As I read "Panel urges Virginia to double spending on native oyster efforts," (September 2007), I cannot believe that people still think they can bring back native oysters using past restoration techniques. I personally know oyster scientists who have begun their scientific career studying the native oyster and have retired, yet we are no further ahead in native oyster restoration than when they started.
It is time to seriously think about Crassostrea ariakensis, nonnative oyster restoration. I realize this is not politically correct, but enough is enough !
We are wasting taxpayer money on redundant studies and native oyster restoration techniques that always seem to generate the same results: Disease is the driver in native oyster restoration. It is obvious we are not going to solve the disease problems.
I have heard the word "moratorium" thrown around as a tool for oyster restoration. This would be disastrous, not only to the watermen communities, but to the already dwindling oyster bars that are being silted over as a result of not being cultivated. There are a number of areas in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay that have had a quasi-moratorium going on for 20-25 years and I do not see oysters returning in these areas.
The Magothy River, Severn River, most of the West and Rhodes rivers, Herring Bay, and finally the entire Calvert County shoreline running from Holland Point to Cove Point have not had any oyster harvesting of any significance, and no oysters are coming back in those areas. These areas were productive in the past. In fact, the last time I patent tonged in these areas in 2003, (for my own benefit ) there were not many shells on the surface and, of course, only big oysters scattered in some areas. So the theory that the "big" oysters are disease-resistant and will reproduce disease-resistant oysters is not going to work. If it was the case, there would be small oysters in these areas with what remaining shells are exposed.
In the September article, it was stated that ariakensis is disease-resistant; what more do we need to know? The "grant guzzlers" (scientific community) can study something for eternity if we as taxpayers let them.
It is time to change strategy and begin a new era in oyster restoration. I have also heard from the scientific community that if ariakensis is introduced it could possibly overtake the native oyster in some areas.
Is this a bad thing? We have no native oysters to speak of; what would be the loss ?
The only gain is what is at stake here. Can you imagine live oyster bars again in Virginia and Maryland waters? Just think of the benefits of good healthy oyster bars in the Chesapeake Bay, the benthic communities that would be enhanced as a result, opportunities for both recreational and commercial fishing, and the filtering capacity that would take place.
Sometimes we cannot see the forest for the trees!