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Washington to Determine if Oysters are an Endangered Species
Cape Cod Times ^ | 9 July 2005 | Doug Fraser

Posted on 07/09/2005 12:49:55 PM PDT by Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

Red tide may be the least of Cape shellfishermen's worries this summer.

In May, the National Marine Fisheries Service decided that the Eastern, or American, oyster is a candidate for endangered species status based on a petition they received in January.

The agency has until Jan. 11, 2006, to decide. Fisheries service spokeswoman Teri Frady said yesterday her agency was in the process of putting together a panel of experts to study the issue.

Eastern oysters are harvested in New England and on the Cape, accounting for more than $1.2 million in revenue for the Cape and islands aquaculture industry in 2003, more than any other shellfish species.

The endangered species listing could prohibit harvesting any oysters from Louisiana to Maine. Other options would be less restrictive, such as setting lower harvest levels, or tightening regulations that protect habitat, food supply and water quality.

''Including the American oyster on the endangered species list would come as another major setback for the Massachusetts shellfish industry, just as they are recovering from the devastation of the red tide outbreak,'' state Sen. Robert O'Leary, D-Barnstable, wrote in a press release earlier this week.

On Wednesday, the state Legislature passed a resolution sponsored by O'Leary and state Rep. Shirley Gomes, R-Harwich, objecting to the listing. Rhode Island and New York have passed similar resolutions.

The endangered species petition was submitted by W. Dieter Busch of Ecosystem Initiatives Advisory Services, a Maryland-based consulting firm he founded. It contends that overfishing, loss of habitat, and diseases have placed the Eastern oyster at or near extinction.

Busch, a former U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service scientist, cited federal oyster data that shows that annual landings along the Atlantic coast have declined to less than 2 percent of their historical amounts. The Chesapeake Bay area, he noted, is at 0.2 percent of its historical landings numbers. The petition also attempts to stop the introduction of Asian oysters, which are being studied as a disease-resistant replacement for the Eastern oyster in the Chesapeake, where the oyster population was almost wiped out by diseases in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

The endangered species petition comes just as oysters have become an ''it'' food, with the kind of appreciation and connoisseurship assigned to fine wines. Within the last few years, a niche market has arisen with name recognition for flagship species from places such as Wellfleet, Duxbury, Menemsha and Katama Bay.

Robert ''Skid'' Rheault is one of those who have cultivated distinction with his Moonstone oysters from Point Judith, R.I.

Rheault is president of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association, which has members from Florida to Maine. He said it's been hard to cultivate interest among aquaculturists and shellfishermen to battle the endangered-species listing.

''Everybody I've talked to said it's ridiculous, that it can't fly, but it's a political process that could come to pass,'' Rheault said.

He said it would ''wreak havoc'' on oyster markets with consumers afraid to eat an endangered species. He said it would also be a regulatory nightmare because it would be hard to distinguish between wild and farm-raised oysters if just the wild harvest were banned or cut back.

Michael Hickey, chief shellfish biologist for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, said his agency supports the resolution by O'Leary and Gomes and will provide comment to the U.S. fisheries services. He does not believe the oyster will qualify for endangered species status.

Comparisons with the huge harvests of a century ago are no longer valid, he said, because so much habitat has been dredged for harbors or marinas. Landings numbers in Massachusetts have stayed relatively stable for the past 20 years, he said.

''Overall, the resource here is in pretty good shape,'' he said.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: environmentalism; fisheries; marinebiology; oysters; zoology
Mylti-million dollar industry jeopardized overnight by regulatory power.
1 posted on 07/09/2005 12:49:56 PM PDT by Our_Man_In_Gough_Island
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

Today the Oysters, perhaps tomorrow the citizens of the U.S. (but I doubt it)

CLOSE THE FRICKEN BORDERS!


2 posted on 07/09/2005 12:51:22 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (US socialist liberalism would be dead without the help of politicians who claim to be conservative.)
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

If those oysters get within a 1/4 mile of my brothers they will be extinct.


