Waterfront property is prime real estate but the great views can come with an unexpected price to marine fish habitat. Enter marine biologist George Stadnik.
In oversimplified terms, it is Stadnik’s job to make sure marine habitat don’t pay the ultimate price for coastal development, be it a home, a building, a pier or a marina, along the many bodies of water around New York City, including the Hudson River, Jamaica Bay and the Long Island Sound.
“If the project is within 150 feet of the water, you have to come see us,” says Stadnik, a member of the New York State Public Employees Federation. His job is part scientist, part compliance officer, part regulator and part investigator.
It’s an important public service that many take for granted. Just as waterfront property is a valued asset, marine fish are an invaluable resource for commercial and recreational fishing. “And people love eating their seafood,” notes Stadnik.
He knows that first hand. After graduating college, he worked as a commercial fisherman. “It was hard work. It was dangerous,” recalls Stadnik of commercial fishing, the rigor of which is depicted by the television documentary “Deadliest Catch.”
After a few years, though, Stadnik wanted to use his degree in marine science with a concentration in biology. The Brooklyn born and bred native went to work for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation in 1986. He works in the Marine Habitat Protection Unit.