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NY/NJ Baykeeper Maintains Dedication to Raritan Bay

In partnership with Rutgers University Department of Environmental Studies, NY/NJ Baykeeper completed the first-ever survey of the Raritan Bay Shoreline Conditions.

At NY/NJ Baykeeper, we are excited to have completed the first significant assessment of health of the Raritan Bayshore.

In partnership with Rutgers University Department of Environmental Studies, we completed the first-ever survey of the Raritan Bay Shoreline Conditions. 

After NJ DEP forced Baykeeper to remove and destroy 30,000 living oysters because of its ban on oyster restoration and research due to water quality concerns, we decided that we were not going to take this lying down. 

We are still waiting for NJ DEP to begin working with us on a plan to improve water quality in the Raritan Bay. So, while the oyster ban is in place — and nothing is being done to heal the bay — we are conducting valuable alternative research such as this mapping project.

This project represents our continued commitment to the bay. 

During the summer of 2011, NY/NJ Baykeeper and Rutgers University scientists led a group of citizen-scientist volunteers in an effort to identify and describe environmental parameters that could be beneficial or adverse for the reintroduction of the eastern oyster into Raritan Bayshore waters.

Twenty-three (23) habitat parameters were recorded — such as dissolved oxygen, salinity, temperature; presence or absence of living/dead oysters, hard clams, eel grass, sea lettuce, rip rap, mussel beds, docks, bulkhead, or sand — at each sampling location. Readings were taken approximately 100 meters apart, beginning in Keyport Harbor and ending at the tip of Sandy Hook.

Baykeeper staff and volunteers surveyed almost 20 miles of shoreline! We plan to expand the map to the west to cover Perth Amboy, South Amboy, Newark Bay, and other areas.

The map serves as an interactive tool from which academics, researchers, students, practitioners and interested citizens can access and extract information.

Our Oyster Program director, Meredith Comi, says that the map will help to eliminate sites that appear to be unsuitable for oyster reintroduction at this time, and to focus attention toward locations that may have a greater chance of supporting long-term restoration success.

The project’s goal was to begin to fine-tune the oyster restoration maps included in the US Army Corps of Engineers Draft Comprehensive Restoration Plan (CRP) (2009) which the Army Corps developed to help guide future restoration in the New York-New Jersey Harbor. The CRP identified potential sites for oyster restoration in NJ that may not be suitable due to substrate and other issues. 

According to Dr. Beth Ravit, of Rutgers Department of Environmental Sciences, “The map is a starting point only, and further scientific vetting is required before any of these sites should be considered appropriate for long-term oyster restoration.”

To read more about the project and view the map, visit:  http://cues.rutgers.edu/benthic/

Here’s to the future of oysters in Raritan Bay!

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