Thursday, December 18, 2014

Two Nantucket Lightships?

When visiting Wareham to deliver an oyster restoration talk at the local Boys and Girls Club as part of their oyster festival, we were surprised to see a Nantucket Light Ship parked in their Harbor. It was sad to see the ship parked forlornly decaying in place.

Lost Nantucket Lightship
Nantucket Lightship aging in place in Wareham Harbor.

We had heard that the Lightship once docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard had fallen into disrepair and perhaps this was it. But as we began researching the story, we learned that there is two of them floating around. Below is a considerably more uplifting story on the one in East Boston that ran in the Eastie Times. 

Nantucket Light Ship Part of Super Bowl Lore
February 5, 2014
The United States Lightship Nantucket (LV-112) docked in East Boston’s Boston Shipyard and Marina. The ship spent the weekend in New York City and played host to Super Bowl parties.
The United States Lightship Nantucket (LV-112) docked in East Boston’s Boston Shipyard and Marina. The ship spent the weekend in New York City and played host to Super Bowl parties.

It has become an East Boston landmark and on Sunday it became part of Super Bowl history.

The Nantucket Lightship LV-612, which is usually docked here in Eastie at the Boston Shipyard and Marina on Marginal Street, spent the weekend docked in lower Manhattan after a corporate client that attended the Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks chartered it.

The ship and its crew hosted a Super Bowl bash prior to the game at Pier 25 in Tribeca.
Since 2009, Eastie has played host to a national treasure. The giant red lightship docked on Marginal Street was declared a National Historic Landmark (NHL) in 1989. There has been a push locally to restore the historic vessel—a project that got a little help last year from students at the Curtis Guild Elementary School.

At the time of its NHL designation Lightship Nantucket, also known as Lightship No. 112 or simply LV-112, was the last serving lightship and one of only two capable of moving under its own power.

Three years ago the ship, which was docked in Oyster Bay, Staten Island at the time, was purchased for $1 by the United States Lightship Museum (USLM) under the leadership of Robert Mannino, Jr. The ship arrived in Eastie in October 2009.

Fourth grade students from the Curtis Guild visited the Nantucket Lightship last year with their teachers for a field trip. The 4th graders were so inspired by their visit they wanted to help with the ship’s fundraising efforts. In conjunction with their teacher, John Rogers, the students generously donated their toys to sell at the school store, intended to raise money and directed towards LV-112’s restoration costs.

The total cost to restore the ship back to its original glory will cost $1 million over the next several years.This is the second year that students and teachers from the Curtis Guild have visited Nantucket Lightship on class field trips.

The U.S. Lightship Museum’s primary mission is to restore and preserve the Nantucket Lightship as a National Historic Landmark, National Treasure and operate the ship as a museum and floating educational center in Eastie that is open to the general public.  In addition, the museum is currently providing interactive educational programs for grade school students and under-served youths in Boston, especially in the Eastie.

When LV-112 was a commissioned U.S. Coast Guard lightship from 1936 -1975 based in Boston, it was also utilized for marine biological, and environmental research by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
You can learn more about the ship at or

Monday, December 15, 2014

Oyster Restoration at JFK Airport Could be Model for Area Around Boston's Logan

Here at MOP, we track oyster restoration programs in other regions to learn from their success and travails. One of the areas that we follow is New York and we have found their work particularly interesting since they are working in an urban harbor and have big plans. 

They have oyster restoration projects underway near LaGuardia Airport at Sound View Park and JFK Airport in Jamaica Bay. In the map below of Jamaica Bay, JFK airport is on the upper right above the green star. 

Eel Grass Oyster Restoration Map JFK airport Jamaica Bay New York
Map of Oyster Restoration Sites in Jamaica Bay, New York- near JFK airport.

The map below shows Sound View Park, which is not far from LaGuardia. At this location there is both reef on the bottom as well as hanging oysters for teaching purposes.

Laguardia Airport Oysters, Oyster Restoration
Map of Oyster Restoration Site- Sound View Park- near LaGuardia airport.
It is interesting to see that they are making oyster restoration work in  urban environments that are also close to airports. In some ways airport waters could be a very attractive location as access is restricted, which would discourage pilferage- the illegal harvest of oysters. If it is working in New York, perhaps we could make it work here in Boston.

