Bureau of Shellfisheries

Shellfish Administrative Order, Aquaculture Registration, and Harvester Training Information

Rule Adoption Document: Shellfish Growing Water Classification N.J.A.C. 7:12 (pdf, DEP Rules Site)
Harvester Training (Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring Site)

Shell Recycling Program
Summer Programs at Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center for Students and Adults/Families - Apply now!
Atlantic Sturgeon Research in Delaware Bay Continues in 2021

New Jersey Seafood Finder Web Map - Find Seafood Grown, Harvested or Landed in New Jersey!

Shellfish Aquaculture Leasing Policy - Atlantic Coast (pdf, 7.9mb, 3/19/19)
Shellfish Lease Application Fee and Lessee Renewal Fee Letter (pdf, 160kb, 9/12/17)

2021 Vibrio parahaemolyticus Control Plan - (pdf, Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring)

Harvest Suspension in 18 locations - (Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring, 5/5/22)
Harvest Suspension In the Mouth of Kettle Creek, the Mouth of Silver Bay and the Adjacent Barnegat Bay Area, and the Gull Island Thorofare/Sturgeon Hole Area - (Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring, 6/15/20)
Harvest Suspension in Middle Thorofare Area - (Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring, 5/1/18)
Harvest Suspensions in Delaware Bay, Ludlam Bay and Toms River - (Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring, 1/16/18)

NOTICE: Permission Requirement to Import Shellfish Seed
Application to Plant Shellfish (pdf, 195kb)
Shellfish License Information

The Bureau of Shellfisheries directs shellfish programs and projects on both the Atlantic Coast and Delaware Bay. Bureau personnel form and implement plans for the protection and wise use of marine habitat and the state’s shellfish resources.

arrow Habitat Protection
arrow Leasing
arrow Hard Clam Relay and Depuration
arrow Oyster Investigation - Atlantic Coast
arrow Oyster Industry - Delaware Bay
arrow Juvenile Finfish Trawl Survey - Delaware Bay
arrow Inventory of NJ's Surf Clam Resource
arrow Shellfish Inventory Program
arrow 2021 Shellfish Lease Utilization Report Form (pdf, 128kb)
arrow Health Guidelines for Recreational Harvest of Shellfish (pdf, 41kb)
arrow Mullica River Oyster Restoration Project
arrow Report Invasive Mitten Crabs
arrow Get on the Marine Fishing and Shellfish E-mail Lists!
arrow 2022 Issue of the Marine Digest - Published in May; regulations remain in effect unless change is noted on this page
arrow 2021 Recreational Marine Fishing Regulations Summary Sheet (pdf, 585kb)
arrow 2021 Commercial Marine Fishing Regulations (pdf, 330kb) - Updated March 22, 2021
arrow Shellfish Growing Water Classification Charts (DEP Bureau of Marine Water Monitoring)
arrow Marine License and Permit Information
arrow Shellfisheries Council
arrow Shellfisheries Councils Meetings Schedule
arrow Interstate Certified Shellfish Shippers List (Certified Shellfish Dealers) (US FDA Site)
arrow National Shellfish Sanitation Program (US FDA Site)
arrow Shellfishers and Waterfowlers on the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers
arrow Public Access Information (DEP Site)
arrow ReClam the Bay - Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration
arrow Bringing Shellfish Back to Barnegat Bay (NJ.com video report)

Habitat Protection

One the bureau’s major responsibilities is the review of coastal development projects to assess potential impacts on shellfisheries habitat and resources. The bureau reviews 200-300 permit applications annually (334 in FY’97) and provides resource information to the Land Use Regulation Program to assist in the permit process. Bureau personnel regularly provide expert testimony at Administrative Law Hearings related to permit appeals. Finally, bureau staff are continually involved with other department staff in revisions to the Rules on Coastal Zone Management to ensure that shellfish resources and important coastal habitat are protected despite persistent development pressures.


With the Shellfisheries Council, the bureau administers the shellfish leasing program which supports private aquaculture activities via the leasing of bay bottom for shellfish culture. Statewide, approximately 30,000 acres of bay bottom are currently leased by commercial interests, primarily for the culture of oysters and hard clams.

Prior to the issuance of any shellfish lease within the Atlantic Coast Section, the bureau performs a biological investigation to assess the area’s natural productivity. Each year the bureau performs approximately 30-50 biological investigations of prospective leases.

