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By Linda Freilich/Coastal Waterways Chair

New York is bordered by 1,850 miles of tidal shoreline; there are hundreds of beaches and rich coastal environments. There is a commercial fishing industry that brings in 32.6 millions of pounds of fish and shellfish worth 57 million dollars while the Long Island Sound contributes 8.5 billion a year from boating, fishing, swimming, and sight seeing.
New York is being over fished - 8 of NY’s top commercially prized fish have fallen by 83% since 1950. By catch, unintended fish caught while fishing, is also a serious problem. Stricter management plans should put an end to over fishing and by catch abuses immediately. The state should set a goal of by catch to nearly zero via a by catch management program, and should take action against bottom trawling in marine habitats known to be sensitive to disturbance. Science should decide where the sensitive areas are.
Aquaculture is an industry that could take off in NY waters in the future, and might allow native populations to recover while keeping the industry viable.
More than 40% of NY estuarine and bay waters are impaired or threatened. The problems include storm water runoff and sewage treatment plants. Algae blooms result and water is depleted of oxygen. In 2006, there were 1,200 beach closings. Global warming predicts sea level rise by 2100, and increasingly flooded marshes cannot filter pollutants. These problems are particularly severe in the Western Bays.

Oceans and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation CouncilEdit

The New York Oceans and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Act was enacted in August 2006 to restore, maintain and restore the statescoastal ecosystems to a healthy, productive and resilient state. One unique perspective of this act is that it states that “decisions are informed by good science”.
The Act established a Conservation Council with representatives from nine state agencies responsible for managing human activities in the coastal zone. DEC Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis chairs the Council. The Nature Conservancy was selected to draft a Great South Bay Ecosystem Based Management Plan as a basis for discussion. Local environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, have been engaged with the DOS and DEC as an auxiliary to the Council. There are two projects currently in the works, one in the Great Lakes and one here on the Great South Bay. Coming online soon is ATLAS, a site that will bring Long Island Coastal Mapping to us.

You can follow our work at Questions? Want to help? Contact Linda Freilich at

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