Shellfish forum showed need for stewardship

The Ocean Acres Community Center in Manahawkin recently hosted a shellfish forum. The Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, ReClam the Bay and Save Barnegat Bay sponsored the event. This full day session attracted over 100 participants and explored successes, concerns and solutions to accelerate the role of shellfish for commercial, ecologic and recreational purposes.

Two key topics were discussed in breakout sessions: aquaculture and living shorelines. Aquaculture involves shellfish farming in estuaries. The commercial opportunities to harvest clams and oysters in Barnegat Bay are growing after decades of decline. Matt Gregg, founder of Forty North Oysters and Barnegat Oyster Collective, discussed the challenges and opportunities to meet regulations to farm local oysters. Dale Parsons, the owner of Parsons Seafood, shared his family’s journey of supplying Campbell Soup with clams dating back to the early 1900s, only to see the industry collapse. His transition to farm both clams and oysters has created a new family success story.

The living shorelines discussion focused on shoreline stabilization and resiliency. The traditional use of hardened materials including sea walls and bulkheads was contrasted with the creation of green shorelines. Natural salt marshes using organic materials and living creatures including oysters and ribbed mussels provide significant advantages to support estuarine health. The need for both hardened and living shoreline designs was embraced.

Both sessions recommended the need for increased community involvement in environmental stewardship programs.

Richard Dodd

Long Beach Township

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