Thursday, October 23, 2014

Massachusetts Oyster Restoration Coastal Ecologist Job Opportunity

Coastal Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy (MA)

The Coastal Restoration Ecologist, an important team member at the Massachusetts Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, works under the direction of the Coastal Director and with Conservancy colleagues to implement multiple shellfish (oyster and bay scallop) restoration projects in Buzzards Bay and other state coastal waters, thus advancing the Conservancy’s coastal conservation mission. S/He provides technical/scientific expertise, in-the-water fieldwork, and project management for nearshore shellfish restoration work and facilitates measures of project success. S/He represents the Conservancy on a multi-disciplinary/multi-partner project team and collaborates with a variety of public and private individuals, agencies, organizations and communities to implement strategies. Additionally, s/he supports related research and monitoring work and helps to implement other coastal restoration strategies. The Coastal Restoration Ecologist communicates and shares information effectively to a variety of different audiences and works with Conservancy staff in Massachusetts and the New England region on similar nearshore restoration efforts.

For more information: (Job #42536).

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Massachusetts Environmental Job Opportunity- It is not oyster restoration, but it will pay the bills

In our efforts to keep our readers informed of interesting employment opportunities we share this link. 

Environmental Analyst V
Agency Name:Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Official Title:Environmental Analyst V
Functional Title:MEPA Analyst
Occupational Group:Physical Science
Position Type:EX - Exempt from Civil Services
Full-Time or Part-Time:Full-Time
Salary Range:$66,982.76 to $91,931.32 Annually
Bargaining Unit:09
Number Of Vacancies:1
Facility Location:100 Cambridge St., 9th floor
Application Deadline:10-14-2014
Apply Online:Yes
Posting ID:J44179

This position is funded from the Commonwealth's annual operating budget.

Work as member of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act Office (MEPA). The MEPA Office conducts environmental impact reviews of a broad range of public and private projects. Issues studied include wetlands, coastal resources, ground and surface water quality, water supplies, wastewater treatment and discharge, storm water, solid waste management, traffic, air quality, archaeological / historical resources, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Environmental Analyst V oversees the review of projects submitted to the MEPA Office by proponents. This includes reviewing Environmental Notification forms, Environmental Impact Reports, Notice of Project Change, and Waiver requests: conducting site visits and public consultation meetings with proponents, local and state officials, and interested members of the public: evaluating information supplied by proponents, permitting agencies and other commenters: recommending whether a project requires an Environmental Impact Report: preparing the scope of study for EIRs: evaluating the adequacy of submitted EIRs in responding to scopes: and preparing decision certificates for approval by the Secretary of Environmental Affairs.


Duty 1. Serves as primary reviewer of assigned Environmental Notification Forms and Notice of Project Change, as well as public agency and comments associated with assigned projects. Where further review is required, develop the scope of study and associated information to be included in an EIR.

Duty 2. Serves as primary reviewer of Environmental Impact Reports as well as agency comments associated with assigned projects.

Duty 3. Sets up, drives to, and conducts public consultation sessions with project proponents, members of the public, agency staff, and local and state officials.

Duty 4. Prepares recommended decisions for the Secretary and MEPA Director, including all Certificates and correspondence associated with assigned projects.
Duty 5. Communicates and coordinates with agency staff (internal and external), elected officials and the public with regard to all aspects of assigned projects under MEPA review.

Duty 6. Conducts special projects (e.g. committee assignments, research, etc.)

QUALIFICATIONS ACQUIRED ON JOB (List knowledge, skills, abilities)

Thorough knowledge of the MEPA statute and regulations.
Good working knowledge of relevant state and federal environmental permitting requirements and procedures.
Familiarity with broad range of environmental issues in Massachusetts.
Knowledge of the types and uses of agency forms

Applicants must have at least six years of full-time, or equivalent part-time, technical or professional experience in the field of environmental science, biology, chemistry, earth science, environmental health, meteorology, natural science, toxicology or public health, of which (B) at least four years must have been in a professional capacity, and of which (C) at least two years must have been in a supervisory, managerial or administrative capacity, or (D) any equivalent combination of the required experience and the following substitutions.

