Thursday, February 20, 2014

Chesapeake Bay Restoration Under Attack as Polluting States Fear Precedent

This article is excerpted from a piece in the Washington Post by Darryl Fears. You can find the original article here. We find this litigation interesting as a number of states fear the precedent set by the Administration's efforts to end pollution flowing into rivers that drain into the Chesapeake Bay. This effort allowed regulation of farmers and sewers in areas as far away as Central Pennsylvania and West Virginia.  
As an organization focused on healthy estuaries, we see the value in looking to reducing  upstream water pollution sources as downstream solutions such as oysters cannot eliminate it all. Additionally excessive pollutants can preclude the presence of oysters or make oyster restoration harder to initiate.   
Chesapeake Bay Estuary and water Sources Map
Chesapeake Bay Estuary accepts water from areas far away. 

Attorneys general in 21 states are backing an attempt to derail the Obama administration’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan, fearing that the government will use that authority to regulate wastewater in other watersheds, including the Mississippi River Basin.
State attorneys general from as far as Alaska and Montana joined the American Farm Bureau Federation in its fight to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from carrying out its plan to clean up the nation’s largest estuary. Impaired waters have led to fish-killing dead zones and other marine life die-offs for decades.
Although farm and industrial pollution in the Mississippi River causes an immense Gulf of Mexico dead zone that kills marine life, the EPA has said it has no interest in orchestrating a cleanup plan that states in the region haven’t requested and aren’t prepared to develop, unlike the Chesapeake Bay region.
The EPA recently challenged and lost a federal suit filed by environmental groups that called on it to end its “hands-off approach” to managing the Mississippi River and to develop a measuring stick for the level of pollution that could be allowed to enter the river.
The states involved include Michigan, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Their action drew a sharp response from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which sued the EPA to initiate the cleanup plan. “We say to . . . [the 21] states, don’t tell us how to restore clean water in our backyard,” said its president, Will Baker. “Together, we are well on our way to making our rivers and streams safer, improving habitat, protecting human health, and strengthening local economies.”
Obama issued an executive order to restore the Chesapeake’s health in May 2009. The next year, the EPA embarked on an aggressive program to limit the tremendous amount of waste that pours into the bay from overflowing municipal wastewater management systems, which are regulated under the Clean Water Act, and farms and animal feed operations, which are not.
The EPA stepped in to organize efforts by six bay states — Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York, as well as the District — when they failed for years to lower pollution on their own.
Maryland and the District were eager for a cleanup, but other states were reluctant. Using its powers under the act, the EPA threatened to withhold permits that would have limited construction projects and allowable sewer releases if the states did not come up with individual pollution-reduction plans by a December 2010 deadline.
Within months of the agreement by the states and the federal government to tackle the problem, the farm bureau filed a suit in federal court in Harrisburg, Pa., in early 2011 to stop it. Groups such as the Fertilizer Institute, National Pork Producers Council and National Chicken Council joined the suit.
They said a “pollution diet” costing taxpayers and farmers billions by its full implementation in 2025, with upgrades to deteriorating sewer facilities and fences to limit chemical runoff from farms, is the sole responsibility of states. A judge dismissed their demand for an injunction in September and ruled that the agreement could move forward. The amicus brief was submitted in support of their appeal.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Oyster Restoration Job Opportunities-- Gloucester, Virginia

Have degree-- will travel? Here is an opportunity to work with oysters in Virginia. 

CBF is now recruiting for 2 Virginia Oyster Restoration positions based at our Oyster Restoration Center in Gloucester, VA.

1.      The VA Oyster Restoration Specialist will have substantial responsibilities for the day-to-day operation of CBF’s Virginia Oyster Restoration Program in Gloucester County, Virginia, and will assist the Virginia Oyster Restoration Manager with the operation of a remote setting facility in collaboration with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to produce up to 10 million spat on shell seed oysters annually. The position will also assist with the production, setting, and deployment of reef balls to be used as alternative oyster habitats, and a statewide shell recycling program/effort.  The position will assist the Hampton Roads staff with maintenance and expansion of the Virginia Oyster Gardening Program.

2.      The VA Oyster Restoration Assistant is a temporary seasonal position to last until approx. November, 2014 and will be implemental in assisting and facilitating oyster restoration events with CBF volunteers, as well as participating in field work with the Oyster Restoration Specialist.

For the full job announcement of both positions & application instructions, please see or message me directly!

