Thursday, September 3, 2015

Shucked, Topped and Frozen Oysters From Australia???

While we are sensitive to the shipping challenges of this group from Australia. Buying frozen oysters pre-shucked and frozen just seems odd. In the near-term they would solely be for the domestic Australian market.  This article first appeared here.

A South Australian shellfish company has begun research to start exporting frozen, pre-topped oysters interstate.

 
Kangaroo Oysters in Australia..

Kangaroo Island shellfish is marketing the frozen oysters to retailers to make the most of the growing demand for frozen seafood products. Managing director of KI Shellfish, Ken Rowe, said developing the technology would enable the company to overcome its freight burden.
Mr Rowe said the company was looking to redesign its business to overcome the cost of freight and discovered the potential in exporting frozen oysters.

"We are the most southern South Australian oyster farm, so we do have a bit wilder weather and colder water and deeper tides, but we have a pretty nice product which we sell as a niche Kangaroo Island product," he said. "Freight is a massive issue."When we want to send our product fresh around Australia, often we're hamstrung by transport businesses not running due to weather conditions and other challenges we have being an island."

The company plans to harvest and stockpile oysters during their prime before being frozen, dressed and shipped as a ready-to-eat product.

KI Shellfish received a $20,000 State Government grant to develop a frozen product that stayed fresh after being frozen, but the concept was easy.

"We're hoping, all going well, that it will be ready to eat," Mr Rowe said.

"So you rip the lid off, you put your shucked and pre-topped oysters in the oven from a frozen product, and hopefully in 20 minutes you pull them out and impress your guests."

Mr Rowe said regional areas which had trouble sourcing fresh oysters would be a key market for the frozen product. Another sought-out market would be Asia.

There was still a lot of ground to make in research and development to create a retail product, Mr Rowe said, but the potential was certainly there.

"There is a ready to eat frozen seafood growth market, so we are trying to put the oysters there," he said.

"We've got a good chance at it being Kangaroo Island oysters, because we think it is well suited to be a niche, gourmet product."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Oysters and Airports- Hazard or Not?

This article written by Dick Broom is republished from the Ellsworth American. It highlights a certain caution around restoring oysters near airports.  For this reason, we have not pushed Logan to undertake a restoration program, although we continue to request that they recycle their shells. Interestingly in New York, there is restoration going on near both JFK and La Guardia without incident. 


Photo of Bar Harbor Airport
TRENTON — Having received all of the necessary permits, Warren Pettegrow plans to begin installation of his oyster farm in Goose Cove by the end of the summer, according to his attorney.
But opponents of the project are still looking for a way to stop it.
Both the Trenton board of selectmen and Hancock County Commissioners have appealed to members of Maine’s congressional delegation to look into whether the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ignored its own safety standards in failing to block the project. Brad Madeira, manager of the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport, also has expressed serious concerns.

The 50-acre oyster farm – two 25-acre parcels – would be directly under the flight path of planes landing or taking off on the airport’s main runway. Opponents of the project worry that seagulls attracted by the oyster cages would pose a significant safety hazard.

Pettegrow, whose family owns the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, first proposed the Acadia Sea Farms aquaculture operation in 2010. He said in his lease application to the Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) that he eventually wanted to raise up to 10 million oysters in as many as 5,000 cages.

The DMR granted a five-year lease in January 2012 on the condition that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also give its consent. The Army Corps issued a permit in March of this year following consultations with the FAA.

Oyster farm opponents argue that the FAA could and should have stopped the project because of the threat it poses to aviation safety.

They cite an FAA advisory that states: “For all airports, the FAA recommends a distance of five statute miles between the farthest edge of the airport’s AOA (air operations area) and the hazardous wildlife attractant if the attractant could cause hazardous wildlife movement into or across the approach or departure airspace.”

One of the 25-acre oyster farm parcels planned for Goose Cove would be 1.5 miles from the end of the main runway in Trenton; the other would be 2.1 miles away.

In June 2011, Frank Del Giudice, chief of the permits and enforcement branch of the Army Corps’ New England district, said in a letter to Pettegrow that the FAA opposed the oyster farm because of its proximity to the airport.
“The Corps places great importance on the comments of a sister federal agency, particularly one with clear authority, regulations and policies related to public safety,” Del Giudice wrote.
He recommended that Pettegrow withdraw his permit application. In 2013, Trenton selectmen filed a request with the FAA and Army Corps under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for all documents and correspondence related to the oyster farm application.

