CLEANER WATER RESULTS
IN THE UPGRADE OF 7,754 ACRES OF SHELLFISH WATERS
5,425 Acres to be upgraded in Raritan Bay
State Environmental Protection Commissioner
Bob Shinn today announced that 7,754 additional acres of
state waters soon will be open for shellfish harvesting,
marking the 14th consecutive year that continuing improvement
in water quality has allowed expansion of areas where shellfish
may be safely taken.
"The continued expansion of our shellfish
harvesting waters is a clear and reliable yardstick of our
progress in improving water quality. These openings are
the result of combined efforts to upgrade wastewater treatment
plant operations and reduce nonpoint source pollution,"
Shinn said during a ceremony at the Leonardo State Marina
on the Raritan Bay.
The proposed reclassification will bring the total acreage
available for shellfishing to 599,505, or 89 percent of
the state's coastal waters, Shinn noted.
The areas to be upgraded are: 5,425 acres
from prohibited to special restricted in Raritan Bay including
4,441 acres in the Flynn's Knoll section off of Sandy Hook
and 984 acres in the bay near Union Beach. Special restricted
means permits for depuration are required. In addition,
1,878 acres upgraded from prohibited to approved in the
Atlantic Ocean off of Mantoloking (Ocean County); 360 acres
from seasonal to approved in Risley Channel off of Margate
(Atlantic County), and 91 acres upgraded from special restricted
to seasonal in Lakes Bay near Margate. The seasonal classification
allows harvesting yearly from November through April.
"New Jersey is the only state in the
24-state Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference that
has consistently had more waters upgraded than downgraded
each year for the past 14 years," Shinn said. "The
continued upgrade is particularly remarkable considering
that population growth has been steady in the state's coastal
counties during this time."
New Jersey harvests the most shellfish
of any state, more than 75 million pounds each year.
Each year, DEP's Bureau of Marine Water
Monitoring collects and analyzes over 19,000 water samples.
Staff also regularly perform field surveys of the coastal
shoreline to monitor any pollution sources.
The Interstate Environmental Commission
and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 2 Office,
under New Jersey' s Performance Partnership Agreement, also
assisted in the collection and analysis of water and shellfish
tissue for this upgrade.
Other ongoing clean water initiatives include
the watershed management program, which works with local
organizations, to establish regional plans to control nonpoint
source pollution, such as runoff from development and agriculture,
by. DEP also is working with municipalities and the Environmental
Infrastructure Trust to replace combined sewers in older
towns and reduce stormwater overflows.
Fifty-five acres east of Mystic Island
are being downgraded from Approved to Seasonal in two small
waterways leading to Great Bay due to a requirement for
buffers around marinas.
Adjacent to the 1,878 acres in the ocean
off of Mantoloking that are being upgraded to approved,
20 acres are being closed to better define and manage the
closure zone around the Northern Ocean County Municipal
Utilities Authority plant using GPS coordinates. The larger
harvesting area is due to the treatment plant's improved
operating efficiency and reliability.
DEP is accepting public comment on the proposed reclassification,
which was published in today's NJ Register. The public comment
period closes Nov. 14 and the proposal is scheduled to take
effect Jan. 7, 2002.
Maps showing the reclassified areas may
be viewed on the Bureau of Marine Monitoring's web page