Monday, February 16, 2009

Would Chinese oysters save or ruin Chesapeake?

An upcoming decision could have huge ramifications for the future of the Chesapeake Bay. Three officials will decide whether "to transplant an Asian species to supplement the decimated Eastern oyster, which can no longer fill its role in the bay's ecosystem and the region's deep-fat fryers," reports The Washington Post. "Environmental groups, states and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say it's not clear whether the new oyster would become a kind of kudzu on the half shell, crowding out the old one, or simply die and waste everyone's money," David A. Fahrenthold writes. (Post photo)

Two cabinet secretaries from Virginia and Maryland and a colonel in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers appear to be split, with one favoring the move, one opposing it and another neutral for now. "A favorable ruling could pave the way for watermen and shellfish farmers to put millions of the Asian oysters in the Chesapeake," writes Fahrenthold. "That makes it the most important decision in a long regional debate -- all arising from the odd-sounding idea that one of America's great shellfish grounds needs a Chinese transplant to save it."The Chesapeake's Eastern oysters have dropped 99 percent below historic levels because of overfishing and disease.

It appears unlikely that the newcomers would be allowed to spread unchecked. A plan that would create a network of shellfish farms where sterilized Asian oysters would live in mesh bags or cages preventing them from breeding on their own. Still, many environmental groups favor trying to save the native oysters as opposed to introducing a new species. (Read more)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Never had an oyster escape!!!!! How do they know?? Though I do favor the introduction of the Asian oyster if it can survive in the Bay