PROPOSES NEW OPENINGS OF SHELLFISH BEDS
Reclassifications reflect continued improvements in marine
(04/04) TRENTON - The
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
today announced that New Jersey has proposed the reclassification
of 830 acres of shellfish beds, opening many of them to
more harvesting by recreational and commercial shellfishermen.
"The opening of these waters demonstrates
the benefits of New Jersey's commitment to protecting water
quality and enhancing our precious marine resources,"
DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell said. "Marine
ecosystems and economic development mutually benefit from
our environmental protections - that is why Governor McGreevey
has set such a strong environmental agenda and record for
The reclassifications are based on water
quality surveys performed by DEP's Marine Water Monitoring
program, which found that the water quality around several
of the shellfish beds had improved sufficiently to allow
for increased safe harvesting and consumption of the shellfish.
DEP typically monitors and assesses water quality in shellfish
beds for at least three years prior to any lengthening or
shortening of harvesting periods. New Jersey collects approximately
15,000 water samples each year at over 2,500 sampling locations
in the state's bay and ocean waters.
"New Jersey has opened approximately
90 percent of its shellfish beds to the more than 9,000
licensed shellfishermen in the state," said Campbell.
"This year, as in the last two years, New Jersey has
upgraded more beds than it has downgraded."
Of the 830 acres being reclassified, 510
acres are being upgraded while 320 acres are being downgraded.
DEP is proposing upgrades for: 161 acres in the High Bar
Harbor region of Barnegat Bay, from Special Restricted to
Approved, and 349 acres in Jarvis Sound off Cape May County,
from Special Restricted to Seasonally Approved.
DEP is proposing to downgrade 85 acres
in the Havens Cove and Island Beach State Park regions of
Barnegat Bay from Approved to Seasonally Approved and 235
acres in the Maurice River Cove from Approved to Seasonally
Approved. DEP is currently investigating the specific sources
of the decline in water quality that led to the largest
area of downgrading - in Maurice River Cove, which has a
significant oyster resource.
Non-point source pollution is one of the
primary contributor to declines in marine water quality.
Therefore, Governor McGreevey has aggressively targeted
this pollution through his new stormwater rules that went
into effect this month.
The state has four classifications for
shellfish harvest waters:
- Special Restricted - shellfish harvested in these areas
have to be subjected to purification processes before
they are consumable,
- Seasonal Waters - shellfish harvesting is permissible
either from November to April or from January to April,
depending on the local activity of people and wildlife
and the water quality impacts of seasonal tourists, and
- Approved - no restrictions on harvesting.
The shellfish bed reclassifications are
proposed amendments to the Shellfish Growing Water Classifications,
which were published in the January 5, 2004 New Jersey Register
and are subject to a 60-day public comment period that ends
March 5, 2004.