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There’s another great reason to order fresh seafood when you’re dining out down the Shore: When you enjoy fresh clams or oysters at six Long Beach Island restaurants, you’re helping a Stockton University project to restore oysters to the Southern Barnegat watershed.

Three times a week, a Long Beach Township employee drives to the restaurants to collect the discarded shells – as many as 20 bushels of them, each weighing roughly 50 pounds. After any trash is sorted out, the shells are then delivered to Parson’s Mariculture, where they are cured for at least six months.

In July, workers at Stockton’s Marine Field Station planted approximately 150,000 cured spat, or baby oysters, at the two-acre, man-made Tuckerton Reef located in Little Egg Harbor Bay.

Jersey’s once-plentiful oyster population has plummeted due to changes in water quality, disease and over-harvesting, and officials say that the next few years will be crucial to see how the oysters fare at the reef site.

If you’re interested in eating for the restoration cause the next time you’re at the Shore, participating eateries include Blue Water Café, Stefano’s Restaurant, Parker’s Garage & Oyster Saloon, Bistro 14, Howard’s and Delaware Avenue Oyster House.

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This is South Jersey with Marianne Aleardi at Cooper River Distillers
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