We have already reached out to Massport requesting that they require the shellfish serving restaurants, to be required to recycle their oyster shell. Surprisingly, the response has not been very encouraging. 

To learn more about the Jamaica Bay activity, you can click through the interesting slide show below. There work has some parallels with ours in that surviving oysters do not necessarily lead to successful reproduction. We saw this situation with our discontinued work at the mouth of the Charles.

<iframe src="//" width="425" height="355" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" style="border:1px solid #CCC; border-width:1px; margin-bottom:5px; max-width: 100%;" allowfullscreen> </iframe>
="//" title="Jbtf oyster presentation" target="_blank">Jbtf oyster presentation from href="//" target="_blank">ecowatchers   

Friday, December 12, 2014

Boston CLF Ocean Planning Job Opening

The following job opportunity with the Conservation Law Foundation is available. Their offices are located in downtown Boston.

CLF has an opening for an Ocean Planning Outreach Manager. Reporting to the Vice President and Director of Ocean Conservation and the Ocean Campaign Director, he or she will be dedicated to carrying out the strategies and tactics necessary to achieve the goals of CLF’s Ocean Management Initiative by engaging in a robust education and outreach campaign to promote improved management of coastal and ocean waters and ecosystem-based ocean planning that promotes resilient, healthy, and productive ecosystems, and is developed through a robust public participation process. The Ocean Planning Outreach Manager will be charged with identifying and engaging various regional and community leaders, resource managers, ocean use stakeholders, scientists and educators, coastal community residents and the media in a variety of venues to advocate and build active public support for ecosystem-based ocean planning and the protection of important ocean wildlife and habitat. CLF is seeking a self-starter who thrives in a dynamic environment and welcomes the exciting challenges of working for a regional environmental advocacy organization dedicated to the mission of protecting New England’s environment.  This position requires considerable travel within New England. 

Responsibilities of the Ocean Planning Outreach Manger will include but are not limited to:

·         public and stakeholder outreach and coalition building;
·         understanding and articulating detailed ocean policy issues; 
·         research and development of print and web-based outreach materials;
·         outreach through use of web-based social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook;
·         updating and management of dedicated ocean planning website; and
·         public speaking, including representing CLF at public meetings, hearings and forums addressing ocean resource conservation and management.

The Ocean Planning Outreach Manager must be comfortable working with a broad range of stakeholders including industry, scientists, elected officials and community activists. This position offers an opportunity to work in a wide range of forums including federal, state, and municipal administrative rulemaking, federal and state legislative lobbying, science and policy symposiums, public outreach events, and a variety of print and electronic media.


Qualified candidates will have:
  • A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in Environmental or Marine Science or Policy, Political Science, Communications or a similar field;
  • Four or more years experience in public interest environmental advocacy, public policy and organizing around environmental issues. This is not an entry-level organizer position;
  • Experience with, and knowledge of, environmental issues, particularly ocean conservation science and policy, and a passion for and commitment to the environmental mission of CLF. Candidates should have the ability to understand and explain the science and policy aspects of environmental problems and their solutions;
  • Ability to work well with a wide range of people in a collaborative fashion, to be tenacious yet flexible, determined yet good natured, and with the highest personal and professional integrity;
  • Political awareness and demonstrated excellence and sound judgment in a variety of circumstances;
  • Excellent analytic abilities, exemplary oral and written communication skills;
  • Knowledge and demonstrated use of web-based environmental activism tools, including social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook, to build strong coalitions and public action;
  • Ability to work both independently and in team settings and to manage multiple tasks simultaneously; 
  • Good sense of humor;
  • Must be willing and able to travel.
Salary and Benefits
CLF offers a competitive salary, an extensive benefits plan, and an open and accepting work environment where differences are highly respected.

Send your resume titled “your last name-first initial-resume” (e.g., “SMITH J RESUME”) and a detailed cover letter titled “your last name-first initial-cover” (e.g., “SMITH J COVER”) to  Please make Ocean Planning Outreach Manager“” the subject of your e-mail.  Application materials must be received no later than January 15, 2015.  Absolutely no phone calls or in-person visits please.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Important New Jersey Oyster Restoration Legislation Could Set Helpful Precedent.

