Editor’s Log: Walk The Bridge - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Walk The Bridge

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

I had my first byline appear as a teenager back in the 1980s when I began contributing as a “stringer” for my hometown newspapers, the Times Beacon and Beach Haven Times.  As a football and baseball player – and an atrocious basketball player – I had free time in the winter to cover events at Southern Regional High School; thus every week or so I’d drop off rolls of black and white film at the newspaper’s office on Bay Avenue in Manahawkin.

Since my father was longtime columnist – and to avoid any confusion – I eventually added Jr. to the end of my byline, and have written as Jim Hutchinson, Jr. ever since.  Thankfully I was eventually hired by The Fisherman, because the local news game sure ain’t what it used to be!  My high school buddies, the Kline Brothers, have since taken over the old newspaper office there in ‘Hawkin, and Sr.’s outdoors column – like many other locally authored pieces of news – was eventually terminated.

This Saturday, May 13, I’ve been asked to speak at a rally on Cedar Bonnet Island in Manahawkin to spotlight the ongoing industrial offshore wind projects off the Long Beach Island Coast (LBI).  The Walk the Bridge Rally begins at 10:30 a.m. with a 30-minute walk from the Mallard Island Yacht Club (roughly 3 miles from the old newspaper office), across to The Boatyard on the north side of the LBI Causeway.

Following the walk, several speakers will take the stage at 11:45 a.m. including Stafford Township Mayor Greg Myhre, Miss Belmar captain and marine biologist Trisha DeVoe, NJ 101.5 radio host Bill Spadea, South Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew, 2021 gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, and myself.  Suffice to say, I’m honored to have been asked by the organizers at We Are LBI (WeAreLbi.com) to join this distinguished panel of speakers, and hope to do the folks in my old hometown proud.

I’ve covered the potential impacts of industrial offshore wind on recreational fishing pretty extensively over the past 5 years, and plan to “stay in my lane” on Saturday by focusing solely on fisheries.  But based on a recent report released by NOAA Fisheries acknowledging how these projects will likely lead to lower fishery quotas and lost opportunities for New Jersey anglers, I’m hoping that journalists covering the event can stay in their lanes too, by focusing on stakeholder concerns rather than just the emotional impacts of climate change.

The Walk the Bridge Rally organizers said the event looks to raise awareness of the ongoing industrial wind projects at the Jersey Shore.  “The current offshore wind project is being fast tracked at an alarming rate,” rally organizers said, explaining how the ongoing projects threaten the marine environment and coastal tourism.  That’s not being extreme; in fact, as I’ve noted as early as 2019 (Myth or Matter: Is Offshore Wind Blowing In Too Fast) there are scientific facts surrounding industrial offshore wind that many politicians and journalists alike have seemingly ignored.

The latest 388-page report issued by NOAA Fisheries acknowledges that the effects of electromagnetic fields from high-powered undersea wind cables on fisheries is unknown.  But if you read Myth or Matter, you’ll see that research does exist and the recognized “avoidance behaviors” of flounder species should’ve already raised a big red flag with government officials.

Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill was well-known for saying “all politics is local.”  This Saturday, I hope that members of the mainstream media in attendance for The Walk the Bridge Rally might think about that.  While local, hometown news may not be what it once was 30 or 40 years ago, it doesn’t mean that local concerns should be discounted, defamed and debunked for not being in line with more globalized corporate perspectives.

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