November 17, 2015
Contact: Daphne Yun
There has been a recent increase in illegal harvesting of shellfish and baitfish in the waters of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge if part of Gateway National Recreation Area (Gateway), and includes not only land, but more than 13,000 acres of water. The harvest of small baitfish, if left unchecked, will impact both migratory birds and other marine life that depend on them as a source of food.
In response to these suspected resource violations, the United States Park Police (USPP) conducted a surveillance operation. Over a three week period, the USPP made 14 arrests. Twelve of these were for illegal harvesting and two for interfering with agency operations. In addition to the 14 arrests, 41 summonses were issued for Resource Violations. The National Park Service and the USPP plan to continue efforts to increase resource enforcement and stop these illegal activities.
"The U.S. Park Police and the National Park Service are concerned that individuals may be unaware of the health risks associated with consuming shellfish from the waters of Jamaica Bay," said U.S. Park Police Captain Greg Norman. "Additionally, based on some observations made during this short operation, it seems that there may also be some limited commercial harvesting taking place. This could potentially be a larger matter to deal with if un-certified shellfish are being sold to unsuspecting consumers. The U.S. Park Police plan to work with the New York State D.E.C. and other agencies to conduct further investigations into this matter."
"We want to make sure that we maintain the waters of Jamaica Bay for future generations by preventing overfishing," said Jen Nersesian, superintendent of Gateway. "We also want to make sure people are not eating these shellfish, since they are not safe for human consumption. We applaud the efforts of this surveillance in helping support the mission of Gateway and the National Park Service."
About Gateway National Recreation Area
A large diverse urban park spanning two states, Gateway combines recreational activities with natural beauty, wildlife preservation, military history and more. Visitors can hike, picnic, swim, sunbathe, bike, visit the oldest lighthouse in the nation, see an airplane collection and camp overnight, all in the New York metropolitan area. Gateway is one of the ten most visited national parks in the country. As the National Park Service (NPS) looks forward to its Centennial Gateway is putting together creative ideas to invite people to the park and be part of the NPS's next 100 years. For information about Gateway's upcoming public programs, please visit our website at www.nps.gov/gate
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