Could oysters be on the way back to Raritan Bay?
An environmental group hopes so, after a bill that would permit research-related commercial shellfish reefs in the bay, as well as some other coastal and inner harbor contaminated waters, was reintroduced this week.
The bill would remove a ban the state Department of Environmental Protection placed four years ago on the cultivation of these types of reefs in contaminated waters. A similar bill failed in 2012 to make it out of committee.
"We're hoping the bill gains momentum and there is no pushback from the DEP," said Sandra Meola a spokesperson for NY/NJ Baykeepers, a Keyport-based nonprofit pursuing the recultivation of the reefs.
According to the DEP, the ban was issued because of the federal Food and Drug Administration's strict requirements about patrolling and monitoring the shellfish reefs.
"Back in 2010, the FDA had threatened federal sanctions or a shutdown of the shellfish industry in New Jersey because one group wasn't doing the required monitoring of these beds in a contaminated water body," said Bob Considine, a spokesperson for the DEP.
Considine said the lack of oversight on the reefs could lead to the risk of poaching, which could jeopardize the food supply with oysters unfit for human consumption.
He said the DEP is reviewing the bills but they continue to have the same concerns today.
"We recognize the importance of this type of research in relation to the health of contaminated waterways. But not if it's going to put people's health at risk," Considine said.
The NY/NJ Baykeepers believes oysters can help restore water quality in the Hudson-Raritan Estuary, which they said is the most urban estuary on Earth.
Map of Raritan Bay  between New York and New Jersey

"Our work has always focused on the unique challenges of an urban estuary," said Meredith Comi, NY/NJ Baykeeper's oyster restoration program director. "Basic scientific questions regarding how oysters improve the functioning of an urban estuary must be answered. Lifting the ban on shellfish research will allow this vital data to be collected and used to develop restoration practices that are appropriate to the unique conditions of the NY/NJ Harbor."
In 2010, when the ban was issued, the NY/NJ Baykeepers had to remove their reef in Keyport Harbor in Raritan Bay, which they had been cultivating for nearly a decade.
"That was years of research and living oysters put into the bed of a truck and disposed of," Meola said.
The waters of Keyport Harbor in Raritan Bay are prohibited from shellfish harvest and cultivation, along with other waters in the bay, according to the DEP.
"We all want to protect and maintain the health of our waterways," Assemblyman Carmelo G. Garcia (D-Hudson) said. "Oysters do this naturally by filtering the water and removing nitrogen compounds. They also serve as barriers to prevent beach and shoreline erosion and provide refuge and habitat for fish and other sea life."
Garcia, along with Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Morris) and Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen), are primary sponsors of the bill.
Dan Radel: 732-643-4072;

Monday, November 24, 2014

New York's Oyster Bar Restaurant Review

After hearing for years about the Oyster Bar Restaurant on the lower level of  New York's Grand Central Station, we were able to drop in for a visit to check out this iconic landmark last week. 

Oyster Bar Restaurant  Door New York Grand Central Station
Located well underground in Grand Central Station a legendary oyster purveyor awaits.
Located well below ground beneath tiled, vaulted ceilings the restaurant's bright lighting imbues a bright atmosphere.  There were four seating areas, conventional restaurant seating, a lounge area (that looked lie a cool place for a work sponsored cocktail hour,) a kind of bizarre series of counter peninsulas with white Formica counters that are reminiscent of restaurant in a Woolworths, and finally the long bar itself. 

Since it was toward the end of the working day, we were able to claim two seats at the bar after a short wait. There we sat beside two lovely tourists from Canada. 

The Oyster Bar at New York's Oyster Bar Restaurant
The waiter provided a solid menu with many seafood choices as well as an impressive array of oysters. The oysters came from up  and down both coasts. What we liked most about the menu was that it offered a large size option to several types of oysters at a very modes upcharge.  Since the writer likes his oysters big, this was a real pleasant surprise. The oysters were priced around $3.50 each. 

Oyster Bar Restaurant Oyster Restoration
A dozen large oysters at Grand Central Station's Oyster Bar Restaurant

Overall, this is a stop that should be on any oyster lover's bucket list simply because of its landmark status, unikque nature and solid array of the world's favorite mollusk. Before returning, we would seek out other options in Gotham City. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Feds Funding Oyster Restoration Project in Panama City Florida--

This story first appeared in the Panama City Times Herald.  You can see it here. Hopefully soon Massachusetts will wise up and decide to tap into some of these federal dollars to create jobs and improve our environment.

