HSRL Scientist and Collaborative Team Get Winter Flounder Essential Fish Habitat Designation Changed and Helps Maritime Businesses in South Jersey

Eleanor Bochenek on a research trip to Alaska.

Eleanor Bochenek on a research trip to Alaska.

Winter flounder, Pseudopleuronectes americanus, support an important commercial and recreational fishery along the northeast coast of North America. Highest abundance occurs in the most northern part of their range. However, populations have declined significantly since the 1980s as a result of climate change, poor water quality and estuarine habitat loss. Due to warming ocean temperatures, many believe that the southern range of winter flounder has migrated north with New Jersey now being at the southern extent. Winter flounder are unlike most other fish species in that they reproduce during the winter months and spawn in estuaries in late winter to early spring.

Winter flounder fisheries in New England and the Mid-Atlantic are managed by the New England Fisheries Management Council (NEFMC) in federal waters. The NEFMC classified estuaries as well as inland and coastal bays as Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for winter flounder eggs and larvae as far south as the Delaware Bay. No dredging could take place in these waterways during the winter and spring months because of the EFH designation.

The local community, fishing docks and marina owners in Cape May County contacted Eleanor Bochenek, director of the Fisheries Cooperative Center at Rutgers, to examine the EFH designation for winter flounder eggs and larvae in southern New Jersey with emphasis on waterways in Cape May County, NJ. The NEFMC was in the process of updating the EFH designation for winter flounder, restricting marina and channel dredging as well as beach replenishment activities from January 1 through May.

According to Bochenek, this designation created significant problems since “these activities must now be backed up into the spring and summer months when recreational vessels are being launched in these same areas and when visitors use local beaches.” [Read more…]

Frog Phone

The ecologist Jeremy Feinberg, who discovered a new species of frog on Staten Island recently, counts himself among New York’s "quirk celebrities." Friends call to tell him about shout-outs on "The Daily Show" or "The Leonard Lopate Show," but he knows who’s really being feted. "It’s never about me," he said. "It’s all about the frog," the second new species found in North America since 1986. Feinberg is an oddball species himself: an urban ecologist. For three years, he worked as a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Long Island, where he grew up. Now he is finishing a Ph.D. at Rutgers, and lives in Brooklyn.

Read the entire article at The New Yorker »

New Jersey unveils a better, more flavorful strawberry

After a decade of quietly, painstakingly sowing their seeds, Rutgers agricultural scientists are finally reaping the fruits of their labor. The "Rutgers Scarlet," as it is appropriately named, is being unveiled this month. "You have to be very patient to be a plant breeder," said Peter Nitzsche, associate professor and agricultural agent for Rutgers Cooperative Extension. "We have 13 farms across the state growing them on a test stage, and they are just coming in now. We’ve been harvesting in South Jersey since last week. This week, they’ll be harvesting them in Central Jersey, and next week, in northern New Jersey," said Bill Hlubik, a professor and agricultural agent for the Cooperative Extension.

Read the entire article at NorthJersey.com »

RCE Hosts Pit Stop on Historic Cross Country Personal Finance Education Road Trip on June 4

Barbara O'Neill.

Barbara O’Neill.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) will host a stop on a 10,000 mile road trip, The Road to Financial Wellness, a local grassroots and social media campaign designed to turn local discussions about money into a national conversation on financial wellbeing. The Rutgers stop will be Thurs., June 4, from 2 to 3 p.m., in the Cook Office Building on the George H. Cook Campus in New Brunswick.

According to Rutgers Cooperative Extension Specialist in Financial Resource Management Barbara O’Neill, the Rutgers stop will feature the seminar “Money & Mindset: The Road to Financial Wellness” as well as the recorded financial stories “from the road.” RCE welcomes participants to this important conversation but are encouraging those interested in attending to send an email to O’Neill at oneill@aesop.rutgers.edu.

“We’re pleased to be able to welcome Phroogal and to be a part of this very relevant conversation about money on its historic cross county road trip to promote financial wellness during the entire month of June,” says O’Neill. “The road trip is truly financial education in the making.”

“Millennials have a great resource – four to five decades of compound interest to build wealth – but only if they make wise financial decisions today,” says O’Neill. “As someone who provides financial education to people of all ages, I’ve seen the problems that result when people don’t pay attention to their finances. Both Phroogal and Rutgers Cooperative Extension are trying to change people’s financial lives for the better.”

Initiated by the financial education startup Phroogal, this unprecedented journey across the U.S. is the brainchild of Jason Vitug, a New Jersey resident and former senior executive with a Silicon Valley credit union. Vitug is a 2007 graduate of the Rutgers Business School. [Read more…]

Opinion: Is water supply a commodity, a service, or a right?

New Jersey needs to take a hard look at how its poorest households will maintain access to water, as water and sewer rates increase. Last year, Detroit sent notices to thousands of customers, threatening to turn off their water service (and ultimately doing so) if past-due bills weren’t paid. For its efforts to ensure sufficient water-utility revenue, Detroit — which has a very high poverty rate and has gone through bankruptcy — earned the opprobrium of interests around the world. Daniel J. Van Abs is currently associate research professor for Water, Society and Environment at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences.

Read the entire article at NJSpotlight »