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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2005

Contact: Karen Hershey
(609) 984-1795

DEP OYSTER REVITALIZATION PROJECT BRINGS WARMTH TO THE DELAWARE BAY

(05/08) TRENTON -- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that it is making available $300,000 in funding to strengthen the oyster resource in the Delaware Bay. The project will enhance more than 150 acres of oyster habitat, leading to a significant increase in oyster production in the lower Bay.

"The oyster industry has played a significant role in shaping the unique history of New Jersey's bayshore region," said Acting Governor Richard J. Codey. "At its peak during the turn of the century, more than 4,000 people worked in the oyster industry in Cumberland County. Today's announcement moves us forward in our goal of improving the quality of life for those who today make their living from the harvesting of oysters."

DEP's contribution will be supplemented by an additional $300,000 provided through the efforts of Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-2) to be shared with the state of Delaware. Rep. LoBiondo's contribution comes from money secured under the Omnibus Appropriations bill for the Second District of New Jersey.

"Through this revitalization program, we hope to give a boost to the oyster industry surrounding Delaware Bay," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "We expect that the project will increase job opportunities for oystermen, and bring additional revenue to those businesses associated with oyster harvesting."

"These new funds will go a long way to help the oyster industry in South Jersey," said Rep. LoBiondo. "The money will be used in conjunction with the Rutgers' Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory in Commercial Township to help revitalize and seed oyster beds in the Delaware Bay."

In the last four years, the production or recruitment of new oysters in the Delaware Bay has been poor, causing a decrease in the number of young oysters, or spat, to mature to harvest size. Oyster larvae require a clean, hard surface to which they can attach for future growth, but the sources of these shells have diminished over the years.

The $600,000 provided by DEP and Congressman LoBiondo will fund the planting of empty clam shells to facilitate the growth of oyster seed. The money will also be used for the transplanting of oyster seed from shell planting locations to nursery sites located in the upper Delaware Bay.

The project is an expansion of DEP's successful 2003 pilot project that enhanced an oyster seedbed in the Delaware Bay with the planting of nearly 30 million oysters. The planting resulted in a spat settlement rate that was 75 times greater than natural production rates.

 

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