Illness fears thwart NJ oyster colonies that would aid water

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The fear of poachers stealing oysters from polluted waters and making consumers sick has long thwarted efforts to grow the shellfish in dirty water in New Jersey, despite the potential to help improve water quality.

But a proposed remedy could actually make matters worse by removing state oversight, possible causing the very illnesses state regulators have long feared.

A bill pending in the state Legislature would allow oyster colonies to be planted in polluted waters for research, water quality improvement or shoreline stabilization purposes.

But it also would block the state Department of Environmental Protection from regulating the patches, which even the most ardent supporters in the environmental community agree would be going too far.

Lawmakers agreed Thursday to send the bill back for amendments.