Brooklyn, N.Y., Aug. 29, 2010 – The Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York
Aquarium announced today the launch of the New York Seascape initiative—a
conservation program designed to restore healthy populations of local marine
species—many of them threatened—and to protect New York City and area waters,
which are vital to wildlife and key to economic and cultural vitality.
The three components of New York Seascape are: 1. scientific research; 2. education
and awareness; and 3. policy and management. The New York Seascape initiative,
aimed at helping create a comprehensive conservation strategy, will be a
long-term commitment of WCS and an integral part of Sea Change at the New York
Aquarium, a 10-year public-private capital campaign announced last year that
will transform the aquarium and help ignite the re-birth of Coney Island.
This initiative will cover the New York Bight, a
15,000-square-mile region stretching from Montauk, N.Y., to Cape May, N.J., as
well as the waters of Long Island Sound. Currently, none of our offshore
waters are protected. More than 20 million people live within 10-plus miles of
this region of the Atlantic; and the NY-NJ Harbor is one of the busiest ports
in the United States. Just in New York State, more than $14.3 billion is
generated by economic activities reliant on healthy, accessible, and clean
oceans, such as tourism/recreation, fisheries, and marine transport. More than
a quarter of a million local jobs are dependent on stable fish populations and healthy
The commercial fishing industry alone landed almost 34
million pounds of fish and shellfish in 2008, worth about $57 million.
Recreational fishing and other ocean-related activities are even more
economically valuable: More than 291,000 anglers fished in New York’s coastal
and ocean waters in 2006. But no dollar value can be placed on the ecological
services and the phenomenal diversity of wildlife that call these waters home,
which improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers.
The New York Bight serves as a feeding ground, nursery, and
migratory corridor for more than 300 species of fish—including 26 species of
sharks and 14 skates and rays—five species of sea turtles; four types of seals;
more than 15 whales, dolphins, and porpoises; and an abundance of shore and sea
birds. Many of the iconic animals in these waters are in trouble and not all of
them are adequately protected, including important species of sharks.
The area covered in the initiative has an incredible
maritime history, from the days of Henry Hudson and Giovanni da Verrazano’s explorations
centuries ago, to today’s era of commercial and industrial development. Not too
long ago, more than half of the U.S. hard clam catch came from Long Island bays
and sturgeon were so plentiful in the Hudson that it was known as “Albany
beef.” But times have changed.
It boasts extraordinary habitats whose protection is
critical to the maintenance of biodiversity in these waters, such as deep sea
canyons and soaring seamounts farther offshore that rival the majesty of the
American West. In fact, the Hudson Canyon, an ancient extension of the Hudson
River Valley, is the largest ocean canyon of the Atlantic coast and is a
priority area for protection because of its diversity and importance as nursery
grounds for many species.
“The New York Seascape aims to conserve this aquatic ecosystem
which is vital to ocean wildlife and the economic and cultural strength of New
York and surrounding communities,” said Steve Sanderson, WCS president and CEO.
“Our local marine waters are a part of our history and vitality, yet too many
New Yorkers live their lives with their backs to the sea. We will use this
initiative to inspire New Yorkers to turn around and once again discover the
wonders of these waters.”
Added Jon Forrest Dohlin, Director of WCS’s New York
Aquarium: “WCS is a world leader in conservation with marine programs in 20
countries and every ocean from Papua New Guinea to Belize to Madagascar. The
Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Seascape will bring this world-class
expertise to our own backyard.”
Locally, the Wildlife Conservation Society has been heavily involved
with recent restoration efforts of the Bronx River and the preservation of
South Brother Island at the mouth of the East River.
Caleb McClennen, Director of WCS’s Global Marine Program,
said, “With New York Seascape, we will help to conserve a major migratory
corridor for marine wildlife, as well as the rich, diverse ecosystems upon
which they depend. As we look increasingly to our oceans for energy, transport,
recreation, and food supply, the wildlife within face significant threats if
not properly managed, appreciated, and understood. It is important to take action and invest now to save
these species and their habitats before we look back and say it is too late.”
The environmental challenges confronting these species stem
from many factors, including pollution, unsustainable fishing, climate change, and,
more recently, energy development. For more than three centuries, this marine
habitat has suffered abuse running the gamut from the dumping of raw sewage,
heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals, to countless spills,
nutrient overloads, and excessive fishing.
Some of the New York Seascape’s first conservation projects
will include studies of sand tiger sharks, alewives (a species of river herring
once phenomenally abundant in many coastal rivers), and horseshoe crabs. WCS is exploring partnerships with
local universities and researchers to follow the movements of sharks and other
threatened species with acoustic and satellite tracking devices to better
understand their migratory movements, allowing for improved management and
Education and awareness aspects of the initiative will
include: development of curricula in schools across the area to help children
appreciate the importance of protecting marine wildlife; and establishment of new
citizen-science programs to put New Yorkers in closer touch with their local
seascape. These programs will include harbor seal, river herring, and horseshoe
WCS will look to engage city, state, and federal government
partners to provide technical input to improve fishery plans, protect key
habitats, provide for necessary threatened species protections, and leverage
additional government support.
With more than 750,000 visitors annually, the New York
Aquarium provides a unique platform to showcase the ecological treasures of the
New York Seascape and build a local constituency that will work to protect
them. Set to break ground within the next few years, Ocean Wonders, a part of
Sea Change, will be a state-of-the-art exhibit that will be home to sand tiger
and other sharks, and an impressive array of fascinating animals that call the
New York Bight home.
There will be additional renovations to the aquarium,
including a refurbished Conservation Hall and Aquatheater. All of these
features will help re-establish the New York Aquarium as one of the nation’s
greatest marine tourism attractions and most popular attraction in Brooklyn,
and the New York Seascape as a leader in conserving local marine wildlife and
Contact: Sophie Bass – 817-925-8888; firstname.lastname@example.orgMax Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182; email@example.comSteve Fairchild – 718-220-5189; firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wildlife Conservation
Society saves wildlife and wild
places worldwide. We do so through
science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's
largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change
attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in
harmony. WCS is committed to this
mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.
Society's New York Aquarium opens
every day of the year at 10am, and closing times vary seasonally. Admission is
$13.00 for adults, $9.00 for children ages 3-12 and $10.00 for senior citizens
(65 and older); children under 3 years of age are admitted free. Fridays after
3pm, admission is by suggested donation. The Aquarium is located on Surf Avenue
at West 8th Street in Coney Island. For directions, information on public
events and programs, and other Aquarium information, call 718-265-FISH or visit
our website at www.nyaquarium.com. Now is the perfect time to visit and
show support for the New York Aquarium, Brooklyn's most heavily attended
attraction and a beloved part of the City of New York.
Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to
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