One of those documents was a Dec. 10, 2012 email from LeeAnn Neal, senior project manager for the Army Corps in Maine, to Douglas Chapman, Pettegrow’s attorney. In it, she listed six conditions that must be met “in the event a Corps of Engineers permit is issued.” The first condition was that a study be conducted “to determine a baseline estimate of the number of seabirds likely to be found within the project area.” The study would have to be repeated every year for three years following installation of the oyster cages.  Another condition was that Pettegrow must take “all available and practicable steps to discourage the attraction of seabirds to the aquaculture facility.”

Neal told Chapman that the Army Corps and FAA would coordinate “to determine whether any new management measures are required to minimize attraction of seabirds… .”
Chapman responded to Neal about two hours after receiving her email:
Dear LeeAnn:
I would like to convey to you that the applicant and his advisors welcome the six conditions outlined for a ACE [Army Corps of Engineers] permit.
Regards,
Doug
In fact, Pettegrow’s advisors already had commissioned a year-long study of the number of gulls in the Goose Cove area, and that study had begun two months earlier, on Oct. 15, 2012.

Asked Monday if he or anyone representing Pettegrow had proposed that the Army Corps make the study a condition for the permit, Chapman said, “It was so long ago I don’t remember.” The study was conducted primarily by a College of the Atlantic student under the direction of John Anderson, professor of ecology and natural history at COA.

A description of the study submitted to the Army Corps said the intent was “to assist in determining whether the proposed facility is likely to attract or does attract significant numbers of gulls, to an extent that such an increase could pose a hazard to aircraft… .”

The findings of the study were reported to the Army Corps and FAA, but have not been made public. Chapman declined the Islander’s request for the report on the study’s findings.

On July 29, Fred Ehrlenbach, chairman of the Trenton selectmen, sent an FOIA request to the FAA and Army Corps for all documents related to the oyster farm dated after those agencies provided the materials initially requested under FOIA in 2013.

He also wrote to Maine’s U.S. senators, Susan Collins and Angus King, and to 2nd District Rep. Bruce Poliquin, asking them to intervene.

“The few documents that have come to light simply raise more questions about how the applicant [Pettegrow] and his attorney were able to maneuver through the federal process and sell this as a safe activity to the FAA and [Army Corps], all without allowing the public the opportunity to review or rebut the applicant’s claims,” Ehrlenbach wrote.

“We ask that you immediately attempt to unravel the mystery surrounding the federal level approval and permitting process.”

Airport concerns
Madeira, the airport manager, sent an email July 8 to FAA and Army Corps officials in which he expressed concerns about the oyster farm as a potential safety hazard. Noting that as a condition of Pettegrow’s permit, he must conduct annual studies of the number of seagulls in the area, Madeira wrote, “I find this passive, after-the-fact approach to be very disappointing considering the safety risk to the flying public and to people on the ground.”

He also questioned the objectivity of the seabird studies: “Having the permitee conduct the pre and post studies presents a huge conflict of interest in my opinion.”

Madeira told the FAA and Army Corps officials that only time will tell whether the number of gulls in the area will significantly increase following installation of the oyster cages.

“Given the nature of the activity being proposed, though, it is difficult to foresee any other outcome,” he said. “I sincerely hope that I am wrong about that. Given the guidance that is prescribed in [the Army Corps advisory on hazardous wildlife attractants], I am surprised that the [Army Corps] with the FAA’s assistance allowed this to be permitted at all.”

Trenton Selectman Sue Starr also faults federal officials for approving the oyster farm and for what she said was a lack of transparency in the permitting process.

“Our feeling is that either the FAA didn’t do its job or there is some other aspect of this that we’re not seeing that [indicates] FAA believes this is safe,” she said. “But how can they believe it’s safe, because that contradicts everything that they’ve written in the past?”

Corps conditions
The Army Corps has imposed a number of conditions on the operation of the oyster farm in addition to the six initially listed. One of those conditions is that “oyster grow-out cages and floats will remain entirely below the water surface at all times, except for routine maintenance, seeding, harvesting and processing of oysters.”The permit issued by the Maine DMR would have required that the cages remain on the surface of the water.

Bill Stockman, a leader of a citizens group that opposes the oyster farm, acknowledged that requiring the cages to be underwater most of time is an improvement. “That makes it less likely to be a continuous threat,” he said.

Even so, his group, formed five years ago as Friends of Goose Cove and now called Citizens for a Safe Airport, remains staunchly against the oyster farm.