Naturally productive areas are not leased because the bureau and the Atlantic Coast Shellfish Council (empowered by statute to grant shellfish leases) want these areas to remain open for all shellfishers to use. This process facilitates aquaculture development while ensuring that naturally productive areas remain available for use by all.

Hard Clam Relay and Depuration

The relay and depuration programs allow hard clams from moderately polluted waters to be utilized. Clams from such waters are transplanted to clean bay waters or processed in a state-approved depuration plant for purification.

Oyster Investigation — Atlantic Coast

The annual sampling of the Mullica River oyster seed beds is performed to monitor setting success, survival and overall bed condition.

Oyster Industry - Delaware Bay

The oyster industry of Delaware Bay operates with limited direct marketing of oysters from natural seed beds. This program was initiated in the spring of 1996 when the industry elected to forego the traditional transplant program and began marketing oysters from the seed beds as a means of circumventing the disease problems which have plagued the leased grounds since the 1950s. Prior to this plan, the seed beds were worked intensely during a limited period in the spring and as a result large volumes of oysters were transplanted and perished on the leased grounds.

Through contributions made to the Oyster Resource Development Fund by the industry and money received from the Coastal Zone Management Program, the bureau was able to plants clean cultch (shell) material on the seed beds during June. A major component of maintaining and enhancing the natural seed beds is the regular addition of cultch which provides the ideal surface to which the young oysters attach. Data support that the addition of clean shell to the seed beds during the setting season is one of the most viable management techniques for increasing the production potential.

Juvenile Finfish Trawl Survey - Delaware Bay

The Bureau of Shellfisheries conducts a trawl survey for juvenile finfish in Delaware Bay. This estuary is considered to be an important spawning/nursery area for many fish species of commercial and recreational importance. All finfish and other organisms are identified to the lowest possible taxonomic level (usually species) and counted. All fish (at least a subsample of 20 individuals) and blue crabs are measured to the nearest millimeter. This information provides the basis for comparing the strength of the year class for each individual species over time and can be used as a barometer for monitoring stock conditions and the impact of fishery management programs. Data can be used to forecast future seasonal characteristics and harvest potential for blue crabs in Delaware Bay.

Inventory of New Jersey’s Surf Clam Resource

The surf clam (Spisula solidissima) fishery is one of New Jersey’s most valuable fisheries. More than 80% of the total Mid-Atlantic and New England area catch of surf clams are landed in New Jersey. An annual inventory is conducted in New Jersey territorial waters to provide current information on the status of the resource. This information is used to develop various management measures such as establishing season harvest quotas and conservation zones.

Shellfish Inventory Program

The primary objective of the Shellfish Inventory Program is to determine the distribution and abundance of the important molluscan species which occur in New Jersey’s estuaries. The program provides valuable information on the major shellfish species, water quality information and sediment classification. This baseline data is necessary for the development of management strategies designed to preserve shellfish habitat and enhance our shellfish resources.

All estuarine waters between Raritan Bay and Brigantine (inclusive) have been sampled since the inventory began in 1983. Personnel and budgetary constraints from 1988 through most of the early 2000s resulted in fieldwork limited to that associated with lease ground surveys and site inspections of potential coastal development activities. In 2011, the program was renewed and since then it is the Administration's goal to inventory a new estuary every year.


MFA Shell Recycling Program Report (Collection Year 2020) (pdf, 1.7mb)

Shellfish Stock Assessment in the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers (Survey Year 2015) (pdf, 7.1mb)

Hard Clam Stock Assessment of Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays (Survey Year 2000) (pdf, 21mb)

Shellfish Stock Assessment of Little Egg Harbor Bay (Survey Year 2001) (pdf, 1.1mb)

Shellfish Stock Assessment of Little Egg Harbor Bay (Survey Year 2011 (pdf, 4.4mb)

Inventory of NJ's Estuarine Shellfish Resources: Hard Clam Stock Assessment Barnegat Bay (Survey Year 2012) With Post-Superstorm Sandy Investigation (Survey Year 2013) (pdf, 3.7mb)

Inventory of NJ's Estuarine Shellfish Resources: Hard Clam Stock Assessment of Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays (Survey Year 2014) (pdf, 5.1mb)