Fisheries & Aquaculture
Wild fish and invertebrates from the oceans represent a renewable natural resource that can provide an environmentally sustainable source of food for people. Unfortunately, we are reaching or surpassing the limits to sustainable harvest globally and dramatically changing the environment that supports it—all while the world's human population continues to grow. Rutgers scientists are at the forefront of assessing local and global stocks of important commercial fisheries species and developing sustainable management practices. At the same time, aquaculture is increasingly helping to fill this supply gap. Who doesn't love a succulent oyster, a hearty clam chowder or a pan seared sea scallop? Many species of shellfish comprise some of the largest (surf clams and ocean quahogs) and most valuable (sea scallops) fisheries in the US, all of which exist right here in New Jersey. Raritan Bay, Barnegat Bay and later Delaware Bay were centers of a huge oyster industry that is experiencing a global resurgence and is poised for revival in Delaware Bay. Clam aquaculture began in New Jersey and thrives in the back bays behind Atlantic City and elsewhere along the New Jersey coast. Many of these shellfish are plagued by parasites and disease (pathogens) and Rutgers has played a key role in helping understand how to detect and manage shellfish diseases and develop superior stocks through selective breeding and innovative genetic technology. The seafood many of us have come to enjoy out on the town, at gatherings with friends or cooked at home are in part a result of many years of research by Rutgers faculty and students. Scientists at Rutgers are investigating the status and trends of fisheries around the world, the impacts of disturbances like climate change and oil spills, and the ways that aquaculture can be made more productive and environmentally sensitive.