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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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NJ DEPARTMENT of ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Natural and Historic Resources
Division of Fish and Wildlife
Bureau of Shellfisheries

Notice of Rule Proposal
Oysters - Proposed Amendments and New Rules to N.J.A.C. 7:25A
Proposed Repeals:  N.J.A.C. 7:25A-1.2, 1.9, 1.10, 4.1 – 4.6

Public Notice
Take notice that the NJ Department of Environmental Protection is proposing amendments and new rules to N.J.A.C. 7:25A.  A statement of the substance of the proposal follows: the Oysters rules, N.J.A.C. 7:25A, govern the management and harvest of oysters from the Delaware River, Delaware Bay and their tributaries.  The proposed amendments concern the management and harvest of oysters in Delaware Bay and the rules regarding oyster dredge vessel licenses.  The proposed rules additionally reorganize the existing subchapters and incorporate provisions reflecting how the fishery has been operating since the start of the direct market harvest season in 1996.  N.J.A.C. 7:25A currently contains four subchapters:  Subchapter 1, Oyster Management; Subchapter 2 (Reserved); Subchapter 3 (Reserved); and Subchapter 4, Oyster Cultch Program.  The proposal continues to maintain as part of Subchapter 1 the rules governing the issuance and renewal of oyster dredging licenses and the leasing of oyster ground in Section E in Delaware Bay.  However, it is proposed that the rules governing the taking of seed oysters from the State’s natural seed beds for direct market harvest or transplant, currently part of Subchapter 1, be recodified to new Subchapters 2 and 3, respectively, and that the Oyster Cultch Program, currently contained in Subchapter 4, be recodified to be part of Subchapter 1.  As a result of the proposed amendments, Subchapter 1 will constitute the rules governing the issuance, renewal and transfer of oyster dredge vessel licenses, the leasing of oyster ground in Section E in the Delaware Bay, and the reporting of oysters harvested from the Delaware River, Delaware Bay and their tributaries.  This subchapter will additionally govern the collection of fees to finance an oyster cultch and resource enhancement program.  As part of the proposed reorganization of this chapter, the Department is proposing to recodify rules related to the taking of seed oysters from the State’s natural seed beds to new Subchapters 2 and 3.  Proposed Subchapter 2, Direct market harvest season, regulates the direct market harvest of oysters from the State’s natural seed beds in Delaware Bay.  The rules for the direct market harvest season include limitations on harvest times and areas, establishment of an annual harvest quota, provisions for the purchase and use of harvest tags and a requirement for weekly reporting by harvesters.  Proposed Subchapter 3, Oyster transplant season, provides the framework for the harvest of oysters from the State’s natural seed beds for transplanting directly to the leased grounds in the lower Delaware Bay, a common practice before oyster disease conditions lessened the benefits of this harvest option.  This subchapter retains the rules, currently codified at N.J.A.C. 7:25A-1.9, by which the fishery operates during this harvest program (known under the current rules as the “Bay Season”).  Although this management option has not been employed in many years, as high disease levels have been present in the planting grounds, the proposed reorganization and amendments maintain this harvest option for future use if disease and environmental conditions are suitable.  These amendments have been developed in concert with the Delaware Bay Section of the New Jersey Shell Fisheries Council and the participants of the fishery involved to improve enforcement of existing regulations or to correct, clarify or simplify existing regulations.

The proposal is scheduled to be published in the New Jersey Register on June 1, 2009.  No public hearings are scheduled for this proposal.  A copy of the proposal is available from: Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) website (PDF); LexisNexis Customer Service at (800) 223-1944 or www.lexisnexis.com/bookstore.  Be advised that there may be a fee for obtaining a copy of the proposal from some sources. 

Written comments may be submitted by July 31, 2009 to:

NJ Department of Environmental Protection
Gary J. Brower, Esq.
Attention: Docket Number: 09-09-04/620
Office of Legal Affairs
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection           
401 East State Street, 4th Floor
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0402

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Last Updated: March 9, 2011