The Delaware Bay Oyster Restoration Program. R. Babb, J.Hearon and C. Tomlin NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife Delaware Bay Office Port Norris, NJ 08349, USA. E. Powell, D. Bushek and K. Alcox Rutgers University Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory, Port Norris, NJ 08349, USA.
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R. Babb, J.Hearon and C. Tomlin
NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife
Delaware Bay Office
Port Norris, NJ 08349, USA
E. Powell, D. Bushek and K. Alcox
Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory,
Port Norris, NJ 08349, USA
Crassostrea virginica is an estuarine species inhabiting
waters of ~ 5 to 30 ppt (ocean water is typically 35 ppt)
Oysters are a keystone species in the Delaware Bay, providing the basis for a vast community of benthic organisms.
Oysters and the reefs they create increase habitat and faunal diversity and through their high filtration capacity, they can even improve water quality.
Bivalve, NJ - 1928Oystering By Sail & Power
Leased GroundsTraditional Fishery
Important to note that this harvest was augmented from oyster seed imported from southern states. Not really sustainable!Prosperity!
Annual harvests from 1 to 2 million bu.
Population abundance was high and relatively stable during the 1970s.
1981: NJDEP implements a limited-entry licensing system
Through mid ‘80s, oyster industry provides steady employmentGradual Recovery & Limited Entry
They are still fishing!!!!
1996-2008: 35 to 77 vessels participate annually MSX disease.
State of Delaware begins direct market program in 2001A Change In Management
1995: Due to Dermo --- Direct Market Program allows oystermen to harvest oysters (> 2.5 inches) for direct sale.
Significant progress has been made toward stabilizing oyster production.
Delaware Bay consistently produces a high value oyster
Photo: B.C. Posadas
Dermo Onset MSX disease.Unprecedented Low Recruitment!
Clean Shell, Right Place, Right Time MSX disease.
= Baby OystersIt’s Not Rocket Science!
Towed Camera MSX disease.
I still got time…I can still change my major….be a roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!
man I hate this!
Many Thanks to Delaware Coastal Mgmt. Program!!! roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!
DE Coastal Program
Bart Wilson, Dave Carter
Purple = shell
Bottom classification based on ‘hardness’
Main Ship Channel roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!
Courtesy of DNREC – Bart Wilson
Bottom sediment distribution on NOAA bathymetry chart, showing the slumping of oyster shell from the Middle / Ship John beds into channel.
High Recruitment Zones of Lower Bay roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!
Percentage of years in which natural oyster set on NJ side of Bay will be at least 20 spat per clean oyster shell surface
Shell planted – July ‘03
During the summer of 2003, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) conducted a multiphase shell-planting program with the objective of augmenting juvenile abundance on the state seed beds by taking advantage of the extraordinary set potential of the lower Bay.
NJDEP’s Pilot Project roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!
Spatted shell reharvested – Sept. ‘03
25,000 bu. clam shell planted roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!
~16,500 bu. of spatted cultch recovered and transplanted
~1,800 spat per bushel
(112 times the ’03 Bay average (only 16 spat/bu.!)
30 million oysters were transplanted to the restoration site (Bennies Sand).What did we get out of this project?
2006 SAW estimated the site would roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!
contribute 13,393 bushels to the 2006
harvest, a 26% increase.
Ex-vessel value of nearly $500,000 (project cost $42,000)
Total economic benefit of nearly $3 million dollars.
Total cost-benefit ratio > $50 to every $1 invested by the State.What did we get out of this project?
NJ AND DE OYSTERMEN PAY A $1.25- $2.00 PER BUSHEL LANDING FEEA Partnership Approach!
US Army Corps of Engineers
NJDEP, Division of Fish and Wildlife
DEDNREC, Division of Fish & Wildlife
NJ & DE Oyster Industry
Rutgers University, Haskin Laboratory
Delaware River and Bay Authority
Delaware River Basin Commission
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
Delaware Estuary Program
Township of Commercial
State & Federal Legislative Team
Cumberland Co. Empowerment Zone
Combined efforts of partners have led to the use of $6.5 million in an effort to revitalize the oyster resource in Delaware Bay.
NJ & DE Sites PROGRAM
19 sites in NJ
9 sites in DE
Count it! PROGRAM
Native vs. Planted Shell PROGRAM
Low recruitment years
GoodYear throughout Bay
Delaware Estuary Science Conference
The ’05 -‘08 programs involved the planting of ~1.8 million bushels of shell throughout the Bay.
Plantings had mean recruitment rates nearly 14 times the baywide mean.
Native shell in NJ naturally attracted only 21 spat per bushel, baywide. In contrast, shell planted in high recruitment zones yielded ~ 2,200+ spat per bushel ---- over 105 times more spat than native shell.
Good set throughout Bay – breaks string of 7 yrs of poor recruitment.
Native shell performed as well as planted shell.
Shell budget of NJ beds in balance for first time in a decade.
Projected Yield million bushels of shell throughout the Bay.
Multiple year harvest projections, while often tenuous due to the vagaries of nature, have the potential to significantly increase future commercial harvests.
Harvest Projections from Restoration Sites
2007 Harvest in NJ = 81,235 Bushels
The Tip of the Spear million bushels of shell throughout the Bay.
Dr. Eric Powell
New Jersey million bushels of shell throughout the Bay.MUST find a way to utilize the Cape Shore Flats
My Personal Crusade!
“Forty-two percent of all statistics are made up” million bushels of shell throughout the Bay.
– Steven Wright, Comedian,
Program is designed to “jump-start” the process while increasing industry reinvestment.
Designed to be self-sustaining
Seems to be working!
Thompson’s Beach, Cumberland Co., NJ