The Oyster Reef Habitat Restoration project is one of 10 Florida Gulf Restoration projects that will be paid for with $34.3 million from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. 

 By CHRIS OLWELL | News Herald Writer 

| PANAMA CITY — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will receive nearly $2 million to restore oyster habitats in St. Andrew Bay from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). 

The Oyster Reef Habitat Restoration project is one of 10 Florida Gulf Restoration projects that will be paid for with $34.3 million from the Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund. The NFWF announced the projects Monday. 

The oyster bed restoration will improve water quality and help restore seagrass, which will benefit a variety of plant and animal species in the bay, said Jim Muller, Bay County's RESTORE Act coordinator. "Seagrass and oysters serve as a nursery for a lot of species," Muller said. The NFWF said the restoration of one and a quarter miles of oyster habitats in West Bay will improve the water quality by reducing sediments, which will improve fisheries and reduce turbidity and wave action. 

The project is expected to expand over 200 acres of seagrass beds. Grey snapper, spotted sea trout, mullet, grouper, red drum, flounder, shrimp, blue crab and scallops are among the species NFWF expects to benefit from the project. 

 Muller said the habitat was not directly affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but that's not required of projects that receive the grants. The Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund was established in 2013 with money paid by BP and Transocean to settle criminal charges stemming from the spill.

The project spending announced Monday is the second batch of a total $356 million from the fund that will be spent on restoration projects in Florida over five years. Florida officials lauded the announcement Monday.
“This $34.3 million in funding is great news for families in the Panhandle,” Gov. Rick Scott said in a news release.  “Florida’s natural treasures must be protected so that future generations will be able to experience all that our great state has to offer.”
The project will also benefit commercial and recreational fishermen as the species in the habitat thrive, Muller said.
“The Gulf Coast was badly damaged in 2010, but this money will lead to significant progress in restoring the area’s ecosystem,” Sen. Bill Nelson said in a release. “Protecting and restoring Florida’s natural resources is vital not only to our state’s economy, but to the state’s character.”
Another project announced Monday will pay $3 million to expand efforts to collect data on fisheries stock in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the NFWF, "The largest single impediment to effective management of Gulf of Mexico reef fisheries such as red snapper is the lack of sound data related to both catch effort and stock assessment."
Local commercial and recreational fishermen have complained about the science used to support a shortened red snapper season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Restaurants Supporting Oyster Restoration Through Shell Recycling Continues to Grow...

As we were recycling shell from last week's fundraiser, it occurred to us that we have some new participants in the shell recycling program that we operate with Save That Stuff.

The Mandarin Oriental Hotel has joined the program through its terrific new restaurant Bar Bouloud. We were pleased to have such a renowned chef as part of our program. Daniel Boulud  was born and raised in Lyon, France, but based in New York for over 30 years, his roster of restaurants include Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, db Bistro Moderne and DBGB Kitchen, although arguably he is best known for the three Michelin-starred DANIEL. The author of 8 cookbooks and the recipient of multiple awards including Chevalier de la Legion d’ Honneur from the French Government, Chef Boulud’s seasonal French American cuisine is celebrated around the world.

Located at 800 Boylston Street in Boston-  Bar Bouloud supports oyster restoration by recycling shell.   

Bergamot Restaurant of Somerville is now recycling as well. The restaurant is located at 118 Beacon Street near Harvard Square and the Cambridge Somerville line.

Bergamot founders have combined their love for great food, wine and friends. You’ll see Keith in the kitchen and Servio at the door. We’re cooking up “Progressive American Cuisine” — they’re having fun with the best local produce they can find, complementing it with ingredients from around the world, and serving it with neighborhood warmth. Ask about their daily $42 Prix-Fixe Menu which Keith changes several times a week, reacting to our fresh-from-the-farm deliveries. They’re open every night with a full bar, creative cocktails, great bar menu, a fantastic wine list with surprising winemakers and price points, and a talented kitchen crew.

The restaurant also has free parking!

Bergamot Staff happily recylce their oyster shell. 

East Boston Oysters recycled the shell from their recent local food event at the East Boston Kitchen.   Their Shuck and Huck event consisted of five oyster courses. 

