Money Island hit hard by virus shut down

The Delaware Bay remains empty. The State of New Jersey is hard hit by the coronavirus with the second highest number of cases of all states in the nation. Here in South Jersey, the rate of spread, measured in the number of infections and deaths, has not yet peaked. Our fishing and related industries are especially hard hit. With restaurants closed, the commercial markets for fish are closed. Marinas lost most of their 2020 rentals. Recreational fishing and party boats have been shut down. Here at Money Island, the effect is amplified. Money Island is the state’s second most productive seafood landing port and the bay’s primary oyster landing port. Yet in 2020, landings are minuscule compared to other years. Most of our commercial boats are not operating. The crab shedding operation is closed. Some local businesses have already announced publicly that they are unable to reopen this season. Others are suffering silently.

Idle crab traps

The CARES Act allocated $300 million for the commercial fisheries industry. Some of my clients hope to recoup partial losses from this money. Yet more than a month after the law was passed, no funds have been distributed. The proposal that NOAA offered is unfair to New Jersey in that it is based solely on dollar value of the fishing industry last year and does not consider the impact of the virus had on the industry’s losses. Losses are clearly worse in New Jersey than in other seaboard states.

A number of industry groups and all New Jersey’s federal legislators are lobbying for us. A representative from Jeff Van Drew’s office called me Sunday. Yet I fell like I’ve been down this path before: seven years ago after super storm Sandy. After many months and years of intense work, no financial assistance was provided for recovery. Again this year, just like in the past, it is not the natural event but government’s reaction that is causing the financial pain.

The Money Island Marina is still in significant debt from Sandy losses. We missed a final scheduled tax debt repayment on April 1 because of the industry shut down. The prospects of reopening and sustaining any of the businesses here seems remote at this point.

We must keep trying, but there are no solutions on the immediate horizon.

Fishing boats in an earlier year.

Boat Fuel at Money Island

Boat fuel is available to shareholders and licensees by private arrangement. We no longer offer drive up fuel sales to the public.

By now you might have noticed that our local gas stations in New Jersey are selling E85, an automotive fuel with 15% ethanol. This is suitable for cars but not for boats. To be clear, no outboard manufacturer endorses this fuel and using it may cause engine problems and possibly void your warranty.

Some marinas may sell the E85, but we do not know why. This is a disaster in the making. We do not sell it. Even with additives, it is unsuitable as boat fuel. We recommend the use of ethanol-free fuel for all outboard boat engines.

Do not pump gasoline from a station into a portable tank and dump it into your boat fuel tank. If you do, it’s only a matter of time before you have engine problems and miss some nice days on the water.

Here are a few tips:

  1. If you want boat fuel (gas or diesel) here at Money Island, please just ask, we can have it delivered. We do not have enough people here to warrant the high state fees to sell it ourselves.
  2. Keep a few sealed quart cans of ethanol-free fuel (photo below) in your car or boat for emergencies.
  3. Use fuel additives as recommended by your engine manufacturer.
  4. Gas without ethanol is available and it is apparently legal to use in New Jersey. It’s just not legal to sell it. It may need to be purchased out-of-state. We can help you get it on request.

Recent history of Money Island New Jersey

Money Island was built on the shore of the Delaware Bay in Cumberland County, New Jersey, from the 1930s to the 1970s mostly without the benefit of permits, surveys, licenses, etc. That led to regulatory compliance problems today because of the decades-old missing paperwork. We propose to address these paperwork deficiency issues with legal redevelopment that accounts for future use, higher water levels, frequent flooding, and increased wetland erosion. Research on sustainable infrastructure and restorative aquaculture is already underway here by a handful of educational and environmental groups.

Water level rise is a major factor in the redevelopment plans. While more water is good for the proposed future aquaculture uses, it is not good news for traditional human uses. It could also be devastating to the grass marshes that are washing away at an alarming pace. By 2050 Money Island will likely be completely underwater except for the reconstructed infrastructure designed with this expectation.

Money Island is primarily a seafood landing port. Money Island is New Jersey’s second most productive seafood landing port worth millions of dollars to the local economy every month in oysters, crabs, and fish. The larger regional seafood companies have proposed expanding here and are quietly acquiring more of the waterfront space. Eventually Money Island will be the primary site of the region’s expanding oyster nurseries. A growth in Delaware Bay oyster production of 1,000% to 2,000% is possible within a decade. In 2019, however, some of the commercial watermen moved out of Money Island because the state closed their docks.

