Quantcast

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

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.

Sponsored
On thin ice. Christopher Michel / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The Russian military is taking measures to protect the residents of a remote Arctic settlement from a mass of polar bears, German press agency DPA reported.

The move comes after regional authorities declared a state of emergency over the weekend after sightings of more than 50 bears in the town of Belushya Guba since December.

Read More Show Less

This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.

"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Over the past few years, it seems vegan cooking has gone from 'brown rice and tofu' to a true art form. These amazing cooks show off the creations on Instagram—and we can't get enough.

Read More Show Less
The USS Ashland, followed by the USS Green Bay, in the Philippine Sea on Jan. 21. U.S. Department of Defense

By Shana Udvardy

After a dearth of action on climate change and a record year of extreme events in 2017, the inclusion of climate change policies within the annual legislation Congress considers to outline its defense spending priorities (the National Defense Authorization Act) for fiscal year 2018 was welcome progress. House and Senate leaders pushed to include language that mandated that the Department of Defense (DoD) incorporate climate change in their facility planning (see more on what this section of the bill does here and here) as well as issue a report on the impacts of climate change on military installations. Unfortunately, what DoD produced fell far short of what was mandated.

Read More Show Less
The Paradise Fossil Plant in western Kentucky. CC BY 3.0

Trump is losing his rallying cry to save coal. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) voted on Thursday to retire two coal-fired power plants in the next few years despite a plea from the president to keep one of the plants open.

Earlier this week, the president posted an oddly specific tweet that urged the government-owned utility to save the 49-year-old Paradise 3 plant in Kentucky. It so happens that the facility burns coal supplied by Murray Energy Corporation, whose CEO is Robert Murray, is a major Trump donor.

Read More Show Less