Dredging Issues Moving Closer to Resolution
TRENTON, NJ—After nearly two years of meetings with experts in the fishing industry, environmental scientists and engineers, elected officials and business owners along the four coastal counties, and two public dredging forums and a collection of White Papers prepared by the Dredging Working Group, their efforts took a step forward on January 30, when Senate Bill No. 2369, passed from the Senate Subcommittee.
Tackling the issue with science based research and support of a wide range of industry professionals, Cape May County Freeholder E. Marie Hayes and Thomas Thornton, PE, from Hatch Mott MacDonald testified in support of this bill. The Bill was passed and is heading to the Senate for a full vote.
The bi-partisan Bill was sponsored by: Senator Jim Whalen, District 2 (Atlantic); Senator Jeff Van Drew, District 1 (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland); and, Senator Christopher J. Connors, District 9 (Atlantic, Burlington and Ocean). The Bill Limits application of DEP shellfish habitat rules for certain dredging activities.
As reported by the Senate Environment and Energy Committee on January 30, 2017, the Bill passed on the second reading with amendments. The synopsis of the bill, listed it as "An Act concerning the application of shellfish habitat rules to certain dredging activities, and supplementing Title 12 of the Revised Statutes".
According to Freeholder, E. Marie Hayes, "The reason the working group was formed is to make sense of some of the inconsistencies and remedy some of the red tape and impacts to dredging of navigable waterways in New Jersey.’’
Hayes, a former marina owner, added, "Dredging is critical to our $6 billion tourism industry, we need to protect our environment and at the same time ensure the survival of our fishing and boating industry. The impacts of non-navigational waterways go beyond marinas and related retail businesses, we are seeing the effect on property values as well."
Hayes and members of the Dredging Working Group will be meeting with members of the DEP in March to discuss working further on items of importance.