Staten Island oyster planters and dealers were among the most prosperous citizens. Bringing oysters to the Washington Market was the first shipping effort of Cornelius Vanderbilt (raised on a farm on what is now Bay Street in Stapleton, SI), founder of the Vanderbilt fortune. Early African-American communities organized around oyster fishing in Tompkinsville, Stapleton, West Brighton and Sandy Ground, and grew after the Civil War.
Oyster planters on Staten Island and in other oystering communities were forming corporations to protect oyster planters from "theft" (though apparently no common laws of ownership were practiced in Staten Island waters) and other hazards. Competition between these farmers and New Jersey oyster farmers was so fierce that defending claims sometimes ended in "oyster wars"–fist fights and even casualties.
From a Report of the Commissioner of Fisheries of the State of New York in Charge of the Oyster Investigation - 1885.

Princess Bay and Tottenville "Staten Island, in 1853, estimated 200 men employed in cultivation...The largest beds were formerly to be found in the neighborhoods of Princess and Raritan bays, where quite extensive areas were worked with profit to the local oystermen. As the law thus only tacitly recognizes these claims, while it offers no protection to the claimants, they, or at least a large number of them, have accordingly formed what is known as the Richmond County Oyster-Planting Association, for the mutual protection of their beds, and this association hires a watchman or watchmen who patrol the staked areas and prevent outsiders from accidentally or otherwise lifting the planted crop, or one planter from poaching on another planter's preserves."