The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) has immediately closed the commercial harvest season for the northern diamondback terrapins based on overharvesting concerns. The diamondback terrapin has not been listed as threatened or endangered in New Jersey; its status is listed as ‘decreasing’. Due to an increase in demand from out-of-state aquaculture operations and overseas food markets, terrapin harvesting has been on the rise.
The diamondback terrapin is the only species of turtle that lives in the brackish waters of New Jersey’s coastal marshes and estuaries. Past COA Board of Trustees member John Wnek and current Board member Jeff Martin have both worked on terrapin issues for years. They have dedicated their time to protecting, rescuing, and releasing the diamondback terrapin, as well as coordinating education programs about the turtle’s importance in the ecosystem. This harvesting closure is an important step in protecting the diamondback terrapin, ensuring the population remains healthy and thrives.