Commercial Shellfish Lease
New Jersey Shellfisheries Council / NJDEP
The shellfish leasing program is managed in three distinct areas along the Atlantic Coast, Delaware Bay, and within the Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ). A shellfish lease, renewed annually, grants the leaseholder exclusive rights to the bottom of a designated area in a New Jersey Shellfisheries Council/NJDEP approved waterbody for the planting, cultivation, and harvest of shellfish. The New Jersey Shellfisheries Council (Council), along with the Commissioner of the NJDEP (Commissioner), determines whether an area should be leased to an individual or should remain open for public use. As per N.J.S.A. Title 50, the Council has the exclusive authority to lease grounds in tidal waters for shellfish aquaculture with the approval of the Commissioner.
The Council is comprised of two sections, Atlantic Coast section and Delaware Bay section, with representation from licensed commercial shellfishermen, by county of residence, appointed by the Governor. The Bureau of Shellfisheries acts on behalf of the Commissioner to manage the industry and protect the State’s shellfish resources and marine habitats in accordance with N.J.S.A. Title 50. In New Jersey, statutes are implemented through rules that are codified in the New Jersey Administrative Code as “regulations.” The rules that are utilized by the Department of Environmental Protection and other environmental agencies are codified at Title 7 of the Code.
The Bureau of Shellfisheries is responsible for managing the shellfish leasing program which involves coordination with both sections of the Council, conducting biological surveys and hydrographic surveys, maintaining maps and database records, and processing all shellfish lease transactions (e.g., agreements, transfers, renewals etc.).
For more information on the shellfish leasing program along the Atlantic Coast, Delaware Bay, or within an Aquaculture Development Zone (ADZ) please, click on the corresponding map below: