Bay Journal

Topics: Fisheries

Oyster farms make slight improvement in water quality

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It’s easy to demonstrate the filtering prowess of oysters by placing them in a small aquarium and filling it with algae-clouded water. Within a few hours, as time-lapse YouTube videos show, the glass tank is nearly crystal clear.

It’s tougher to see that happen in the wild, though. A recent field study by researchers with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found that oyster farms in the lower Chesapeake Bay had only slight — but positive — impacts on water quality.

“We were expecting to see more effects of the oysters filtering the water than we saw,” said Jessica Turner, a Ph.D. student who was the study’s lead author. But, she added, “They’re not having any negative impacts either, and that’s definitely worth noting.”

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Young-of-year rockfish surveys have mixed news

Striped bass, whose population has been in decline for a decade and a half, suffered from another poor year of reproduction in Maryland, though the news was better in Virginia. Maryland’s annual young-of-year index was just 3.4, according...

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About Fisheries

Acre for acre, the Chesapeake Bay is one of the most productive water bodies on the planet when it comes to fish. Populations of the native striped bass and nonnative blue catfish have risen dramatically in recent decades, while blue crabs appear to be on the road to recovery.

Recent interest in aquaculture has sharply increased commercial production of oysters from the Chesapeake. Nonetheless, problems such as historic overfishing, habitat loss and disease have reduced the abundance of some iconic species such as wild oyster populations, American shad and river herring, American eels and Atlantic sturgeon to near record-low levels. In the headwaters, brook trout have suffered major habitat losses.

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