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NJ: Shark River shellfish beds pose health danger

, @DanielRadelAPP5:04 p.m. EDT November 3, 2016

NEPTUNE – Acres of shellfish beds in Shark River have been suspended from harvest after high levels of fecal coliform have been detected, state officials have announced.

The shellfish are not safe for human consumption because of the bacteria level.

RELATED: What’s contaminating the Navesink?

The beds however, were already classified as restricted, which meant that no harvest of shellfish could occur without post-harvest processing such as depuration.

There are currently no commercial or recreational harvesters of shellfish on the river.

New data indicated that the waters no longer met the restricted classification and were downgraded to prohibited, said Larry Hajna, spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection

The suspension affects 266 acres total: 122 acres in the northern section of the river, and 144 acres in the western section of the river.

The state Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring samples and analyzes water from shellfish growing areas throughout the state for fecal coliform levels.

Ten water stations near the the beds were found to have high levels of the fecal coliform.

According to the Centers For Desease Control and Prevention, coliforms are a group of bacteria found in plant material, water, and soil. They are also present in the digestive tracts and feces of humans and animals.

Hajna said the cause is most likely rain and stormwater runoff that carry pollutants from roads, lawns and sidewalks that may include pet waste, wildlife waste, and agriculture waste.

The beds will remain closed indefinitely while the bureau said it will continue to monitor levels of fecal coliform.

The bureau will perform targeted sampling during storm events to identify potential sources of pollution, and work with the local municipalities to take actions or corrective measures to improve the bacterial water quality.

MORE: Shark River dredging saved from TTF shutdown

Dan Radel: 732-643-4072; dradel@gannettnj.com


You can link directly to the story on AP from here.


Due to high levels of fecal coliform, as of November 1, 2016, The NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has temporarily suspended the harvesting of shellfish in the Shark River, downgrading the classification from “restricted.” A restricted classification permits harvesting only if harvested shellfish are de-purified. If the 10 monitoring stations in the River continue to register high levels of bacteria in the water, the suspension will be incorporated into the next adoption of N.J.A.C. 7:12, making these waters permanently “prohibited” for shellfish harvesting.

The suspension affects 266 acres total: 122 acres in the northern section of the river, and 144 acres in the western section of the river. According to SRCC president James MacNamara, “this should set off alarm bells to all those who use the Shark River for commercial and recreational purposes. Would you want to swim or fish in a river that has been designated by the DEP as so polluted that harvesting shellfish is prohibited?” The SRCC has consistently called for measures to improve the water quality, including the current dredging project, which is really only the first step in restoring the health of the Shark River, according to Dredging Director John Dempsey. Dempsey states, “While the current dredging project will provide some flush and allow boats to move through the channels, the NJ DEP and other government officials have acknowledged the current level of dredging will not do much to improve the overall quality of the water. Other areas of the Shark River need to be done!!”

Independent water monitoring done by the SRCC continues to show high bacteria counts in the area of Memorial Park, even during times of no rainfall. SRCC efforts to have visible warning signs placed along Neptune City and Shark River Hills riverfronts, and visible signs posted at Belmar Marina by the pump out station requiring boats to pump out their sewage there have been largely ignored. A sewer pipe in Neptune City has been leaking sewage into the area by Memorial Park for years. L Street Beach in Belmar has suffered several closures after heavy rainfall. Recently, hotspots have been detected in areas by the Shark River Beach and Yacht club as well. In Wall, elected officials have stonewalled the dredging project since 2005 by refusing to offer a temporary drying site. MacNamara states “It is time to inform the public of the hazards associated with the Shark River and take corrective action.”

In Belmar, a new marina restaurant is under construction; in Neptune a brand new Marina has been built, in Neptune City a brand new boardwalk faces the river. These will enhance tourism, but only if the river is clean and safe. The cart has been put before the horse. The priority now should be to make certain the health of our river is restored so that marine and wildlife do not suffer, and people do not get sick from fishing in, swimming, kayaking, or paddleboarding in the Shark River. Bacterial levels indicate a serious human health hazard to all in numerous ways.

Local officials in Neptune, Neptune City, Belmar, Avon and Wall must work together to fix the health hazards in the Shark River and take action to improve the bacterial water quality of our rapidly deteriorating resource, the Shark River. It is time to resurrect the Shark River Roundtable and commission a scientific study to find the source contributing to the high fecal coliform counts, and prioritize actions that need to be taken to stop the water quality degradation.