If you are having an oyster event, we can work with you to provide shell recycling resources. Let us know by emailing

Monday, November 17, 2014

Shellfish Aquaculture Moving Offshore and Showing Promise

This article was published by the Island Institute and you can see it here.  While it may not be an opportunity for oysters, it shows promise for mussels, (which are delightful with garlic, butter and white wine.)  Perhaps this activity could be combined with wind farms?

Offshore aquaculture offers new promise

Using federal waters could mean fewer conflicts

by Tom Groening

Aquaculture, once seen as a viable alternative to chasing declining wild fish stocks, is rebounding. But fish farming is taking shape in locations and using technology far different from the floating pens seen just off the coast back in the early 1990s.

One new area entrepreneurs are exploring is in waters three-plus miles off the mainland, much of which is managed by the federal government. Siting farms in these offshore waters eliminates impact to scenic views, and reduces, but doesn't eliminate, conflicts with other marine endeavors.

The species that seems best suited to offshore aquaculture is mussels, with very little labor required once the shellfish are established, and no feeding needed. New equipment, available from places like New Zealand, where such aquaculture is common, allows the mussels to be grown and harvested from some 50 feet below the surface.

Dave Alves, the aquaculture coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service's northeast office, said a mussel farm was permitted in late summer for an area about six miles south of Woods Hole, Mass. The 30-acre site is owned by a fisherman.

Another project now under review for permitting is about 8.5 miles off Rockport, Mass., he said. If an unmanaged species is being raised in federal waters, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the lead permitting agency, he said.Such ventures make sense for fishermen seeking to add a source of revenue that doesn't require a lot of labor once established, Alves said.
"We see this as one way to help," he said.

Being well offshore means "you get away from all the conflicting uses," Alves said. "People don't realize how heavily used our inshore waters are," with recreational boating, fishing and shipping all potentially generating objections.

Offshore aquaculture was been developed for research purposes off coastal New Hampshire from 1998 to 2010. Richard Langan, director of the University of New Hampshire's Coastal and Ocean Technology Program, said several species were established six miles off Rye; the project fell under state, not federal review, because the Isles of Shoals archipelago is the point from which the three-mile federal line is computed, and the farms were within three miles of that state land.

The work there included the more traditional fish cages, as well as long lines used to raise shellfish. Blue mussels and sea scallops were established, the mussels on vertical rope and the scallops in what are known as lantern cages, which are trays with nets that resemble Japanese lanterns.The scallops proved to need too much attention, Langan said. Individual scallops needed a generous amount of space between them, and often were hampered by "fouling organisms" in the environment. And scallops are notoriously vulnerable.

"If you look at them the wrong way, they die," Langan said.

But mussels were another story. The seedlings were collected twice a year from inshore locations and attached to ropes hung from horizontal lines established 20-feet to 40-feet below the surface. Within a year, the mussels grew to 2-inches or more, and the meat yield ratio ranged from a low of 42 percent up to 60 percent, he said.

"We were getting really good results," Langan said. "The quality was remarkable."

One line—600-700 feet long—would produce 15,000-20,000 pounds of mussels each year, with a yield of a million pounds possible if enough lines were established.

Though harvesting equipment is expensive and permitting can be arduous, Langan sees a bright future for such offshore projects.

"I think there's huge potential for mussel culture," he said, especially given that the U.S. imports 40 million pounds of mussels annually from Canada.

Siting the farm offshore didn't put the gear or shellfish at risk. Waves, winds and storms had little effect, Langan said. One three-day period saw 30-foot high seas, yet "We never lost any gear."

The seedling mussels are gathered by placing ropes in inshore waters, then the young shellfish are put in something resembling cotton socks, which are then attached to the lines in the offshore configuration. The socks rot, and the more mature mussels then attach to what Alves describes as "fuzzy rope."

The gear needed to harvest the mussels is readily available for purchase, though Alves noted that none is made in the U.S.

"This is a mature technology in the rest of the world," with the industry strong in New Zealand, Spain and Canada. "[Fishermen] can buy everything they need off the shelf," he said.
Alves and Langan are optimistic about the role mussel farming can have in supplementing income for fishermen.

"There's a heck of a market for them," Alves said. "But you have to have a good-sized farm to make a living at it." The U.S. imports 90 percent of its mussels, with 50 percent of those cultured.