Thank you!
Kristen Diggs
Associate Director of Human Resources

Chesapeake Bay Foundation
6 Herndon Ave.
Annapolis, MD 21403
443-482-2007 direct
443-482-2022 fax

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Fund Oyster Restoration With Bitcoin Donations

Through a friend of Mass Oyster we have learned a bit about Bitcoins, the internet currency that operates with much lower fees than credit cards. You can learn more about bitcoins by visiting this Wikipedia description. 

This friend has actually made us a small donation in Bitcoin to move us into the future. 

If you also have Bitcoins and are seeking to put them to work, click on the button below and we will use it effectively.

Pay With Bitcoin

Your Bitcoin donation could help fund the purchase of a roll-off container for oyster shells.
Roll-off container for oyster shell recycling
Roll off Container- We will even put your name on it if you fund a large portion of the cost.

It could help fund the work of a young aspiring marine biologist who is measuring oysters or studying spat recruitment on shell. 

It could fund materials for a Scout Troop making mesh bags for oyster shell. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Oyster Restoration Fundraiser at VinBin Hopkinton Saturday Feb 8 at 2:00-5:00

Join us this Saturday from 2:00-5:00 at the Vin Bin in Hopkinton for champagne and oyster tasting-
Belon Oysters Ostria Edulis
We will have Belon Oysters from Maine as one of our selections. These European oysters were a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. They are a rarity with only 5000 being harvested in Maine each year. 

The following quote is from  "A Moveable Feast."   "As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans."


oyster lover Ernest Hemingway
Oyster lover and author Ernest Hemingway

There also will be wine and champagne.
The $15 per person fee covers the wine and champagne tasting, five oysters, and a raffle ticket for chances to win items from Mass Oyster and The Vin Bin. 
All proceeds from the event benefit oyster restoration projects in Massachusetts. Register

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Using Oyster Gardening in Youth Education at the New England Aquarium

We recently sat down with Danny Badger, Supervisor of Youth Development Programs at the New England Aquarium to see how the thought-leading institution is incorporating oysters into its marine science camp and course curricula. Approximately 300 children aged 8 to 15 spend a week or more at the institution learning about our ocean and the aquatic environment.
Oyster Growth Data at New England Aquarium
Danny Badger of the New England Aquariumpoints to data on oyster growth. 

Last year Mass Oyster worked with the Aquarium to bring oysters to the site; providing materials and expertise. We were curious as to how the program was unfolding and were impressed with what we saw.

Danny described the initial reaction of the students to the oysters. “When we pull up the oysters, some kids are initially put off by the dirtiness of the tray, those kids tend to self select to become the data recorders. But the other half dive in and explore the trays and the various creatures among them.  That more adventurous participants take the measurements and count the other species living among them. What is interesting is that the data collectors typically overcome their squeamishness and eventually join them in actively examining the mini-biome that has grown around the oysters.” And they can be rewarded by seeing interesting creatures such as the eel like rock-gunnel, sea squirts, the mussels will their rubbery byssal threads, or even a flounder. These creatures are often not featured within the aquarium itself.

Creatures that live in an oyster reef  Rock Gunnel
Rock Gunnel 

Through the oysters, the students get to bridge their experiences in the museum with those in the ocean while applying scientific methods. The students will measure the oysters’ length and weight using sampling techniques or whole population monitoring. This provides them with an opportunity to assess the validity of measurement techniques and begin to think critically about those observations. They can go on to form hypotheses as to why the oysters in certain levels are growing faster or have certain types of species.

They also may load the data onto a computer and use graphing programs to display it in various formats. Badger adds “Based on the data, we ask them to draw conclusions about it. Ultimately, we would like to combine it with other data. This is one of our longer term goals to work more of this type of activity into the school-year Marine Biologist in Training Program.”
“The kids will think about questions, such as why is mortality higher in the top tray? This leads to a discussion and debate, which is valuable to the children.” Badger said.

“One of the nice features of the oysters is that they lend themselves to STEM learning; using spreadsheets and mathematics while allowing for creativity. It takes creativity and conceptual thinking to draw those conclusions. The kids can steer the path of the activity. And thinking through the ambiguities draws them in.”
Without realizing it they are getting exposure to hard science in a fun, interactive way, which makes them much more engaged. It also provides for a different style of learning.
Plans for the future
The Aquarium team is thinking about ways to expand the oyster experiment set; potentially using new locations and different time periods. This will give the students a sense of the bigger picture and empower them to gather larger, diverse data sets that can be examined in different ways.

If you are interested in the New England Aquarium youth programs visit link –