Officials will stick with native oysters in Chesapeake Bay

Non-native oysters will not be introduced to Chesapeake Bay, officials announced this week.

The idea of bringing in one or more species of oysters that come from Asian stocks could have created commercial opportunities while filtering massive amounts of pollution, according to proponents.

But uncertainty about what the oysters would ultimately do to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem resulted in the no-go decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and secretaries of natural resources for Maryland and Virginia, according to a news release from the Corps.

Of course we can’t go back to the 1920s in Puget Sound or Hood Canal, but what would have happened if authorities decided back then not to introduce the Pacific oyster, which originated in Asia?

You can safely argue that the shellfish industry in Washington state would not be what it is today without the big Pacific oysters we see on our beaches. Under the right conditions, these oysters grow in massive quantities.

On the other hand, if we had to rely on only the native Olympic oysters and we noticed a precipitous decline in their numbers, maybe people would have done more to reduce the pollution and other problems that decimated the Olympias throughout Puget Sound.

At this time, restoring the Olympia oysters seems as much of a challenge as restoring native oysters to Chesapeake Bay. But Puget Sound Restoration Fund is working hard to do just that.

For added details, see NOAA’s Web page on the proposed oyster introduction or read stories by Washington Post writer David A. Fahrenthold, Baltimore Sun reporter Timothy Wheeler and Virginia Pilot reporter Scott Harper.

One thought on “Officials will stick with native oysters in Chesapeake Bay

  1. From what I can see, the benefits of the Asian oysters in the Chesapeake outweigh any potential drawbacks. The population of native oysters has been decimated over the years and is unlikely to mount a comeback. Say what you want about whether overfishing caused the decline in the population of the native oysters, but with new crabbing restrictions and crab houses struggling to get visas for their immigrant workers, added to this, it is not a good time to be a waterman. I am in Maryland, where a huge chunk of our economy is derived from seafood. This decision not only hurts the environment with there being nothing to filter out the pollution, but also will help to destroy some of the local economies here.

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