I. An Associates degree with a major in the field of environmental science, biology, chemistry, earth science, environmental health, meteorology, natural science, toxicology or public health may be substituted for a maximum of one year of the required (A) experience.*

II. A Bachelor's degree with a major in the field of environmental science, biology, chemistry, earth science, environmental health, meteorology, natural science, toxicology or public health may be substituted for a maximum of two years of the required (A) experience.*

III. A Graduate degree with a major in environmental science, biology, chemistry, earth science, environmental health, meteorology, natural science, toxicology or public health may be substituted for a maximum of three years of the required (A) experience and one year of the required (B) experience.*

*Education toward such a degree will be prorated on the basis of the proportion of the requirements actually competed.

NOTE: Educational substitutions will only be permitted for a maximum of one year of the required (B) experience. No substitutions will be permitted for the required (C) experience.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS: Based on assignment, possession of a current and valid Massachusetts Class D Motor Vehicle Operator's License.
Preferred Qualifications:
Graduate training and six years or more of professional experience (additional experience may be considered a substitute for graduate training); solid problem solving skills; ability to work under pressure; excellent communications skills including writing and public speaking; strong administrative/organizational skills and experience. Must be able to drive to site consultations that may take place anywhere within the Commonwealth.
Salary is commensurate with experience.

To learn more about Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) go to

How To Apply:


If you are applying for this position on-line, you must create a profile and log in .

On-line submission is strongly preferred.

If you do not wish to apply for this position on-line, and would prefer to send your resume and cover letter by mail, please send to:

Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
100 Cambridge Street, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02114
Attn: Pauline Christopher, Personnel Analyst

Applicants who are unable to apply online due to disability are asked to contact Pauline Christopher at 617-626-1019.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Recycled Oyster Shell- An Underappreciated Commodity

This article on the use of recycled oyster shell appeared in the Fredericksburg Virginia Free-lance Star. it does a nice job talking aobut the use of oyster shell in oyster restoration programs. 

The shell recylcing program at Mass Oyster is gaining momentum as we recently collected shell generated from the Battery Wharf Oyster Festival at the Fairmont Battery Wharf and the mandarin oriental in addition to our stalwart participants at the Langham Boston. 

This Summer we worked with three scout troops (one girl, one boy, and one cub) to place shell in three locations in Winthrop. Sadly despite the presence of oysters nearby we did not see much of a set upon them. The size of the oyster set can vary considerably. This year Wellfleet had a terrific set- last year a bit less so. The direction of the prevailing winds and temperatures during key times can make a difference.  We will continue to monitor the shell as it is there waiting for a spat to call it home. 

