U.S. Representatives Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02) and Chris Smith (NJ-04) today strongly condemned the decision by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to grant the necessary authorization to allow a proposed seismic testing survey off of Barnegat Bay and the Jersey Shore to go forward.
"I'm deeply disappointed with NOAA's decision to allow seismic testing off of the Jersey Shore despite near-unanimous opposition from local concerned residents, commercial and recreational fishermen, and environmentalists for the proposed project," said Representative LoBiondo. "Congressman Smith and I have repeatedly pressed NOAA to recognize the serious and significant reservations of our communities and those who visit the Jersey Shore during the summer tourism season. There are legitimate questions unanswered about the impact to local marine life, the potential damage to endangered species and habitats, and the need to do such research at this time in the first place."
"It is unacceptable that the National Science Foundation and NOAA have chosen to proceed with the seismic study off the New Jersey coast. The citizens of the Fourth Congressional District--which includes coastal towns in Monmouth and Ocean Counties--as well as numerous local, state and national fishing and environmental groups, have voiced disapproval with the timing of this study. With a wide variety of marine life active off our shores at the peak of summer and New Jersey's fishing industry still recovering from natural disasters, Congressman LoBiondo and I echo the concerns of local residents: this is an ill-advised move," said Representative Smith.
Under the NOAA authorization, Rutgers University in collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF) would conduct a seismic survey 25-85 kilometers offshore New Jersey from June through August 2014 aboard a vessel owned by NSF. LoBiondo and Smith opposed the survey, arguing in a letter to NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan in April 2014 that "The New Jersey shore's environmental and commercial vitality may be impacted negatively from this marine seismic survey. While we fully support scientific research, any proposal for this kind of research must be scrutinized and examined thoroughly before New Jersey communities are exposed to the potentially harmful impacts of this seismic testing."
The Congressmen succeeded in having NOAA extend the public comment period for an additional 30 days so local opposition could be heard. The comment period ended on May 16, 2014. LoBiondo will be attending a town meeting hosted by Clean Ocean Action and other concerned citizens in Barnegat Light on Wednesday evening.