3 posted on 07/09/2005 12:52:41 PM PDT by mware ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche........ "Nope, you are"-- GOD)
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To: DoughtyOne

CLOSE THE FRICKEN BORDERS!

I have seen...

CLOSE THE FRICKEN BORDERS!

a lot today.


4 posted on 07/09/2005 12:54:57 PM PDT by Modok (CLOSE THE FRICKEN BORDERS! (No! it's even in the tagline.))
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

So what does this mean, I'll have to start doing a catch and release thing instead of a catch and cocktail sauce thing?


5 posted on 07/09/2005 12:57:05 PM PDT by bayourod (Winning elections is everything in a democracy. Losing is for people unclear on the concept.)
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island
What are the prices of Oysters?

Oysters must be pretty darn high if their are close to extinction, or is this just a case of faulty and agenda driven science.
6 posted on 07/09/2005 12:59:12 PM PDT by rollo tomasi (Working hard to pay for deadbeats and corrupt politicians)
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

Maybe Fat Teddy and John Kerry don't want to have to look at oystermen when they're out tooling around Nantucket Sound on their yachts.


7 posted on 07/09/2005 1:02:39 PM PDT by CFC__VRWC ("Anytime a liberal squeals in outrage, an angel gets its wings!" - gidget7)
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To: bayourod
You can always release the shells later...

;^)

8 posted on 07/09/2005 1:05:27 PM PDT by SAJ
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island
It contends that overfishing, loss of habitat, and diseases have placed the Eastern oyster at or near extinction.

Poor Eastern oysters, we hardly knew ye.

In fact, I never knew ye and would rather eat raw snot, but that's beside the point.)

9 posted on 07/09/2005 1:07:16 PM PDT by xJones
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

Tell ya what, how about just the cocktail-party Liberals in blue states quit wasting them on themselves.

Oughta be plenty left for me.


10 posted on 07/09/2005 1:10:47 PM PDT by digger48
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

What about chickens?
Didn't I hear that chickens are an endangered species?
It could provide jobs for some otherwise unemployable parasites.


11 posted on 07/09/2005 1:19:46 PM PDT by henderson field
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island
This will be just like the salmon in the Western US. While only one species needed protection, it was later extended to all species regardless of numbers.
12 posted on 07/09/2005 1:28:02 PM PDT by Between the Lines (Be careful how you live your life, it may be the only gospel anyone reads.)
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To: rollo tomasi
Oysters must be pretty darn high if their are close to extinction,

Not a whole lot more than clams.

or is this just a case of faulty and agenda driven science.

Bingo. It's pretty hard to call something endangered when it is a steady, annual 1.2 million dollar industry, and they retail for something around $1.00 to $1.50 each.

13 posted on 07/09/2005 1:29:02 PM PDT by wyattearp (The best weapon to have in a gunfight is a shotgun - preferably from ambush.)
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

It's always the good stuff that finds its way to endangerment. Why not cabbage? Or scrapple? I would be willing to do my part to ensure their survival.


14 posted on 07/09/2005 1:35:21 PM PDT by small voice in the wilderness (Quick, act casual. If they sense scorn and ridicule, they'll flee..)
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

Does any other animal apart from man eat those snotty things?


15 posted on 07/09/2005 1:43:14 PM PDT by Old Professer (As darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of good; innocence is blind.)
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To: rollo tomasi
What are the prices of Oysters?

Salts - $7.95 a dozen on the half shell.

16 posted on 07/09/2005 1:49:38 PM PDT by Abby4116
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To: wyattearp
It's pretty hard to call something endangered when it is a steady, annual 1.2 million dollar industry

What that support, ten boats?

17 posted on 07/09/2005 1:50:49 PM PDT by Doe Eyes
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

Oystermen in the Chesapeake Bay have been clamoring for something to be done for the last 20 years, they didnt pay any attention. Now when New England has a problem all of a sudden they look into it. I guess now we know where the political power is.