SRCC Secretary Arlene Sciarappa states “While as a non-profit, 501(C)3 organization the SRCC does not endorse particular politicians, we do urge you to contact your local municipal and county officials and press them to make cleaning up the Shark River a priority. It is deplorable to let this beautiful river literally go to waste.”

PHONE: 732-988-SRCC

E-MAIL: sharkrivercleanupcoalition@hotmail.com


Neptune City, NJ – Despite the predicted forecast of rain, over 80 people volunteered at the biannual Shark River cleanup held at Memorial Park on Saturday, October 1, according to Shark River Cleanup Coalition event organizer Arlene Sciarappa of Neptune City. Teams of volunteers headed out to various sites around the Shark River in Neptune City, Neptune, and Wall Township.

Approximately 50 students from Rutgers University arrived by bus to assist in the cleanup as part of their Scarlet Day of Service. “It was so great to see so many young people come out on such a dreary Saturday to take part in the cleanup effort, said Shark River Cleanup Coalition President, Jim McNamara, of Neptune Township.

The coalition began holding two annual cleanups, one in the fall and one in the spring, in 2001. The amount of trash collected, which includes plastic, tires, cigarette butts and driftwood, remains consistent, he said. The cleanup netted over 75 bags of litter, in addition to piles of wood, metal, and plastic.

In addition to the Rutgers volunteers, over 30 residents from Neptune Township, Wall, Neptune City, and other surrounding towns came out to help. Neptune Township supplied the group with trash bags, vests, gloves, and pickers, and provided a dumpster as part of their Clean Communities funding. Neptune City Public Works donated gloves, and Wall Township assisted with the trash collection as well.
Coalition board member John Dempsey, Ocean Township, said the coalition has more than 500 members and business sponsors. Dempsey said that in addition to keeping the shoreline free of litter, we need to continue to work toward preserving the Shark River, and restoring it through much needed dredging.

Speaking to volunteers Saturday afternoon, Monmouth County Freehold Tom Arnone discussed the current dredging project, and efforts to ramp up the amount of material that still needed to be dredged. He stated that a clarifier will be arriving next week that should double the amount of output each day from 750 cubic yards to 1500 cubic yards. Although the project was scheduled to begin July 1, startup was delayed until September 6, or over 2 months. ” I have been committed to protecting the Shark River from the time I was Mayor of Neptune City. We all share this beautiful natural resource, and I’m sure all of the surrounding towns will benefit from what you do today,” he said.
Dr. Bill Sciarappa, SRCC technical advisor and John Brennan, Esq., SRCC legal consultant, seized the opportunity to educate the Rutgers students, many of them who had never been to the Jersey shore, of the importance of protecting our watershed, and enforcing stormwater regulations.

Volunteers are welcome to help and can contact (732) 988-SRCC (7722) for more information. Visit their facebook page, Save Shark River, or website, www.sharkriver.org. The SRCC is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization that works to protect the Shark River Watershed through water monitoring, river cleanups, advocacy, educational outreach, and community events.

PHONE: 732-988-SRCC (7722) For Immediate Release

E-MAIL: sharkrivercleanupcoalition@hotmail.com October 4, 2016

E. Coli Poop-ulates Shark River Waters

In 2014, The Natural Resources Defense Council rated New Jersey third worst out of 30 states for beach-water quality, based on water testing last year. The group reported that 3 percent of water samples from New Jersey exceeded national Beach Action “value” for designated swimming areas in 2013. That value is defined as 60 enterococcus bacteria colony forming units per 100 milliliters of marine water.

The Shark River Beach and Yacht Club beach, located on South Riverside Drive in Shark River Hills, across the river from Belmar, was ranked as the second most polluted beach in the state. A total of 20 percent of 20 water samples taken in 2012 tested high for bacteria; any rainfall in excess of 1 inch causes the beach to be closed. This small beach is along the Shark River, across from Belmar.

Additionally, Memorial Park Beach in Neptune City has been closed for over 25 years due to high bacteria counts and the L Street Beach in Belmar is closed when it rains more than .1 of an inch, due to high bacteria counts. Both of these beaches border the Shark River. That makes three beaches in different spots along Shark River with readings above accepted levels. That should raise some questions!!

The primary pollutants in the Shark River are E. coli bacteria, sediment particles, and fertilizer. In the case of swimmers, the DEP estimates on the current bacterial exceedance for human health standards is that a minimum of 37 out of 1000 people exposed to these waters will get an eye, ear, throat, nose or other infections caused by staph and strep pathogens as well as a chance of hepatitis and viral diseases. Also, due to excessive pollutants, the water is condemned for harvesting shellfish from the Shark River inlet unless a special permit from the State Department of Environmental Protection is granted for purification of the shellfish.

