Friday, November 21, 2014

Feds Funding Oyster Restoration Project in Panama City Florida--

This story first appeared in the Panama City Times Herald.  You can see it here. Hopefully soon Massachusetts will wise up and decide to tap into some of these federal dollars to create jobs and improve our environment.

The Oyster Reef Habitat Restoration project is one of 10 Florida Gulf Restoration projects that will be paid for with $34.3 million from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. 

 By CHRIS OLWELL | News Herald Writer 

| PANAMA CITY — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will receive nearly $2 million to restore oyster habitats in St. Andrew Bay from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). 

The Oyster Reef Habitat Restoration project is one of 10 Florida Gulf Restoration projects that will be paid for with $34.3 million from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. The NFWF announced the projects Monday. 

The oyster bed restoration will improve water quality and help restore seagrass, which will benefit a variety of plant and animal species in the bay, said Jim Muller, Bay County's RESTORE Act coordinator. "Seagrass and oysters serve as a nursery for a lot of species," Muller said. The NFWF said the restoration of one and a quarter miles of oyster habitats in West Bay will improve the water quality by reducing sediments, which will improve fisheries and reduce turbidity and wave action. 

The project is expected to expand over 200 acres of seagrass beds. Grey snapper, spotted sea trout, mullet, grouper, red drum, flounder, shrimp, blue crab and scallops are among the species NFWF expects to benefit from the project. 

 Muller said the habitat was not directly affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but that's not required of projects that receive the grants. The Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund was established in 2013 with money paid by BP and Transocean to settle criminal charges stemming from the spill.

The project spending announced Monday is the second batch of a total $356 million from the fund that will be spent on restoration projects in Florida over five years. Florida officials lauded the announcement Monday.
“This $34.3 million in funding is great news for families in the Panhandle,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a news release.  “Florida’s natural treasures must be protected so that future generations will be able to experience all that our great state has to offer.”
The project will also benefit commercial and recreational fishermen as the species in the habitat thrive, Muller said.
“The Gulf Coast was badly damaged in 2010, but this money will lead to significant progress in restoring the area’s ecosystem,” Sen. Bill Nelson said in a release. “Protecting and restoring Florida’s natural resources is vital not only to our state’s economy, but to the state’s character.”
Another project announced Monday will pay $3 million to expand efforts to collect data on fisheries stock in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the NFWF, "The largest single impediment to effective management of Gulf of Mexico reef fisheries such as red snapper is the lack of sound data related to both catch effort and stock assessment."
Local commercial and recreational fishermen have complained about the science used to support a shortened red snapper season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Restaurants Supporting Oyster Restoration Through Shell Recycling Continues to Grow...

As we were recycling shell from last week's fundraiser, it occurred to us that we have some new participants in the shell recycling program that we operate with Save That Stuff.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel has joined the program through its terrific new restaurant Bar Bouloud. We were pleased to have such a renowned chef as part of our program. Daniel Boulud  was born and raised in Lyon, France, but based in New York for over 30 years, his roster of restaurants include Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, db Bistro Moderne and DBGB Kitchen, although arguably he is best known for the three Michelin-starred DANIEL. The author of 8 cookbooks and the recipient of multiple awards including Chevalier de la Legion d’ Honneur from the French Government, Chef Boulud’s seasonal French American cuisine is celebrated around the world.

Located at 800 Boylston Street in Boston-  Bar Bouloud supports oyster restoration by recycling shell.   

Bergamot Restaurant of Somerville is now recycling as well. The restaurant is located at 118 Beacon Street near Harvard Square and the Cambridge Somerville line.

Bergamot founders have combined their love for great food, wine and friends. You’ll see Keith in the kitchen and Servio at the door. We’re cooking up “Progressive American Cuisine” — they’re having fun with the best local produce they can find, complementing it with ingredients from around the world, and serving it with neighborhood warmth. Ask about their daily $42 Prix-Fixe Menu which Keith changes several times a week, reacting to our fresh-from-the-farm deliveries. They’re open every night with a full bar, creative cocktails, great bar menu, a fantastic wine list with surprising winemakers and price points, and a talented kitchen crew.

The restaurant also has free parking!

Bergamot Staff happily recylce their oyster shell. 

East Boston Oysters recycled the shell from their recent local food event at the East Boston Kitchen.   Their Shuck and Huck event consisted of five oyster courses. 

If you are having an oyster event, we can work with you to provide shell recycling resources. Let us know by emailing

Monday, November 17, 2014

Shellfish Aquaculture Moving Offshore and Showing Promise

This article was published by the Island Institute and you can see it here.  While it may not be an opportunity for oysters, it shows promise for mussels, (which are delightful with garlic, butter and white wine.)  Perhaps this activity could be combined with wind farms?

Offshore aquaculture offers new promise

Using federal waters could mean fewer conflicts

by Tom Groening

Aquaculture, once seen as a viable alternative to chasing declining wild fish stocks, is rebounding. But fish farming is taking shape in locations and using technology far different from the floating pens seen just off the coast back in the early 1990s.

