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EQIP Aquaculture Initiative

NRCS is expanding technical and financial assistance for conservation practices related to shellfish aquaculture, oyster reef habitat restoration, and finfish aquaculture. The New Jersey Aquaculture Initiative is being offered through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

All conservation practices available through EQIP are approved for the Aquaculture Initiative. Primary practices supported through the EQIP Aquaculture Initiative include:

  • Gear Cycling - This practice is used to reduce, clean, or remove biofouling organisms and other waste from bivalve production areas. Fouled gear is brought on short, air dried, and cleaned in an approved off-site location. NRCS assistance can help to defray the cost of extra equipment, increased labor, and record keeping.
  • Rack Replacement - Wildlife movement can be inhibited by the oyster production racks. Wildlife (especially horseshoe crabs) may be trapped beneath the racks during low tide and unable to reach nesting habitat on shore. NRCS can provide assistance to replace new racks installed to the appropriate height and spacing to facilitate wildlife movement under and around racks. Rack height is at least 12 inches from the surface.
  • Oyster Bed Restoration or Enhancement/Replenishment - Successful oyster growth occurs on beds that have a firm substrate. Land for aquaculture production that needs improvement to the bottom for spat on shell and wild oyster production may qualify for oyster bed restoration assistance.
  • Shoreline Protection - Prevent the loss of land or damage to banks of streams, lakes, reservoirs, or estuaries (does not apply to ocean fronts). Vegetation and bioengineering treatments are used to stabilize low risk areas.
  • Other available practices include:
    • Agricultural Energy Management Plan
    • Constructed Wetland
    • Farmstead Energy Improvement
    • Heavy Use Area Protection
    • Lighting System Improvement
    • Waste Storage Facility.

How Does Signup for EQIP Work?

Eligible program participants receive financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns. Payments are made after practices and activities are implement.

All applicants must:

  • Have control of the land through ownership or lease
  • Comply with the adjusted gross income (AGI) provisions
  • Be in compliance with highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements

EQIP applications can be submitted anytime during the year. EQIP has a continuous sign-up with application cut-off dates to rank and prioritize any new or unfunded applications. A signed application can be filed with the local NRCS office at any time. View Current Funding Opportunities for current application periods. A signed application indicates an interest in developing a conservation plan, the first step in the application process.

EQIP is a competitive program that uses an evaluation and ranking process to assess the needs and cost effectiveness of implementing the conservation plan. View the application documents page for more information on ranking tools.

Contract offers that include practices to address soil quality, soil erosion, water quality, reduced animal waste production and reduced energy consumption are high priority.

Visit Opportunities for Historically Underserved Producers in New Jersey to learn more about how NRCS is committed to ensuring that its programs and services are accessible to all our customers, fairly and equitably, with emphasis on reaching the under served and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, and tribes of our state.

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