The move clears the way for aquaculturists to potentially begin experimenting with different ways of culturing shellfish farther south in the bay. The state Division of Fish and Wildlife has already obtained state and federal permits for four different aquaculture development zones in the bay.
State Sen. Steve Sweeney and Assemblyman Doug Fisher, both D-Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, pushed the legislation as a means for eliminating outdated views of dealing with the Delaware Bay shellfishery. The legislation requires the governor's signature to become law.
"This legislation removes outdated provisions in the laws that have been irrelevant to the state Department of Environmental Protection's shellfish management programs for years," Sweeney said Monday.
The legal changes also tweak the makeup of the Shellfisheries Council that serves as an advisory board to the state DEP. Under the new setup, three members will be from Cumberland County, with one each from Salem and Cape May counties.
The Delaware Bay has been the focus of recent efforts to restore oyster populations, once a major source of income in the region.