoping to do it again next year. The beach is now 170 feet wide; the goal is to get it back to 330 feet.

The sand, Hanse said, is a shock absorber."

If that sand in that beach and the sand dunes are not there, the waves will attack any structure that is in the way," he said. "The sand is doing its job. It is providing protection."

Jeff Kupferman, a resident of Long Beach for 45 years, is doubtful that a $98-million replenishment project in his community is worth it."

I have great concerns that a tremendous amount of money is spent," he said. "I don't know that it will provide the amount of protection they say it will."

As the chairman of the Long Beach Action Committee for Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit, environmental organization that works to protect oceans, waves, and beaches, Kupferman is concerned the replenishment of the shore would do more harm than good."

I don't care what you put on the beach, all this new stuff is going to be washed away," he added. "I don't know if the benefit of the project warrants us losing our beautiful beach and the marine life."

Read More...,0,3119674,print.story?coll=ny-homepage-bigpix2005

Additional converage,0,3287327.story?coll=ny-homepage-bigpix2005

Google Map of Long Beach, NY,-73.679123&spn=0.115255,0.2314&t=h

CMRC Participates in National Ocean Sciences Bowl in Stony Brook

The CMRC particpated in the 2006 National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) regional "Bay Scallop Bowl" this past Sunday and assisted SUNY Stony Brook with the day's events along with many other volunteers from the coastal and ocean community. During the event, 16 high school teams compete against each other in a series of rounds of ocean science-related questions with a regional champion being crowned at the end of the day. Multiple supporters and volunteers came together to make the 2006 NOSB a great success! Below is more information from SUNY Stony Brook's Marine Sciences Research Center. JB

The Bay Scallop Bowl is a regional competition of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) held annually in New York. The bowl is hosted by the Marine Sciences Research Center of Stony Brook University and takes place on the Stony Brook University campus on a Saturday in February or early March. The competition features teams of high school students competing for cash prizes and a chance to represent New York in the NOSB final competition.

The National Ocean Science Bowl (NOSB) is an annual competition for high school students and is sponsored by the Washington DC-based
Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE.) CORE represents the nation’s leading marine research institutions, laboratories, and aquaria, sponsors the NOSB. The National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) and federal government provide base funding for the NOSB, but local host institutions must meet the costs of running their regional competitions. The objective of the NOSB is to raise awareness an understanding on the oceans and coastal resources among the nation’s high school students. Each year, the NOSB orchestrates 20-25 regional competitions distributed around the nation’s coastal areas, including the Great Lakes region. Regional competitions are held in February or early March. The winning teams from each regional event meet in the NOSB finals, held in late April at a different coastal location each year. The top-finishing teams in the NOSB finals receive great prizes featuring all expenses paid multi-day trips to oceanographic laboratories around the country.

New York’s schools are among the best in the nation and our high school students do extremely well in science fairs and national science competitions, such as that sponsored by the Intel Corporation. Many Long Island high schools offer courses in oceanography or marine biology. The average interest and knowledge level about the marine environment among Long Island high school students is high.

The Marine Sciences Research Center is among the world’s great institutions for study and instruction in the marine sciences. It has a long history of working with state and municipal governments, the business community, non-governmental organizations, and the people of coastal New York to better understand and manage the marine environment that is so important to the state’s economy and lifestyle. The Center has conducted extensive programs and activities over the past thirty years involving local school districts, teachers, and students. As the locus for marine science research and education in New York, MSRC is the natural host for a New York NOSB regional competition.

