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Author: Jennifer Forman Orth

Invading your brain since 2002.

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Nature Blog Network

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New Oyster Cult

Apparently patience is not a virtue, at least if you are on the Virginia Seafood Council. According to this article from the Virginia Pilot, the VFC, fed up with declining harvests of native Bay oysters (Crassostrea virginica), has asked the state Marine Resources Commission to approve the release of Asian oysters (Crassostrea ariakensis) into the Chesapeake Bay. Biologists are urging the state to wait until the completion a 3-year federal study of the possible impacts of the introduction before making a decision. Politics is probably playing a strong role here, with the state upset that the federal government is trying to regulate their waters, and the Army Corps of Engineers supporting a native oyster restoration project.

Interested readers may want to check out previous ISW posts about Asian oysters: 1, 2.

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There would not have been a problem with C. virginica without the long-term trashing of Bay waters with agricultural chemicals, etc. I am not familiar with O. ariakensis but am assuming it is more tolerant of pollution and inclined to spread quickly throughout the Bay (and quite likely beyond), or else why would it be a candidate for repopulating the Bay with an exotic oyster? Not directly on point, but my observations of Cypress Creek on the Katy Prairie west of Houston keep turning up Asian freshwater mussels. Asiatic migrants to the USA are said to have brought these organisms along and have released them into many watercourses. I hate to see them competing with the beautiful native bivalves.

By Anonymous biosparite, at 10/27/2005 03:19:00 PM  

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