President John Toth and I met at the NJ Geological & Water Survey office located in Ewing, NJ with representatives of the recreational and commercial fishing community, NJ Department of Environmental Protection, Army Corp of Engineers, the Bureau of Energy Management and NJ Fish and Wildlife. Present were William Dixon, DEP, Manager Bureau of Coastal Engineering; Keith Watson, Project Manager ACOE Philadelphia; Jim Lovgren and Scott Mackey, Garden State Seafood Assoc.; Jim, Donofrio, RFA (via conference call); Russ Allen and Peter Clarke, NJF&W (via conference call). Also in attendance were several engineers and biologists from the ACOE, DEP and BOEM.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss options to protect “prime fishing areas” and other marine habitat that are designated as areas from which sand will be dredged once the Manasquan Inlet to Barnegat Inlet Storm Reduction Project commences.
Bill Dixon and Keith Watson led a lengthy conversation of the complexities of the process to arrive at final approval of the project. It is lengthy (takes several years) and has to go through a complicated vetting process involving many governmental agencies and the public.
The DEP and ACOE are well aware of the fishing community concerns on habitat loss and are making an effort to work with us to lessen the amount of sand needed to be taken from lumps specifically the Enrock Lump, aka Borrow Area B, and Manasquan Ridge.
Borrow Area B, located inshore of the Axel Carlson Reef, sits in 60-65’ of water and has a 10’ profile. The original dredging plan was to take almost the entire lump consisting of 7.5 MM cu yds of sand. That plan has been modified to take a lesser amount, 5.0MM cu yds, and to still maintain a 10’ profile. This will be accomplished by dredging deeper around the base of the lump.
Using sand dredged from the inlets was discussed. In the past, NJF&W has objected to this in Manasquan Inlet on the basis of negatively impacting marine life and due to cost restraints. They have also objected to utilizing Little Egg Inlet since sand migrating northward could impact an existing “wilderness zone” and could impact endangered species. Lack of funding is another issue. Legislative action is needed fund this especially since “navigation” budgets are separate from “beach fill” monies. We offered to assist in working with our legislators. Inlet sand is currently being dumped at sea. It would be very beneficial if that sand could be used to replenish dunes and beaches.
Use of underwater groins to capture washed away sand for future dredging was suggested. The DEP has tried this in the past without good results. They also tried barrier reefs off Avalon and Cape May which also didn’t work. New technology is needed to recycle wash sand. Use of recycled crushed glass has been previously reviewed and rejected.
The DEP is considering expanding Borrow Area D off Seaside Park and test dredging surrounding flat areas to create lumps and trenches to create new habitat. They will also do additional borings to search for sand in the 60’ depth south of Seaside. Jim Lovgren will with them on this.
They will also evaluate reseeding borrow areas with clams and mussels as well as dumping shells on the dredged areas to help kick start bethnic growth.
Beth Brandreth, ACOE biologist, is studying the impact on finfish post dredging. She requested any info on historical catches on Borrow Area B to compare before and after populations. She stated it takes a 1 ˝ to 2 years for marine life to return.
Overall the meeting was very worthwhile as it sets the stage for us to work together and help each other on this very complex issue. Bill and Keith will keep us in the loop as the dredging project develops.