PHILADELPHIA — A broken net on a fishing boat may have caused thousands of rotting, dead fish to wash up on a Jersey Shore beach on Friday, said officials who had no plan to remove them ahead of a warm weekend that’s likely to lure throngs of beach enthusiasts.
The carcasses have come ashore at a handful of locations near Cape May Point, according to Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.
Sea breezes blew in the stench of thousands of dead bunker, a 10-12 inch fish that is used as bait.
Vessels with broken nets are required to report to the state of New Jersey, Hajna said. So far, none have done so.
While no cleanup was planned ahead of a weekend that was forecast to bring temperatures as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit, Hajna expected the fish to wash back out to sea with one or two tide cycles.
Three weeks ago, thousands of bait fish washed ashore near Belmar, another popular beach in New Jersey, sparking concerns of environmental contamination.
Investigators determined that the fish had been trapped in the Shark River inlet by predators and their large numbers had depleted oxygen in the water, causing their death, Hajna said.