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.
I lived in Maryland for almost a decade and the Chesapeake continues to be a mystery as well as a hot potato environmental issue. Although my wildlife experience revolves primarily around southwestern species, I was aware of the controversial rules issued about 2001(?) in California for the four salmonids found there. I would agree that efforts to protect West Coast salmonids in general have been less than desirable to all affected parties. Here in New Mexico, we have a Democratic governor who is trying to make a pretense of fighting the Feds over their giving the Rio Grande silvery minnow 70% of the dwindling water supplies in the middle Rio Grande. Until I see different, I would compare the Governor's fight with the Feds to a fight staged by the World Wrestling Federation, a lot of running and grunting but no substance.
There are just too many personal agendas being played out anymore in the ESA arena to expect intelligence to reign. In the end, like an innocent child caught in an ugly divorce, it is the species who are the losers to governmental incompetence and mismanagement. Partisanship, arrogance and incompetence now reign over biology. I can say without a doubt that, if I were an endangered species, I would be very worried if I knew the NMFS or the USFWS held my future.
Ah, but we drift from subject of this thread which is the introduction of Asian mollusks in the Chesapeake.
You may want to take a look at this. Be sure to check out the preface and the reviews. I'm the author.
You are absolutely right when you suggest that a habitat in peril many times is taken hostage by those seeking employment in saving it. Also, that same habitat is held in peril by the same people who, once they have the job, fold their arms and refuse to examine alternative solutions. Oddly, these knotheads see a healthy economy as the primary enemy of environmental quality and cannot understand that environmental protection will be the last item on the agenda for a community or nation without economic health. It always seemed to me that these people missed class the day the prof taught the lesson on where to apply the saw blade once you had crawled out on a limb.
Many times managing competing risks in a dynamic system go beyond human capability. However, affected property owners should not be left out of the picture as often is the case with endangered species issues. Most environmental laws, e.g., NEPA and others, allow for affected public review and comment. On the other hand, Section 7 of the ESA is an interagency process that can often occur behind the closed doors of the USFWS and the action agency. This desparately needs to change if we are to continue to believe in private property rights and governance by the people.
Gad! I was retired and you guys got me going again.
Certainly that is conceptually true, however a market in pooled risk that has competing approaches to among contingencies has prospective adaptability. Much the way biodiversity is important to an adaptive habitat, so a range of competing proven approaches is important to our ability to adapt to unpredictable singularities.
Top down systems are inherently incapable of that kind of approach BECAUSE they are limited to a single method and operational system.
Gad! I was retired and you guys got me going again.
That's because you are needed.
This evening my family and I plan to burn some steaks with an old alumni wildlifer friend who usually takes the liberal approach to most issues. I will pose your comments to him and see what he thinks, although I suspect he will say that land owners are, for the most part, untrained and incapable of making such scientific decisions.
As for me, I agree with your assessment because, unlike most biologists, I believe that humans are as integral part of the ecosystem as a kangaroo rat. When man builds a bridge that links two geographic areas, except for scope, it is no different than ants who use their bodies to allow the movement of other ants across a barrier. Many ecologists seem to position humans to the outside of an ecosystem instead of in it. From this position, man is only an onlooker instead of a player. To place man outside of ecosystems has always reminded me of the same level of ignorance as when we thought the sun rotated around the earth. The protection of species and habitats should indeed be a combined effort between all affected parties and not a not a one-sided, top-down approach that many times steamrolls the land owner, and sometimes the species.
In consultations, I used to compare endangered species to a heritage that we as Americans should want to protect, just as we would our great great great grandpa's log cabin. I also compared species diversity to financial stock diversity. For our own sake, we should apply the same wisdom to both areas.
I would probably have to read your book to fully grasp your concepts, but it sounds like we are on the same wavelength since we both agree that diversity in the environmental decision-making process is as important as diversity in species and habitats.
>>That's because you are needed.<<
If only my wife would say such things.
In a market where individuals compete upon the basis of their ability to manage multiple uses, one would see a differently trained and motivated individual as the dominant type of property owner.
I believe that humans are as integral part of the ecosystem as a kangaroo rat.
And always has been.
Many ecologists seem to position humans to the outside of an ecosystem instead of in it.
The most extreme proponents of isolating humans from nature are the so-called "deep ecologists." These people urge that humans adopt a "biocentric" perspective (as opposed to an anthropocentric, or human-centered viewpoint). The purported goal of biocentricism is to incorporate all of nature into one's perspective, to identify with all ecosystems in nature as one's personal interest. Sadly, deep ecologists seem incapable of expressing that perspective themselves. The first three tenets of Deep Ecology, as articulated by Arne Naess and George Sessions, dialectically separate humans from nature, rendering a biocentric perspective, an impossible paradox:
- 1. All life has value in itself, independent of its usefulness to humans.
- 2. Richness and diversity contribute to life's well-being and have value in themselves.
- 3. Humans have no right to reduce this richness and diversity except to satisfy vital needs in a responsible way.
The principles of Deep Ecology (there are 8) fall afoul of several constraints. First, (as they constantly remind us) humans already are an interconnected part of nature, competing for our individual benefit in our own manner as a species. Second, "Richness and diversity" are perceptions of value, important only to humans (near monoculture is a common phenomena in nature). Third, the idea that humans are responsible for maintaining a status quo among populations of existing species as a matter of "rights" is imposing a human set of values onto the results of mortal competition among species. It is a denial of dynamic equilibrium in natural selection and antithetical to the cyclical ebb and flow of populations of predators and prey.I also compared species diversity to financial stock diversity. For our own sake, we should apply the same wisdom to both areas.
If humans are so inherently destructive that they must be separated from nature, how could it be possible for humans to have a biocentric view? There would certainly be no hands-on opportunity to learn one. Although that might save having to expend a lot of physical effort, how would it help?
Further, these same people believe that nature is so robust and so rugged that it is fully capable of recovery without intervention, but that it is too fragile to survive our attempts to help. To decide not to take action because of the view that nature will somehow "know better" what to do, is just as much a projection of human impressions onto nature, as is the conclusion that the situation demands the investment of time and money. There is no mechanism in the process of natural selection, that implies volition on the part of nature, much less prospective reversibility.
On the other hand, humans DO exhibit prospective volition. However, if we adhere to this perspective of doing nothing, what good is preventive intervention? How would we learn to exercise it effectively and benevolently? How would we learn to reduce the impact of urban technology if we did not interact? Such a process bias toward inaction precludes even the significant probability of constructive errors.
A biocentric perspective also presumes that humans are capable of anything other than human perception. If one is busily experiencing a totality, from what perspective does one notice that?
If humans cannot assume this pan-perspective, and are operating under the belief that they are inherently destructive, then why would they consider the effort to learn it of any redeeming value? Would that choice not also be corrupted by human desire? Why, then, act to prevent action?
Any humans action in a competitive system results in harm to something. Deep ecologists would feel distraught at the loss and guilty of the failure to prevent it. Thus, to actively seek collective dominance over people they disdain, politically forcing others into mandated inaction in order to protect themselves from risk to their personal feelings, is not only anthropocentric; it is an egocentric view.
Perhaps that is why it seems to be so popular!
It's more than that. We really do depend upon a productive environment to maximize our wealth generating potential. We don't understand nature's processes well enough to know which species are really important. For natural selection to operate some species MUST go extinct. If we break the bank protecting them all we won't have the means to do the best we can. As you clearly understand, wealth creation is necessary for habitat protection and restoration. Magaging critical habitat thus involves an array of decisions each involving competing weighted risks, a criterion too complex for central planning and for which markets are especially suited.