Aquaculture development approval at Money Island NJ
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Why Save Money Island?
Sea level rise will force tough public policy decisions in the years ahead about which of New Jersey’s working waterfronts to keep, and which to abandon. The decision to support Money Island NJ as a valuable multi-use aquaculture resource for the businesses and residents of New Jersey should be one of the easier public policy decisions for our state’s officials. This list summarizes just ten of the reasons why.
1) Southern New Jersey’s Second Most Productive Seafood Landing Port – estimated $26 million average value of annual landings of oysters, crabs, scallops, conch, eel, medical use horseshoe crab, perch, and bait fish multiplied economic impact throughout the regional economy. We host about 20 commercial fishing and aquaculture businesses provide dozens of local jobs. Most of the 200,000 bushels of oysters harvested in the Delaware Bay are landed in Money Island and trucked to destinations including New York, Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
2) Ideal Conditions for Aquaculture Development – the environmental and geographical conditions are ideal for a range of aquaculture uses like oyster hatchery, barge-based nursery and soft shell crab shedding. Three of the region’s largest oyster companies indicate preference for this location over other Delaware Bay locations. Water flow and nutrient supply are perfect for planned aquaculture. Separate new facilities for soft shell crab production are already built but sitting idle while waiting for a state harvesting license. Private investment is already committed, management and infrastructure is already in place and new aquaculture is ready to launch as soon as state permits are issued. Delaware Bay aquaculture is poised for explosive growth in the next decade just as the industry has already grown more than tenfold in the Chesapeake and other east coast estuaries.
3) Financially Ready to Move Forward – Existing revenues and pledged new capital investment from private sources are sufficient to meet the financial requirements for planned public/private infrastructure projects as well as innovative programs like oyster shell recycling. Unlike other communities, we don’t have to beg for public funding to continue to grow.
4) Engagement of the Scientific Community – A wide range of researchers use Money Island for fish sampling, living shoreline stabilization, wave energy, oyster reef restoration, and water quality monitoring. Researchers from Rutgers, Rowan, Stockton and even Penn State conduct research here. We appreciate that the scientific community brings more visitors, value and educational significance to this tiny working waterfront community. We value the opportunity to work together to address the issues related to climate change and sea level rise.
5) Key Infrastructure Spending is Complete – the post-Sandy upgrade of the private water and electric supply systems and completion of a 440 foot public bulkhead project in 2016 means that we are well underway toward long term sustainability. With well over a million dollars in focused infrastructure spending since Sandy, MI serves as a model of public/private cooperation. New design plans for wastewater handling are complete and submitted, now waiting for state permitting approval to begin construction.
6) Public Access to the Water and Support Services – MI is one of the area’s only 24/7/365 boat ramps with emergency fuel available for local and government vessels. Ideally situated midway between the C&D Canal and Cape May, Money Island is also increasingly popular stopover destination for transient boaters on the inter-coastal waterway crossing from the Chesapeake to Delaware Bay.
7) Dedicated and Experienced Management – industry leaders in the marine trades work cooperatively at Money Island with environmental and government leaders. This community is small enough to avoid the “NIMBY” and other public policy conflicts that often face leadership in larger communities.
8) Government Support – the elected officials at the local, county, state and federal level are actively working to support common goals of balancing economic growth, sustainability and environmental compliance. Strong bold leadership from our mayor Bob Campbell, State Senator VanDrew, Assemblymen, Cumberland County freeholders, US Representative LoBiondo, Senators Booker and Menendzez and many others have been invaluable in our post-Sandy recovery.
9) Recreational Treasure – a haven for recreational fishermen, bird watchers, painters, New recreational uses like “sea glass hunting” and crab flipping bring additional visitors in recent years to enjoy the unparalleled natural beauty of our thousands of acres of open space, sandy beach and pristine waterways on the bayshore.
10) “Sea Level Rise Ready” – Money Island can serve as a laboratory and a model for sustainability response in the coming era of sea level rise. We have issues yet to resolve but we are much better prepared than most communities to tackle the unprecedented environmental challenges ahead.
The decisions that New Jersey government makes in the months ahead to approve or deny permit and license applications and to fund or deny proposed projects will determine the future of this working waterfront community. We hope that you will join us in voicing stong public support for a sustainable future for Money Island New Jersey.
The author is Tony Novak, President of Baysave, an aquaculture business that works with commercial fishermen, growers, environmental groups and government officials to assure growth and sustainability for the emerging aquaculture industry on the Delaware Bay. He can be reached at 856-723-0294 or email@example.com.
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