Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Legislation to Improve Oyster Restoration Laws on the Docket

 Representative Dan Ryan is seeking co-sponsors for a bill to improve the cumbersome laws on oyster restoration in the Commonwealth. Those laws are a handicap to starting programs and to obtaining Federal Funding. Below is a brief pre-amble as to why it matters and the text of the filing. Please encourage your legislator to get on board. The Docket Number is 4257.
Massachusetts Representative Dan Ryan

Why this bill matters-

  • 1.      We want to bring back our oyster populations as their reefs improve fishing by sheltering over 300 other types of creatures that feed striped bass. And they filter the water.
  • 2.      The bill would streamlines and improves our cumbersome oyster restoration permitting process which is one of the most restrictive on the East Coast.
  • 3.      It would make it possible to tap into federal dollars for oyster restoration. $86 million has gone into the Chesapeake Bay and recently New York received $5 million in Federal dollars just to educate students about the program to reintroduce oysters to New York City’s waters.
  • 4.      Those Federal dollars create jobs.
  • 5.      Note that this bill does not negatively affect our growing aquaculture business, call for public expenditures or change the town’s control of their waters.

Oyster restoration Bill   Docket Number 4257
Sponsor-   Representative Dan Ryan

HD4257 - - An Act establishing a program for oyster restoration

 Chapter 130 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 20A, the following section:-

Section 20B. (a) As used in this section, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:-

“Acting entity”, an organization, including but not limited to an academic institution, nonprofit, or local organization that partners with a municipality to place and maintain oysters in an area designated under the OREP program.

“Eligible coastal waters”, all classifications of coastal water including waters classified as open for shell fishing, conditionally open for shell fishing, conditionally closed for shell fishing, and closed for shell fishing.

(b) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the division shall establish a program to be known as the Oyster Restoration for Environmental Purposes program, or OREP, for the purpose of placing oysters in any eligible coastal waters, regardless of classification, to improve water quality and environmental conditions by offsetting run-off pollution, attracting and sustaining other sea life, improving the local environment for subaquatic flora, including eelgrass, through water quality enhancement, and creating or enhancing fish habitat. Under the OREP program, municipalities or acting entities may place oysters in any OREP area designated by a municipality and approved by the division pursuant to subsection (c).

(c) A municipality, by vote of the board of selectmen, in the case of a town, or by vote of the city council, in the case of a city, may designate any eligible coastal water as an OREP area. Following such designation, the municipality or the acting entity shall file an application with the division. The application shall include:

(i) proof of municipal designation;

(ii) site location;

(iii) plan for placement, including the number of oysters, substrate, and a timetable;

(iv) description of the acting entity, if any;

(v) municipal oversight and posting ;

(vi) approvals from other relevant regulatory authorities, if needed; and

(vii) if the site is in waters less than fully open to shell fishing, a municipal contaminated area management plan, through which the municipality or acting entity shall minimize risk by seeking locations with limited access, establishing suitable monitoring, and, if necessary, a method for warning the public of the inadvisability of shell fishing and consumption of shellfish from the area through multi-lingual posting and other public media.

The division shall review the application but shall not unreasonably deny the application on the basis of water classification. The division may reply with questions and ask for clarifications within 30 consecutive calendar days. Once the acting entity has responded to the questions, the division shall have another 30 days to review and respond. Failure of the division to respond in 45 consecutive calendar days to any application shall be deemed an approval.

Upon any approval, the division shall issue the necessary permits or licenses required .

(d) The town or municipality may establish and oversee an OREP area directly, or may partner with an acting entity to carry out the planting and upkeep of said area.

(e) The acting entity shall provide annually to the division and the municipality a report on the progress of the location with estimates of the population and reproduction of shellfish, the involvement of the community, and any other quantifiable benefits or notable observations. Failure to comply may result in the municipality's curtailment or revocation of the acting entity's permits .

(f) Once placed, the oysters are viewed as property of the municipality, and shall not be moved or removed without the permission of the municipality.

(g) Oysters placed under this program shall not be eligible for commercial harvest at any time, unless: (1) the placed waters are classified or re-classified as approved for harvest by the division; (2) the oysters are acceptable for harvest according to federal regulations; and (3) the acting entity is amenable to such change .

(h) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit any requirements of the National Shellfish Sanitation Program.

(i) The division may promulgate rules and regulations necessary to implement the requirements of this section.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Join us at Mayflower Brewery for Oysterfest on Saturday November 14

Join us for craft beer and an open oyster bar as we raise money for oyster restoration in Massachusetts. Your $45 entry includes
  • Open oyster bar from Big Rock Oyster Bar
  • Your first draft craft beer from Mayflower Brewery's delicious array of options
  • Silent auction
  • Live music from Lady and The Late Knights
  • Our famous prize drawing
  • Lots of great times with friends new and old
Have questions about Oysterfest at Mayflower Brewing? Contact Mass Oyster Project for Clean Water

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

More on New York's $ 5million Grant Around Oyster Restoration

 This article on the New York Times website attracted our attention.

