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Sunday, February 10, 2008

About Native Oysters

The range of the oyster native to the Chesapeake Bay—the American or eastern oyster—extends all along the east coast of North America from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada to Key Biscayne, Florida, and south through the Caribbean to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and to Venezuela. The Chesapeake Bay provides optimal environmental conditions for the species; however, oyster productivity varies within the Bay depending on salinity, water quality, habitat conditions, and disease.

Although the native oyster is an extremely resilient species, able to tolerate wide variations in salinity and temperature, it has not been immune to the pressures of disease, overharvesting, and pollution. As a result, native oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay are at less than 1% of historic levels. This tremendous decline in the oyster population has dramatically changed the ecology of the Bay as well as the oyster fishery and the cultural tradition of watermen who harvest seafood from the Bay for a living. Please read on for more information about the basic biology of the eastern oyster including information about the diseases that have decimated the oyster population in the Bay, as well as what is being done to better understand and combat these diseases.

Native Oyster Restoration

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office is working with federal, state, and local partners in Maryland and Virginia to implement large-scale restoration projects and to support research that will help us understand how to better manage around oyster disease. NOAA’s financial and technical support toward oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay has grown from one project in 1995 to more than 24 in 2004. Since 2002, more than 550 acres of bottom have been restored or reconditioned in Maryland and Virginia thanks to NOAA funding. This page contains an overview of oyster restoration efforts and techniques, including the use of alternative substrates.

The Oyster Fishery

When the first ships sailed up the Chesapeake Bay in the 1600s, they had to navigate around large reefs created by oysters that had been settling and growing on top of each other for thousands of years. Today, these reefs have been decimated by overharvest, disease, loss of habitat, and poor water quality. Oyster production in the Chesapeake Bay has declined to the point that the industry has nearly collapsed. Please read on for more information about the management of Maryland and Virginia's oyster fisheries, as well as NCBO's support of aquaculture.

Policy on Oysters

The Chesapeake Bay Program has drafted a Comprehensive Oyster Management Plan in an effort to better coordinate oyster restoration efforts Bay-wide. The Army Corps of Engineers have also outlined policies for their oyster restoration activities in Virginia

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1 comment:

MISC for 2007 said...

Excellent Blog Post!!!


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