Poaching Wildlife In New York City

[logo whooshing]

[light music]

[train rumbling]

Guys, this area’s closed.

Why are you in here?

This is very upsetting to me

to see them poaching these creatures.

You see all these crabs that they have?

Two buckets, two buckets of crabs.

What are you taking out of the water?

You don’t see the sign?

You need to get tickets and get arrested.

We do need more patrols in this area

because the poachers are everywhere.

[soft music]

[Man 1] Three or four years ago

we started to see more of a phenomena.

Little tiny headlights out in different areas of the bay.

And at first it was like, Wow, what’s going on?

[soft music]

During COVID, it exploded.

[car horn blaring]

We realized that during times of dead low tide,

when you have an exposed mud flat,

that people were coming in and just wantonly taking

whatever they could get in buckets,

buckets full of this stuff.

We’re talking about turtles.

[Man 2] Turtles is a big thing.

[Man 1] Turtles is a real big thing.

[Man 2] Some cultures that’s a wanted item.

[Man 1] A delicacy, besides turtles you have eels,

you have crabs, you have clams.

[soft music]

So the DEC tells us that this is a major problem

because if that makes it out onto the open market,

which they expect it is, you can really see people get sick.

[intense music]

[birds chirping]

[train roaring]

Jamaica Bay is a treasure within New York City.

The only urban national park of its kind in the country.

[water splashing]

Tremendous amount of marine life.

One out of every four birds in North America

has been spotted here at some point in time.

[engine roaring]

My family, the Mundy family,

has lived in Jamaica Bay for four generations.

We’ve dedicated ourself to protecting Jamaica Bay.

Hey buddy. [Dan whistling]

What do you say, hey, hey?

What do you say there?

Hey, hello friend.

[Dan whistling]

This is over 25 times the size of Central Park.

Sometimes its hard to believe that you’re in the city

when you’re out here in a city of 8 million.

Jamaica Bay is an amazing place,

but there’s also a dark side.

[cool music]

So Jamaica Bay, basically from the late 1800s

up until 1990 was just basically a dumping ground.

And the quality of the bay went downhill because of it.

[Man 1] Direct sewage was going into the bay.

Dumping by different companies in terms of

just whatever you threw into the bay

nobody would really considered it a crime.

[Man 3] They put the cement shoes on you,

a couple of concrete blocks.

And over you went, and down you went swim with the fishes.

[cool music]

[Man 4] You can see human waste in the water at times.

[Man 1] So while we talking about all the great things

in Jamaica Bay and how it’s come around and it has,

it’s still not safe to take certain species like shellfish

that reside in the sediment on the bottom.

There is a potential for your family to get sick.

[cool music]

Ahead of us up there is the North Channel Bridge,

also known as Addabbo Bridge

and that white spit of beach sand

is where a lot of times you see

the poaching going on at night,

very conducive to it,

because it’s got the parking lot right there.

So you can just walk right in

when you from your car.

[Director] Have you ever had the chance to go over

and talk to them?

[Man 5] No, I’ve approached on a couple occasions.

[Man 6] They’re not able to understand and communicate,

with a language barrier.

[water splashing]


I don’t know.

Maybe he’s not poaching.

Guys this area’s closed.

Why are you in here?

What are you catching?

Okay. Right now we are leave,

okay Miss, thank you.

I could barely drag this bag.

No, no, no.

Hold on. Hold on.

I’m not letting you take this.

This is way too much.

Look at this.

Look at all these fish they’re pulling out the water.

This water is not clean.

You’re not supposed to be in the water period.

Because it’s sewage.

[man speaking foreign language]

You got crabs here.

We’re not supposed to be collecting these crabs.

Okay? This is not allowed here.

You can’t be taking the crabs.

You gotta leave the crabs in the water.

Okay? The crabs are shellfish.

Look, you gotta look at the sign.

I would not eat a fish,

a crab or a clam out of Jamaica Bay.

Because they’re going to increase the risk of cancer.

They’re going to interfere with my brain function.

They’re going to increase my risk of a whole variety

of other diseases.

I really have been working in environmental health

for 45 years.

We have not removed a lot of the hazardous chemicals

from those bodies of water.

The Hudson river from Hudson falls and Fort Edward down

to New York city, including Jamaica Bay and the East river,

is a federal Superfund site designated so

by the Environmental Protection Agency,

which means this is one of the most contaminated sites

in the country.

