829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Oysters are "functionally extinct" in many locations around the globe
to disease and overharvesting, a new study has found.
The wide-ranging survey, published in BioScience, the journal of the
American Institute of Biological Sciences, compares the past and
present condition of oyster reefs around the globe. The international
team of researchers led by Michael Beck of the Nature
the University of California found that more than 90 percent of
former reefs have been lost in most of the "bays" and ecoregions
where the mollusks were formerly abundant.

In many places, such as the Wadden Sea in Europe and Narragansett
Bay, oysters are rated "functionally extinct," with fewer than 1 per- 
cent of former reefs persisting. The declines are in most cases a
result of over-harvesting of wild populations and disease, often
exacerbated by the introduction of non-native species.

"Overall, we estimate that 85% of oyster reefs have been lost
globally," the study says. "Most of the world’s remaining wild
capture of native oysters comes from just five ecoregions in North
America, yet the condition of reefs in these ecoregions is poor at
best, except in the Gulf of Mexico."

Beck's team examined oyster reefs across 144 bays and 44
ecoregions. It also studied historical records as well as
national catch statistics. The BioScience authors rate the
condition of oysters as "poor" overall.

 Oysters provide important ecosystem services, such as filtration,
as well as food for people. The survey team argues for improved
efforts and the removal of incentives to over-exploitation.
It also recommends that harvesting and further reef destruction
should not be allowed wherever oysters are at less than 10 percent
their former abundance, unless it can be shown that these activities
do not substantially affect reef recovery.

1 comment:

  1. We like to holiday near Bouzigues in southern France a famous oyster fishery in a large salt water lagoon, we just heard from friends there that the fishery has been closed due to the extreamly heavy rain fall changing the salinity of the water - you realise how fragile these things are