(TUCKERTON) – New Jersey Agriculture Secretary
Charles M. Kuperus today issued the state’s first-ever
Aquatic Farmer Licenses.
“Farmers and fishermen are important to the economy of New Jersey and the
state’s quality of life,” said Secretary Kuperus. “With such
a diverse food and agriculture industry in the state, consumers benefit from
New Jersey’s bounty from both the sea and land.”
The Aquatic Farmer License is a provision of the New Jersey Aquaculture
Development Act, which was designed to foster the growth of a viable
and vibrant aquaculture industry in New Jersey. The license was established
to allow producers to demonstrate definitive ownership of the organisms
being cultured and reduce the possibility of the introduction of exotic
pests that may be detrimental to wild stocks and other aquatic farms.
“Today adds another important link in anchoring aquaculture to New Jersey’s
economy,” said Assemblyman John Gibson (Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland),
who was among the group of 16 aquatic farmers who received their licenses. “In
the nine years since the drafting of the aquaculture development plan, New Jersey
has invested in technological and educational infrastructure; encouraged entrepreneurship;
and now, with this license, we are providing another means to make it easier
to farm fish in this state.”
Kuperus also announced the launching of a new website dedicated entirely
to the seafood and aquaculture industries. Found at www.jerseyseafood.nj.gov,
visitors can find recipes from New Jersey’s top chefs featuring
Jersey Fresh produce and Jersey seafood; they can watch a demonstration
on how to prepare seafood; and get health and nutrition tips. For those
in the industry, they can find a list of suppliers, exporters, and importers,
do a product search, and link to numerous helpful websites.
“We may be the Garden State but New Jersey also boasts six fishing ports
and 127 miles of shoreline with some of the best seafood in the nation right
off of our coast,” said Secretary Kuperus. “The Jersey Seafood website
-- for the first time – brings all the information about New Jersey seafood
and aquaculture together in one place.”
Aquaculture is a form of agriculture involving the production and marketing
of aquatic organisms – such as shellfish, fish, and aquatic plants
-- in controlled or selected environments. In addition to intensive on-farm
production strategies, aquaculture also includes efforts that simply
improve natural processes, achieving greater yields of fish and seafood
to meet growing consumer demand.
A United State Department of Agriculture survey showed total sales from
28 aquaculture farms in New Jersey were $5,787,000 – the 5th highest
farm gate value in the Northeast. There are 64 acres of freshwater farms
and 1,402 acres of saltwater farms.
While the primary focus of aquaculture in New Jersey is the hard clam
and regeneration of the oyster culture industry, potential candidate
species for the developing aquaculture industry include hybrid striped
bass, bay scallops, soft-shell clams and crabs, black sea bass and koi.
In addition to the Aquatic Farmer License, the Aquaculture Development
Act also established the Aquaculture Advisory Council, a 15-member panel,
which is charged with developing a business-friendly and environmentally-sound
policy framework to foster the growth of aquaculture in the state.
“Aquaculture is an important part of the New Jersey food and agriculture
industry,” said Secretary Kuperus. “However, to these aquatic farmer
licensees – especially the shellfish farmers -- aquaculture allows them
to continue to earn their living as ‘baymen.’”