DEP Encourages ‘Green Boating’ to Help Protect Barnegat Bay

Jun 28, 2017

The state Department of Environmental Protection is asking those navigating Barnegat Bay to exercise vigilance to reduce the effects of boats and personal watercraft on this critical and fragile ecosystem. An online interactive map locates 16 designated ecologically sensitive zones around the bay. The maps also show the locations for marinas, sewage pump-out facilities, bait and tackle shops, launches and ramps, restrooms and places to dispose of trash.

To view the map, visit nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/plan-watercraft-map.htm.

“Environmentally sensitive ecosystems within the bay, such as wetlands, shellfish and fish habitats, and aquatic vegetation, are at risk of impacts that come from boating and using personal watercraft,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “For that reason, it is vital that we work with the boating community to continue to protect Barnegat Bay’s fragile health while promoting the numerous tourism and recreational opportunities the bay provides to its visitors.”

Barnegat Bay is 42 miles long and quite narrow, ranging from 1.2 miles to 3.7 miles in width. It is also shallow, with depths of only 4 to 5 feet in most places. “This makes the bay particularly sensitive to damage by boats and personal watercraft,” the DEP explained.

“The waters of the bay support plants, fish and other wildlife. Ecologically sensitive submerged aquatic vegetation provides fish and wildlife habitat. Motor boat propellers and turbulence caused by boat wakes can disturb and harm these important plants. Shellfish can also be disturbed by these craft.”

To help protect Barnegat Bay, the DEP encourages boaters to follow these “clean and green boating” guidelines:

• Appreciate wildlife from a distance: stay away from restricted areas set aside for wildlife, and do not harass nesting birds or other animals.

• Maintain a 100-foot distance from natural shorelines.

• Minimize wake by slowing down in all shallow areas to help reduce erosion and harm to aquatic animals and plants.

• Use buoys to moor chains and lines to prevent them from scraping the bay’s bottom and disturbing submerged aquatic vegetation.

• Reduce air pollution by not idling boats or personal watercraft 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 in the trash.

• Keep the boat engine leak-free and well-tuned in order to minimize the discharge of fuel and oil into the water.

Melissa Danko, executive director of the Marine Trades Association of New Jersey, said the state’s boating and fishing industries aim to keep the health of the bay in mind, and therefore promote environmentally friendly boating practices.

“As an industry, we work hard every day to preserve our natural resources and encourage boaters to be aware of their actions and impacts at all times and to do their part when out on the water,” Danko remarked. “Spending summers on the water and enjoying all that New Jersey’s waterways have to offer is a way of life for so many residents and visitors. That is why it is so important that we work together to protect these natural resources not only for this generation but for generations to come.”

To learn more about environmentally conscious boating, and reducing impact to Barnegat Bay and other state waterways, visit nj.gov/dep/barnegatbay/docs/BoaterESA.pdf. Clean boating tip sheets are available through the Clean Marina Program, online at nj.gov/dep/njcleanmarina/boaters.htm. —J.K.-H.

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