It could be another year before New Jersey decides whether to permit the use of oysters to try to reverse decades of pollution in state waterways.
The idea is to see if re-establishing oysters in areas like Raritan Bay can improve water quality by using their natural filtering techniques.
But what's been holding up the research, which the state abruptly halted in 2010, is how to ensure poachers don't grab the oysters, sell them and potentially sicken consumers.
An outbreak of oyster-related illness could devastate New Jersey's $800 million shellfish industry.
The state Senate passed a bill last week giving the Department of Environmental Protection another year to issue regulations for experimental oyster plots.
It also would require that the beds not be visible or easily accessible to the public.