TRENTON — Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen) has introduced legislation that requires the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to allow for the cultivation of commercial shellfish species in coastal and inner harbor waters for research, educational purposes or ecological restoration. The legislation was introduced in response to the recent announcement that the DEP would halt such projects in restricted shellfish waters. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen).
“The DEP imposed an ill-advised ban on research related oyster cultivation out of fear that oysters illegally poached from research sites in tainted waters could end up in the food supply,” said Cardinale. “I believe the fears expressed by the DEP are unfounded. The oysters grown in these projects are too small for human consumption and are enclosed within special immovable steel and mesh structures that remain underwater at all times. The DEP could alleviate all concerns without banning beneficial research projects by simply increasing safeguards against illegal poaching.”
Cardinale noted that oysters filter pollutants from water, and research projects planted in tainted waters can help support the growth and recovery of damaged ecosystems.
“We shouldn’t have to sacrifice efforts to clean tainted harbors and coastal waters because we are afraid of poachers,” added Cardinale. “It’s better to prevent illegal poaching than to live with dirty water.”
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