Friday, April 29, 2011

Thompson Island Pilot Blocked-- B&G Oyster-fest Sold Out-- Learn to Shuck an Oyster

Mass Division of Marine Fisheries Denies Boston Youth Opportunity to Learn about Oysters

In a shocking disappointment the DMF has indicated they will be denying MOP’s application to begin an educational pilot on Thompson Island in conjunction with Thompson Island Outward Bound Educational Center.  It was our hope to place a few hundred oysters each on the beautiful island’s salt pond and in their wetlands to provide students who visit the island to follow their growth and see the species they shelter. The educational component of what we do should not be underestimated as our interns are gaining valuable experience and building their resumes to help them get admitted to colleges, land jobs and enter prestigious programs.

While this is in-line with their track record, there were encouraging signs at a late 2010 meeting coordinated by the National Park Service that they would be open to this site do it’s remoteness and value of the program.

Previously the DMF had denied our application to begin a program in the “water quality challenged” Fort Point Channel in conjunction with the Boston Children’s Museum. It should be noted that due to the actions of the DMF MOP has turned down over $52,000 in grant funding that we could not use.

It appears that the patient cooperative approach is not working and we will need to activate a political process.

Sunday’s B&G Oyster Invitational is Sold Out

This classic oyster lover fest is booked to capacity. But if you happen to be one of the lucky fans of bivalves with a ticket. Keep an eye out for MOP Board members Mat Brevard and Josh Hoch who will be there. They and MOP volunteer diver Rich Bradshaw will be collecting the shells for the first oyster shell recycling effort in Boston. The shells will be collected, cleaned and used as substrate for growing spat. This will be a new initiative for MOP as we seek to improve survival of oysters in our Charles River pilot site.

Learn to Shuck Oysters

MOP will be sponsoring an oyster shucking Class in the North End of Boston on Sunday, May 22, 2011 at noon. 

Here is the deal- Liz and Keri of Mercato del Mare / North End Fish & Sushi will open for us and provide shucking lessons to 20 MOP people/friends. Each person will get the opportunity to shuck and eat at least 10 oysters. The cost is $20 per person.

You can bring your own beer and wine. There also will be sushi-chef on site making fresh sushi on a fee for service basis.

To RSVP please email and we will make arrangements for payment.

MOP Joins Coalition Commenting on Strategic Action Plans(SAP) to the National Ocean Council

The Massachusetts Oyster Project has joined a group of other organizations in commenting on the way in which Executive Order 13547, which calls for a National Policy for the Stewardship of Our Oceans Costs and Great Lakes.  The comments contain several changes, which are favorable to oyster restoration programs.  For example.

  • The SAP should state the need to protect and restore ecosystems.
  • The SAP should acknowledge and give weight to non-consumptive uses. (MOP’s program lies here.)
  • The Ocean acidification SAP should include efforts to mitigate ocean acidification and sea-level rise.  (The calcium carbonate in oyster shells offsets acidity and oyster reefs help mitigate wave action.)

Participating in coalitions of environmental groups and scientific programs, builds our network of organizations with similar goals and raises the visibility of our important work to improve our Harbor. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Poster at Fish and Wildlife Conference Shell Recycling-- B&G Oyster Event

Oyster Shell Recycling at the Oyster Invitational

A great spring time event is the B&G Oysters Oyster Invitational. It is a fun filled festival of bivalves with shucking contests, new oyster concoctions, a raffle, and oysters from around the world. Barbara Lynch's crew have made this a watershed seafood event that is a harbinger of Summer. The event will be held on May 1st at their 550 Tremont Street llocation. If you love oysters- this could be the event for you- as it has ALL YOU CAN EAT OYSTERS.  If you attend you might win a Mass Oyster Project windbreaker that is the must have item for coastal fashionistas this year.

MOP will be taking an exciting step forward at this event as we will begin oyster shell recycling.  The oyster shells will be collected in used as a framework for growing tiny new oysters (spat.) Spat on shell tends to survive better than loose oysters. This is our first foray into this type of program. We will seek to expand from this pilot as we move into 2012. One of the challenges is finding a spot where we can store shell as any remnants of the previous occupants dry up and fall off. (This can have a bit of an odor.) If  you have a rural location where we could store a truckload of shell this winter as it dries, please email us by clicking on this link. massoysterproject

One of our interns Shira Bleicher, a freshman student at Wellesely College will be presenting a poster at the North East Fish and Wildlife Conference in Manchester, NH. The conference runs from Sunday through Tuesday.

Her poster discusses preliminary results for her study to look at predation and the effectiveness of various methodologies  for minimizing it. The preliminary or interim results are largely relating to the affects of winter cold on our experimental population.

She is going on to Mount Desert Island Biological Labs this Summer. Entrance to the Maine program is quite competitive and she will focus on eelgrass with mentors Dr. Jane Disney and George Kidder.  She willl be writing proposals and final scientific papers, as well as giving presentations and participating in community outreach efforts. 

Congratulations Shira- bundle up this summer. Those Maine nights get cool!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Falmouth Exploring Oyster Aquaculture to Ease Water Quality Issues

MOP has recently learned of an interesting oyster related project in Falmouth Massachusetts. The town has several densely populated peninsulas that are surrounded by sea water. Most of the homes on those peninsulas use septic systems and the filtered waste eventually reaches the ocean raising nitrogen levels.

High nitrogen levels lead to bacterial growth that consumes oxygen while choking off the light from oxygen producing plants.  The result can be an anoxic, barren sea-bottom that is devoid of life.
This map is from a terrific paper on the area published by Joel Creswell et al. in 2001 You can visit that paper by clicking on the scientific paper link.

Falmouth has a number of advantages. First the pollution is nitrogen not bacterial, so they do not have e.coli and other bacteria that would make oysters farmed in that location inedible. Second, they are in a region that has an oyster industry and expertise.

The plan is to begin farming oysters that incorporate nitrogen into their shells to improve the water quality. The sequestered nitrogen would be removed when the oysters are taken to market. One nice feature of this plan is that the oysters are most active in the warm summer months when homes are most likely to be occupied and producing nitrogen.

The third attractive aspect is that it brings people out on the water.  Bays are like parks, they are more fun to be on if there are others around. Few people like empty parks and city planners know that the way to make them safer is to get people to use them.

This fact is not lost on architects who include people in renderings to make them more attractive to the viewer. If asked for a preference, people will always favor the rendering that includes people, even if the building is less attractive. 

The final feature is that a successful program could obviate the need for an expensive sewer line infrastructure.  

One player in this effort is the Coonamessett Farm Foundation who is helping to coordinate the process. And the process will not be simple with involvement of the Army Corps of Engineers, Coastal Zone management, The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the town government and the abutters.