Why oysters?

People ask me “Why are you interested in oysters?”

First, oysters are the primary means of removing nutrient pollution from the water. Nutrient pollution is the primary type of water contamination and the type that kills more fish than any other bu creating “dead zones” of  depleted dissolved oxygen. Oysters are filter feeders that take nitrogen and phosphorus and other impurities that run off from farms and lawns upriver.

Second, oysters are picked as the primary method of protecting our communities (places no less than New York City) from future storms like Sandy.

Third, in an aquaculture setting oysters are a great tasty food source for a world soon to be facing a major worldwide protein shortage crisis.

Finally, Money Island NJ is already the focal point of the Delaware Bay oyster industry and is poised to be in the middle of a dramatic growth spurt that industry in the years ahead. Advances in technology, both mechanical and biological, are accelerating the pace of expansion. The Delaware Bay is home to only 2% of the number of oysters at the peak of the industry decades ago. Expressed in current inflation-adjusted dollars, the value of the New Jersey oysters harvest in the Delaware Bay topped $90 Million in 1929.  We have no doubt that the industry will catch up and pass that mark in he near future. State Impact NJ recently covered the beginning of the rebound of the Delaware Bay oyster industry.

Collectively, this explains our two primary goals at Money Island:

1) Raise investment capital to participate in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of oyster and crab aquaculture industry growth. Immediate stabilization need is $100,000 and private investment for long term public/private redevelopment is $100,000,000.

and,

2) Preserve the rights of the multiple use stakeholders (recreational fishermen, ecotourists and other users) that might otherwise be pushed out of this unique small waterfront community by the larger, wealthier and more powerful oyster industry.

Our Money Island Working Waterfront Redevelopment Plan, available online, addresses all of these issues. I am pleased to discuss this topic in more detail with stakeholders and investors.

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Understanding water quality

Overall. the Delaware Bay fares better than most estuaries including the Chesapeake Bay to the southwest and the Barnegat Bay to the northeast

Water quality monitoring measures potential contaminants that fall into three categories: chemical and nutrient. and bacterial. A overly simplistic way to think of it is that chemical contaminants come from factories, nutrient contaminants come from farms and bacterial contamination comes from untreated sewage.

Chemical

Here in the Delaware Bay we are concerned with only one type of chemical containment. PCBs have settled into the waterbed and are found in trace amounts throughout the system. These chemicals are known to cause cancer and other health problems in humans. While PCBs are not harmful in the diluted amounts found in the  water,  the problem is that they build up and concentrate in fish tissues where we can ingest the higher and possibly more dangerous amounts,

PCBs are man-made chemicals that were used in electrical equipment like capacitors and transformers. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are oily liquids or solids, clear to yellow in color, with no smell or taste. The good news is that we don’t make them and pollute our water with them anymore. That means that the other good news is that the level of PCBs is going down in the Delaware Bay. The bad news is that they are everywhere in the environment,  last a long time, and are almost indestructable. PCBs are stable and remain in the environment at low levels for many decades,. However, the chemical is found to concentrate inside fish tissue, especially the fatty portion.

Both New Jersey and Delaware issue advisories limiting the recommended amount of fish that should be eaten.

Nutrient

The primary nutrient pollutant is nitrogen. Over abundance of nitrogen leads to low levels of water oxygen and fish kills. Nitrogen comes from fertilizer and farm runoff. When we discuss “water pollution” in the Delaware Bay, the discussion is focused on nutrients.

Bacteria

Several strains of potentially dangerous bacteria live in the Delaware Bay and they reach potentially harmful levels in summer. The bacteria we hear most about is E. coli from untreated bird, human or animal feces. Birds are the primary contributor of E. coli in the Delaware Bay occasionally after a storm or flood the source is identified as human. In these cases shellfish harvesting is temporarily halted. Our bay water at Money Island is tested regularly for E. coli and no problems lately. Other types of bacteria can cause infection of open wounds. It is important to clean and disinfect skin abrasions when working in or around the bay, especially in summer.

Overall our water quality compares well to surrounding waterways and is gradually improving.

What does all of this mean to us? It is pretty simple:

  1. follow shellfish harvesting rules
  2. Don’t consume too much of some fish species
  3. Clean and disinfect wounds.