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Officials Introduce New Asian Oyster Breed To Chesapeake Bay
WBAL-TV 11 ^ | September 30, 2003 | The Associated Press

Posted on 09/30/2003 1:56:27 PM PDT by Willie Green

For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.

Environmentalists Hope New Breed Will Revive Chesapeake's Shellfish Industry

ACCOMAC, Va. -- One million disease-resistant Asian oysters, bred to grow plumper and faster than their native counterparts, are being introduced to the Chesapeake Bay in hopes of reviving the bay's suffering bivalve industry.

Stan Allen, a geneticist at the Virginia Institute of Marine sciences, on Monday released fingerling oysters from orange nylon onion sacks into Folly Creek, a bay tributary.

Allen has bred the Asian oysters, or Crassostrea ariakensis, to have three chromosomes, which renders them sterile and gives them a growing edge over the native Chesapeake Bay oyster. They are also resistant to disease, unlike native oysters.

They represent the most ambitious effort in Virginia to find a species that officials hope will revive a moribund industry. Maryland scientists are awaiting permission from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to start experiments with Allen's brood stock.

The difference, however, is they want to release a reproducing population of Asian oysters to fulfill the historic function of the native oyster, which once filtered the entire contents of the Chesapeake Bay in just days.

That proposal worries scientists, who say introducing a new species could endanger the bay's habitat. They have urged caution even with Allen's sterile oysters. The scientist is cautiously moving forward, though, releasing a quarter-million of the creatures in eight locations on Monday.

In Virginia, scientists and watermen hope to pull these oysters from the water within nine months and have a product that has grown to market size in less than half the time of the native oyster.

Allen's tests of the Asian oyster are being sponsored by the Virginia Seafood Council, an industry group of processors. The project was permitted to go forward despite cautions issued by the National Academy of Sciences this summer that more research be done before a wholesale release.

"There's a lot of people who don't get paychecks when there's no seafood, unlike you and I," Allen said. "I am moved by that."

Allen has a patent on the process by which sterile oysters are bred. This could prove lucrative for him, if Virginia allows more widespread farming of the Asian oyster.

"What we've done here obviates the biggest concern everybody has," Allen said of the genetically sterilized oyster.

"There is still some degree of risk, but it's not equivalent to making an introduction, which would be irreversible."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; US: Maryland; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: aquafarming; chesapeakebay; environmentalism; fisheries; invasivespecies; oysters

1 posted on 09/30/2003 1:56:28 PM PDT by Willie Green
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To: Willie Green
Oh no! The world is going to end! Earth's delicate balance has been broken!
2 posted on 09/30/2003 1:59:29 PM PDT by thegreatbeast (Quid lucrum istic mihi est?)
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To: Willie Green
Environmentalists Hope New Breed Will Revive Chesapeake's Shellfish Industry

Mark my words...in ten years them Jap oysters will have shells made of Schlitz beer cans!

3 posted on 09/30/2003 1:59:35 PM PDT by JimVT
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To: Willie Green
Pass the lemon and tabasco sauce.
4 posted on 09/30/2003 2:15:20 PM PDT by Pukin Dog (Sans Reproache)
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To: Willie Green
Hmmm, Asian oysters. Do you crack them open sideways?
5 posted on 09/30/2003 2:17:16 PM PDT by quark
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To: quark
Ho Ho Ho
not by the hairs on its chinny chin chin
6 posted on 09/30/2003 2:49:56 PM PDT by joesnuffy (Moderate Islam Is For Dilettantes)
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To: Willie Green
I saw an article concerning a transplanting of Bering Strait King Crab to the Western coast of Russia..

They seem to be doing VERY well in their new environment, although they are not in the Bering straits.
No one knows why for sure.

The new population is spreading like wildfire to the north, toward the pole, and to the west, some being found on some Norwegian island possessions.
There is some concern from the environmentalists, but I think it will be good news for the crab fishing industry.

I think it was at the BBC news site I saw this.

7 posted on 09/30/2003 3:22:13 PM PDT by Drammach
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To: quark
STERILE Asian oysters...that kind of negates the reason for eating them!
8 posted on 09/30/2003 3:35:19 PM PDT by kaktuskid
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To: Willie Green
I've had a lot of Asian oysters. The small ones are great fried. The large ones, eaten on the half shell, have a bitter flavor. I hope these people know what they're doing.
9 posted on 09/30/2003 5:01:20 PM PDT by zook
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