Despite repeated warnings from the Department of Environmental Protection, some anglers seem determined to harvest crabs from the Lower Passaic River.
One more time: DON’T! It is illegal. And hazardous to your health.
Note also, that there are consumption limits on fish caught in the river.
The blue claws that dwell in the Lower Passaic — which is the part that runs through North Arlington, Lyndhurst, Kearny, Nutley, Belleville, East Newark and Harrison — “are bottom-dwellers that absorb cancer-causing dioxins and other contaminants in high levels,” notes the DEP, which has issued yet another warning.
The crabs should not be consumed.
They should not even be caught.
To emphasize the hazards, the agency notes that anyone found illegally harvesting blue claw crabs may be fined $100 to $3,000. And that’s for a first offense.
DEP conservation officers are patrolling the waters, including Newark Bay and surrounding areas, to ensure compliance with the ban.
Despite ongoing efforts to clean the Passaic, it remains polluted, thanks to sediments containing “highly toxic dioxins resulting from the production of Agent Orange many decades ago,” the DEP notes.
Considering the pollutants, it is amazing that the Passaic River and Newark Bay crabs have not developed fins, and the fish, claws.
“Crabs in these waters are abundant and appear healthy, but they are not safe to eat,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.
“We have to be vigilant about preventing people from eating crabs caught in these waters because they can be harmful to those who consume them, especially vulnerable populations such as infants and children, expectant mothers and women of child-bearing age,” Martin noted.
He added, “In concert with the federal government, we are now working to develop a massive cleanup project that will make these waterways safe for generations in the future, but the warnings remain in effect now.”
The agency reports that it and the N.J. Department of Health are working with local municipalities to distribute informative literature and signs about the crab consumption ban and fish consumption advisories.
Warning signs and informational literature are available in English, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Korean and Tagalog.
“By heeding the ban on blue claw crabs, anglers can protect the health of themselves and their families,” said Michelle Mc- Bean of Future City Inc., a partner in the outreach initiative.
“These blue claw crabs contain toxins that cannot be removed by cooking,” she cautioned. “It’s important that the public observe the ban.”
In addition to the Lower Passaic and Newark Bay, tidal waters affected by the crab ban and fish advisories include the Hackensack River, the Arthur Kill, Kill Van Kull, Elizabeth River and Rahway River.
For more about the ban on blue claw crabs, visit: www.state.nj.us/dep/dsr/craboutreach/alert-english.htm For a full list of fish consumption advisories in New Jersey, visit: www.FishSmartEatSmartNJ.org.
Call 1-866-DEP-KNOW to learn about where to harvest seafood in New Jersey’s waters.
To learn more about the Lower Passaic River Restoration Project, visit: www.ourpassaic.org.
– Karen Zautyk