The residential houses are disappearing. This is a voluntary choice of the owners based primarily on the observed effects of water level rise. Buyouts are exacerbated by threatened government legal actions against homeowners. Most find it more economical to move out than to spend the money to meet government demands. Less than 10 houses are currently occupied on a regular basis. Some of the few remaining residents stayed because they can’t afford to sell and relocate to a new location, especially not a waterfront location. As of mid 2020, almost all of the remaining residents state an intention to remain here.

The recreational marina had such a low level of utilization in the past decade that continued operation as a commercial entity was impossible. From 2016 to 2018 the marina averaged just one customer per day. The marina accumulated more than 10 consecutive years of financial losses and had to obtain supplemental funding by local nonprofits organizations since 2010. The property owner kept the marina business  open without charging rent to help accommodate the recently deceased marina manager. Despite the low usage, both public and private interests are committed to maintaining public access to the waterways here. Now the marina is a private use facility.

The local government and community groups created a redevelopment strategy for the bayshore region that specifically focused on a sustainable redevelopment plan for Money Island as the region’s premier aquaculture center and seafood landing port. That plan has not yet been formally supported by state policy makers. The business of saving one storefront community for economic reasons while abandoning other communities as the water level continues to rise will continue to be politically difficult. Still, we expect that the need for seafood production increase will eventually win in this political struggle.

Results of research by The Nature Conservancy and its partners is encouraging. We’ve shown progress on restoring species diversity, preventing shoreline erosion, rebuilding elevated infrastructure, and moving toward energy independence.

The government consultant for the Money Island Marina community met with officials at NJDEP in May 2019. They report that an agreement in principal has been reached to allow proposed restorative aquaculture and sustainable redevelopment. Meanwhile, however, permit approvals to make the necessary improvements to current infrastructure are currently stalled by state government actions.

The mayor of Downe Township government reports publicly that 30 million of dollars of private and public funding required for permitting and rebuilding of Money Island has already been identified but that these proposed sources are contingent on state government action of releasing property liens. The township passed an ordinance authorizing the purchase of properties at Money Island though eminent domain. While that action and timeline is outside of our local control, most doubt that government will be able to raise the money required for this redevelopment. We believe that a public/private partnership will likely be required. Money Island is now in a ‘waiting pattern’ for the state government action to complete past purchase contracts and halt current litigation over the remaining properties. That will trigger the availability of new funding to address these other issues and launch a new era of environmentally sustainable redevelopment.

Private redevelopment action is led by Nantuxent Corporation. The company’s focus is on built-to-suit commercial dock sales.

A book about Money Island was released in November 2019 and a follow up film is anticipated. No production schedule is established.

Planning for 2019 at Money Island

Looking ahead at the planned redevelopment of Money Island, we know that there will be many changes with an uncertain time frame. About half of the homes are recently removed and more will be removed in the future.

Some of the immediate changes on our campus focus on increased physical and operational security. Anyone associated with the marina in a position of handling transactions or equipment will be required to provide a background investigation report. Information will be provided on a case by case basis. Members will be provided with a bright ID tag.

The marina is currently closed for winter during this permitting phase. We do not have a reopening date, but a plan is in place to reopen Husted’s Landing Marina first, then Money Island later. Things will definitely be different here in the future and we don’t know those details yet. This list of changes will change as we get feedback from the state, developers, local government and others. But this is what we see so far for 2019:

Facilities expected to be open to members:

Beach

jetty

boat launch (defined as the concrete or gravel structures on the ground at various locations)

rafts

kayaks

boats

decks

picnic areas

nature walk areas

gardens

roadways

parking areas

refrigerator/freezer

Ice machine

Bait cooler

storage areas

recreational and commercial docks on sites not designated by the state

water service

Docks on sites not closed by the state

 

Facilities expected to be closed to all:

ramps on sites designated by the state

docks on sites designated by the state

walkways on sites designated by the state

fuel system

bathroom

Blue claw crabs

No New Jersey fisheries products were used in the production of this social media publication. Money Island Marina is pleased to be a host site for New Jersey crabbers but does not offer the sale of crabs within the state. We do not buy, sell, barter, trade or advertise New Jersey fishery products but rather offer our site and resources to these independent businesses. This information is published as a convenience to shareholders but is not an offer to buy or sell crabs.

