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Protecting the Peace ... the Fish ...

Creating ocean parks allows battered and bruised fish and other marine species to rest, recover and reproduce in a few short years, according to a new scientific report.

And New Jersey is going to be the first state to provide a marine conservation zone for fish and fowl.

The Tidelands Resource Council has designated the Sedge Islands of Barnegat Bay as the first marine conservation zone. "The idea of marine zoning protects sensitive areas and bird-nesting sites ... while still accommodating everyone's recreational demands in the bay," says Bob Shinn, Department of Environmental Protection commissioner.

Senators Leonard Connors, Andrew Ciesla and Robert Singer, and Assemblymen Jeffrey Moran and Christopher Connors supported the marine zoning.

Bill Vibbert, the superintendent of Island Beach State Park, points out that zoning has been used to protect natural resources, but usually is applied on land, not at sea.

"Marine zoning is useful for the protection of nesting bird colonies, endangered species such as osprey and peregrine falcon, and preserving historic uses of Barnegat Bay because much threatened and endangered wildlife in the Sedge Islands depends on the estuary for survival," he says.

Conservation zoning will allow the state to manage both land and water as one working unit, protecting natural resources.

Marine conservation zones have been used successfully at Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the Cayman Islands, federal marine life conservation districts in Hawaii, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration manages 13 national marine sanctuaries through the zoning approach.

The ocean park creates a zone in the shallow waters surrounding the Sedge Islands and the bay's shoreline that will be marked with buoys, land markers and signs; Jet Skis will not be allowed in this zone nor in the low marshes.

New Jersey's action follows a scientific report, presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting that called for a worldwide network of marine parks. These no-fishing zones would help replenish depleted stocks of fish and other marine species. Creating marine sanctuaries often leads to a revival of commercial fishing in areas where fish had been scarce, according to the study.
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Publication:State Legislatures
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2001
Words:355
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