Chairman Continuing to Spotlight Growing Field in State Agriculture and Agrotourism
(TRENTON) — Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Bob Andrzejczak (D-Cape May) issued a multimedia package Monday highlighting an aquaculture tour committee members took last session to better understand the needs of aquaculturists in New Jersey.
Andrzejczak’s panel is considering five pieces of aquaculture-focused legislation in the hopes of easing and clarifying requirements for new and current aquaculture research, farming and tourism.
Aquaculture, as defined by the legislation, is “…also known as fish or shellfish farming, [and] refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of animals and plants in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes, bays, and the ocean…”
Through the committee’s work today and in the previous session, the chairman reiterated his desire to raise the profile of aquaculture in the New Jersey and to bring the practice more in line with the public’s perception of farming and terrestrial agriculture.
The multimedia package highlights the previous Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee tour of aquaculture research centers and farm locations throughout Cape May County: Rutgers’ Aquaculture Innovation Center; Rutgers’ Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory; and the Green Creek Oyster Fishery.
The year-long tour series, conceived by Andrzejczak, was intended to help members of the committee get a first-hand look at the various types of research, farming and food processing that makes up the backbone of the state’s agriculture and agrotourism industries, so that members would gain a better understanding of the specific issues facing New Jersey farmers and the type of legislation that may be necessary to maintain the state’s position as the Garden State.
The aquaculture bills currently before the panel are, in large part, a result of the tour program.
The multimedia package consists of a video of Andrzejczak, Michael P. De Luca, the director of the Aquaculture Innovation Center, and David Bushek, Ph.D., the director of the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory discussing their excursion and audio and a transcript of same.
The audio file is available upon request.
A transcript of comments is appended below:
Michael P. De Luca, Rutgers’ Aquaculture Innovation Center Director:
“Aquaculture is essentially a farming technique for seafood. Here at the aquaculture center, we’re raising shellfish, primarily oysters, to sustain the Delaware Bay Oyster Fishery.”
Bob Andrzejczak (D-Cape May), Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman:
“Today we did an aquaculture tour; teamed up with Rutgers University; and we’ve toured multiple facilities and learned all about the oyster industry and now we are actually at the farm and learning more about the actual process of growing the oysters.
“What we want to do here in New Jersey and in my committee is take the state’s perception of aquaculture as fishing and bring it more towards agriculture as a farming industry.”
David Bushek, Ph.D., Rutgers’ Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory Director:
“Aquaculture is agriculture. I need to make that clear. Everybody should realize that growing animals, whether they’re on land or in the water, is a form of farming.
“In the State of New Jersey, aquaculture has been around for quite a long time, although it hasn’t been developed to the extent that it could, because the legislation around how aquaculture is regulated is sort of antiquated.”
“We have the potential here to create new jobs in South Jersey. There’s a lot of economic opportunities that we can support with an investment in aquaculture in New Jersey.
“It’s a green industry, in that it’s not smokestack industry. Shellfish are good for the environment. They clean the water. They provide habitat for other species. And, they’re in demand.
“The market for high quality oysters, which is what we have here in New Jersey, is growing.”
“I feel like aquaculture could be a huge potential for the entire state. We’re looking for a new industry and new ways to grow the economy here in New Jersey and right now we are at a perfect location to do that. And the oyster industry has plenty of potential to expand and really grow small business and put people to work, but at the same time bring in revenue for the state.”