NJDEP Officials to Attend Clean Ocean Action’s Virtual Rally for the Two Rivers Meeting
Public Invited to Attend, Ask & Submit Questions
Monmouth County, NJ – A virtual public forum will be held on Thursday, May 27, to discuss the large-scale fish die-off that occurred in recent months in the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers (known as the Two Rivers Area). Officials from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and Oceanport Mayor John “Jay” Coffey II will be participating in the bi-monthly Rally for the Two River meeting hosted by Clean Ocean Action (COA). Panelists will discuss what caused the die-off, public and environmental health risks, the removal of the fish, and future plans should the event occur again.
“Reluctantly, many of us witnessed with our eyes and noses the hundreds of thousands of dead Atlantic menhaden or ‘bunker’ that washed-up on shorelines and accumulated in floating masses in creeks and rivers,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. “We received many calls and photos from concerned citizens with questions including, ‘Is it safe to swim, kayak, fish or crab and eat them? What do we do with all these dead fish? This virtual meeting is an opportunity for people to hear the facts and get their questions answered,” she added.
The virtual public meeting will be held on Thursday, May 27 at 7 pm, via Zoom, and will be focused solely on the recent fish die-off event. Clean Ocean Action (COA) invites the public to attend to learn more about the fish die-off and to pose their unanswered questions directly to NJDEP officials during moderated Q&A segments. Pre-registration is required at www.CleanOceanAction.org; the link to join the Zoom webinar will only be sent to those who pre-register. Questions can be submitted at the time of registration. For more information, go to CleanOceanAction.org or 732-872-0111.
Brief Review of Fish Die-off & Response
In mid-April, the NJ Department Environmental Protection (NJDEP) confirmed that the ongoing menhaden fish die-off is due to a fish-specific vibrio bacterial infection, specifically Vibrio anguillarum. Infected fish exhibit symptoms such as multiple lesions, swimming in a spinning pattern, disorientation, and death. COA responded by actively pursuing answers and urging officials to take action, as well as collecting information, observations, and questions from concerned residents. According to officials, the die-off was happening throughout the northern NJ, NY, CT and RI, but seems most concentrated in the northern Monmouth County rivers, creeks, and bays since the beginning of 2021.
COA published a blog outlining the fish mortality event in early April and submitted a letter to the commissioners of the NJDEP and NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) reflecting the growing concerns of the community and calling for increased public information, a joint virtual public forum, as well as technologies to remove mats of dead fish. NJDEP responded immediately by assembling key program staff along with top level directors for a meeting. The important updates discussed at the meeting were published in a follow-up blog post, available at CleanOceanAction.org. NJDEP also promptly posted Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the die-offs on its website. COA urged NJDEP and NJDOH to host a virtual public information session to provide further information and an opportunity for municipal officials and residents to be updated. COA also urged federal, state and local officials to call for the forum and actions to remove dead fish.
In the past week, several municipalities took local action, hiring contractors to clean-up the dead fish piling-up on shores and still floating in local waterways.