Delaware Bay Oyster Populations: Effects of Seed Movement, Harvesting, and Diseases
Oysters are not directly harvested for market from Delaware Bay natural beds. They have been moved from upper Delaware Bay seed beds to planting grounds, located in lower Delaware Bay, since the mid 1800’s. The States of Delaware and New Jersey have retained control of the seed beds, but lease bottom to private individuals in the planting grounds. Oysters placed on leased areas become the property of the lease holder and may be harvested at any time. Depending on the size of the oyster moved to the planting grounds (oysters from the uppermost seed beds are smaller on average than those from lower bay seed beds), one to three or more years are required for the oysters to reach market size. This mixture of direct harvest from the seed beds and subsequent grow-out on the planting grounds prior to final harvest has, in the presence of. oyster disease and predation, changed the patterns of oyster abundance in Delaware Bay.
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