Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

The Gulf Oyster Situation Is Very Bad, But There’s Hope

Oceans
Ivan / Moment / Getty Images

By Dan Nosowitz

There are several huge, pressing problems facing oysters in the Gulf. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill killed billions of oysters, droughts and floods upwards from the rivers that feed the Gulf have fed damaging amounts of sedimentation into the ocean, and pollution and development remain major issues. But, according to a big new report from the Nature Conservancy, there is hope—and even a plan.


Oysters are vital to the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico in multiple ways. Aside from being a near-$100 million-per-year industry, oyster beds perform the same role as coral reefs do elsewhere, breaking waves and protecting shores from the wrath of the ocean. They also, as do other bivalves like clams and mussels, serve as filtration systems for the water. Generally speaking, if a usually-rich bivalve population is struggling, it means the entire ecosystem is in serious trouble.

Seafood Source notes that the oyster population in the Gulf is in dire straits. Alabama cancelled its entire oyster season this year due to low oyster numbers, the first time such a cancellation has ever happened. Following the oil spill, oyster populations dropped to a small fraction of their typical numbers, and haven't nearly recovered. The Nature Conservancy report estimates that 85 percent of the oyster reefs are lost.

But, happily, hope and resources are not quite as scarce as the oysters. As part of the settlement after the oil spill, BP paid about $160 million for oyster restoration, easily the largest amount of money in US history ever specifically dedicated to that task. The report itself reviews the current conditions across the Gulf, and lays out possible strategies for oyster restoration projects; Nature Conservancy is particularly emphatic on the subject of collaborations between fishermen and the government.

At the same time, the Nature Conservancy also announced two projects of its own: two artificial oyster reefs, both in Texas. One will be in Galveston Bay, a 50-acre project. Another, a 60-acre reef in Copano Bay, will cost about $5 million (those funds will be from the BP settlement), with construction beginning next month. The plan for the Copano Bay reef includes one section open to commercial fishing and another to be protected; the oysters themselves will be seeded this winter and allowed to grow, undisturbed, until 2021.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday accused NOAA of ignoring its own scientists' findings about the endangerment of the North Atlantic right whale. Lauren Packard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Beth Ann Mayer

Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.

Read More Show Less
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less