Here’s an excerpt from a post over at Pace University’s EarthDesk blog focused on the Billion Oyster Project, an exciting effort to connect middle school classrooms around New York City with the history and future of New York Harbor through the restoration of a legendary bivalve.
The piece is by my Pace University colleague John Cronin and includes a conversation with Lauren Birney of the Pace School of Education, the lead investigator in the project, which has received a $5-million National Science Foundation grant:
A century ago, the oyster was New York’s pearl. Oystering was as integral to New York Harbor’s identity as the Statue of Liberty. The waters of the city and New Jersey boasted more than 260,000 acres of oyster beds spread throughout the harbor, its bays and estuaries, the lower Hudson and East rivers. New Yorkers ate more oyster meat than beef. The original New York “foot-longs” were Gowanus oysters, gathered from Gowanus Bay and Creek in Brooklyn and exported to Europe as a delicacy.

In present day New York, oysters are better associated with the Oyster Bar in the cellar of New York’s Grand Central Terminal, where oysters from Apalachicola Bay in Florida and Chincoteague Bay in Maryland are now the delicacy. Generations of pollution drove out New York oystering, and today the name “Gowanus” is identified less with the bay and more with the canal, a toxic federal Superfund site (hopefully on its way to a major cleanup).

But the Billion Oyster Project, the brainchild of the New York Harbor School, aims to change all that by enlisting hundreds of thousands of city school children to restore a billion oysters to city waters. “In short, students are driving the restoration of New York Harbor,” said Birney….
Here’s Cronin’s chat with Birney:
John Cronin: By the late 1800s, New York Harbor was already being lamented. Harper’s Weekly was fond of running cartoons about how fouled it was and a federal law, the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, was enacted to control the abuse. But here we are, still talking about the harbor’s poor condition. Pairing a middle school education with its restoration is ambitious by any standard. How do the two fit together in the Billion Oyster Project?

Lauren Birney: City students benefit enormously from an increased awareness about their ecological place. Water defines New York City; it’s surrounded by it. Our young students will lead the community in the Billion Oyster Project, and get to understand first-hand what it means to make a real difference. They will earn a unique sense of ownership in their local and water community because they are the ones who are driving the restoration.

JC: In addition to the students’ work constructing reefs, growing and planting oysters, and operating monitoring equipment, the $5 million National Science Foundation grant is designed to translate that hands-on experience into a curriculum for the city school system. How?

LB: The harbor is like a living laboratory for education in STEM. We want to give students the opportunity to learn outside the school building. Our consortium of partners is creating opportunities for citizen science, real-time data collection, operation of monitoring technologies, and more. After-school mentoring provides extra enrichment for those students especially interested in STEM. Maybe a student gets excited about oysters or the condition of the harbor and decides to be a biologist, or pursue an interest in maritime law. An interest in our monitoring technologies could open a door to the study of engineering. These experiences are such a rarity for our students they may otherwise not have the opportunity to discover their passion.

JC: I know from experience it is not always easy to integrate such innovative education into the standard public school curriculum. Is that a challenge?

Oyster barges moored on the Hudson River in 1912, before the industry in New York City began to decline, around 1920.Credit The Oysterman and Fisherman
LB: Yes. But we have a great partner in the New York City school system, and a strong emphasis on teacher training. Over the next 18 months we expect to work directly with 40 teachers; each has 30 – 35 students. And those teachers are sharing with other teachers, such as English teachers. This is such a rich area of pedagogy it can infiltrate through all subject areas.
Oyster barges moored on the Hudson River in 1912, before the industry in New York City began to decline, around 1920.Credit The Oysterman and Fisherman
Read the rest of Cronin’s post here. If you’re in the New York City region, you can attend a conversation about the many partnerships behind the oyster restoration and education initiative at Pace’s Manhattan campus on Tuesday evening.

For more on the Harbor School program that was the seed of this broader initiative, click back to my post on oyster reefs as a surge protector, published a couple of months after Hurricane Sandy struck the city.

Monday, October 12, 2015

New Oyster Documentary- The Oyster Revival to be Previewed at Wellfleet Oysterfest

We hope you will stop by to visit us at the Wellfleet Oysterfest this weekend. Our booth will be located next to the oyster shell recycling roll-off.

In addition to slurping down some delicious oysters, there are other excellent foods including classic chowder and fried lobster tail.

In addition to feeding your stomach, you can feed your mind by attending a preview of The Oyster Revival at the Wellfleet Public Library on Saturday at 11:30 am.

Mass Oyster has been watching this project since it's infancy and we are excited to see it coming to fruition.