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Aquaculture Advisory Council Issues Recommendations

or Immediate Release: December 13, 2011
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(609) 633-2954

(CAPE MAY) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher today released an update to the state’s Aquaculture Development Plan that focuses on the potential to sustain and grow aquaculture in New Jersey by identifying business opportunities and policy changes, as well as developments in research.

The report, “Opportunities and Potential for Aquaculture in New Jersey,” an update of the Aquaculture Development Plan,” was compiled by the Aquaculture Advisory Council, which is made up of public officials, industry representatives and members of the public.

“This plan is the roadmap to developing a strong and vibrant ‘aqua-business’ industry,” said Secretary Fisher. “We already have the Jersey Seafood logo in place to market local seafood and New Jersey has the consumers who support local product. The strategies spelled out in the plan will help our state’s producers tap into those resources.”

Photo of Secretary Fisher presenting the plan
Secretary Fisher presents the plan update while at the NJ Aquaculture Innovation Center in Cape May.

The report is required periodically pursuant to the New Jersey Aquaculture Development Act of 1998. Aquaculture is the propagation, rearing, and subsequent harvesting of aquatic organisms in controlled or selected environments. The Act states that the development of an economically viable aquaculture industry in the state had the potential to produce a significant number of jobs and revenue.

However, the industry has faced several challenges it must overcome to ensure the type of growth envisioned by the Aquaculture Development Act. The plan update addresses these challenges.

The plan was released at the New Jersey Aquaculture Innovation Center at Rutgers University in Cape May, which is poised to play a critical role in the growth and prosperity of aquaculture in the state. The center provides members of the fishing industry, aquaculture entrepreneurs and those interested in aquatic restoration with training on methods to commercially raise seafood and business growth assistance. The center also supports production of disease-resistance seed oysters, a critical component in efforts to revitalize the oyster industry in east coast bays and estuaries.

Photo of officials touring the Aquaculture Innovation Center
Greg DeBrosse of Rutgers leads Claire Antonucci of NJ Sea Grant, Secretary Fisher and Howard Henderson of USDA Rural Development on a tour of the Aquaculture Innovation Center.

“New Jersey is in a commanding position to create new jobs, economic benefits and training opportunities with the emergence of aquaculture as a relatively new industry,” said Aquaculture Innovation Center Director Mike DeLuca. “The recent update to the state aquaculture plan outlines key steps to enable aquaculture development in the state. I look forward to working with them to implement the plan and advance New Jersey as a major producer of seafood products, nutraceuticals from aquaculture, and production of shellfish for habitat restoration efforts.”

Recommendations in the plan include: setting a priority for comprehensive aquaculture development through mandates and directives for all state agencies involved in aquaculture development; developing rules/statutes to give private shellfish culture facilities tax relief; developing a cohesive, user-friendly lease administration system; implementing unresolved mandates of the Aquaculture Development Act; and, harmonizing all aquatic animal health management and import protocols.

Several recommendations that might require state funding or legislative action include: developing a marketing task force to generate effective marketing messages and strategies for implementation; pursuing funding to clean up areas of poor water quality; promoting public awareness of the societal benefits and ecological services provided by shellfish aquaculture; establish a mechanism so that production can begin in the established Aquaculture Development Zones; developing a funding mechanism to support a sustained shell planting program in the Delaware Bay; exploring the integration of green energy technology for closed system aquaculture systems and shellfish hatcheries; and fulfilling the potential of the Aquaculture Innovation Center.

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture has been out ahead in highlighting local seafood in the marketplace, through the development a few years ago of the Jersey Seafood program, similar to the popular Jersey Fresh promotional program. To be able to use the Jersey Seafood logos, farm-raised and wild caught seafood must meet a specific set of standards, which consider environmental impact, product quality and food safety.

Aquaculture is important to New Jersey’s economy -- the production of $6 million in shellfish translates into $36 million of economic benefits to the state. Shellfish aquaculture benefits both the economy and the environment. In addition, there is a social benefit, with the industry sustaining New Jersey’s bayman heritage and fresh, local clams and oysters are a gourmet product that adds to the experience of a visit to the New Jersey Coast.

Click here for the full Aquaculture Development Plan Update.