Oyster shells a hot commodity in Virginia

oysters crop
REEDVILLE—For Richard Harding Jr., the cascading clatter of oyster shells and the “beep, beep, beep” of a tractor moving between a 20-foot pile of shells is the sound of success.
Up until three years ago, Harding, who manages Purcell’s Seafood, a relatively small oyster house on the Little Wicomico River in Reedville, was selling his shells to the state for reef restoration projects.
Now, he uses it all in-house. The pile is his personal Fort Knox, an insurance policy to cover a year when harvests might dip.
“Years ago, oysters weren’t growing and living that well,” he said. “Now I’m more optimistic about the oyster industry than I ever have been.”
That optimism goes all the way to Richmond. In July, Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared Virginia “the oyster capital of the East Coast.” He said the industry is now worth about $58 million to the state economy.
But the phenomenal growth of oyster farming over the last decade has an upshot: As the supply of shells declines, the price keeps going up.
The shells, once so abundant they were used for roads and foundations, are now a limited resource.
“Shells are the currency for oyster success,” said Jim Wesson, who heads the state’s oyster conservation and replenishment efforts. “In nature, we’re never making back enough oysters with big shells because we have oyster diseases in the bay.”
It used to cost 75 cents for a bushel of shells. Now a bushel can sell for as much as $6.
“It’s really gone up in the past several years as the kind of market shortage of shell has occurred,” said Susan Conner, who heads the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ oyster restoration program.
In fact, oyster shells have become so valuable that Virginia uses them as matching “funds” to qualify for federal funding for oyster reef restoration projects with the Corps of Engineers’ Norfolk District.
States and the federal government are supposed to split costs 75–25. So if a project costs $2 million, Virginia has to come up with $500,000. But the state, burdened by a heavy budget deficit, doesn’t have the funds for its share.
So the corps agreed to accept dredged fossilized oyster shells from the James River in lieu of cash.
“They have been able to provide that kind of funding through their shell value,” said Conner. “We use a market value of a bushel of shell to evaluate how much to give them for the shell they dredge up.”
Conner said the Corps is studying additional fossil deposits in Virginia that might be used in the future.
No story about Chesapeake Bay oysters can be told without explaining that during the last century the population has dwindled—victims of disease, loss of habitat, pollution and over-harvesting.
Over the last five years, science and aquaculture have worked together to bring the industry back, some by way of a lab-grown, disease-resistant, sterile oyster called the triploid. The state provided the incentive by leasing public oyster grounds for a small fee.
Every year, more watermen are ditching their crab pots and taking up oystering either on public grounds or as oyster farmers.
Today, there are 764 licensed aquaculture harvesters leasing nearly 114,000 acres (more than twice the size of Washington, D.C.) at $1.50 an acre per year. That price has remained the same since 1960, according to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Before that, it was $1 per year.
To understand why shells have become such an important commodity, you have to understand the needs of a baby oyster.
Once waters have warmed, oysters begin releasing sperm and egg. Fertilized eggs drift in the water eating phytoplankton and developing a foot-like appendage.
Next they move to the bottom of a river, where they search for a hard surface, preferably oyster shell, to “strike” by attaching their feet to it with a kind of oyster glue. From this point, they grow their shell and become what’s called spat.
Oysters grow about 1 inch in a year and are considered market size at about 3 inches.
Farmers grow either native Virginia oysters or the triploid using two methods. This is where the shells come in.
Spat-on-shell is a method where larvae are introduced to tanks filled with empty oyster shells onto which they attach and grow. The shells will be planted in a river bottom or grown in cages, racks or floats, and eventually harvested for shucking.
The second method is more specialized for the half-shell market. It uses crushed oyster shell to obtain the single-oysters prized by restaurants.
Purcell’s grows native Virginia oysters using both methods. On an average day, Harding harvests 30 to 40 bushels of oysters he’s planted on grounds he leases from the state.
Purcell’s shucks its own oysters in addition to those it buys from local watermen. Some of the shells will go into the river, put down as a hard surface onto which spat-on-shell oysters are “planted.”
Others are planted with a cooperative of aquaculturists in the nearby Great Wicomico River, so wild oyster larvae can strike.
Harding will transplant the wild baby oysters to his leased oyster grounds and eventually harvest them for market.
When Harding was selling his shells to the state, they went for about $1.25 for a bushel. Now, he says he could sell them for about $3.
He has about 10,000 bushels piled up.
“They’re worth more to me than selling them to someone else,” he said.
Neighboring oyster houses said they are being offered up to $6 per bushel by North Carolina and Maryland.
There is another factor driving the need for shells. In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order directing the federal government to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Part of that initiative is to restore oyster reefs in 10 tributaries by 2025.
Oyster shell is key to reef restoration because oyster larvae prefer it more than any other surface. It’s what the corps, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and environmentalists like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation try to use.
“Unfortunately, there aren’t enough shells for restoration in Maryland and Virginia,” said Jackie Shannon, CBF’s oyster restoration manager for Virginia.
CBF has established a shell recycling program with restaurants, localities and other large oyster consumers in Virginia and Maryland. The foundation also uses clam and mussel shells for their projects.
Still, that’s not enough.
So the states, the corps and groups such as the CBF have begun to innovate with oyster shell surrogates.
CBF has had great success with a concrete reef ball, an igloo-like structure that stands 2 feet tall and 2 feet at the base and is seeded with oyster larvae in a large tank. Once the larvae become spat, the balls are planted around an existing reef.
Depending on the reef size, CBF will plant anywhere from 100 to 300 balls. Since 2010, CBF has planted more than 900 reef balls in the Piankatank and Lafayette rivers.
Across the bay, Maryland has deployed more than 2,500 reef balls since they began planting them in 2008; some incorporate concrete from Baltimore’s demolished Memorial Stadium.
The state also is spending nearly $9 million to haul more than 112,000 tons of fossilized oyster shell from Florida for a large restoration project that will also incorporate granite.
“Luckily the state can use our fossil shells and we don’t have to get into the bidding wars with other people trying to get shells,” said Wesson.
He said the state also buys from recyclers who save concrete from demolition jobs.
This year Virginia received $500,000 from The Nature Conservancy for a project in the Piankatank. The money will be used for another partnership with the Corps and NOAA to experiment with using clean ground concrete for a reef in the river.
Wesson said the method has proved successful in rebuilding reefs in the Gulf of Mexico after Katrina and the BP oil spill decimated oysters there. The Gulf, still the No. 1 oyster producer in the U.S., is also experiencing a shell shortage.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Oyster Restoration in New Jersey-- Something is happening.... Sorry Chris Christie

