DEP RESUMES EDUCATION AND COMPLIANCE SWEEPS ON BARNEGAT BAY THIS SUMMER
PATROLS TO CREATE AWARENESS OF GREENER AND SAFER BOATING PRACTICES
(14/P64) TRENTON – As part of the Christie Administration’s continuing effort to protect and restore ecologically important Barnegat Bay, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), with assistance from local law enforcement, is resuming intensive education and compliance sweeps this summer to promote greener and safer boating practices on the bay, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin announced.
DEP first launched the sweeps in the summer of 2012 to educate the boating public and seasonal visitors to Barnegat Bay on low-impact boating measures that can make a positive impact on the bay’s health, especially during the peak boating season.
“The goal of these sweeps is to educate Barnegat Bay boaters on how they can better protect this precious natural resource,’’ DEP Commissioner Martin said. “Our enforcement staff will employ these sweeps to remind boaters and watercraft enthusiasts of important guidelines they should follow that will help protect the environmental integrity of the bay, while not interfering with their enjoyment of the bay’’
DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers and State Park Police will be joined by officers from the Seaside Park, Barnegat, Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Surf City, Stafford, Toms River and Lavallette police departments in the effort. They will patrol the bay throughout the summer and distribute green boating literature during informal stops on Barnegat Bay. Boaters also will get maps showing the 16 most ecologically sensitive areas of the 660-square-mile watershed – areas deserving of special care.
The sweeps may also result in citations for violation of boater laws and egregious natural resource violations.
“It’s important that people who enjoy Barnegat Bay are aware of how they can minimize water craft impacts to benefit the bay in the short-term and in the long-term,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Law Enforcement Chief Mark Chicketano. “Offenders of existing navigational and maritime law, including speed in no-wake zones or driving while intoxicated, will be penalized.”
Studies done by the DEP in coordination with academic researchers have identified the 16 ecologically sensitive areas in Barnegat Bay that can be negatively impacted by water craft. High speed boats and watercraft, and the wakes they create, can damage submerged aquatic vegetation, such as eel grass. They can also disrupt aquatic habitats and nesting shorebirds, particularly in shallower tidal waters where recreational activities are common.
Reducing water craft impacts is one of the key goals in Governor Christie’s Barnegat Bay Restoration Plan, which was launched in December 2010. Other key points include an early shutdown of Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant by the end of 2019, a reduction of nutrient pollution from fertilizer, the funding of stormwater runoff mitigation projects, as well as public education and scientific research on the bay.
The DEP has established a series of tips for clean and green boating in Barnegat Bay and that information will be provided to boaters who are stopped during the education sweeps. As part of its campaign to keep the bay cleaner and greener, the DEP recommends boaters and personal watercraft users:
- Stay out of restricted areas set aside for wildlife. Do not harass nesting birds and other animals.
- Buoy mooring chains and lines to prevent them from scraping on the bay bottom and harming submerged aquatic vegetation and animals.
- Use pump-out boats and facilities. Do not discharge wastewater holding tanks into open water.
- Maintain 100-foot distance (about the length of six cars) from natural shorelines, bay islands, sensitive ecological areas, and use marked navigational channels for travel.
- Minimize wakes in all shallow areas to help reduce erosion and harm to aquatic plants and animals.
- Appreciate wildlife from a distance.
- Help reduce air pollution by cutting the engine and not idling in open water.
- Keep trash, recyclables, hooks and lures in secure containers and dispose of them properly on land. Recycle used monofilament fishing lines instead of throwing them away.
- Avoid giving invasive aquatic plants and animals a ride. Thoroughly clean boats, personal watercraft and equipment when transferring them from one water body to another.
To learn more of Governor Christie’s Action Plan for Barnegat Bay, visit:
To learn how to reduce water craft impacts of Barnegat Bay, visit:
For a map of Barnegat Bay’s 16 Ecologically Sensitive Areas, visit: