CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION REOPENS LAST OF SHELLFISH BEDS CLOSED
SINCE SANDY HIT NEW JERSEY
DEP Order Reopens Raritan Bay and Little Egg Harbor Beds
(13/P36) TRENTON – Shellfish beds in the Little Egg Harbor section of Barnegat Bay reopened at sunrise today and beds in all of Raritan Bay will reopen at sunrise on Monday, April 15, as a result of an Administrative Order signed by Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bob Martin.
With the resumption of shellfish harvesting in both areas, all of New Jersey’s shellfish beds that were once closed as a result of Superstorm Sandy will now return to the classifications they had before the storm hit at the end of October.
“It has been a long road for many shellfish harvesters who have had their livelihoods compromised by Superstorm Sandy,” Commissioner Martin said. “The shellfish industry is very important to the state. I commend the industry for working cooperatively with us to protect public health. The reopening of Raritan Bay shellfish beds is particularly significant because these beds provide the largest area in the state for harvesting of hard clams.”
The only section of Barnegat Bay that remained closed to shellfish harvesting as of last week was a small portion of Little Egg Harbor – although oyster harvesting was permitted. DEP tissue sampling of clams from this area of the bay now meet standards set by the National Shellfish Sanitation Program, a state and federal cooperative effort that monitors and ensures the health safety of shellfish.
The DEP monitors more than 720,000 acres of commercial shellfish beds in the state’s ocean waters and estuaries as well as all recreational harvesting. Bivalves in these beds such as clams, oysters and mussels are filter feeders that can accumulate harmful bacteria carried into waterways.
Superstorm Sandy impacted shellfish beds primarily by causing wastewater system failures and overflows into coastal waters. Most discharges stopped shortly after the storm. But by then water temperatures had dropped, slowing down the metabolism of the shellfish. In some areas of the state, shellfish had difficulty purging themselves of viruses and bacteria.
The DEP continue to work with the New Jersey Department of Health and U.S. Food and Drug Administration to monitor these beds, reopening them to commercial and recreational harvesting when tissue samples meet health safety standards.
To see a copy of today’s signed order and a map showing the exact location of the shellfish beds that will reopen on Friday and Monday, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/bmw/sandy/20130411lehandallsigned.pdf
For more information, including a map of all reopened shellfish beds, visit http://www.nj.gov/dep/wms/bmw/sandy.html
For more on DEP’s Marine Water Monitoring, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/wms/bmw/