Assemblywoman Announces South Brooklyn Waterfront Taskforce

BROOKLYN, NY- On March 4, Brooklyn Assemblywoman Jaime Williams announced that there will be a South Brooklyn Waterfront Task Force to combat trash within the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parkway area.

The assemblywoman is spearheading the operation and is working along with multiple partners, such as the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service, to remove the increase of trash within the South Brooklyn waterfront.

It was reported by Alex Zablocki, executive director of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy that the conservancy corps has removed over 17,000 pounds of trash from the South Brooklyn waterfront in 2021.

“The Jamaica Bay Watershed spans 142-square miles and runoff from the watershed leads into Jamaica Bay from the many tributaries from Brooklyn and Queens mainland,” Zablocki said. “Trash discarded in the street can make its way through the storm sewer system and out into Jamaica Bay, with marine debris finding its way on our shorelines and in wetlands.”

Plastics within waterways don’t naturally dissolve. In fact, it breaks apart into smaller plastics.

“If you think of a plastic water bottle that’s been in the environment for a period of time, it is exposed to sunlight, it’s exposed to wind, and that water bottle can degrade over time,” said Carrie Tobin, a Microplastics researcher at Clean Ocean Action. “It can break apart, and you can have different sized pieces of plastic that result from that one plastic water bottle. That one bottle can make thousands, if not billions of pieces of microplastics.”

Those plastics can endanger marine life.

Animals can accidentally mistake those plastics as food, which would cause them to consume it and die from starvation, suffocation, and even drowning, according to a study from PewTrust.

Canarsie Pier is a destination within South Brooklyn for people to go fishing and is a part of the waterfront.

“All you just see is trash, plastic bags, and all types of things,” said Malik Moore, a East New York native. “This is what turns me off about Canarsie Pier because it is so dirty.”

“The sidewalk is clean but when you look in the water, there’s plastic bags everyday. We need someone to enforce the rules,” the 28-year old said.

Richard Mayers is a regular fisherman that has fished at Canarsie Pier since 1968.

“Years ago, we used to catch a lot of fish here but I don’t know what happened,” said the 84-year-old. “I think it is because of the water. The water is messed up. I‘ve seen people throw trash in the water but yet the trash can is right there.”

He then explained that some fishermen would use plastic bags as bait to catch the fish and when they are done with the bag, they would throw it back in the water.

“The South Brooklyn Waterfront is an integral part of our collective home,” the assemblywoman said. “This new task force will work hand in hand with our partners to protect and conserve our waterways so that our environment can remain a safe home for all of us.”

Her main motivation for this project was the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

In 2012, she was the community project director at Catholic Charities and she saw how Hurricane Sandy damaged New York City. She realized that if the Jamaica Bay area doesn’t have what it needs to prevent a disaster, then a similar disaster would occur.

After Hurricane Sandy, she was involved in many projects to help with the waterfront such as creating an oyster farm at Canarsie Pier to purify the ocean.

Assemblywoman Williams is also looking for other ways to try and limit the trash that enters the waterways.

That includes a proposed bill that will put a net on the distribution pipe to catch the trash and prevent it from entering the ocean.

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