Stockman and Starr met two weeks ago in Ellsworth with Scott Wilkinson, one of Sen. King’s constituent services representatives, to request the senator’s help. They said they were encouraged by Wilkinson’s interest.

On Aug. 4, the Hancock County Commissioners voted to oppose the oyster farm project after Ehrlenbach, Starr and Stockman met with them to detail their concerns. The commissioners are sending letters stating their objection to the FAA, Army Corps and members of Maine’s congressional delegation.

More than two years ago, on March 6, 2013, Chapman, the attorney representing Pettegrow, emailed a letter to Collins, King and then-Rep. Mike Michaud, thanking them and their staff “for working with Acadia Sea Farms and myself as its attorney in support and endorsement of Acadia Sea Farms’ proposed oyster farm in Goose Cove.”

The following day, Chapman received an email response from Carol Woodcock, Collins’ state office representative. “Senator Collins’s staff has not been briefed on this project by you or anyone else, and our knowledge of the proposal is extremely limited,” she wrote.  “We have never expressed support or endorsement of this proposal, and I would greatly appreciate your sending out another letter making this correction.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

Working with Teachers at the New England Aquarium

This week we had a terrific time presenting to teachers at the New England Aquarium.  They havea group of teacher in to learn about aquatic topics and the Aquarium staff graciously invited MOP in to talk about estuaries, oysters and oyster restoration. We also added in a bit about the extensive history of oysters in Massachusetts and Boston in particular. 

In short they were a terrific group. Right up there with the Boston Duck Tour drivers who were just as animated in a room as they are behind the wheel. the teachers were impressive and they inspired the realization that our children are in good hands.



Staff at the New England Aquarium
Aquarium Staff with hands on experiment
In addition to walking through the presentation that  can be found here. We also conducted a few experiments live. This was a bit like being in the classroom as there was a certain pressure to for them to work.  Fortunately, the oysters did filter out the phytoplankton (plants) and the zooplankton (animals) and the presence of oysters protected the steamer clam shell from dissolving in the vinegar while the control almost disappeared. Sadly the nitrogen experience was a total bust as neither the control jar or the jar with added nitrogen showed any change.
Mike Schmit passes a rock gunnel to an educator.

We also did a very short field trip to visually see some of the oysters that settle in with the oysters. This not only drew interest from the teachers, but also from many children who were nearby.

For other curriculums you can visit these at NOAA and New York's Billion Oyster Program.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Long Island Citizens Using Oysters to Clean Waters


News

Brookhaven Long Island- 

Young Oysters Dispatched To Moriches Bay To Filter Polluted Water


BROOKHAVEN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The struggling Long Island bay waters have been receiving some special help, courtesy of thousands of young shellfish.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the shellfish will be put to work filtering the water the natural way.Once a shellfish haven, Moriches Bay now ranks among eastern Long Island’s most polluted waterways.

“Our marine life is disappearing because there is no oxygen for them to breathe, so it’s really sad and heartbreaking,” said Laura Fabrizio of the Moriches Bay Project.

But oysters are set to come to the rescue. They filter out algae, which bloom in nitrogen-polluted water.“Just like a pool filter, here we take the murkiness out of the water by running it through the oysters,” said Thomas Carrano of the Town of Brookhaven Environmental Protection Division.
Nitrogen not only plagues Moriches Bay, but across Long Island where fish kills and brown tides reflect a problem at a tipping point — storm water runoff and aging septic systems choking out life.
Oysters can help.

“It’s natural, it’s simple, it’s cost-effective, and at the end of the day if we’re successful, not only do we filter the bays, but we restore an industry that has died off,” said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine.

“Oysters clean better than 50 times their weight, and you can see the proof is right here in this photo,” said Town of Brookhaven Councilman Dan Panico.

The Town of Brookhaven grows the baby oysters. At a year old, they are suspended in cages.
The town is partnering with volunteers with a goal: one million oysters to filter the entire bay every day, instead of the one year it now takes.

“One of the greatest things about oysters and clams is they work for free,” said Anam Terchunian of the Moriches Bay Project. “All you’ve got to do is give them a home.”

Suspended in Moriches Bay, the oysters will grow. They will eventually be let out of the cages and continue to filter water for the next 20 to 30 years.

In its heyday 50 years ago, there were 100 times more oysters and clams in Moriches Bay than there are today. They could filter the entire bay every few days.