Chesapeake Bay oysters are an endengered species because of a disease not because of overharvesting. Proper Harvesting of oysters actually helps them ,it cleans the sediment from the beds and brings them to the top of the sand where they can breathe. I remember when there were 1600 oystermen in St Mary's County, Md. , now there are less than 50. The overharvesting has pretty much taken care of itself here as the oysters have dissappeared because the disease.

Certainly a ban on gathering oysters will not save them it will only allow sediment to build up on the hard bottom they take hold on and these oyster beds will dissappear.
I hope some of these brilliant people who run things actually ask a waterman what needs to be done as most are full of crap when it comes to oysters.


18 posted on 07/09/2005 2:02:25 PM PDT by sgtbono2002
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To: Doe Eyes
What that support, ten boats?

Boats? Easterners use boats to harvest oysters? We just wait for low tide and walk out and get them. Of course, that's recreational oystering...

19 posted on 07/09/2005 2:48:25 PM PDT by wyattearp (The best weapon to have in a gunfight is a shotgun - preferably from ambush.)
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To: Doe Eyes

The $ 1.2 million is the figure for Massachusetts (which the home state of the Cape Cod Times). The determination applies not just to that paper's state but to all states from Maine to Texas, some of which ( like Maryland) have very large oyster and shellfish industries.


20 posted on 07/09/2005 3:00:40 PM PDT by Our_Man_In_Gough_Island
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island
...accounting for more than $1.2 million in revenue for the Cape and islands aquaculture industry in 2003, more than any other shellfish species.

Ah, NOW I see where the interest by government comes from.

What's the matter, too many people kicking the smoking habit?

21 posted on 07/09/2005 3:04:52 PM PDT by EGPWS
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To: small voice in the wilderness

I would rather that "scrapple" went extinct.


22 posted on 07/09/2005 3:55:55 PM PDT by brooklin
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To: brooklin

Speaking on behalf of Scrapple Lovers of Free Republic, I resent your junk science. Scrapple will NEVER go extinct. We have the secret formula.


23 posted on 07/09/2005 6:24:40 PM PDT by holyscroller (A wise man's heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man's heart directs him to the left)
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island


"Including the American oyster on the endangered species list would come as another major setback for the Massachusetts shellfish ... state Sen. Robert O'Leary, D-Barnstable, wrote in a press release earlier this week."

--- But I thought that a judge in Mass already ruled that you couldn't stop Lesbian marriage, how can eating oyster be endangered?

\smart-ass sarc




24 posted on 07/09/2005 6:59:24 PM PDT by Casekirchen (If allah is just another name for the Judeo-Christian God, why do the islamics pray to a rock?)
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

Well, looks like I better have one last plate of blue points while I still can. Pass the horseradish and tabasco and move back out of the way.


25 posted on 07/09/2005 7:05:54 PM PDT by joebuck
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island

If they ever try that with the Gulf oysters down here......katie bar the door! :)


26 posted on 07/09/2005 7:09:51 PM PDT by Dawgreg (Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.)
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To: Our_Man_In_Gough_Island
"Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing..." - Vince Lombardi

"Winning isn't everything, there's also oysters on the half shell and cold beer at halftime..." - A New Orleans Saints fan.

27 posted on 07/09/2005 7:14:12 PM PDT by ABG(anybody but Gore) (Ketchup Boy is the George Costanza of the US Senate)
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To: Abby4116

There's a place on Bourbon St. that had a happy hour on oysters on the half shell. $10 for all you could eat. I think I put down 5 dozen before I couldn't eat another. Some ketchup, tobasco and horseradish, saltine crackers and cold beer to wash it down. I could eat those suckers all day.


28 posted on 07/09/2005 7:38:13 PM PDT by ABG(anybody but Gore) (Ketchup Boy is the George Costanza of the US Senate)
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