Skip to comments.Officials Introduce New Asian Oyster Breed To Chesapeake Bay
Posted on 09/30/2003 1:56:27 PM PDT by Willie Green
For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.
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."
Mark my words...in ten years them Jap oysters will have shells made of Schlitz beer cans!
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.