January 2003 BRC testimony

January 8, 2003

Testimony of: William deCamp Jr., President
Save Barnegat Bay

Before the: Boat Regulation Commission
State Police Headquarters, West Trenton

Save Barnegat Bay, which is supported annually by contributions from over 1200 families, urges the Boat Regulation Commission to follow through with its previously discussed proposal to create a maximum speed limit of 30 miles per hour on all inshore tidal waters.

In further support of our point of view, which was previously offered in written testimony at the November Boat Regulation Commission meeting, we wish to offer the following observations and opinions:

— Increasing “slow speed no wake” areas is a positive step. But without a simultaneous overall speed limit, the danger in those areas not designated “slow speed no wake” will only be increased. The Commission will force all the speeders into higher concentrations in areas such as those off Green Island in Dover Township, the mouth of Toms River, and the area off Bayville. Boating in these areas will made even more dangerous.

— The problem created by speeding powerboats is a moving target in more ways than one. The population of the coastal area is steadily increasing. So too is the number of boats and the number of high performance boats. Should the Commission fail to create a speed limit in the face of the current extremity, it will fall even farther behind in bringing a semblance of order and safety to our waters. The ingredients for foreseeable tragedies increase every year. The Commission must act.

— Even if no deaths had occurred, and even if the number of boaters and speeding boaters were not increasing, we would still argue that it is unreasonable to allow one small group of users to recreate in a way that literally terrorizes the majority who crab, row, paddle, fish, sail, and motor responsibly on our bays.

— Licensing and education are indeed positive steps. But they do not come near to being sufficient solutions in themselves. What would our state highways look like if we abandoned speed limits in favor of merely requiring drivers to be licensed and to have taken drivers education?

— We strongly urge the Boat Regulation Commission to cooperate fully with towns such as Mantoloking who submit requests that they be allowed to set and enforce speed limits in their waters.

— A crisis on our waters surely exists when the public is forced to observe the spectacle of the New Jersey Marine Police providing an escort for high speed “Poker Runs”, many of whose participants are, beyond any rational contradiction, in blatant violation of New Jersey’s noise regulations. That our Marine Police should be in the business of escorting scofflaws – rather than enforcing the laws of the State of New Jersey – is a disgrace and an insult to the law-abiding boating public.

We close by repeating our core belief in this matter: Those whose recreation requires speeds that prevent the reasonable enjoyment of all other users properly belong on the ocean. We ask that the Boat Regulation Commission fulfill its fundamental responsibility to the boating public by creating a reasonable speed limit on inshore tidal waters.

Further thoughts are conveyed on our web site, www.savebarnegat.org.

Thank you for considering our testimony.

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