Fisheries Management & Legislative Report
by Tom Fote
(from Jersey Coast Anglers Association November 2012 Newsletter)
It is amazing how an intended insult can just make your day. Recently someone thought they could insult JCAA and me by labeling me a “rabid environmentalist.” Little did they know how thrilled we all were that someone would recognize all the hard work we have done to protect the environment. When I first got involved in JCAA, I was proud of the work that had already been done to protect the environment with an emphasis on clean water. JCAA had already taken on the battle against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York City, the Army Corp of Engineers, the Longshoremen’s Union and the Steamship Operators Union. JCAA’s battle was “Cease Ocean Dumping.” This included sewer sludge, pilings from New York Harbor, toxic waste from Dupont into the offshore dumping sites and Agent Orange contaminated dredge materials from Newark Bay. At the time, there were many JCAA members who were Vietnam veterans who had a special interest in the Agent Orange issue. We knew veterans with cancer and whose children had birth defects. The evidence was pointing to Agent Orange as a serious problem both in the Vietnamese population and the Vietnam veterans. It made these battles personal. Because of coalitions formed with groups like Clean Ocean Action and American Littoral Society, none of those materials are legally dumped in the ocean today. We were tackling the giants and we won.
Today, JCAA is working getting endocrine disruptors out of our sewage discharge that has a negative impact on the reproduction of fish. We are working to decrease the mercury contamination in our rivers, lakes and streams. We are also working with our legislators to fight back the attempts to have oil drilling off the Jersey coast.
A long time ago JCAA and its members recognized that a clean and plentiful water supply was essential both for us and for the fish stocks. We made a commitment to the ongoing fight to keep contaminants from our lakes, streams, estuaries and the ocean. We are also working to make sure we are not exhausting our water supplies.
We realized that we could not accomplish protecting the environment by ourselves so we have reached out to numerous environmental groups with whom we share a common interest in protecting the environment. There are issues about which we do not agree but we are all willing to see the bigger picture and fight for the bigger cause. Without a clean environment and clean water, we won’t have fish to fight over or fish that are safe to eat. It is inconceivable that any recreational angler or group would not understand that the environmental battles are the most important. The future generation depends on us.
If that makes JCAA and me “rabid environmentalists” it is a badge we will wear with honor.
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