Category Archives: Uncategorized

BILL to Address Marine Debris in Jamaica Bay

New bill would create office to handle trash, abandoned boats on city beachesBy Danielle Muoio 

03/28/2019 05:00 AM EDT

Council Member Costa Constantinides is introducing a bill on Thursday that would require Mayor Bill de Blasio to create a new office to recycle and dispose of trash and any other debris that washes up on public beaches.

Called the Office of Marine Debris Disposal, the new group would be tasked with developing a plan to dispose of marine debris, set coordinated cleanup dates with volunteer groups and take steps to remove debris that is abandoned or dumped along the shoreline. The office gives new funding and manpower to a cleanup process that has traditionally been handled by volunteers and would also be tasked with taking steps to issue violations against those responsible for the debris.

Although the legislation is designed to tackle all kinds of trash, the main intent behind the bill is to better address the long-standing issue of abandoned boats in New York City waterways. The boats can pose safety and environmental hazards, and their size makes them difficult to dispose of for the average volunteer group. 

“Jamaica Bay has seen so much improvement in the last few years, yet debris still washes ashore on a regular basis — as have scores of abandoned boats,” Constantinides, chairman of the Committee of Environmental Protection, said in a statement. “This bill will give the Crown Jewel of Queens the proper polishing it deserves.”

Traditionally, boats that are deserted in the water are removed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or United States Coast Guard, depending on where they are located. But boats closer to the shoreline don’t fall under either of those agencies’ purview. 

Volunteers have removed hundreds of boats that have washed up on shore in the last decade, said Dan Mundy, president of Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, a local environmental group. The problem has only grown following Superstorm Sandy, which resulted in a lot more debris making its way into the water.

But there’s a disconnect between Jamaica Bay’s role in New Yorkers’ lives and the current level of effort the city takes to keep it clean, Mundy said.

Jamaica Bay is seeing a “renaissance” as more people take the trip to Rockaway Beach using the city’s expanded ferry service, Mundy said. And it is home to the city’s only wildlife refuge run by the National Park Service. 

“At the bare minimum, let’s keep it clean,” Mundy said. “Can you imagine if you went out to Yellowstone or the Blue Ridge Mountains and there was junk lying around? No one would stand that. For some reason we’ve allowed that for years.” 

In recent years, the city Department of Environmental Protection has assumed responsibility for abandoned boats on the shoreline. The DEP temporarily halted those efforts this winter due to coastal storms, but plans to restart the cleanup process in April, said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza at an unrelated City Council hearing earlier this month. 

Constantinides said his bill will bolster the DEP’s efforts by ensuring there is permanent funding for debris removal. The measure will be introduced on Thursday at the City Council’s stated meeting and is co-sponsored by Council Member Eric Ulrich, who represents Rockaway Beach and Breezy Point.

“There are a lot of derelict boats or boats that wash up on our local shorelines,” Sapienza said.

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Bill to Protect Menhadden

Great job Senator Addabbo

ADDABBO CO-SPONSORED BILL PASSES SENATE PROHIBITING TAKING OF MENHADEN

Queens, NY (February 11, 2019): The NYS Senate passed S.2317, co-sponsored by Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. which prohibits taking a species of fish known as the Atlantic Menhaden from district waters using a purse seine.

“Last year when the bill failed to reach the Senate floor for a vote, I pledged to support the bill’s passage in 2019, ensuring that local fishermen and wildlife would not be negatively impacted by overfishing. The passage of S.2317/A.2571 by both houses is great news for coastal areas within the district,” Addabbo said.

Seine fishing involves using a large fishing net, called a seine, cast off the side of large commercial fishing boats to collect fish. Menhadan fish are popular for seine fishing because they are used for fishmeal and fish-oil based products and local anglers use them as bait to catch larger fish that they can eat or sell. They are also a major food source for whales, dolphins and other large marine life.

Under current laws, any fishing vessel that purchases a permit can legally use these purse seines to capture large amounts of these vital fish species. “Atlantic Menhaden have fallen victim to overfishing in the waters of the Rockaways”, Addabbo said. “We have seen a strong comeback of Menhaden in the waters off the Rockaways and Broad Channel in recent years thanks to the efforts of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the passage of this vital legislation will only continue that progress.”

