Ocean Protection in New Jersey: A Blueprint for State-level Action

September 28, 2005

Contact: Kathleen Goldstein, 202-572-3243                                                                                                                                                                          

(September 28, 2005 – Atlantic Highlands, NJ)  Today, the Coastal Ocean Coalition, which includes the Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense, Marine Conservation Biology Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council, and partners released a pivotal report, Ocean Protection in New Jersey: A Blueprint for State-level Action, which calls for leadership and protection for New Jersey’s coasts and ocean.  The report is a response to the recent Pew Oceans Commission (POC) and the United States Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP) conclusion that our oceans are in trouble, and gives specific recommendations on how to implement key findings from both reports. 
“This report shows that this is a pivotal moment for averting crisis in the ocean,” said Coastal Ocean Coalition Director Benson Chiles.  “Now is the time for state officials to step up to the plate to protect the Jersey Shore.”
The quality of life and the strength of the economy in New Jersey are challenged by persistent threats to the health and viability of one of its most cherished and fragile assets: its ocean resources.  Despite regulatory efforts to date, New Jersey residents still face beach closings, seafood health advisories and prohibitions on shellfishing in some areas because of pollution.  In addition, pressures on fisheries due to overfishing and ecosystem destruction have jeopardized the future vitality of these resources.
“It is hard to put a price tag on the value of clean beaches, healthy seafood, and abundant fisheries to New Jersey residents and visitors,” said NJPIRG Executive Director Dena.  “These resources are priceless.”
New Jersey now has an opportunity to seize a leadership role in strengthening protections for its ocean resources, rebuilding valuable fish populations and cleaning its coastal waters.  Both the POC and USCOP recently reviewed the state of the nation’s declining ocean resources and made recommendations to policy makers about improving or overhauling existing ocean laws and management.  While a majority of the commissions’ recommendations are directed to the federal government, many can be undertaken directly at the state level.
State governance of coastal and ocean waters extends three miles from the shore.  These environments function as critical habitat for many marine species and also represent the environment that humans use — and abuse — most.  Indeed, both commissions stressed the importance of state policies and actions in abating the threats and restoring coastal and ocean fish populations, habitats and waters.
In April 2005, Governor Richard Codey released New Jersey’s Coast 2005 which outlines immediate actions his administration proposes to take to protect the state’s valuable coastal resources.
“Governor Codey and Commissioner Campbell’s plan fails to see the forest through the trees,” said New Jersey Chapter of the Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel.  “All of the science tells us to manage the ocean using a comprehensive ecosystems approach.  His plan is a piece-meal crisis to crisis approach.”
“The Governor’s Plan is an important and welcome first step,” said Natural Resources Defense Council Water and Coastal Specialist Alison Chase.  “However it does not adequately reflect the urgency of the problems outlined in the recent national reports.”
Ocean Protection in New Jersey: A Blueprint for State-Level Action outlines the value and benefits of New Jersey’s ocean resources.  It identifies the recommendations made by the two national ocean commissions that New Jersey should implement to ensure clean coastal waters and beaches, healthy seafood, abundant fisheries and effectively managed coastal and ocean zones.
“We want the next New Jersey governor to play a strong leadership role in the protection of our oceans,” said New Jersey Audubon Society Vice-President for Conservation and Stewardship Eric Stiles.  “We have an opportunity to protect New Jersey’s most cherished asset.”
“This report is a wake up call,” said Environmental Defense Fisheries Expert Amy Kenney. “New Jersey officials can no longer be complacent about protecting the Jersey Shore.”
For more information and to download the report, go to www.CoastalOceanCoalition.org
The Coastal Ocean Coalition (COC) is a network of environmental organizations working to conserve, protect and restore some of the nation’s most vital marine environments: state waters.  COC provides policy makers and community groups with the tools they need to help coastal states take the bold steps necessary to protect their ocean resources.  COC is a project of the Conservation Law Foundation, Environmental Defense, Marine Conservation Biology Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council.
Ocean Protection in New Jersey was produced by the Coastal Ocean Coalition in partnership with the Bayshore Regional Watershed Council, New Jersey Chapter, Sierra Club, New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, New Jersey Audubon Society, New Jersey Environmental Lobby, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, The Ocean Conservancy and Surfrider Foundation.