Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Oyster Restoration Could cut $14 Billion Delaware Bay Price Tag- Eliminate 10 Million Pounds of Nitrogen

This is an excerpt from an article on Maryland legislative wrangling around oyster restoration and reserve areas.  The original article can be found here Annapolis Star Democrat Article.

This highlights a similar challenge we have here in Massachusetts in that the regulatory authorities view oysters through a narrow lens- the DMF perceives them solely as a food product and ignore the environmental value they offer. The Mass DMF does a great job at regulating them from a food product perspective- vibrio cases per million oysters harvested are down. But, they refuse to embrace the environmental benefits as illustrated by a very disappointing presentation at a recent Massachusetts shellfish meeting.  (We are seeking to obtain a copy.) Please read-on.

Article Excerpt-

Goldsborough said it sets up a dialogue between all stakeholders, rather than dictate a structure that would convey authority to one stakeholder group to manage a public resource, “including the ability to open the protective sanctuaries that make up 25 percent of productive bars now, anyway.”
David Sikorski, who was at the bill hearing Tuesday representing the Coastal Conservation Association, said oyster management in Maryland has long been based on what can be harvested, rather than looking at it from the ecological role of oysters in the Bay’s ecosystem.

“We value our success on the level of harvest, the economic benefit of that harvest, all too often and we forget about that ecological role, and an ecological role is important because this is a public resource,” Sikorski said. “It’s a public resource that’s not just valuable to those that harvest it for a profit, it’s important to the rest of the Bay’s citizens and the aquatic organisms which live within these reef structures and oysters.”

Charles “Chip” MacLeod, spokesman for the Clean Chesapeake Coalition, who also testified on the bill Tuesday, said that simply from a water quality improvement point of view, “oyster restoration could be a meaningful aspect of Maryland’s effort to really improve the Chesapeake Bay.”
MacLeod said that the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a tenfold increase in the oyster population in the Bay will remove 10 million pounds of nitrogen each year, and that Maryland’s statewide goals under the Bay Total Maximum Daily Load is 11.8 million pounds per year.

“Now, our (Watershed Implementation Plan) has a $14 billion price tag to pull out 11.8 million tons of nitrogen a year. Oysters, if we got a tenfold increase, would do 10 million (pounds of nitrogen) at no cost to the taxpayers, because the work is done by commercial watermen regulated by the Department of Natural Resources,” MacLeod said.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Oyster Aquaculture is Rhode Island's Fastest Growing Industry

In an interesting piece about bacteria and oyster disease, (See probiotic oyster lobster article here.)we came across this nugget about oysters in Rhode Island.

With oyster aquaculture now one of the state’s fastest-growing industries, there is a lot at stake in keeping oysters healthy. New statistics due to be released in the coming days by the Coastal Resources Management Council show the economic value of the harvest of farmed oysters grew from $4.2 million in 2013 to $5.2 million in 2014, an increase of nearly 24 percent. 

Oysters are now a bigger product than quahogs in the Ocean State. 

rhode island oyster industry
Rhode Island Oysters

As to the Bacteria- that is interesting too. 

Eastern Oysters are vulnerable to many pathogens, including a natural-occurring bacterium, Vibrio tubiashii, that kills them when they are still in the larval stage. Oyster larva swim for several weeks before attaching to a surface, and it is during that earliest stage when they are most vulnerable to vibrio tubiashii. After considering different ways to try to prevent the bacterium from killing oyster larva, Rowley tried probiotics because they were sustainable, easy to use and inexpensive.

“These are live bacteria that provide a beneficial effect to the host,” he said. “These are the good bacteria, if you will. They’re a green alternative to the use of antibiotics.”

Rowley and his colleagues screened about 100 different bacteria before finding two, both from the Narrow River in Narragansett, that seemed to protect young oysters. After testing them in tanks at the Blount Shellfish Hatchery at Roger Williams University, the team developed a way to grow the probiotics and freeze-dry them so they could be stored for several weeks in a refrigerator. They can then be added to the tanks where oyster larva are growing.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

TV Tokyo Films Oyster Shell Recyling Program

We were excited when TV Tokyo reached out to us wanting to film our shell recycling operation. They would be highlighting the benefits of oyster restoration and recycling to millions of people on a program that is the equivalent of MSNBC. 

It was a busy day of filming that drove home two key points. First, this is a network of dedicated people that makes this happen- it takes a community.  There are a whole lot of people involved and working to improve our environment.

Curt Felix showed them around the oyster propagation zone in Wellfleet.

Our shell recycling coordinator Theresa Baybutt showed them various pick-up locations from around Boston.
oyster shell restoration
Picking up shells at a loading dock.

Erik Levy of Save-that-Stuff showed them around his Charlestown facility. Our main contact there- Eliana Blaine was away at the time.
oyster shell recyling in support of oyster restoration
Save That Stuff's Eliana with Green Shell Award Recipient Mark Sapienza of the Boston Langham Hotel.

Chef Mark Sapienza of the Langham Hotel talked about their green initiatives. (We recently honored him for his support of shell recycling.)

Mark Sapienza with the cameras
The team at Bergamot served up some delicious oysters and opened their restaurant.
Shucking at Bergemot in Somerville

Here is a photo of the TV star dining on some choice oysters.
Star of TV-Tokyo enjoying oysters.

And Dale Leavitt of Roger Williams University in Bristol Rhode Island showed them around his hatchery.

The second conclusion is that it is a lot of work lining up the perfect shot. 

Here is a link to the final program. http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/mv/nms/ny/post_84838/  It is a fine product and may inspire some of the millions of viewers in Japan to start a program of their own.