Dan Mundy, Jr. of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers stated, “The Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers commend Senator Addabbo for his leadership on this bill to protect this critical Marine Resource. Menhaden are the single most important fish species and are the main food source for so many other species including Whales, dolphins, seals, striped bass, blue fish, weak fish and many others. They are considered the most important baseline food source for the entire ocean food chain. This bill is critical to stop large corporations from entering our waters with their massive vacuum ships that literally wipe out entire schools of these fish in single takes. We need to ensure that this species is protected from this type of harmful practice and that our waters remain a home for the whales and dolphins for future generations to enjoy.”

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Jamaica Bay Gets the Seal of Approval -(Rockaway Times)

Jamaica Bay Gets the Seal of Approval

BY KATIE MCFADDEN 04 JANUARY 2019

NEWS


Seals have always drawn attention when they’ve hauled out onto the beach over the past few winters, but it seems they’ve found a new hot spot this season—Jamaica Bay.

On Sunday, December 30, Dan Mundy, Jr. of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers, was out on a boat, exploring the bay, when he came across a rare sight—a pair of adorable harbor seals hauled out on Yellow Bar wetlands island, just west of Broad Channel.

Seals aren’t exactly uncommon in local waters. Over the past few winters, a few have been seen hauling themselves out onto the beach to relax. They’re so common now that American Princess Cruises has operated a seal watching tour in the winter for several years. The tour usually heads to Swinburne Island near Staten Island, where dozens of seals can be seen sunbathing on the rocks or swimming around nearby. However, spotting them in Jamaica Bay itself is more of a rarity and according to Mundy, it’s a great sign for the bay.

“This is a great thing going on in the bay. The seals are probably chasing herring here this time of year. It’s definitely a good sign for the bay,” Mundy said, who spotted the seals midday on Sunday. “I spotted them on Yellow Bar Island, which the Army Corps of Engineers restored a big portion of about 10 years ago. That island is doing very well now. Sometimes we’ll run into birds worth noting like snowy owls, and now we’re seeing more seals. Seeing seals around here used to be very rare, but over the last 10 years or so, we’ve started to see them more often. You’re not going to see them every time, but it’s more on a regular basis now that you’ll see them throughout the whole bay, from the tip of Breezy Point on in,” he said.

Mundy says a big contributing factor to seeing more seals is the unique depths of Jamaica Bay. “Jamaica Bay isn’t like the Long Island Sound with shallow waters. We have some areas that are 60 feet deep and these areas support this massive amount of bio-life like herring and large mammals that come into the area like seals. This is a great indicator for the bay and the health of the water, but it’s also possible because of the deep areas,” Mundy said.

However Mundy added that there has been an ongoing battle to keep it that way as various government agencies and scientists have frequently proposed filling in the deep portions. “We’re trying to make scientists and agencies more aware of the critical importance of the deep areas of the bay. These deep areas were dug out by man, but our local organizations and fishermen that have a pulse on the area realize that it was a great thing. If the whole bay was 10-feet deep, you’d never have the amount of fish or marine mammals that we have here,” Mundy said. “There’s a lack of understanding when it comes to agencies and scientists. Sometimes they’ll suggest that it be refilled, which is horrifying to us. Some scientists mean well and some agencies listen, but some love the idea of making the bay more shallow, which would be a very bad idea. Seeing those seals on Sunday just highlights how well the bay is doing because the water is deep enough for those mammals to come and feed and relax here. It really is a great sign.”

Photos by Dan Mundy, Jr.

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Ecowatchers support NYC DEP long term control plan

“The Jamaica Bay Ecowatcher’s fully sup ort DEP’s Jamaica Bay Improvement Plan and commend them for their outreach to local environmental groups in crafting this proposal,” said Dan Mundy, Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers. “The numerous nature based features incorporated in this plan, including wetlands and ribbed mussels, recognize the critical role these habitats play in naturally cleaning and filtering the waters of the bay. In addition, they host numerous species of fish, reptiles and birds and ultimately have a tremendous positive combined ecological effect on the entire bay. After years of advocating for the bay, it is very encouraging to see the numerous environmental projects “turning the tide” on the health of the bay and producing water quality and restored habitat that guarantees a thriving Jamaica Bay for future generations.”

http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/press_releases/18-065pr.shtml#.XBxTqi2ZOu4

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Research Vessel for School Children to Study Jamaica Bay

Ecowatchers advocate for SRIJB research vessel that could be used to allow NYC School Children to learn about Jamaica Bay. Would be great way to allow school kids to learn about the environment of Jamaica Bay

WAVE article on recent Meeting with Elected officials and SRIJB director Adam Parish to discuss and plan learning initiative for next spring

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