"Why can't we do it?" Alves asked.

Some projects are run by fishing coops, which makes sense, he said. A group of fishermen can share the work, and can buy a boat built designed to harvest the mussels.

All marine resource harvesting helps support working waterfront infrastructure, he added.
"If you're not bringing money over the dock, you're looking at condos," he said. "It's not a silver bullet, but it's one piece of the puzzle that keeps things going."

This is the second in a series of stories exploring changing ocean uses that are the focus of the regional ocean planning process. For more information about Island Institute's marine work, contact Marine Programs Director Nick Battista at; for more information on regional ocean planning, contact John Weber at

Monday, November 10, 2014

Join us Sat Nov.15 at Mayflower Brewery for Craft Beer, Big Rock Oysters and Live Music From Root 9

This Saturday November 15, Mass Oyster will be holding a fundraiser, Fall Into Oysters at Mayflower Brewery from 5:00-8:00 pm.

With your $25 entry you will get a pint of fine Mayflower Craft Beer, your first dozen oysters and entry in our prize drawing that includes the coveted Mass Oyster apparel and other prizes, including a bottle of The Oyster Sauvignon Blanc, a wine that is designed to pair with oysters.

Live music will be provided by Root 9. You can check out their sound at

Big Rock Oyster will be providing our favorite bivalves. 

Funds will be used to advance oyster restoration around the state.

You can order tickets here.

Mayflower Brewery is located on 12 Resnick Road in Plymouth, MA  We look forward to seeing you there. 

Job Opportunities- Research Oysters and Estuaries, Then Pass on Your Knowledge to U. Maine Students

Position One: Assistant Professor of Marine Sciences
Department: School of Marine Sciences
This is a full-time (9 month/academic-year) tenure-track position in the Department of School of Marine Sciences. This faculty position will perform research, teaching and education in the general area of estuarine modeling. The School of Marine Sciences will serve as the academic tenure home (, with a joint affiliation in the Aquaculture Research Institute ( Essential Duties & Responsibilities: Perform research, teaching and service in aquaculture-estuary interactions, with an emphasis on estuarine modeling. The position will be expected to develop data-driven research leading to numerical models of coastal water column and sedimentary processes that support multispecies aquaculture. The person will join the new Sustainability Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET), an innovative program in sustainability science funded by a 5-year, $20 million NSF EPSCoR grant. MORE AT:

Position Two: Assistant Professor in Ocean and Marine Engineering
Department: Mechanical Engineering
This is a full-time (9 month/academic-year) tenure-track position in the Department of Mechanical or Civil and Environmental Engineering. Either the department of Mechanical or Civil and Environmental Engineering will serve as the academic tenure home (, with a research affiliation to the Aquaculture Research Institute ( The proposed position is one of four new faculty hires funded by the new NSF EPSCoR research center, SEANET. The position will be supported by the College of Engineering beyond the initial term of the EPSCoR funding, assuming that the position contributes significantly to satisfying core teaching needs of the host department. MORE AT:

Position Three: Assistant Professor of Communication
Department: Communication & Journalism
This is a full-time (9 month/academic-year) tenure-track position in the Department Communication and Journalism. This faculty position will perform research, teaching and education in the general area of risk communication. The Department of Communication & Journalism will serve as the academic tenure home (, with a joint affiliation in the Aquaculture Research Institute ( Essential Duties & Responsibilities: Perform research, teaching and service in Risk Communication with an emphasis on science and policy in the context of Marine Aquaculture. The position will be expected to participate in collaborative research focused on the intersection of risk communication, aquaculture, and marine science and policy in the context of a large, interdisciplinary team. The person will join the new Sustainability Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET), an innovative program in sustainability science funded by a 5-year, $20 million NSF EPSCoR grant. MORE AT:

Paul S. Anderson
Director, Maine Sea Grant College Program
Director, Aquaculture Research Institute
Director, Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network (SEANET) EPSCoR Project
5784 York Complex
University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
voice: 207-581-1435
fax: 207-581-1426
cell: 207-949-4156

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

South Carolina Restaurant Growing Their Own Oysters

This article by Rebecca Lurye first appeared in the Hilton Head Island Packet  

Wedged between the briny, gray sky and sea about a mile and a half from Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks, a sandbar supports the newest venture of the Hilton Head Island restaurant's general manager.

