The Oyster industry is recovering but is facing numerous threats ranging from old sewage infrastructure to climate change. The industry also faces numerous lawsuits due to its lack of seed oysters. This article explores the reasons behind the lawsuits and what the Oyster Industry can do to fight back. Also, learn how the Oyster Industry can win the case to protect the livelihood of small farmers.
The oyster industry is recovering
The oyster industry is recovering from a crisis that cost many businesses their operations. While smaller operations suffered fewer layoffs, larger plants were hit hard. The state and federal government forced closures of oyster beds in April. The closures left a ripple effect that affected oystermen. Many had to stop work to pay their mortgages. However, with the help of the Paycheck Protection Program, the oyster industry can keep its employees and survive the crisis.
The Oyster industry is experiencing pain due to the recent storms. The Massachusetts Aquaculture Association, which represents 300 growers in the state, reported sales of $25 million per week last year. But the industry overall is recovering from the loss of business lawsuits. The industry is also preparing for a potential rebound in the foodservice sector. While many farms are still closed, others are expanding and preparing for the increased demand.
Oyster beds are in the path of oil spills, which could infiltrate the oceans and render shellfish toxic. The opening of inland water diversion gates would also sabotage oyster beds on the Gulf Coast because fresh water will dilute the saltwater needed to sustain the shellfish. The shrinking supply will force many businesses to lay off employees and close their doors. As a result, the oyster industry may be able to recover by filing for financial compensation.
It is facing threats from old sewage infrastructure to climate change
Oyster farmers in the Northeastern seaboard must contend with environmental and economic issues to survive. The half-shell market is insatiable and always growing, but the industry faces a variety of challenges. In New England, oysters are harvested from bottom leases in shallow waters, where climate change and old sewage infrastructure can have detrimental effects. Wild populations began to decline as European settlers moved in. The primitive aquaculture industry was born when harvesters planted oyster larvae on the few remaining reefs.
Until recently, sewage flowed freely into our nation’s waterways, causing massive outbreaks of cholera and typhus. In the Great Hurricane of 1938, tons of sand covered entire oyster harvests. Shellfish parasites wiped out large sections of mid-Atlantic oyster beds. However, new technologies are making the industry safer than ever.
One such innovation is the use of nine-thousand-gallon shipping containers for oyster farming. These tanks resemble above-ground swimming pools but are connected to the harbor with powerful water pumps and PVC hoses. Upon reaching the restoration site, Billion Oyster Project staffers plant oyster larvae in gabions made of oyster shells on Governors Island. The larvae are then transported to a salt-water-filled tank, where they are placed to start the setting process.
It is facing lawsuits over its lack of seed oysters
The lack of seed oysters has resulted in the deaths of an estimated six billion young mollusks in the past year, threatening the entire oyster industry. Though the exact cause of the deaths is not clear, many scientists agree that it has something to do with the lack of suitable substrate in oyster farming areas. Without a suitable substrate, larvae can’t grow to reproductive size. However, Louisiana Wildlife and Fishing is taking steps to provide more substrate to oyster farms, including sinking limestone in areas where oysters could grow.
The state of Connecticut has more than 17,500 acres of natural shellfish beds. Some oystermen get permits to work on public beds while others harvest seed oysters for transplanting to their private grounds. The permitting process ensures that the industry stays alive even in tough years. And while some oystermen are facing lawsuits over a lack of seed oysters, the state is trying to do its part by protecting the industry’s natural habitats.
While the lowered supply of seed oysters is a significant concern for many farmers, veterans of the shellfish industry aren’t likely to issue histrionic statements in support of their businesses. They have already begun to diversify, hoping that a more diverse oyster crop will help the industry survive tough times. And that means diversifying into other sectors. It may not be easy, but diversification will ultimately prove to be a blessing in difficult times.