Skip to comments.(Maryland Governor)Ehrlich aims to put Asian oysters in bay
Posted on 06/19/2003 9:00:18 PM PDT by nunya bidness
The Associated Press
June 19, 2003, 4:14 PM EDT
ANNAPOLIS -- The Chesapeake Bay could be home to breeding Asian oysters as early as next year, under a plan announced today by Gov. Robert Ehrlich.
Ehrlich, in what he called a bold move to save the bay and get oysters growing again, said the state is seeking permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to introduce the Asian Crassostrea ariakensis. If the corps approves, the oysters, native to China, would first be introduced in small areas of the bay.
"It's about using science to do something that's desperately needed," Ehrlich said at a news conference held on an Annapolis dock overlooking a bay tributary.
The corps already has granted a Virginia seafood trade group a permit this year to grow 1 million sterilized Asian oysters in the lower Chesapeake Bay on an experimental basis.
To obtain permission, Ehrlich said he has directed Department of Natural Resources to immediately begin preparing an Environmental Impact Statement, which will be reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers. State officials could decide against using the foreign oysters if they find the oysters could be harmful to the bay, the governor said.
The reports normally take three to six years to complete, but DNR officials hope to finish the impact statement within a year, said DNR Secretary Ron Franks.
Franks acknowledged that a year is "a short period of time," but said many studies on Asian oysters already are available for researchers to evaluate. He said the department will take into account an oyster report from the National Academy of Sciences, due in August, that will review published Asian oyster literature.
Once the impact statement is submitted, the Army Corps could grant permits to grow oysters in the bay at any time.
Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Watermen's Association, said the species will prove safe and will save the bay's oyster population.
"The sooner the better," Simns said.
(Excerpt) Read more at sunspot.net ...
Due to dramatic declines in the number of oysters living in the Chesapeake Bay and the seafood industry's eagerness to restore a viable local fishery, the possibility of introducing non-native species into the Bay's waters is being explored.
Over the past century, harvests of the Bay's native oyster, Crassostrea virginica or the Eastern oyster, have declined from more than 33 million pounds annually in the 1950s to 2.5 million pounds in 2000. While most of the historic decline is attributed to modern habitat degradation and overharvest, two diseases, Dermo and MSX, are considered the leading cause of native oyster mortality.
Dermo and MSX were first discovered in the Eastern oyster in the 1950s. While the effects of MSX and Dermo are most acute in higher salinity waters found in the lower portion of the Bay, both diseases have expanded into less saline waters further up the Bay. Scientists believe MSX was inadvertently introduced to the Chesapeake Bay through importations of a foreign oyster, Crassostrea gigas, in the 1930s.
This is just stupid. There is virtually no industrial runoff introduced in to the Bay, as the factories were shut down for being dirty. Yet, at least once a year there is a massive (millions of gallons) raw sewage release from treatment plants on the Potomac and Jone's Falls Rivers.
In addition, there is tremendous infusion of nitrates from poultry farms which creates eutrophication, a situation not at all helpful for the blue crabs, stripped bass, and oysters.
I included Larry Simms comments so that I could point out that this guy has singlehanded lead the watermen down the path to devastation by climbing in to bed with two dubiously accredited airhead enviros and adjusting the catch regs. He gives in on sizes, times, and seasons but holds on to allowing the watermen to continue to take female bluecrabs before they're mature, and he fights tooth and nail to continue to allow the use of scrappers (dredges towed behind the boat) to catch crabs that wipe out anything on the bottom they come in contact with. Including oysterbeds.
The Bay is healthy and getting better but introducing a new species is a recipe for disaster. And guys like Simms are selling out his constiuents by condoning the activity.
It should also be noted that he was the first one to go to the state to get disaster relief for the watermen when it rained too much and kept them from work. Once the government gets its hooks in you, it doesn't go away.
They didn't sterilize them first.
Is there a possible turf war between FWS and NMFS because the water is brackish? Which has jurisdiction over estuarine bays?
If the dogs get out of hand, they can always introduce fleas.
I've never seen the DNR ever do anything until the "academics" ordained it.
Introducing Crassostrea ariakensis
Once researchers determined gigas unsuitable for Bay waters, efforts began to focus on Asian Suminoe oyster, Crassostrea ariakensis. In limited field trials, ariakensis demonstrated lower mortality from Dermo and MSX, hearty and rapid growth, and success in taste tests. Researchers found ariakensis oysters grow to market size in only nine months as opposed to two years for virginica. This has resulted in increased pressure from the industry to adopt the non-native alternative.
As of April 2002, approximately 60,000 triploid ariakensis oysters have been tested in the Bay. The Virginia Seafood Council has proposed to initiate industry trials with one million triploid ariakensis oysters in 2002. Due to the possibility of oysters reverting to diploid, or reproductive form, some scientists and managers are concerned that the proposed industry trials could result in the establishing a free-living reproductive ariakensis population in the Bay. Such a non-native introduction could be an irreversible action, and some are concerned that it could significantly affect the health of the Bay ecosystem.
Within the Bay community, there is an ongoing debate among those supporting immediate ariakensis introduction and those advocating further research before making a decision about introducing the species to the Bay.
Some stakeholders, including the Virginia Seafood Council and some Maryland and Virginia watermen, view ariakensis as a promising solution to several problems, and strongly urge widespread introduction of sterile - or possibly even fertile - ariakenis oysters. Their view is that ariakensis could serve to revitalize the industry as well as provide the means for improved water quality through increased bio-filtration. Other potential benefits include a reduction of fishing pressure on the native oyster and the creation of hard substrate for further oyster attachment and reef development..Other stakeholders believe that ariakensis introduction needs to be approached with a high level of caution. Many are concerned about the species' disease-harboring capabilities including possible pathogens that could harm native populations of aquatic plants and animals. Others are concerned about food web effects that could alter benthic communities and ecosystems, while competition and reproductive interference with the native oyster may create additional pressures on already low virginica populations. Whether enough is known about the biology of ariakensis in its native range to effectively assess these benefits or risks at this time is the big question for managers.
Maryland can't handle its capacity now, hence the annual "accidents". There's no way that Maryland is ever going to bite the hand that the District is. Way too many federal dollars being passed down.
What would be worse: nitrogen and phosphates from sewage or heavy metals?
Repeat as often as one likes, then sit back,laught~~~~>then cry as we pay for it.
Government's solution to failure is to do more of the same.
Which kind of worse is worse?
I am not a marine biochemist, but I would pick the metals as the worse of the two. They're likely to show up in the oysters and last until buried in enough clean sediment to cover them up. Assuming that the oyster dredges keep churning up the bottom, that top layer metal concentration could keep rising unless there's a type of vegetation that they could could use to chelate it. Grow the plants and harvest the metals.
The nutrient OTOH simply kills the marine life by suffocation, which is to say nothing of toxins released by the algae that feed on it (do you get a "red tide" there in the summer?). Then there are the bacteria.
However bad the nutrients might be, the system could eventuall purge them, so at least they aren't permanent.
Pick your poison.
I thought it was cats.
So as bad as nutrients are, toxins and bacteria are worse? This makes me think that the nitrates might be less of a culprit and the toxins in the runoff might be the culprit. Not to mention a wildy swinging salinity range which seems to affect mitigation more than anything.
The water is pretty dark like a red tide but I don't think we have one. I'm going to start to take some measurements. Any suggestions on cheap instruments?
Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this list.