A few dozen metal cages rest on the sand, each holding a few baskets and thousands of "single select" oysters -- labor-intensive, individual mollusks that feature deeper cups than the clustered varieties for which Beaufort County is known.
Even more cages are hidden under the water of Port Royal Sound, where general manager Andrew Carmines placed them last August.

In a month or two, Carmines will bring in the first harvest from his new farm, the Shell Ring Oyster Co. Although he started small, with about 75,000 oysters for the winter, Carmines and other farmers say there's nearly unlimited demand for bivalves hand-grown in South Carolina's waters. "Oysters are going through a culinary explosion right now," said Doug Hepburn, sales manager of St. Jude Farms in Green Pond.
Bill Cox, a Younges Island mariculture farmer who produces Carmines' seed oysters, said the success comes from a demand for oysters with the deep cup of Gulf varieties and the salty taste of South Carolina water.

"You can sell pretty much all the single-select oysters you can grow," Cox said.
On Thursday morning, Carmines paid a trip to his farm to exert a little quality control. After a 10-minute ride in a small fishing boat dubbed the "Oyster Hoister," he trudged into the water to sample some of his product.

"That's about as pretty as it gets," Carmines said after prying open a rounded shell about one inch thick. "Look at how perfect that critter is.""Not for breakfast," said Shell Ring operations manager Robert Roe, but Carmines swallowed the oyster, anyway, with a smile.

Carmines began planning his farm about four years ago and named the business after the oyster-shell rings American Indians built around their colonies.

Carmines and Cox developed the seed oysters, which remain in the Younges Island man's hatchery until they're about the size of a pinkie nail. Then they feed and grow in mesh baskets in Port Royal Sound, getting tumbled and turned periodically by Carmines' crew.

"Now it's time to really let them sit and enjoy life," he said. "As soon as we get under 70 degrees for a few weeks, the meat inside those oysters will plump up and be ready to go."

The operations are strictly regulated by several agencies, including the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard, said Carmines, who leases his farming area from the state.

However, Carmines said applying for permits has been more of a learning experience than a roadblock, and the farms benefit the environment.

Frank Roberts of Lady's Island believes he opened the first farm in the state in 2007. He says he sold hundreds of thousands of his Single Lady Oysters last year, primarily to restaurants in Charleston.
Roberts said he expects more people to join the market in the coming years and isn't concerned about competition."The future is bright," he said.

St. Jude Farms, which has been growing single-select oysters since 2012, welcomes variety in the market, as well, Hepburn said. Though the mollusks are grown in the same region, oysters from Green Pond, Hilton Head and Lady's Island will still have slightly different tastes and can be featured on the same menu, he said.

"They grow like wine grapes," Hepburn said. "There's hundreds of different kinds of merlot, and it all depends on the soil that the grapes are grown in."

Carmines has invested about $30,000 in his business so far and plans to market his oysters regionally. He added that Shell Ring benefits from his connection to a restaurant.

For now, much product will stay within Hudson's, landing on customers' plates within an hour of harvest, he said.

"That's the essence of serving raw oysters," he said. "It doesn't get better than that."

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Interesting Update On New York's Oyster Restoration Activity

We found this article interesting as it highlights some of the challenges of oyster restoration. Like our contemporaries in New York, we have faced challenges from silt and worries of poaching (although we saw no evidence of this in our work thus far.)   The original article appears in The Guardian. 

