Dave Matthews Band kicks in to restore oyster research effort

The Baykeeper project aims to reestablish oyster colonies in Raritan Bay.
The Baykeeper project aims to reestablish oyster colonies in Raritan Bay.
Posted: April 03, 2013

HIGHLANDS, N.J. - Researchers have gathered enough data to be able to say that an oyster-restoration program wrecked by Hurricane Sandy will work, and they now have more than $16,000 from the Dave Matthews Band to help reestablish the research on a Navy pier.

The band, through its Bama Works Fund, gave the grant to the NY/NJ Baykeeper group, which will use it to rebuild and relocate an aquaculture building destroyed by the storm.

Meredith Comi, director of Baykeeper's pilot project at the Earle Naval Weapons Station, said many nets holding the oysters were ripped from the pier during the storm.

"It's a shame that what we had out there was damaged, but we really got what we needed from them," she said. "The important thing is we know enough to move onto the next phase, and that's what we're ready to do."

That would involve establishing oyster colonies in other parts of the Raritan Bay. But before that can happen, New Jersey environmental authorities must approve.

In 2010, the state Department of Environmental Protection ordered Baykeeper to destroy a thriving research colony in Keyport because of fears that poachers could steal oysters from the polluted waters and sell them, possibly introducing contamination into the marketplace and damaging New Jersey's $790 million shellfish industry.

So the group turned to the Navy, which allowed it to place the oysters at its station in Middletown, where a rigorously enforced security perimeter prevents any possibility of poaching.

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