After receiving complaints that fish are scarce near the coast of New Jersey, a state senator said he will ask the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to study nitrate levels in that part of the ocean. The AP reports that N.J. Sen. Leonard T. Connors recently spoke with local fishermen who said that nutrients, including nitrates, from treated sewage that is discharged into the water is taking oxygen out of the ocean, causing the fish to flee.
Bill Hammarstrom, a fisherman from Waretown, told the AP that he wants the discharging of sewage into the ocean to stop. "We can't catch a fish within five miles of the beach," he said. "It's going to be the end of an era" if nothing is done.
A spokesperson for the DEP refuted these claims, telling the AP, "We don't have any evidence that nitrates could reduce the number of fish in the near-shore area," she said. She pointed out, however, that the federal Environmental Protection Agency is carrying out a study to determine if nitrates affect fish, and the New Jersey DEQ is assisting with this project.