Keyport, New Jersey -  NY/NJ Baykeeper received a $16,057 grant from the Dave Mathews Band's Bama Works Fund, through its special Hurricane Sandy Relief grants. The funding will be used to relocate and rebuild Baykeeper's Aquaculture Facility that was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.  The funding will allow Baykeeper to achieve our goal to place 50,000 research oysters in the waters of NWS Earle.  

Baykeeper's Aquaculture facility houses its 450 gallon tanks used for setting oyster larvae onto shell for oyster restoration projects. Once the oyster larvae have been set on the shell, and grown for about two months, they are ready for release onto newly established oyster beds, or reefs, around the region.  

In August 2010, NJ DEP, because of alleged concerns about poaching, banned research, restoration, and education projects using oysters in waters where shellfish harvesting is prohibited.  As a result, Baykeeper approached the Navy about placing oyster nets at Naval Weapons Station (NWS) Earle, which is under 24/7 security, and therefore eliminates any poaching risk.  Oyster survival research began at NWS Earle in October, 2011. Baykeeper and its research partner, Rutgers University, recently received a permit from New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to utilize 10.7 acres of Navy property for oyster restoration and research.  Because NWS Earle is the only research site available to Baykeeper, the aquaculture facility is moving from Highlands and being rebuilt on NWS Earle property.  This summer Baykeeper will place 50,000 research oysters in the waters of NWS Earle.

"Our oyster research is continually supported by acts of generosity," said Meredith Comi, Oyster Restoration Program Director. "Bama Works is helping us to rebuild and NWS Earle is the new home for our research. We are so grateful," Comi added.

Oysters are filter feeders that can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day, removing pollutants.  By filtering particles out of the water, oysters reduce turbidity which promotes plant life. They are vital to the ecological integrity of the Hudson-Raritan Estuary and Baykeeper has been working to restore oyster beds in NY and NJ waters since 1999. Oysters naturally build up in reefs that provide refuge for juvenile fish and protect the shoreline by dampening storm energy and preventing erosion.

Since 1989, NY/NJ Baykeeper has been the leading bi-state organization working to protect, preserve and restore the Hudson-Raritan Estuary.  For more information, please visit our website: www.nynjbaykeeper.org.