Water quality, overdevelopment, and continued replenishment of beaches top the list of concerns for respondents to a poll on Jersey shore issues.
New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium asked people who voted in its popular Top 10 beaches contest to list their No. 1 concern about the Jersey shore.
“Like everything else, New Jersey beachgoers have strong and definite opinions about the issues and topics that they feel are the biggest threats to New Jersey’s coastal future,” said Caroline McLaughlin, an official with the consortium. “The top ten issues, especially something like water quality, can have a wide range of negative impacts on the state’s economic, environmental and social resources.”
Tops on the list was the overall quality of water at the shore, cited by 30 percent of the nearly 6,000 respondents. Over-development at the shore was next.
Beach replenishment placed third, followed by public access to New Jersey’s beaches; beach and marine debris; protecting shorebirds and marine life; flooding; the health of Barnegat Bay; balancing coastal resources, and the quality of seafood caught in New Jersey.
A May study by Rutgers University found that New Jersey’s coastal waters are not as polluted as scientists had thought.
Marine scientists studying pollution-sensitive sea creatures on the ocean floor since 2007 found their numbers and types indicate healthier water conditions than expected. The study involved scooping small animals from 153 ocean floor sites along New Jersey’s 127-mile coastline from Sandy Hook to Cape May.
The scientists did not find that the waters were clean, but that they were cleaner than expected. The survey found 28 percent of the sites sampled in 2007 and 2009 were rated as unpolluted, based on the high percentage of pollution-sensitive animals living there. The remaining 72 percent were considered slightly polluted.
New Jersey is also grappling with issues such as how much development to allow near the shoreline, what steps need to be taken to improve the health of the fragile Barnegat Bay ecosystem, and rules governing where and when the public can access New Jersey’s 127 miles of beaches.
And the state Supreme Court is gearing up to hear a case involving whether private property owners must be compensated for lost ocean views that result from beach replenishment work, stemming from a dispute on Long Beach Island.