Friday, April 29, 2016

2015 Beach Sweeps Data Released

Cindy Zipf, COZ Executive Director
Ken Mosca, Public Affairs Manager for Atlantic City Electric
Catie Tobin, COA Marince Science Education Manager
Vince Maione, Atlantic City Electric Region President

COA released the 2015 Beach Sweeps Report highlighting the twelve most commonly collected items (“The Dirty Dozen”) along with the most outrageous finds (“The Roster of the Ridiculous”) and the breakdown of 332,033 pieces of marine debris collected by 6,375 volunteers last year.

The data creates a legacy of information that is used to fight for better anti-litter programs and educate people about the harms caused by marine debris to the economy and wildlife. The spring event coincides with Earth Month to provide citizens with an educational, hands-on, meaningful, rewarding activity to make a real difference.

In 2015, volunteers collected, tallied and removed over 332,003 pieces of debris from New Jersey’s shoreline during COA’s 30th Annual Beach Sweeps. The majority of the debris removed was disposable plastics. Plastic, including foam, represents 70.78% of the total waste found. The evidence is clear: disposable plastic items continue to litter beaches, threaten marine life, and impact water quality. Of the 260,624 plastic items collected, 70.6% were single use.

Water Quality threats Atlantic and Cape May Counties

Recently, COA was featured in the Press of Atlantic City for work done in South Jersey which focused on the Great Egg Harbor. COA has a long history of working to protect ocean and coastal resources in South Jersey. These efforts include an ongoing battle to stop the BL England generating facility from using a ‘once through cooling system’. This system kills millions of organisms a year and discharges heated wastewater back into the bay which causes a low oxygen environment that is harmful to life around the outfall.

Additionally, COA is working on numerous stormwater pollution issues which affect the bay. These pollutants affect the ability for people to safely recreate and shellfish in specific bay areas, especially after a rainstorm.

Photo courtesy of Press of AC Ben Fogletto
Finally, COA is working alongside several municipalities in the area to attain Blue Star certification. Blue Star acknowledges and rewards towns that perform specific environmentally beneficial actions that protect the coastal environment.

Keep an eye on the Press of Atlantic City for developing stories on the Great Egg Harbor, as well as a TV interview with COA Policy Attorney Zach Lees airing soon!

Another Seismic Expedition This Summer!?

COA is currently investigating a proposal by the NJDEP to use seismic surveying equipment to look for sand deposits which would be appropriate for summer 2016 beach replenishment.

The use of seismic surveying technology has the potential to disrupt critical marine mammal behaviors such as: communicating, feeding, mating and migrating. Furthermore, the summer months are some of the most critical times of the year off our shores for these animals.

While the size of the air guns for this proposed project are much smaller, and the depth of their focus much shallower, it is incumbent that COA carefully review these types of projects. COA’s primary focus is to ensure that appropriate mitigation measures are taken and alternate times of the year are considered. With this project, vital offshore sand deposits that support fish habitats should not be targeted for harvesting.

COA will update the public as the situation develops and will continue our work to ensure that the ocean ecosystem is protected from any potential seismic blasting.

An Earth Day of Seismic Proportion

Photo courtesy of The Office of Senator Cory Booker
On Earth Day, April 22, 2016, when World leaders from 175 countries signed a historic Paris Climate Accord, Clean Ocean Action (COA) executive director Cindy Zipf stood with Senator Cory Booker, Senator Bob Menendez and colleagues, and called for the rejection of several proposed oil and gas seismic surveys in the Mid-Atlantic. The Senators also introduced a bi-partisan bill called the Atlantic Seismic Airgun Protection Act.

In March, the Obama administration removed the mid-Atlantic from the offshore leasing program for 2017 to 2022, however the permits for the exploratory seismic blasting were not halted, and continue to be evaluated by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Not only would the seismic blasting encourage future oil and gas drilling in the region, but the noise from the seismic air guns is orders of magnitude worse than the harm caused by the Rutgers Geology study last summer off Long Beach Island. Incredibly, if allowed, these studies could maim or kill up to 138,000 mammals and disrupt or harass 13 million mammals. These staggering numbers are unthinkable and will also harm the multi-million dollar fisheries and coastal economies. All efforts must be made to stop this seismic study and lock in protection for our ocean.