This is typical non-holiday cooperative pricing for live local blue claw crabs from local harvesters:

HARD SHELL under 5″: From $.50 to $1.00

HARD SHELL over 5″ but under 5 1/2″: From $1.00 to $2.00

HARD SHELL over 5 1/2″: From $2.00 to $3.00

HARD SHELL over 6″: From $3.00 to $5.00

SHEDDER: $1.00 to $2.00

SOFT SHELL: typically $4.00 to $5.00

 

Why prices change

Crab pricing varies daily. Supply and demand are the biggest factors affecting the price and these are mostly outside of our control. But there are some pricing factors that you can control. Our commercial crabbers typically harvest blue claw crabs in smaller quantities, often in response to specific orders or expected demand. We sell live ‘swimming crabs’ at the marina in a tank individually. Crabs are then bagged or boxed for live transport. Marina members may use on-site equipment to cook and clean their crabs but most transport them live.

How to order in advance

Call or text with the quantity and date needed to 856-237-9199. We will forward the message to a crabber who will respond with an electric invoice of crabs are available. Price quote is good for 30 minutes. We will confirm receipt of payment and confirm the order. Once paid, the order is confirmed and you are protected from any price change.

Delivery

We offer delivery when a driver is available at approximately the same rate as Uber. We will cost-match the lowest cost current option.  An online calculator of delivery cost is available here.

Get the best deal

These factors affect your price that you can control:

1) advance payment (reduces price more than any other factor)

2) pickup or delivery details (time and location).

3) number of crabs (discounts possible over 50 crabs)

4) day of the week (crabs are more expensive on Friday and Saturday)

Quantity needed

Most people plan to serve 3 to 6 crabs per person. Your guests may be different but this is our experience in hosting dozens of crab dinners for a variety of groups of dinner guests.

Numeric Grading

Crabs are traditionally graded numerically (#1s, 2s, 3s). We do not use that system because that grading varies between sellers and locations and even recently changed here in the local commercial crab market. In other words, the term “#1s” doesn’t have any precise or widely agreed upon meaning so it has limited value to crab buyers.

Bushel pricing

Crabs are traditionally packed and sold in bushel baskets. We do not use this method but will accommodate a customer request for a bushel basket. (We do sell crab baskets, new or used, with or without crabs). If you buy a bushel of crabs from anyone, be aware that it includes some dead crabs. The industry standard is up to 20% dead crabs.

Crab cleaning

We only sell live crabs as required by food safety laws but is is common for crab customers to hire an independent local dock worker to clean crabs in exchange for a tip. We can usually help make this connection on request but the details of the arrangement are up to you. Cleaned crabs should be kept on ice or refrigerated.

Last minute deals

We often offer special daily deals on mixed sized crabs or unsold quantities at he marina. In most cases the price remains the same but the offer includes an extra number of crabs. Those deals are posted on social media and are valid only until those specific daily crabs are sold on that day. These deals are short-lived, sometimes as short as 30 minutes before unsold crabs must be shipped to a wholesale dealer.

 

Ticketing for Sunday August 12 Event

On Sunday August 12 at 7:00 PM we will host a meteor show watching event for our members and quests at the marina. Because the event has the potential to attract more attention than we expected, we are implementing these ticketing policies:

  • The event will be limited to 40 adult ticket holders. Children don’t need tickets.
  • Marina members can obtain tickets for themselves and guests.
  • If you are not a member and don’t know any marina members, call and ask to speak with our membership manager.
  • Ticket are offered for a $15 donation per adult donation to Baysave, a 501(c)(3) and NJ registered charity.
  • Tickets are cancellable in writing via text message up until 10 AM on the day of the event. After that you are on the hook for the amount of the donation.
  • If we cancel the event for weather or other reasons, the donations may be refunded.
  • Payment can be made electronically (we can sent an electronic invoice) or paid later at the door. (As with all marina transactions, members can use ‘house charge’ and settle later).
  • Tickets will be issued via text message.
  • To get tickets, fill out the secure registration form here. and look for text message confirmation. Use the text message as your ticket.

OTHER INFORMATION:

  • State law requires children to wear a life jacket when on docks. The best option is to bring your own. We have a limited number of loaners and some available for sale.
  • Plan to wear bug spray at dusk and night-time at any event on the water. Bring your own or we have it available if you don’t.

