The eastern oyster population of Delaware Bay suffered its worst flood-related deaths in nearly 60 years of record keeping after last year’s Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
This year, groups are taking action. A project will move “seed oysters,” or shells with baby oysters attached, from the Cape May County area of Delaware Bay to storm-damaged oyster beds off Salem County.
Recovery of the oyster population is important because it not only affects the health of the bay itself, but also the industry and communities that rely on it. In addition to revenue and jobs, oysters build reef habitats that support other important fisheries, and they improve water quality by filtering up to 50 gallons per day each, according to project organizers.
Partners in the project include the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, the Nature Conservancy, Delaware Bay Section of the New Jersey Shellfisheries Council, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and Rutgers University.