Categories: world

Gulf Oyster Reefs are hurting. Now there is assistance from oil waste aids. : NPR

Eastern harvest in the Gulf of Mexico has fallen for decades. Tyler Jones / UF / IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones hide caption change caption Tyler Jones / UF / IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones Eastern harvest in the Gulf of Mexico has fallen for decades. Tyler Jones / UF / IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones By Cedar Key on Florida's west coast, the water is some of the most unspoilt in the Gulf. The estuary there has long been a flourishing seafood industry. Sue Colson, a city commissioner in Cedar Key, says one of the best places to harvest oysters used to be the Lone Cabbage Oyster Reef, about one mile offshore. When the tide was very low, she said that there were so many oysters that she and her husband could walk along the reef picking them up. "We would drag our children out of school on a really, really, really real beat the tide," she says. "And everybody would pick up and get as many as possible at the time they are exposed." These days are long gone on the Lone Cabbage Reef. Over the past thirty years, Peter Frederick, a wild-cows ecologist from the University of Florida, says oysters, mollusks that build and fill the reef have died. "When they die and you lose them," says Frederick, "the reef begins to deteriorate and lose height. We've seen three to four inches of loss a year." When the reef is gone, it leaves behind sandsticks that young…

Eastern harvest in the Gulf of Mexico has fallen for decades.

Tyler Jones / UF / IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

hide caption

change caption

Tyler Jones / UF / IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

Eastern harvest in the Gulf of Mexico has fallen for decades.

Tyler Jones / UF / IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones

By Cedar Key on Florida’s west coast, the water is some of the most unspoilt in the Gulf. The estuary there has long been a flourishing seafood industry.

Sue Colson, a city commissioner in Cedar Key, says one of the best places to harvest oysters used to be the Lone Cabbage Oyster Reef, about one mile offshore. When the tide was very low, she said that there were so many oysters that she and her husband could walk along the reef picking them up.

“We would drag our children out of school on a really, really, really real beat the tide,” she says. “And everybody would pick up and get as many as possible at the time they are exposed.”

These days are long gone on the Lone Cabbage Reef. Over the past thirty years, Peter Frederick, a wild-cows ecologist from the University of Florida, says oysters, mollusks that build and fill the reef have died.

“When they die and you lose them,” says Frederick, “the reef begins to deteriorate and lose height. We’ve seen three to four inches of loss a year.”

When the reef is gone, it leaves behind sandsticks that young oysters can not attach. [19659008] Decades of decline

Along the Gulf coast, it’s not a good time for oysters. Researchers say that eighty percent of the Gulf’s oyster drive has been lost in recent decades. And harvests are far down.

Over time, Texas has seen production decline by half. A few years ago, Floridas Apalachicola Bay, long the heart of the state oysters industry, declared a fisheries disaster. This year, Alabama discontinued its season, due to the fact that there were so few oysters.

There are many reasons: overhearing, drought, even hurricanes. But ecologist Frederick says that an important factor is lack of freshwater. Agriculture and development claim much of the water that used to drain into the rivers and leave estuaries like this for salt.

“The Eastern Oysters,” he says, “does not like full strength sea water. Tends to be susceptible to its diseases and parasites, and they tend to decrease quite quickly.”

When oysters have died, the rip has deteriorated and lost several inches a year. Researchers build them back using rock from a quarry.

Greg Allen / NPR

hide caption

change caption

Greg Allen / NPR

As oysters have died, the reef has deteriorated and lost several inches a year. Researchers rebuild them using stone from a quarry.

Greg Allen / NPR

Here and throughout the Gulf work a lot of work to help oysters and the communities that depend on them.

Frederick has overseen the efforts to restore the Lone Cabbage Reef. It’s a project of nearly $ 7 million that has built the three and a half mile reef. Standing on a barge next to it says Frederick instead of oyster shell, the reef was built with stone.

“We must have heavy equipment,” he says, “like barges and cranes, trucks and refueling equipment” to

It is a project paid with money from the BP oil spill deal.

“Once in a Generation” Opportunity

Millions of oysters were killed in games, and that was only a small part of the massive damage to the environment. $ 160 million of the fund is earmarked for oysters.

Bob Bendick monitors several projects to restore oyster in the Nature Conservancy bay. He calls the oil spill fund “a unique, maybe once for generations, or forever the opportunity to reverse the decline of oysters in the Gulf”.

The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency recently helped to rebuild a cheese turret in Texas’ Matagorda Bay. It starts a similar project soon in Florida Pensacola Bay.

Bendick says that an idea being discussed is a project that would build a chain of new oysterlands across the Gulf. “They could be the type of oysters that would produce more oysters,” he says.

On Florida’s Big Bend Coast, there is a lot of support for efforts to rebuild oysterlands. Fishing and harvesting of oysters, crabs and mussels is not just an industry but a way of living here, one that has been under pressure for a long time.

Jack Payne, Head of Natural Resources Research at the University of Florida, sees another benefit in recovering reefs; It can help prepare coastal communities for climate change.

“Baltic Sea is a wonderful natural barrier to storms and hurricanes,” he says. As the sea level rises, “this is something we hope we can apply across the entire Coastal Network in Florida.”

On the newly built rocks of Lone Cabbage there are already encouraging signs. Researchers say that young oysters begin to appear on the reef.

Share
Published by
Faela