Wow!  We had been under the impression that little oyster restoration was underway in NJ. And once we publish on it. Boom! We learn otherwise. The article below was published in the Middletown News. To see the original article visit this link.

Governor Christie, if you took offense, we will come to NJ and shuck 100 oysters for you to make up for our gaffe.

Volunteers wade through chill waters to retrieve bags of shells

Attention: open in a new window. 
Volunteers wade through chilly waters to retrieve bags of clam shells covered in oyster spat.CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – More than 30 area residents volunteered to wade through chilly waters recently to pull 15-pound bags of clam shells from the shallows in the Delaware Bay to help restore an oyster reef near Gandy’s Beach in Cumberland County.
[photos courtesy Jenny Paterno]
The shells were covered with oyster larvae that swarm the bay during the summer, near the Rutgers Cape Shore Laboratory in Cape May Court House.
“Our volunteers were a diverse group including families, oyster growers, educators, Anheuser Busch employees and students and faculty from Westtown School in West Chester, Pa.,” said Lisa Calvo, a marine scientist with Rutgers.
The event, held Sunday, Sept. 14, was part of Project Ports, or Promoting Oyster Restoration through Schools.
In June, kindergarten through eighth grade students filled bags with shells, which were then dropped onto submerged sandbars in the bay off the shore of Middle Township.
Oyster larvae settled on the shells throughout the summer, and the bags were harvested in September by a group of hardy volunteers.
The initial plan had been to put the bags onto a barge for the trip to up the coast, but Calvo said high winds made the journey unsafe.
Instead, the larvae-laden shells were loaded onto trucks and driven to Cumberland County.
“Project Ports is a community-based oyster restoration program developed and coordinated by Rutgers University's Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory,” Calvo said. “We partner with the American Littoral Society to engage summer volunteers and transplant the shell bags.”
Calvo said the project is an outreach projects that supports the community, as well creating awareness of the Delaware Bay.
The oyster restoration site near Gandy’s Beach is part of a 10-acre plot owned by the state.

High winds prevented a barge from making the trip up the coast, so volunteers load bags of shell onto a truck for the trip to the oyster reef near Gandy’s Beach in Cumberland County.High winds prevented a barge from making the trip up the coast, so volunteers load bags of shell onto a truck for the trip to the oyster reef near Gandy’s Beach in Cumberland County.

Oyster spat covers a clam shell.Oyster spat covers a clam shell.