Extreme cold having mixed effects on shellfish industry - NBC40.net

Extreme cold having mixed effects on shellfish industry

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Understanding New Jersey's shellfish industry is no small task.

"It depends on which industry you're talking about," said David Bushek, Director of the Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory. "There's the oyster industry, there's the clam industry, there's the aquaculture industry."

On the Delaware Bay though, they're all facing the same challenge.

"The vessels have a hard time getting out, The wind and the cold weather freezes the water on the vessel so it adds a lot of weight to the vessel," said Salvator Lamonica, Vice President of Surfside Foods.

"The companies down there are literally chopping through ice to get their animals so they can continue to sell them on the market now," said Bushek.

Further up the coast, small businesses far the crab population could be at risk as well.

'If the bay stays iced over, fishing will be tremendously damaged. Crabbing will be tremendously damaged. They cannot live," said Lin Waterman, proprietor of Beaver Dam Boat Rentals.

"This winter's extreme cold could have a lasting effect on New Jersey's oyster industry.

"A southern disease called Dermo moved in around 1990 and has taken hold and has increased mortality annually by 15-20%," said Bushek.

That could change as soon as this Summer.

"This cold weather may help depress that this winter which may limit its impact the following season. We won't know the impacts for another 6 months but we hope that will be the case," said Bushek.

With the weekend forecast calling for a warmup, these bayshore businesses are staying optimistic.

"Thankfully, thankfully its supposed to warm up this weekend," said Waterman.

"All last week they were in due to cold and wind but they're out now and hopefully the weather might cooperate a little better," said Lamonica.

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