NJ Clean Marina Program

NJ Clean Marina logo.jpegIn 2013 through 2015 Money Island Marina went through an intensive internal training, planning and implementation program under the guidelines of the NJ Clean Marina program. It took us many hours and cost thousands of dollars but the resulting change in operational procedures was well worth the effort. This program led us to cleaner and more sustainable business practices. It also provided benefits to other stakeholders.

In the spring of 2015 we completed our final on-site inspection for certification with program Director Mike Danko. After some months when we did not receive the promised plague indicating completion of the program, I called the program administrator. He said that the program had run out of funding and he hoped that funding would be restored.

Now, three years later the program is still apparently still unfunded and idle. The web site is still up but hasn’t been updated in these past few years. Our application is still pending.

At the July 2018 NJ Sustainability Summit I had time to consider our position on this and made a decision to promote the NJ Clean Marina program in hope of drawing public attention to the fact that this program despite our marina’s status.

In August 2018 the program administrator for the state of New Jersey said that NJDEP has blocked our acceptance into the program but refused to name the official who took this action. We believe that this is part of a larger series of moves taken by the NJDEP to specifically target this Money Island marina community. We are now working with our elected officials on a legislative solution.  Unfortunately the NJDEP has a long history of murky internal governance and avoidance of influence by elected government.

Looking ahead to June at Money Island

In June the fishing and crabbing gradually picks up. We will be eating eat lots of crabs, oysters and local fish. We will see some larger flounders, hopefully a few bluefish runs and plenty of stripers.  Most of the stripers are small but there are larger ones in the creek. Perch are always here but it takes some time in the creek or timing of the tide if dock fishing. We will have minnows, grass shrimp, squid, fiddler crabs and shedder crabs and bunker for bait.

We can take purchase orders for live crabs at any time. Market price varies but we will confirm on the day of the order. Delivery is also available. Stay tuned for availability of fresh soft shell crabs. This year we will take advance online payment before taking delivery from the crab boats.

Our two fishing kayaks are available to members and, in limited circumstances, the marina jon boat is available.

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The marina is open 7 days a week. Officially we open at 6 AM but sometimes coffee isn’t on until 7. Similarly, we close early if nobody is around. If you are coming early or late in the afternoon, please call ahead.

The two sandy beaches (on the cove and at the Gandy’s Beach end of the island) reopen on June 7 after being closed for seasonal migrating bird feeding. We saw more of the South American red knots here this year than last and that was encouraging.

Captain Bruce is organizing charter trips throughout the month and a Ladies Fishing Day on Sunday June 10. Somehow I don’t think many will mind if we see more glasses of chardonnay than fish.

By the middle of the month we will reopen the front transition dock for dock fishing after finishing substantial repairs from winter damage.

We still have plenty of new boat slips  and dry dock space still available and we will continue to recruit new marina members. Prices are a little bit higher than the pre-season amounts but we have plenty of room to make a great deal for the right boaters. Download this document for complete information.

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Tony has investors visiting Money Island on several days early in the month and has a meeting with State Senator Van Drew scheduled on June 11. This is important to the future of our community.

It is traditional to open our facility to the public on Father’s Day, Sunday June 17, for a free community event. It hasn’t been a big event lately because we don’t market it much. We will offer boat rides, food and loaner equipment.

Members of a fantastic group of Philadelphia-based business owners called Powermatch are visiting on Saturday June 23 for a day of fun and seafood barbecue. All marina members are invited to join us.

We will celebrate Tony’s birthday  on Saturday July 7 with a seafood barbecue party. In recent years that has been the biggest event of the year here because the whole family shows up. Again, all members are invited.

MOST IMPORTANT: All events are weather dependent. Some say “June is for the bugs” and we take this seriously. We rely on sunny days with a steady breeze to keep us bug-free. Without these two, it simply isn’t worth being outside in June.  When the wind is blowing at more than 4 mph we don’t have a problem. Notice that the locals wear loose fitting long sleeved clothing and long pants. We have bug spray and sun block at the bait shop.

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Boat Ramp Disaster at Money Island in the 1990s

Leroy Pierce sent these photos that he took in the middle 1990s when he was working for Towboat US. Leroy wrote “we dove to get crane attached to get the marina crane out. Then the tow truck which had the boat trailer attached. Tried to bring boat up on slack low tide. Marina crane was trying to lift trailer over concrete ledge while tow truck pulled up. Crane slipped on wet ramp pushed tow truck into creek and went over ledge as well”.

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MIM disaster 2

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MIM disaster 5

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