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Oyster Enhancement Project Seeks to Boost Shellfish Stocks, Environmental Stewardship of Barnegat Bay

December 9, 2008

Continuing efforts to enhance shellfish stocks and promote environmental stewardship of Barnegat Bay, the Department of Environmental Protection on Saturday dropped 8,000 bushels of crushed shells into the bay to prepare for planting 350,000 juvenile oysters.

Submerged off Good Luck Point near the mouth of the Toms River, the shells will serve as a foundation for the oyster-seed planting later this week and will improve the marine habitat in Barnegat Bay as well as raise public awareness about the bayís ecosystem.

Oyster beds once played an important role in Barnegat Bay, serving as critical habitat for a variety of fish and invertebrates, including worms, other bivalves and crabs as well as providing food for a variety of estuarine organisms.

The deployment of shell and oyster seed, along with the planting of hard clams during the past few years, is part of the Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Program, a collaborative endeavor among the DEPís Division of Fish and Wildlife Bureau of Shellfisheries, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, the American Littoral Society and ReClam the Bay Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to shellfish restoration in the Barnegat Bay.

The DEPís Division of Fish and Wildlife selected the site in approved waters near Toms River after conducting a survey of historical oyster beds throughout the bay and securing the required state and federal permits. Rutgers University contributed a diver to finalize the site assessment and selection process. Both the DEP and the American Littoral Society funded the shell deployment.

The DEP purchased the oyster seed from Rutgers Universityís Haskin Lab Hatchery along Delaware Bay. Under the direction of staff from Rutgers Cooperative Extension, volunteers raised the oyster seed in tanks and floating trays at various locations along the bay.

For more information on the Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Project, visit: http://ocean.njaes.rutgers.edu/marine/bbsrp.html.

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Department of Environmental Protection
P. O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Last Updated: December 9, 2008