SUNY Stony Brook's Regional Bay Scallop Bowl

NY Seagrant NOSB Information

Core's National Ocean Sciences Bowl Site

In the News: Dock workers rally to keep port open

The battle for the region's waterfront continued on Sunday in Red Hook when dock workers expressed their dissatisfaction with New York City's plan to remove the container port from Brooklyn and replace it with luxury condos. Local waterfront workers from American Stevedoring claim that jobs are being lost in the region due to the pressures of residential development, leaving the majority of them without a source of income. The Economic Development Corporation (EDC) seems to indicate that the jobs will be retained, however EDC President was recently quoted as saying that the Cocoa employees were "the lowest-rung workers" on the docks. As long as development pressures continue and the values of waterfront real estate rise there will be a conflict with dock related economic activities writes Newsday in the following article. JB

March 6, 2006
Burly Teamsters and Longshoremen joined politicians at City Hall Sunday to demand Mayor Bloomberg keep Brooklyn's last working waterfront open for business.

Shouting "Cocoa beans, not condos," dozens of workers who unload and warehouse raw cocoa at American Stevedoring International in Red Hook blasted the Bloomberg administration for pushing the container port out of business.

The news conference and rally at City Hall is the latest chapter in the "cocoa crisis," which pits the port operator against powerful interests inside and outside the mayor's office.

Andrew Alper, president of the Economic Development Corp., the city agency that runs the terminal, was a main target of their wrath. In January, he said he is willing to allow the cocoa business to leave New York, and called the employees "the lowest-rung workers."

American Stevedoring said it employees 623 people to unload cocoa, lumber and other commodities.But next year, the company's lease expires and the city will block its renewal. The space will be used for more cruise ships and a park. Luxury condominiums are planned nearby.

Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn) said the Economic Development Corp. should lose its contract to administer waterfront operations because it is not fulfilling it mission to retain and expand such business.

Read more...,0,7842480.story?coll=ny-main-tabheads3

NYC's Economic Development Corporation

American Stevedoring

Friday, March 03, 2006

In the News: Atlantic City Developers Are All In

Coastal development continues at a rapid pace up and down the eastern seaboard. In Atlantic City, NJ, the construction of new homes and condominiums is proceeding at an unprecedented rate, adding valuable dollars to the local economy. However, all of the development is taking place on a barrier beach island that is very susceptible to coastal storms that include hurricanes and nor'easters. As well, the region is also home to several low-income communities. The long-term impacts both environmentally and socially will not be known for some time, but for the moment economic forces are the main driver in Atlantic City's coastal development writes the NY Times. JB

The view outward from Brett Wartenberg's 20th-floor luxury condominium in Atlantic City is a thing of beauty, a sweeping panorama of the Atlantic Ocean, the historic Absecon Lighthouse and the shoreline of nearby Brigantine.

But glance straight down, onto the streets of the Southeast Inlet neighborhood, and the majesty fades. Decrepit row houses patched with plywood are scattered among vacant lots; plastic bags of trash slump against them. Pigeons peck on empty Doritos bags and stray cats prowl the deserted streets.

Dr. Wartenberg, 41, a chiropractor whose full-time home is in Medford, N.J., is unfazed. He paid in the $400,000's more than a year ago for his new condo at the Bella, a redevelopment of an existing apartment building. High-floor units in the project are already listed at substantially more than he paid.

"Atlantic City has the highest potential for appreciation — other shore towns are tapped out," he said. "If you bought in Vegas 10 or 15 years ago, people said, 'Why?' No one asks that question anymore."

Developers are moving in hungrily on Atlantic City, where the sea and beach spread out invitingly. But with nearly half of the city's households defined by the federal government as low-income and F.B.I. statistics showing a crime rate more than three times the national average, a question lingers in some minds: "If we build it, will they buy?"

At the moment, the Bella stands alone, like a debutante in a deserted parking lot. But it shouldn't be for long. New retail, restaurant and entertainment venues, combined with the availability of large tracts of land, are making the city a potent lure for developers.

Atlantic City is the late bloomer of the Jersey Shore, where the value of modest duplexes has risen to millions from Cape May to Belmar and second-home buyers have arrived even in long-forlorn Asbury Park. More than 1,500 luxury housing units in Atlantic City — the first such residential construction in 20 years — are now in the pipeline, though a complex approval process could stall some.


Google Map of Atlantic City,-74.51889&spn=0.469408,0.671539&t=h