Environmental group NY/NJ Baykeeper celebrates 10-year partnership with US Navy
Almost a decade ago, the environmental group NY/NJ Baykeeper was forced by new state regulations to remove two oyster reefs it had deployed in the waters off Red Bank and Keyport.
The state ordered the experimental reefs removed, fearing poachers would take the oysters and sell them as food and possibly sickening whoever might eat them.
It was considered a major setback in the effort to reintroduce oysters to Raritan Bay, where scientists had hoped to employ them to protect the coast from storms and improve water quality.
Ten years later, NY/NJ Baykeeper Tuesday smashed a bottle of champagne over an oyster "castle" to celebrate an unlikely partnership with the U.S. Navy that kept them in the oyster reef business after all.
The oysters - seven million a year - are placed on concrete "castles" near the 3-mile long pier at Naval Weapons Station Earle in Leonardo. And they spend their early days in tanks built by another unlikely entity: a U.S. Department of Interior agency that operates a massive salt water pool used for oil spill cleanup research.
The celebration provided a chance for a rare Positively New Jersey look at a corner of New Jersey - inside the highly secure military base few get to see. And a look at a rare partnership even those involved wondered would ever work.