Shore rallies to oppose offshore drilling plan

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POINT PLEASANT — Local fishermen have joined a chorus of state and local groups in denouncing plans to allow exploration for oil and gas off the coast.

“It can be very dangerous to the whole ecosystem of the area, one spill would ruin the whole fishing and tourism industry in the whole state,” said Capt. Ron Braen, who is president of the Greater Point Pleasant Charter Boat Association and captain of the Miss Michele III, out of Point Pleasant Beach.

“Not just the drilling itself, but the seismic testing, with the pounding, just that alone could hurt the whole fishing industry.”

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management [BOEM], part of the U.S. Department of the Interior [USDOI], drafted a plan, the 2019-2024 National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Draft Proposed Program, that calls for allowing oil and gas exploration on the continental shelf off the East Coast.

“I absolutely am opposed to any offshore drilling of any kind off the coast of New Jersey,” said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the county’s Division of Tourism and Business Development. “Drilling for oil and natural gas off our coastline would pose more problems than it would remedy.”

For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.