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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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The delaware bay oyster restoration program

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


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

Crassostrea virginica is an estuarine species inhabiting

waters of ~ 5 to 30 ppt (ocean water is typically 35 ppt)

New York

New Jersey

Philadelphia

Delaware Bay

Baltimore

Washington

Chesapeake Bay

Delaware


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

Ecosystem Function

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.


Oystering by sail power

Haskin Lab

Bivalve, NJ - 1928

Oystering By Sail & Power


Traditional fishery

Seed Beds

Leased Grounds

(33,000+ acres)

Seed Beds

Leased Grounds

Traditional Fishery

  • Culture Intensive

  • Wild oyster seed harvested from seed beds in upper bay (good survival but slow growth)

  • Seed transplanted to leased grounds in lower bay (good growth and market-quality meats)


Prosperity

Important to note that this harvest was augmented from oyster seed imported from southern states. Not really sustainable!

Prosperity!

1880-1930

Annual harvests from 1 to 2 million bu.


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

Courtesy of S. Ford

MSX Strikes


Gradual recovery limited entry

1960s & 1970s: Native oysters develop some resistance to MSX disease.

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 employment

Gradual Recovery & Limited Entry

They are still fishing!!!!


Msx dermo
MSX & Dermo! MSX disease.

MSX Again

MSX

Dermo

Direct Market

Beds

Closed

Beds

Closed


A change in management

1996-2008: 35 to 77 vessels participate annually MSX disease.

State of Delaware begins direct market program in 2001

A Change In Management

1995: Due to Dermo --- Direct Market Program allows oystermen to harvest oysters (> 2.5 inches) for direct sale.


Harvest stabilization
Harvest Stabilization MSX disease.

Significant progress has been made toward stabilizing oyster production.

Delaware Bay consistently produces a high value oyster

Photo: B.C. Posadas


Unprecedented low recruitment

Dermo Onset MSX disease.

Unprecedented Low Recruitment!


It s not rocket science

Clean Shell, Right Place, Right Time MSX disease.

= Baby Oysters

It’s Not Rocket Science!


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

Towed Camera MSX disease.

Divers


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

I still got time…I can still change my major….be a roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!

Hard…Soft mud…shell…

man I hate this!

THE POLE

Pole Trainee


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

Many Thanks to Delaware Coastal Mgmt. Program!!! roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!

DE Coastal Program

Bart Wilson, Dave Carter

Acoustic-Sediment Classification

Purple = shell

Bottom classification based on ‘hardness’


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

Main Ship Channel roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!

Ship John

Middle

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.


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

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


Njdep s pilot project
NJDEP’s Pilot Project roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!

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.


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

NJDEP’s Pilot Project roofer…a Sewage plant gate cleaner!

Spatted shell reharvested – Sept. ‘03


What did we get out of this project

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?


What did we get out of this project1

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?


A partnership approach

PRIME THE PUMP AND THE INDUSTRY WILL FUND SHELLPLANTING PROGRAM

NJ AND DE OYSTERMEN PAY A $1.25- $2.00 PER BUSHEL LANDING FEE

A 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.


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

NJ & DE Sites PROGRAM

2005

2006

19 sites in NJ

9 sites in DE

2007


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

Count it! PROGRAM

Measure it!

Load it!

Move it!

Plant it!


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

Native vs. Planted Shell PROGRAM

Low recruitment years

GoodYear throughout Bay

Delaware Estuary Science Conference


How have we done so far

The ’05 -‘08 programs involved the planting of ~1.8 million bushels of shell throughout the Bay.

2005 Metrics:

Plantings had mean recruitment rates nearly 14 times the baywide mean.

2006 Metrics:

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.

2007 Metrics:

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.

How Have We Done So far?


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

Projected Yield million bushels of shell throughout the Bay.

Bushels Planted

Year

2005

230,648

>57,000 bushels

478,650

2006

>139,000 bushels*

2007

275,683

>108,000 bushels

2008

350,000+

???????????

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

*2006+2007 set

2007 Harvest in NJ = 81,235 Bushels


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

The Tip of the Spear million bushels of shell throughout the Bay.

“The Wizard”

Dr. Eric Powell


The delaware bay oyster restoration program

New Jersey million bushels of shell throughout the Bay.MUST find a way to utilize the Cape Shore Flats

My Personal Crusade!


Questions

“Forty-two percent of all statistics are made up” million bushels of shell throughout the Bay.

– Steven Wright, Comedian,

Fake Author

Program is designed to “jump-start” the process while increasing industry reinvestment.

Designed to be self-sustaining

Seems to be working!

Questions?

Thompson’s Beach, Cumberland Co., NJ