Testing Practical Bird Deterrents for Floating Oyster Aquaculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2023: $29,332.00
Projected End Date: 07/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Barnegat Oyster Holdings
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Scott Lennox
Barnegat Oyster Holdings


  • Animals: shellfish


  • Animal Production: aquaculture

    Proposal summary:

    Floating oyster aquaculture has become an increasingly popular production method in oyster farming. Floating gear cuts down on labor costs and generally produces better oysters. Birds use the Atlantic bays in New Jersey as a migratory route and as seasonal stopover sites where they forage/roost on floating oyster gear. 

    The National Shellfish Sanitation Program’s Model Ordinance recently mandated that the state’s authority consider birds as a potential pollution source on oyster farms, requiring deterrents and/or mitigation. A potential mitigation strategy is sinking oysters for 21 days to purge any potential pathogens. While this option seems logical, it is logistically and laboriously difficult for many farmers. Many new farmers do not have access to viable farm sites to purge their oysters. The process for applying for a new shellfish lease involves consulting with the NJ Shellfisheries Council and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Shellfisheries. Both bodies are presently unenthusiastic about working with new farmers and their barriers. 

    Our project will use three oyster farm sites from different regions along New Jersey’s Atlantic coast to test three off-the-shelf bird deterrents. Labor and equipment costs, effectiveness, and durability will be measured for each product. Cameras and physical observations will be used to monitor bird activity.

    Our outreach strategy will include: presenting at New Jersey Council meetings, New Jersey Aquaculture Association meetings, Northeast Aquaculture Conference & Exposition seminars, and sharing results with the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association newsletter.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Our project seeks to test three bird deterrent products which include: auditory (sonic bird repeller), tactile (spikes), and visual (hawk kite), measuring: effectiveness, cost, and durability.

    Our project seeks to find the best bird deterrent product in all of the above categories, for oyster farms in our region to use for complying with the National Shellfish Sanitation Program’s Model Ordinance mandate.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.