Conservation project hopes to bring back New York's oysters

Bronx River oyster restoration project aims to reintroduce the molluscs that purify waters and help provide storm defenses - but pollution levels will still make them hazardous to eat
Ray Grizzle holds an oyster grown at Soundview Park in the Bronx borough of New York, August 22, 2012. Marine scientists, planners and government officials say millions of mollusks living in waters off New York and other cities could go a long way toward cleaning up America s polluted urban environment.
 Ray Grizzle holds an oyster grown at Soundview Park in the Bronx borough of New York. Marine scientists, planners and government officials say millions of molluscs living in waters off New York and other cities could go a long way toward cleaning up America’s polluted urban environment. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP
The woman sat in the muck beside the Bronx River in the northern part of New York City, measured the oyster between a pair of calipers, and called out to her partner. “31 ... no, 32 millimeters. Um, dead. No, alive! Wait.” She paused, noticing the two halves of the oyster shell had separated and filled with mud. “Dead,” she said sadly.
Live oysters were what this small group of volunteers, scientists and activists fervently hoped to find in this distant corner of New York City, called Soundview, on that crystal clear morning in May.
The volunteers wore borrowed waders over old sneakers. They ventured out into the dark water, using walking sticks to avoid stumbling in the deep mud that coated the bottom of the river. Reaching down into water, about 20 yards offshore, they pulled out baskets of oysters and carried them carefully back to the riverbank to check for winter survivors.
This was phase two of something known as the Oyster Restoration Research Project, run by the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper program, the Hudson River Foundation, the Army Corps of Engineers, and other partners, to restore oysters to an ecosystem they once dominated.
In the first phase, the other test restoration locations – off Governors Island, in the Bay Ridge flats, Jamaica Bay – all failed, the oysters washed away by rough waves or smothered to death in mud. The reefs at Soundview are now the only active oyster restoration effort in New York City waters.
“Soundview was the only one that didn’t blow away and where we saw at least a little bit of growth on the oysters,” said Dr Allison Fitzgerald of NY/NJ Baykeeper. “They can survive. The question is how long they are surviving. There’s a big difference between surviving and thriving.”
Attempting to restore oysters to New York City’s harbor and rivers and inlets has almost no downsides. They are natural and efficient water purifiers – studies have shown each one can filter 50 gallons of water each day. “They actually pull the sediment and particles out of the water and deposit them on the ground,” Fitzgerald said. “They clean the water column as they’re eating.”
Allison Fitzgerald measures an oyster from a bed at Soundview Park in the Bronx, New York
Allison Fitzgerald measures an oyster from a bed at Soundview Park in the Bronx borough of New York.Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP
By building reefs, oysters also make it easier for other organisms such as fish, shellfish, crabs, grasses, and birds, eventually to make a comeback in areas where human development has destroyed their habitat. And oyster reefs, like salt marshes – both of which New York City used to have in abundance – provide a barrier to storm surges, like the one that devastated downtown Manhattan and parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn during Hurricane Sandy.
“The idea isn’t to get an oyster industry going,” Dr Fitzgerald said. (For that, see the Chesapeake Bay restoration programme) “You want to create oysters for people to eat, you can do that in a hatchery.” This program has led to a diverse group of volunteers out and into the water, she says, and connecting New Yorkers to their natural environment is important.But don’t eat them. Not yet, at least. They might contain the types of chemicals and pathogens sometimes found in New York’s infamously polluted waterways. In the past, contaminated oysters harvested illegally have killed and blinded people.
There are still problems with poachers who disregard the danger. “I find people fishing and crabbing at some of our sites all the time,” said Dr Fitzgerald. “They would say, ‘Oh that’s dinner.’ They would not look twice at it.”
She added: “We also have people who are like, ‘I’ve been living in Jamaica Bay for my whole life, and my daddy before me and his daddy before him! And I eat oysters every day no problem!’ And yeah you probably glow in the dark also.”
Going forward, poachers are one of a handful of problems facing the restoration effort. There are predators – oyster drills, oyster toadfish, crabs.
The biggest obstacle is a confusing and inefficient array of bureaucracies that stand in the way of oyster reefing. Baykeeper had a proposal to bring oysters back to Freshkills Park, a 2,200-acre reserve on Staten Island that will be two-and-a-half times as large as Central Park, recently turned down by the city.
The slight still smarts. “There are a lot of benefits to having an oyster reef that far outweigh the risks,” said Dr. Fitzgerald, “but the risks to human health are hard for the regulators to get around.”
At Soundview back in May, the first field date for the oyster restoration project after the winter snows had melted, the volunteers and scientists found that the oysters’ survival rate was about average. It was a good sign.
Just across the river was the new Fulton Fish Market, the second largest in the world, where thousands of pounds of prime oysters are bought every day. New York City oysters haven’t been welcome there in decades.
The riverbed itself was mud – no grass, no marsh, very little wildlife. During intense storms, sewage treatment facilities are frequently overwhelmed and the overflow is dumped directly in rivers like the Bronx. The oysters, of course, slurp it all in