Wednesday, June 27, 2012

JFK's Legacy Ending a Little-known War MOP Oyster Shell Recycling Gaining Momentum New Hampshire Creating More Oyster Reef

JFK’s Legacy Grows- Ending the Oyster War

On a long flight I read through the $3 billion plan for restoring oysters to the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to learning a bit more about oysters, there is a bit of history as well. The document credits President John F. Kennedy with another example of his leadership ending a long-standing conflict- The Oyster Wars.

In the late 1800’s oysters were immensely popular. As the number of oysters in the wild began to drop, oystermen began putting out young oysters of their own to grow and seeking to establish the legislation to protect their oysters. When people started taking ownership of the oysters, they began resenting others who took them, calling those parties “poachers.” Some of the more aggressive oystermen took the law into their own hands and enforced it with the point of a gun. Through the years a number of people were killed. Many say that the Oyster Wars officially began in 1865 when Maryland began requiring permits for taking oysters from the State’s waters. Maryland followed up on the law three years later by establishing the Maryland Oyster Navy to prevent poaching. Virginia had its own travails. When that state made oyster dredging illegal a group of 'oyster pirates' banded together to violate the ban. At one time the State’s Governor conducted raids that arrested 46 men and seized 7 boats.

It should be noted that violence was not limited to this region as the tightening supply affected the entire East Coast. Interestingly, a whole new section of law was developed to address the need for outlining the ownership of oysters placed by growers and how the harvest of a section of ocean was regulated and tracked..

Young President Kennedy stepped up and put an end to the festering sore that existed between Maryland and Virginia as to whose oystermen had the right to harvest in the Potomac estuary. The last Potomac River casualties were in the late 1950’s. It took action by the President in 1962 signing the “Potomac Fisheries Bill” to induce the states to form the Potomac Rivers Commission to jointly oversee the estuary; bringing the hostilities to an end.  In comparison, the Cuban Missile Crisis lasted had only run a few days before he solved the problem.

Oyster Shell Recycling Program Grows

Mass Oyster has begun working with a local hotel to take their oysters for recycling.This program will be rampinig up this Fall.

On Monday we delivered a load of aged recycled oyster shell to Wellfleet for use in the restoration program.Curt Felix walked us through the progress of shell placement and the science behind adding shell. It gives young oyster spat a place to settle and grow;providing essential habitat. Additionally the shell contains calcium carbonate, which reduces ocean acidity. Interestingly for the first time in several years Menhaiden have been seen in Wellfleet Harbor-perhaps this is a sign that the increased oyster reef structure is supporting more feedstock, or that the water chemistry has improved, or maybe it is just coincidence.

New Hampshire Oyster Reef Restoration Grows

We received this link to an article on oyster reef restoration in New Hampshire on the Squamscott River. This is the second program that I am aware of. Does it seem odd that New Hampshire with little coastline is very active in oyster restoration and Massachusetts with a coastline that is several times larger has only three? 

UNH Faculty Ray Grizzle holds up a chunk of oyster reef. The branching structure provides multiple locations for other creatures to take shelter. John Huff/Staff photographer

Monday, June 11, 2012

Global Warming Data- Spring 2012 - A Significant Record.

This blog post from Dr. Jeff Masters Wunderblog was forwarded to me through an oyster listserve and it was too good not to share. While Global warming is not something that I consider as a threat to oysters as they can take the warm temperatures of the  Florida Keys. And a slightly longer growing season here in the Northeast would not necessarily be bad for them.

Spring 2012 in the contiguous U.S. demolished the old records for hottest spring said NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) . With the warmest March, third warmest April, and second warmest May, the March - April - May spring season was 5.2°F above average--the largest temperature departure from average of any season on record for the contiguous United States. What's truly remarkable is the margin the old record was broken by--spring 2012 temperatures were a full 1°F above the previous most extreme season, the winter of 1999 - 2000. All-time seasonal temperature records are very difficult to break, and are usually broken by only a tenth of a degree. Spring 2011 was exceptional.
Figure 1. Temperature rankings for spring 2012 in the Contiguous U.S. Thirty-one states were record warm for the 3-month period, and an additional eleven states had top-ten warmth. Spring 2012 beat the previous record for hottest spring on record, set in 1910, by an remarkable 2°F. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

U.S. heat over the past 12 months: a one in half-a-million event
But the heat of spring is not the entire story. The U.S. record for hottest 12-month period fell for the second straight month in May. The June 2011 - May 2012 temperatures smashed the previous record by a startling 0.4°F. The past twelve months have featured America's 2nd warmest summer, 4th warmest winter, and warmest spring on record. Thirty-two states were record warm for the 12-month period, and an additional ten states were top ten warm. Each of the 12 months from June 2011 through May 2012 ranked among the warmest third of their historical distribution for the first time in the 1895-present record. According to NCDC, the odds of this occurring randomly during any particular month are 1 in 531,441. Thus, we should only see one more 12-month period so warm between now and 46,298 AD--assuming the climate is staying the same as during the past 118 years. The unusual warmth was due, in part, to a La NiƱa event in the Pacific that altered jet stream patterns, keeping the polar jet stream much farther to the north than usual.

Figure 2. Three of the top ten warmest 12-month periods in the contiguous U.S. since 1895 have occurred since April 2011. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

Figure 3. The average temperature during January - May 2012 was the warmest on record: 5°F above the 20th century average for the period, and 1.3°F above the previous record set in 2000. January - May temperatures have been rising at about 1.8°F per century since 1895. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.

Second warmest May, warmest year-to-date period on record
May 2012 was the second warmest May in the contiguous U.S. since record keeping began in 1895. Twenty-six states had a top-ten warmest May, and no states had a top-ten coolest May. The January - May 2012 period was the warmest January - May period since record keeping began in 1895, with temperatures 5°F above the 20th century average for the period. This broke the previous record set in 2000 by an unusually large margin--1.3°F.
Figure 4. NOAA's U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) for spring (March - April - May) shows that 2012 had the most extreme spring on record, with 44% of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% extreme weather.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dietary Benefits of Oysters- Winthrop Meeting

Health Benefits Of Oysters

While perusing the web seeking information on our favorite mollusk, the nibble contained a terrific summary as to why they are good for you. Oysters are not only delicious, but they’re also one of the most nutritionally well-balanced foods. They’re high in protein, low in fat and loaded with essential minerals.

Ounce for ounce, oysters have fewer calories and about the same level of cholesterol as white-fleshed fish; and are much lower in fat, cholesterol and calories when compared to poultry. The National Heart and Lung Institute suggests oysters as an ideal food for inclusion in low-cholesterol diets.
Oysters are an excellent source of vitamins A, B1 (thiamin) B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C (ascorbic acid) and D (calciferol). Four or five medium-size oysters supply the recommended daily allowance of calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.

One entire cup of oyster meat (that’s as much as Diamond Jim Brady would consume) is just 160 calories. Figure 10 calories per medium oyster, or 20 calories per ounce of oyster meat.

Whether you enjoy them raw or cooked, you can enjoy them in abundance!

Meeting with Winthrop Harbor Management Committee

Recently we met with the Winthrop Harbor Management Committee to talk with them about an oyster restoration project. It was an interesting meeting as Winthrop is an active Harbor with lobstermen, clammers and a ferry service. The Committee was cordial and we had a good discussion. The next step is for them to decide if they are interested in moving forward and then we will work together to formulate a plan. Tink Martin whom we met through the Friends of the Belle Isle Marsh set up that meeting. She has also introduced us into the clammers who are active in Boston Harbor. Thank you Tink!