One new area entrepreneurs are exploring is in waters three-plus miles off the mainland, much of which is managed by the federal government. Siting farms in these offshore waters eliminates impact to scenic views, and reduces, but doesn't eliminate, conflicts with other marine endeavors.

The species that seems best suited to offshore aquaculture is mussels, with very little labor required once the shellfish are established, and no feeding needed. New equipment, available from places like New Zealand, where such aquaculture is common, allows the mussels to be grown and harvested from some 50 feet below the surface.

Dave Alves, the aquaculture coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service's northeast office, said a mussel farm was permitted in late summer for an area about six miles south of Woods Hole, Mass. The 30-acre site is owned by a fisherman.

Another project now under review for permitting is about 8.5 miles off Rockport, Mass., he said. If an unmanaged species is being raised in federal waters, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the lead permitting agency, he said.Such ventures make sense for fishermen seeking to add a source of revenue that doesn't require a lot of labor once established, Alves said.
"We see this as one way to help," he said.

Being well offshore means "you get away from all the conflicting uses," Alves said. "People don't realize how heavily used our inshore waters are," with recreational boating, fishing and shipping all potentially generating objections.

Offshore aquaculture was been developed for research purposes off coastal New Hampshire from 1998 to 2010. Richard Langan, director of the University of New Hampshire's Coastal and Ocean Technology Program, said several species were established six miles off Rye; the project fell under state, not federal review, because the Isles of Shoals archipelago is the point from which the three-mile federal line is computed, and the farms were within three miles of that state land.

The work there included the more traditional fish cages, as well as long lines used to raise shellfish. Blue mussels and sea scallops were established, the mussels on vertical rope and the scallops in what are known as lantern cages, which are trays with nets that resemble Japanese lanterns.The scallops proved to need too much attention, Langan said. Individual scallops needed a generous amount of space between them, and often were hampered by "fouling organisms" in the environment. And scallops are notoriously vulnerable.

"If you look at them the wrong way, they die," Langan said.

But mussels were another story. The seedlings were collected twice a year from inshore locations and attached to ropes hung from horizontal lines established 20-feet to 40-feet below the surface. Within a year, the mussels grew to 2-inches or more, and the meat yield ratio ranged from a low of 42 percent up to 60 percent, he said.

"We were getting really good results," Langan said. "The quality was remarkable."

One line—600-700 feet long—would produce 15,000-20,000 pounds of mussels each year, with a yield of a million pounds possible if enough lines were established.

Though harvesting equipment is expensive and permitting can be arduous, Langan sees a bright future for such offshore projects.

"I think there's huge potential for mussel culture," he said, especially given that the U.S. imports 40 million pounds of mussels annually from Canada.

Siting the farm offshore didn't put the gear or shellfish at risk. Waves, winds and storms had little effect, Langan said. One three-day period saw 30-foot high seas, yet "We never lost any gear."

The seedling mussels are gathered by placing ropes in inshore waters, then the young shellfish are put in something resembling cotton socks, which are then attached to the lines in the offshore configuration. The socks rot, and the more mature mussels then attach to what Alves describes as "fuzzy rope."

The gear needed to harvest the mussels is readily available for purchase, though Alves noted that none is made in the U.S.

"This is a mature technology in the rest of the world," with the industry strong in New Zealand, Spain and Canada. "[Fishermen] can buy everything they need off the shelf," he said.
Alves and Langan are optimistic about the role mussel farming can have in supplementing income for fishermen.

"There's a heck of a market for them," Alves said. "But you have to have a good-sized farm to make a living at it." The U.S. imports 90 percent of its mussels, with 50 percent of those cultured.

"Why can't we do it?" Alves asked.

Some projects are run by fishing coops, which makes sense, he said. A group of fishermen can share the work, and can buy a boat built designed to harvest the mussels.

All marine resource harvesting helps support working waterfront infrastructure, he added.
"If you're not bringing money over the dock, you're looking at condos," he said. "It's not a silver bullet, but it's one piece of the puzzle that keeps things going."

This is the second in a series of stories exploring changing ocean uses that are the focus of the regional ocean planning process. For more information about Island Institute's marine work, contact Marine Programs Director Nick Battista at; for more information on regional ocean planning, contact John Weber at

Monday, November 10, 2014

Join us Sat Nov.15 at Mayflower Brewery for Craft Beer, Big Rock Oysters and Live Music From Root 9

This Saturday November 15, Mass Oyster will be holding a fundraiser, Fall Into Oysters at Mayflower Brewery from 5:00-8:00 pm.

With your $25 entry you will get a pint of fine Mayflower Craft Beer, your first dozen oysters and entry in our prize drawing that includes the coveted Mass Oyster apparel and other prizes, including a bottle of The Oyster Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that is designed to pair with oysters.

Live music will be provided by Root 9. You can check out their sound at

Big Rock Oyster will be providing our favorite bivalves. 

Funds will be used to advance oyster restoration around the state.

You can order tickets here.

Mayflower Brewery is located on 12 Resnick Road in Plymouth, MA  We look forward to seeing you there.