Friday, January 6, 2012

Washington State Embraces Shellfish-- Great Evolving Map of Boston- Starting Oyster Shell Recycling

Washington State Embraces Shellfish with New Initiative

Recently,  Governor Chris Gregoire has unveiled the Washington Shellfish Initiative, an agreement among federal and state government, tribes, and the shellfish industry to restore and expand Washington’s shellfish resources to promote clean-water commerce. We have reviewed the document on-line and it is a multi-participant effort that includes restoration, environmental improvement, and environmental research. 

Washington’s aquaculture industry – farmed clams, mussels and oysters – is worth more than $107 million a year. The industry employs more than 3,200 people and pumps more than $270 million annually into the state economy.

Participating organizations include NOAA, the EPA, State Government, the US Geologic Survey and the Army Corps of Engineers. Work is already under way to improve water quality and protect critical habitat. The Puget Sound Partnership’s goal is a net increase of 10,800 harvestable shellfish acres in Puget Sound – including 7,000 acres where harvest is currently prohibited.

One important piece of this is that they are going to be studying water quality and the impact of shellfish. While their benefit is generally accepted as a fact, there are still some skeptics including those in our own state's regulatory bodies, who question this. In some ways the causal relationship between oysters and improving water quality is like proving that smoking causes cancer. It is a long arduous process to demonstrate the link and prove what is intuitively obvious. 

Congratulations to Students Working with MOP

Wellesley College Freshman Nicole Lobodzinski who completed her Freshman science project looking at oysters and the impact of acidic conditions on their health. Nicole is a California native who volunteered at our October oyster placement event. We supplied her with oysters for her experiment. She is looking forward to a career in aquatic sciences.

UMass Marine Sciences Grad Student Ben Wetherilll asked us for some information for a GIS mapping project looking for sites with habitat that are conducive to oysters. You can see his work here.

Serving as an educational/career development tool for young people was not a goal at our founding, but it has turned out to be a particularly rewarding piece of it.

Great Evolving Map of Boston

While searching for information on Margaret Jones- the first Massachusetts witch executed in 1640 in Charlestown and Alice Thomas the colonial "Mass Bay Madam," I came across this terrific map that shows the evolution and filling around the Boston Peninsula. Among other interesting features it shows the filling of the Mill Pond around 1800 and the enclosure of Fort Point Channel. When you go to the site, click on history and you can watch the video as a loop or frame by frame.

Oyster Shell Recycling Growing

We have begun moving recycling oyster shell in East Boston in space loaned to MOP by a local businessman. As we refine our processes, we will seek to recycle oyster from MOP events and potentially area restaurants. For now, we are keeping it as a small facility as we learn how best to manage the process. Oyster shell needs to be stored for a year before it can be used for either a base layer for placing live oysters on top or for serving as medium for growing spat upon it.  In upcoming weeks we will have a representative meeting with the New York New Jersey Oyster Restoration Partenership to learn of their recycling effort.

There also is a growing program on Martha's Vineyard. Below is information on an upcoming meeting they will be holding later this month.

Our Shell Resource: Shell Recycling on Martha's Vineyard
When: Saturday January 21, 2012, 11:00am-2:00pm
Where: Wakeman Center, Lamberts Cove Road, Vineyard Haven, MA.
The Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group will host an informative community workshop to explore the ideas and challenges of shell recycling on the Vineyard. What benefits does shell bring to our pond ecosystems? How may shell recycling impact the Vineyard refuse stream? How can businesses and citizens get involved?
Special guest Stephan Abel, Executive Director of the Maryland Oyster Recovery Partnership will attend and present about successful shell recycling in the Chesapeake area. Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group Director Rick Karney, and Emma Green-Beach of the Marine Biological Laboratory will talk about the importance of shell in marine ecosystems and Jessica Kanozak will report on the progress of the first year of the Martha's Vineyard Shell Recovery Partnership. The workshop will conclude with a panel brainstorming ways to expand the program and make it sustainable.  Come to this FREE workshop. Join the discussion. Contribute to this developing initiative. Coffee & light lunch provided. For more information please contact Rick Karney at

MOP Hat in San Diego

This photo of a gentleman wearing the MOP hat was sent in by one of our volunteers. He is standing in front of the historic landmark del Coronado Hotel.

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