Oyster farmers on Delaware Bay. (Photo: nj.gov)
New Jersey gets aquaculture plan updated
Thursday, December 15, 2011, 15:20 (GMT + 9)
A new report updating New Jersey’s aquaculture development plan advises increasing marketing and streamlining rules. “Opportunities and Potential for Aquaculture in New Jersey” was compiled by the Aquaculture Advisory Council and released this week at the New Jersey Aquaculture Innovation Centre at Rutgers University in Cape May.
“This plan is the roadmap to developing a strong and vibrant ‘aqua-business’ industry,” said NJ Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H Fisher.
“We already have the Jersey Seafood logo in place to market local seafood and NJ has the consumers who support local product. The strategies spelled out in the plan will help our state’s producers tap into those resources,” he continued, Shore News Today reports.
The Department of Agriculture said the local facility will be vital to the success of aquiculture in the state.
State officials believe the industry could eventually be a source of numerous jobs.
“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 Department of Agriculture clarified.
The Aquaculture Innovation Centre gives members of the fishing sector, aquaculture entrepreneurs and those interested in aquatic restoration training on commercial aquaculture and business growth assistance. The Centre also supports the production of disease-resistant seed oysters, which is key to help replenish the oyster industry in East Coast bays and estuaries.
The plan’s recommendations include establishing a priority for comprehensive aquaculture development through mandates and directives for all relevant state agencies; developing rules to offer private shellfish culture facilities tax relief; developing a cohesive, user-friendly lease administration system; implementing unresolved mandates of the Aquaculture Development Act; and smoothing out all aquatic animal health management and import protocols.
Recommendations that might require state funding or legislative action include creating a task force to generate marketing and implementation strategies; seeking funding to clean up areas of poor water quality; fostering public awareness of the benefits of shellfish aquaculture; allowing for production in Aquaculture Development Zones; developing a funding mechanism to support a shell planting programme in the Delaware Bay; and exploring the use of green energy technology for closed aquaculture systems and shellfish hatcheries.
The Department noted that to carry the Jersey Seafood logos, farm-raised and wild caught seafood must meet a specific set of criteria which consider environmental impact, product quality and food safety.
Shellfish production worth USD 6 million provides USD 36 million of economic benefits to NJ, department officials said.
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