State resumes education, compliance “sweeps” in Barnegat Bay

     The Barnegat Bay's Sedge Island Conservation Area in 2012. (Photo: Jennifer Marie Antoinette)

    The Barnegat Bay's Sedge Island Conservation Area in 2012. (Photo: Jennifer Marie Antoinette)

    In an effort to create awareness of greener and safer boating practices, authorities are resuming education and compliance sweeps in the Barnegat Bay this summer, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced.

    Beginning in 2012, the sweeps educate mariners on low-impact boating measures that can positively impact the bay’s health. 

    “The goal of these sweeps is to educate Barnegat Bay boaters on how they can better protect this precious natural resource,’’ Commissioner Martin said. “Our enforcement staff will employ these sweeps to remind boaters and watercraft enthusiasts of important guidelines they should follow that will help protect the environmental integrity of the bay, while not interfering with their enjoyment of the bay.”

    Division of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Officers and State Park Police are working with local police on the initiative, including officers from Seaside Park, Barnegat, Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Surf City, Stafford, Toms River, and Lavallette.

    The various agencies will patrol the bay and distribute green boating literature during informal stops, including maps showing the 16 most ecologically sensitive areas of the 660-square-mile watershed. These are areas that officials view as deserving of special care.

    The sweeps may also result in citations for violation of boater laws and egregious natural resource violations. 

    “It’s important that people who enjoy Barnegat Bay are aware of how they can minimize water craft impacts to benefit the bay in the short-term and in the long-term,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Law Enforcement Chief Mark Chicketano. “Offenders of existing navigational and maritime law, including speed in no-wake zones or driving while intoxicated, will be penalized.”

    The program is a component of Governor Christie’s Action Plan for the Barnegat Bay.

    The state offers the following tips for clean and green boating in the Barnegat Bay:

    Stay out of restricted areas set aside for wildlife. Do not harass nesting birds and other animals.
    Buoy mooring chains and lines to prevent them from scraping on the bay bottom and harming submerged aquatic vegetation and animals.
    Use pump-out boats and facilities. Do not discharge wastewater holding tanks into open water.
    Maintain 100-foot distance (about the length of six cars) from natural shorelines, bay islands, sensitive ecological areas, and use marked navigational channels for travel.
    Minimize wakes in all shallow areas to help reduce erosion and harm to aquatic plants and animals.
    Appreciate wildlife from a distance.
    Help reduce air pollution by cutting the engine and not idling in open water.
    Keep trash, recyclables, hooks and lures in secure containers and dispose of them properly on land.
    Recycle used monofilament fishing lines instead of throwing them away.
    Avoid giving invasive aquatic plants and animals a ride. Thoroughly clean boats, personal watercraft and equipment when transferring them from one water body to another.

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