STATE — Clean Ocean Action (COA), a coalition of over 130 organizations, will journey from Cape May, New Jersey to Montauk, New York to bring attention to the need for a clean ocean and educate the public about the New Jersey/New York Clean Ocean Zone Initiative. This 15-day campaign from Aug. 10-24, will take place on land and by sea – with rallies everywhere in between.
The Clean Ocean Zone initiative was created by concerned citizens along the New York and New Jersey coastlines to lock-out harmful pollution and industrial activities off the coast while locking-in permanent protection for future generations. The ultimate goal is for the citizen-drafted federal law to be enacted.
Joined by friends and supporters of the ocean, ocean advocate and paddling enthusiast Margo Pellegrino will travel by outrigger canoe along the shoreline while Clean Ocean Action’s Coastal Policy Attorney Sean Dixon hits the pavement on a road bicycle. Rallies, action-tables, and beach teams will be held along the way in every coastal district and elected leaders will be urged to participate and support the initiative. The tour is scheduled to take place during the peak of the shore’s tourist season providing the coalition the opportunity to reach tens of thousands of people with one message: “ The time is now for the Clean Ocean Zone.”
“The region from Cape May NJ to Montauk, NY is currently known as the ‘New Jersey New York Bight’, and that’s just not good enough,” said Cindy Zipf, COA Executive Director. “Citizens have worked hard for over 25 years to turn our ocean from a national joke to a premier tourism destination and it is now time for us to lock in that success and become the nation’s first Clean Ocean Zone,” she added
The Clean Ocean Zone law would reduce pollution by prohibiting ocean-dumpsites and new wastewater discharge outfalls. Marine ecosystems would be protected by prohibiting industrialization such as strip mining, oil and gas drilling and development, and the construction of non-renewable energy facilities like fossil fuel energy ports. The Clean Ocean Zone would support artificial reefs, beach replenishment, recreational and commercial fishing, responsible development of renewable energy, and all truly clean ocean activities.
“A clean and healthy ocean is essential for our beach businesses and long term health,” said Pellegrino. “I’d hate to think of having a disaster along our shores like what happened in the Gulf of Mexico, and there is simply no need for our beaches and ocean to be put at that risk. The way the NY/NJ bight is already impacted by non-point source pollution and overburdened sewer plants, the very last thing it needs is an LNG terminal or seismic exploration or oil/gas drilling. We need to look at alternative sources of energy and better energy conservation; putting blinders on to reality and doing the same old thing (ie, reliance on fossil fuels whether they be coal, oil, or gas) is not helping us to make the needed changes the continuation of our species demands. We simply cannot live without our ocean. Let’s start by protecting this part on which so many people depend,” she added.
No stranger to raising awareness for the ocean, Pellegrino has paddled into and through coastal communities from Miami to Maine (2007), the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays (2008), the eastern Gulf Coast (2009), and Seattle to San Diego (2010) in order to educate and engage the public. She is a New Jersey native and a mother of two who is dedicated to help draw attention to the threats the oceans face and inspire individuals to take an active role in protecting them.
“We hope cyclists, surfers, families, kayakers, and beachgoers will grab a bike or a board and join us as we make our way up the coast,” said Dixon, the COA attorney excited to be making his first cycling adventure for-a-cause. “We will have maps and timetables online – as well as difficulty estimates – to help anyone who wants to participate decide the best way to take action for the ocean,” Dixon added.
Under the banner, “Get in Motion for the Ocean,” surfers, paddlers, cyclists, and ocean enthusiasts of all experience levels will be invited to join Pellegrino and Dixon at any time during the “Tour for the Shore.” The public can also attend the rallies and sign up for the future campaigns and circulate petitions. Interested citizens will be able to view the campaign’s website to review, the distance, date, location and difficulty level of each leg.
“The idea is to hold a series of campaign events along the route of the tour so that people everywhere can learn about the ocean and how to protect it,” said Rav Freidel of Concerned Citizens of Montauk “Whether you paddle, bike, fish, or just love a day at the beach, it is time to stand up and say together ‘We love our ocean and we want our elected officials to permanently protect it,’” Freidel said, adding that rallies would be held to show lawmakers just how many people support the Clean Ocean Zone.
“The approximately 175 members of Garden Club of Long Beach Island are committed to following ecologically sound practices and to supporting actions that will protect the environment. Beginning in 1987, the club joined others in stopping the dumping of waste off the New Jersey shores. We participated in advocating for the nation’s first Fertilizer Bill which was passed in New Jersey to protect the health of our bodies of water,” said Mary Wildling, Environmental Consultant with the Garden Club of Long Beach Island.
“Along with Alliance of the Living Ocean and Clean Ocean Action, we participated in Hands Across the Sand, a national gathering to oppose offshore drilling and supporting clean energy as well as joining in beach and bay clean-up efforts. Now we would like to join others in making the Tour for the Shore a huge success by bringing public attention to the critical need to protect our ocean and generating interest in the Clean Ocean Zone legislative initiative. August is the perfect time to reach many on our island.”
The tour will be kicking off on Aug. 10 in Cape May and making its way up the coast, through New York City, and along the South Shore of Long Island. The tour will finish in Montauk, N.Y. on Friday, Aug. 24. To finish strong, there will be a 100-mile “Century Ride” from Babylon, N.Y. to Montauk kicking off at the break of dawn on the 24th – bringing Dixon and other cyclists to Montauk at the same time as Pellegrino and other paddlers-at-sea.
For details about the legs, dates, and locations of the tour visit www.cleanoceanzone.org
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