There are a number of different chemicals

that make fish dangerous to eat.

The most dangerous one is PCBs.

[cool music]

General Electric Company had two plants

on the Hudson river.

Monsanto PCBs were excellent insulators

for any electrical equipment.

As they filled them, PCBs leaked,

they got on the floor of the plants

and they washed the PCBs down the drain.

The drain led directly into the Hudson river.

PCBs escaped into the environment.

They migrated down the river to the New York City area

to the East river, to Jamaica Bay,

where they have contaminated the sediments,

the water, the fish, even the soil nearby.

One can’t see PCBs in a body of water.

Therefore, most people don’t understand

how dangerous they are.

PCBs have been rated as a proven human carcinogen

by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

But it’s not only cancer.

PCBs may reduce IQ, increased diabetes, high blood pressure.

Everything they do is harmful.

The problem is most of the nearby residents

don’t understand the level of contamination.

[plane engine roaring]

[soft music]

[Director] The water here is pretty dirty.

Isn’t it?

[Fisherman] Yeah, there’s seaweed.

[Director] No, there’s like feces.

[Fisherman] I never saw it.

[Woman speaking foreign language]

[Man speaking foreign language]

You really have to start to question, you know

why those people are doing that in the first place?

What would drive them to do that?

And obviously it’s because they don’t have any other choice,

who would want to do that?

[woman speaking foreign language]

[man speaking foreign language]

So the fact that this fishing or poaching started,

and it started in tandem with the start of the pandemic,

is actually not surprising to me.

If you actually understand some of the history

of the the population in terms of their food insecurity,

and the lack of social service resources for them.

Open it,

thank you.

We assume that Asian Americans are rich,

but there are huge sections of the community

that are living on the fringes.

[woman speaking foreign language]

The food insecurity problem

in the Chinese lower income community is a problem.

So Asian Americans make up about 14 to 15%,

of the New York City community.

This report found that they receive 1.4%

of all city contract dollars.

That is what happens when there are all these holes

within the social support system in this country,

where people like that have to live outside

and go into the fringes to just survive.

[cool music]

[woman speaking foreign language]

The general feeling and the general perception

of the Asian American community does stem around,

not only exoticism, but exoticism,

specifically around food.

I mean, a lot of the narrative around the Coronavirus

was Chinese people eating bats, right?

And it is an easy way to other people to say like,

Ew what you do is gross.

Therefore you are less human.

Therefore we can treat you differently

than other people that are human.

[siren blaring]

So Asian Americans need to exist within this thin band,

within US society, which is you’re either doing better

than everyone else.

Or you’re obviously a threat to our national security.

[siren blaring]

[cool music]

For almost on any given night.

Before you have officers working out,

they will write tickets.

[cool music]

Might be couple,

might be 14, 15, 20 a night.

A lot of ’em are unclassified misdemeanors

for the fine is between $250 and $1000.

[Fisherman speaking foreign language]

[Director] So many of the people we’ve met,

don’t seem to realize they were doing something illegal

or at least they tell us that.

Do you ever worry that you’re criminalizing something

that’s actually just lost in translation?

Well, DEC does a good job advert,

you know, posting information on the website,

but at the same token we do have responsibility

to protect the human health.

And we need to do what we need to do

to enforce the regulations.

Some of it is through education.

Some of it is through summons.

Well, it’s outrageous

to criminalized immigrant communities

for eating contaminated fish, as DEC is doing,

it’s not sane.

Environmental injustice is when poor people

are at greater risk of environmental contamination disease

than rich people.

This is clearly an issue of environmental justice,

or rather environmental injustice.

Is in general, true around the world,

that it’s low income people that bear the brunt

of the environmental contamination that we have caused.

[Woman] In Flint Michigan,

dangerous levels have lead were discovered

which can cause learning difficulties in children.

You know, people are having more

and more to carry their children to the doctor.

They got rashes.

They have stomach conditions.

[David] This is true internationally.

The body of water has been circled by industries

that dump toxic substances.

The nearby environment is no longer beautiful

and the property values go way down.

So poor people are attracted to that

because they can live more cheaply

near the contaminated sites.

They’re stuck in an environment

where they have to scrounge for their daily food.

[soft music]

I call the Hudson river down to Jamaica Bay

a beautiful hazardous waste site.

[birds chirping]

And it will remain that probably forever.

[soft music]

[man speaking foreign language]

[soft music]

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