District 22

Costa Constantinides

Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Woodside

Council Members Introduce Bill to Combat Marine Debris Plaguing NYC Waterways

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22

March 29, 2019
Contact: Terence Cullen
718-274-4500

Council Members Introduce
Bill to Combat Marine Debris Plaguing NYC Waterways

Would Establish Office of
Marine Debris, Putting Resources Behind Traditional Volunteer Efforts

Astoria,
NY —
Council
Members Costa Constantinides and Eric Ulrich today announced new legislation to
significantly clean up marine debris on New York City beaches, particularly
targeting derelict boats around Jamaica Bay. New York City must establish the
Office of Marine Debris Disposal within the appropriate agency, if the bill is
passed, to put full resources behind what has traditionally been a volunteer
effort.

“Jamaica
Bay has seen so much improvement in the last few years, yet debris still washes
ashore on a regular basis — as have scores of abandoned boats,” said Council
Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection
.
“I want to thank my partners in government, as well as an engaged community
around Jamaica Bay, for their advocacy on this issue. This bill will give the
Crown Jewel of Queens the proper polishing it deserves.”

“Preserving
and protecting Jamaica Bay must become one of the city’s top priorities.
 For far too long, residents have dealt with abandoned boats and other
marine debris in Jamaica Bay – their back yard.  This is unacceptable and
wrong,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich. “I’d like to thank my colleague
– Council Members Constantinides – for recognizing the importance of restoring
Jamaica Bay and all NYC waterways; and for moving this important bill forward.”

“Marine
debris crowding our shores is more than an eyesore, it is a threat to vital
ocean and coastal ecosystems,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams.
“Introduction 1480 is a positive step to reduce pollution and tackle the marine
debris crisis along our public beaches. I applaud Council Members
Constantinides and Ulrich for introducing this bill to set a new and ambitious
standard.”

Intro.
1480, which was formally put before the City Council on Thursday, requires the
Mayor’s Office or the appropriate agency to establish an official mechanism to
either dispose of or, whenever possible, reuse debris left on public beaches.
The City must also come up with a recycling plan for debris, as well. In
Jamaica Bay alone, advocates say they’ve removed hundreds of tons of debris
left on the shores in the last few years.

Abandoned
boats are among the biggest problems in New York City’s waterways, presenting
multiple transportation and safety hazards, as no single agency was typically
not responsible for their removal. Many vessels are abandoned when an owner can
no longer afford to maintain them, and thus leave them to drift into Jamaica
Bay instead of doing a proper removal, The New York Times once pointed out.
Sandy only exacerbated this situation, and by 2015 the American Littoral
Society estimated 133 watercrafts were abandoned in the Bay. Volunteers
estimate they’ve removed up to 400 abandoned boats in the last decade.

Council
Members Constantinides and Ulrich made the announcement on Crossbay Boulevard
in Jamaica Bay, alongside Dan Mundy Sr. and Jr. of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers,
Don Riepe of the American Littoral Society, and Alex Zablocki of the Jamaica
Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.

The
Department of Environmental Protection has assumed the responsibility of removing
boats abandoned on beaches through a pilot program. These efforts would be
bolstered by Intro. 1480, which would ensure permanent funding to what has
predominantly been a volunteer initiative.

“Jamaica
Bay is the largest most bio diverse open space in New York City and we command
Councilman Constantinides and Councilman Ulrich for providing this much needed
legislation. This bill will have a huge positive impact on Jamaica Bay as for
years there was no agency that was willing to take on the responsibility for
cleaning up marine debris that became deposited throughout the bay,” said Dan
Mundy of the Jamaica Bay Ecowatchers
. “Old boats, abandoned docks and large
marine timbers could be found strewn along the shoreline, on the islands, and
out on the wetlands. Often times it would destroy sensitive environmental areas
such as  recently restored wetland islands. This bill will place formal
responsibility on the assigned agency and we will look forward to working with
the agency and our elected officials to help target areas in need of Marine
Debris  removal.”

“Marine debris has had a major impact on wildlife from sea birds to fish,
seals, turtles and other coastal wildlife that inhabit Jamaica Bay. Hopefully
this bill will provide funding for reducing the amount of plastics, fishing
line, derelict boats, and other shoreline debris,” said Don Riepe, Jamaica
Bay Guardian, American Littoral Society
.

“Marine
debris in Jamaica Bay is an ongoing issue that the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks
Conservancy, other non-profit organizations and volunteers have worked to
remediate. A comprehensive, proactive plan to tackle this in the long term is a
welcome and helpful solution to this ongoing threat,” said Alex
Zablocki, Executive Director, Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy
.

Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the Chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on the Land Use, Parks, and Transportation Committees and the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.

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