With the NJDEP's ruling that water-purifying oysters are at too much of a risk from poachers, environmental group NY/NJ Baykeeper was forced to pull up the oysters it had cultivated along Raritan Bay. Scientists say the oysters could restore the waters to health, but the FDA is worried the oysters, which absorb toxins in the water, could find their way into the edible seafood supply. Christine M. Lynn of NY/NJ Baykeeper told us, "Everyone we work with in New York is as surprised and confused by the NJDEP decision as we are."

The good news is the group will still be able to continue their projects on our side of the Hudson, with oyster beds going strong in the Long Island Sound and the Gowanus Canal. But the group is confused as to how the FDA thinks the oysters could wind up on someone's plate. The oysters are kept in an artificial reef anchored to the sand. “It’s totally unrealistic to think anybody could poach those oysters and eat them," said Meredith Comi of Baykeeper, adding that there are "millions upon million of clams living in that bay, in waters that are also off-limits, and they’re much easier to poach because they don’t attach to anything, but the state isn’t worried about policing that."

Overharvesting and pollution killed off most of the natural oyster beds years ago, and Baykeeper is attempting to bring back the populations to make the water clean again. But DEP spokesman Lawrence Ragonese said, "Just because there are naturally occurring shellfish growing here doesn't mean you can purposely grow more of them." There won't be any more room for the toxins! Baykeeper is currently looking for a new home for the displaced oysters.