DEP REMINDS BOATERS TO THINK GREEN AND BE CAUTIOUS WHEN BOATING IN ECOLOGICALLY SENSITIVE AREAS IN BARNEGAT BAY
ONLINE, INTERACTIVE MAP DETAILS KEY AREAS
(14/P51) TRENTON – As we approach the summer boating and tourism season, the Department of Environmental Protection is asking boaters to help our environment by using caution in ecologically sensitive areas while having fun boating on Barnegat Bay, and also using similar restraint when boating in other important ecological areas throughout the state.
One key facet of Governor Christie’s Comprehensive Barnegat Bay Restoration plan calls for reducing impacts of boats and personal watercraft on the Bay’s sensitive ecosystems, including wetlands, aquatic vegetation, shellfish beds and fish habitats.
“The DEP identified these unique areas so that users of the estuary can minimize their impact on the plants and animals that reside there,’’ said Commissioner Bob Martin. “Barnegat Bay is an environmental treasure that offers great recreational opportunities but also is a sensitive estuarine system that contains important natural resources. We ask for your help in protecting these resources.’’
An online interactive map for boaters is available, which can be accessed on mobile devices and computers, so that boaters can easily learn the locations of these 16 designated ecologically sensitive areas. Users also can find helpful services such as the locations of marinas, sewage pump-out facilities, bait-and-tackle shops, launches and ramps, restrooms, and places to dispose trash.
To view the map, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/plan-watercraft-map.htm
The green boating effort is being done cooperatively with the boating and fishing industries in New Jersey, which are vital to the economic and recreational needs of the state.
“Recreational marine businesses, especially marinas, depend heavily on clean water and a healthy boating environment,’’ said Melissa Danko, Executive Director of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey. “As an industry, we work hard every day to preserve our natural resources and encourage boaters to do their part when out on the water and to be aware of their actions and impacts at all times. By working together, we will be able help protect our natural resources not only for this generation but for generations to come.’’
Barnegat Bay's 75-square-mile, environmentally sensitive estuarine system is home to plants, fish and other wildlife that populate unique and ecologically sensitive areas in the Bay. These areas have submerged aquatic vegetation which acts as nursery grounds for fish and wildlife Motor boat propellers and turbulence caused by boat wakes can disturb and harm these special areas.
To highlight the importance of green boater practices and to educate the public on ecologically sensitive areas, compliance sweeps, boater use surveys and education efforts have been conducted on Barnegat Bay.
Continuing green boater outreach efforts will include additional distribution of green boater posters to marinas and public access areas along Barnegat Bay. Research by Rutgers University also will be initiated to evaluate the importance of environmentally sensitive areas to the estuary.
Boaters can help protect Barnegat Bay, while having fun, by doing the following:
- Stay out of restricted areas set aside for wildlife.
- Do not harass nesting birds and other animals
- Maintain a 100-foot distance from natural shorelines
- Minimize wakes in all shallow areas to help reduce erosion and harm to aquatic plants and animals
- Buoy mooring chains and lines to prevent them from scraping on the Bay bottom and harming submerged aquatic vegetation
- Appreciate wildlife from a distance
For more tips on how to become a green boater and reduce your impact to Barnegat Bay and other state waters go to: www.nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/plan-watercraft.htm.
You can also reference the Clean Boating tip sheets for boaters through the Clean Marina Program: http://www.nj.gov/dep/njcleanmarina/boaters.htm
For more information on the Barnegat Bay Action Plan, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/barnegatbay/