Skip to comments.Raising hope on a half-shell, Oysters come back from the brink
Posted on 11/22/2007 12:33:02 PM PST by Coleus
For more than a century, oysters were so plentiful in the waters off New Jersey they were hawked on street corners the same way pretzels or hot dogs are today. But the industry fell on hard times when overharvesting and two strains of disease nearly wiped out the population in the 1960s and again in the 1990s. The steep decline took with it whole communities that depended on the oyster for survival.
In recent years, Rutgers University scientists working with disease-resistant oysters and employing new technology have nursed the industry back to health and brought it to the brink of renewed commercial success. "Every restaurant on the East Coast is after half-shell oysters. With all the problems of native populations and disease and everything else, it becomes a rare commodity," said Greg DeBrosse, manager of Rutgers Cape Shore Laboratory in Cape May County, where the disease-resistant variety were developed. "It's a huge potential for growth."
The lab, first housed in a 76-year-old boathouse on its current site along the shores of the Delaware Bay in Cape May County, was pressed into action first to combat the parasitic disease MSX that struck the Eastern Seaboard in the 1960s and then Dermo, which hit in the 1990s. After the first disease nearly killed off the oyster population in the Delaware Bay, Hal Haskin, lab director at the time, worked for years to develop an oyster that would not succumb to the parasite. The population was just starting to bounce back when Dermo took its toll, DeBrosse said.
(Excerpt) Read more at nj.com ...
Oysters on the half shell ... RULE!
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