Would you want to swim,fish, or crab in it?

Among the potential health effects of swimming in polluted water are stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, respiratory infections, meningitis and hepatitis. Stormwater runoff and sewage overflows are most often the cause of bacterial contamination of water. This can be the result of overdevelopment and too much impervious surface, as well as faulty outfall pipes.
Neptune City is working on a plan to remediate the area near Memorial Park beach, where a large outfall pipe is located. With a newly constructed boardwalk, and sand replenishment along the beachfront area, it would be wonderful to restore this beach to be open for swimmers again. Despite the obvious health concerns, visitors who are not aware of the potential pollutants in the water regularly enter the waters at Memorial Park, exposing themselves to the above health hazards.

Since water monitoring no longer takes place at SRBYC, we cannot say with any certainty what level of e. coli exists at any given time. However with increased sedimentation since Sandy, and no dredging occurring as of now to remediate some of the pollutants, those who frequent the river should exercise caution, especially when submerging below the ears, nose, and throat.
The Navesink River is experiencing an exceedance of e.coli in its waterway. Boat owners and homeowners there have banded together to call for an action plan after a report by Clean Ocean Action raised awareness. We need to keep the ‘poop” out of our river too!

For further information on water monitoring practices, closings, and advisories, click on the following link:

For information on the Navesink River Pollution article(s) click here:


Shark River dredging saved from TTF shutdown

The Shark River dredging project that was stalled by the gas tax impasse will resume “any day” now after state officials realized they risked losing an undisclosed amount of federal funding for the work, a Monmouth County freeholder said.

Announcement on restart of Shark River dredging project canceled without explanation

Monmouth County officials abruptly canceled the news conference where a plan to restart the stalled Shark River dredging project Monmouth County officials would be announced. 

Dredgefest a Success!

Thanks to all who attended or supported the SRCC 15th Anniversary Celebration and Dredgefest Kick-off on June 30, 2016. Over 400 members and other local people with both ecological and financial interests that will benefit from an improvement to this impaired waterway attended the event to support our mission and goals.

At the event, Senator Jennifer Beck presented the SRCC with a joint legislative resolution from the State Senate and Assembly, recognizing the SRCC for 15 year anniversary and its accomplishments, especially in regard to its “tireless efforts that have contributed immeasurably to the development and implementation of a dredging plan for the Shark River” and “its worthwhile mission of enhancing the water quality of the Shark River Estuary and its fresh water tributaries.”

The SRCC presented a 2016 “Friend of Shark River” environmental leadership award to Brian Hegarty, founder of the Shark River Cleanup Coalition. Brian led the successful campaign to have the Shark River Brook and its tributaries designated as a Category One stream, and called for the wide scale dredging of the Shark River, as first proposed in 2005. Without his leadership, the SRCC would not be in existence today.

The SRCC presented a 2016 SRCC “Friend of Shark River” environmental champion award to Thomas Arnone, Monmouth County Freeholder Director, in recognition of his 15 years of dedication and commitment to protecting the Shark River. As mayor of Neptune City, and later as Monmouth County freeholder, Tom continued to seek ways to bring about the dredging of the Shark River, which is scheduled to start shortly.

The SRCC presented a 2016 “Friend of Shark River” environmental service award to Randy Bishop, Neptune Township councilman, for his continued efforts to protect and preserve the Shark River estuary, including his persistence in finding ways to the dredge the Shark River.

The SRCC presented a 2016 “Friend of Shark River” environmental achievement award to Jennifer Beck, NJ State Senator for New Jersey’s 11th Legislative District, for her success in securing the funding through the Transportation Trust Fund for the current dredging project, the first dredging of Shark River in 40 years.

This event raised over $10,000 to support our continued efforts to ensure a cleaner Shark River. Such programs include community outreach, cleanups, outdoor programs, water monitoring, horseshoe crab survey, advocacy, and litigation.

Friends of Belmar Harbor Sail-abration

Friday, June 17th, 2016….Maclearie Park at L Street Beach, Belmar NJ….4:00pm to dusk, Click for more information

Dredgefest 2016 Information

Dredgefest 2016 flyer and info. 


For ticket information and purchasing click here. 


Beach Sweeps – Shark River Cleanup – April 30th

Join the SRCC in a cleanup of the Shark River on Saturday, April 30th!


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