New Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment

Watson, A., J. Reece, B. E. Tirpak, C. K. Edwards, L. Geselbracht, M. Woodrey, M. K. La Peyre, and P. S. Dalyander. 2017. The Gulf Coast Vulnerability Assessment: Mangrove, Tidal Emergent Marsh, Barrier Islands, and Oyster Reef. Forest and Wildlife Research Center, Research Bulletin WFA421, Mississippi State University. 100 pp.PDF

Australian Bivalve-Dominate Habitats

Although bivalve habitats are among the most threatened marine habitats on earth little information is currently available on the ecology of these Australian bivalve habitats.
Although shellfish reefs are among the most threatened marine habitats on earth little information is currently available on the ecology of shellfish reefs. Australian shellfish reefs are no different, with only a few species studied in detail (Saccostrea glomerata and Crassostrea gigas). Most Australian shellfish research focuses on describing life history, feeding, husbandry and disease in cultivated species (Crassostrea gigas, Ostrea angasi and Saccostrea glomerata) in support of shellfish aquaculture.

Shellfish reefs can be created by a single shellfish species (e.g. Saccostrea glomerata), or comprised of several reef-building species (for instance where Ostrea angasi co-occurs with Mytilus galloprovincialis or Pinna bicolor). Although shellfish reefs can vary in appearance depending on the dominant reef-forming species, they share a number of common attributes:
https://research.jcu.edu.au/tropwater/research-programs/coastal-estuarine-ecology/shellfish-reef-protection-and-repair/what-are-shellfish-reefs

NC Oyster Restoration and Protection Plan: A Blueprint for Action 2015-2020

Prepared by: NC Coastal Federation

NC Oyster Plan 16Goals and Action Steps for Oyster Habitat Restoration and Protection (8 pgs.)
Pdf and link

Microplastics and The Environment

Some products that contain plastic microbeads (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Some products that contain plastic microbeads (Scott Olson/Getty Images)


Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015
On December 28, 2015, President Obama signed into law the “Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015,” prohibiting the manufacture and introduction into interstate commerce rinse-off cosmetics containing intentionally-added plastic microbeads.  The new law is aimed at protecting the nation’s waterways and bans the manufacture of plastic microbeads beginning July 2017.  It also bans the sale of cosmetics containing microbeads beginning July 2018, and over-the-counter drugs containing these plastic particles by July 2019.  See the Act (1½ pages only) at link)

Microplastics and Oysters
See Sussarellu, R., et al. 2016.   Oyster reproduction is affected by exposure to polystyrene microplastics.  PNAS preprint
Modified from above: Plastics are a newly emerging contaminant of concern for marine ecosystems.  They can break down into small particles, called “microplastics”, which as fragments can enter coastal and marine ecosystems as fragments from cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes.  Given their ubiquitous nature and small size, the ingestion and associated impacts on marine organisms are a significant cause for concern, especially for filter-feeding organisms such as bivalve molluscs.   This recent paper showed that polystyrenemicroparticles affected oyster energy uptake, allocation, reproduction, and ultimately the performance of the next generation.
Sussarellu et al. Fig 2. PNAS 16
See purchase link

‘Microbeads’ soon will be banned from toothpaste and soaps (from Washington Post)
“Congress and the White House are coming after your toothpaste, facial scrubs and body wash.”
Although relatively little research into the abundance of beads in our waterways, the problem garnered national attention in 2013, after a study found microbeads in the Great Lakes.  A recent 2015 study (Rochman et al. 2015, ES&T, see http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/acs.est.5b03909) estimated that, nationwide, 808 billion beads are washed down drains daily, but with most (up to 99%) probably settling out at local sewage treatment plants.  However, even the relatively scant numbers that get through treatment plants amount to an estimated 8 billion daily reaching waterways.
See link
microbeadssmall
See also http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2015/sep/ban-microbeads-offers-best-chance-protect-oceans-aquatic-species.

NOAA Releases “Guidance for Considering the Use of Living Shorelines”

NOAA man 15NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation releases guidance on the use of Living Shorelines. The document’s aim is to clarify NOAA views on the use of living shorelines as a shoreline stabilization technique along sheltered coasts. Living shorelines can preserve and improve habitats and their ecosystem services at the land-water interface as an alternative to traditional shoreline stabilization techniques like seawalls and bulkheads, which create a barrier between land and water.
It includes:

  • Living shorelines guiding principles.
  • NOAA’s role in providing science, tools, and training to select appropriate techniques;
  • Aid in navigating NOAA’s potential regulatory and programmatic roles for LS project planning; and
  • Questions to consider when planning a shoreline stabilization effort.

PDF here (see link).

Restore America’s Estuaries. 2015. Living shorelines: from barriers to opportunities. Arlington, VA., 54pp.RAE-15-cover

Fostering the Repair of Australia’s Bivalve Habitats & Saltmarshes

Research suggests that the investment in restoring shellfish habitats and saltmarshes would increase fisheries productivity, along with numerous other ecosystem services. An Australia-wide study of key services found that that the estimated an investment of AU$300 million would be paid back just in increased food production in less than five years.
Link and PDF.

TX Parks & Wildlife Dept. Continues Its Record-breaking Oyster Restoration Projects in Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake

Galveston Restoration
HOUSTON – Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has begun distributing more than 79,000 cubic yards of oyster reef building materials (known as clutch) over eight sites on four natural, publicly owned oyster reefs in Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake.

This work is part of ongoing efforts to restore oyster reefs impacted by hurricanes, reduced freshwater inflows, hydrologic alterations, diseases, predators, heavy commercial fishing pressure and other natural and man-made stressors. Starting in April 2014 and continuing until August, cultch materials (river rock and/or crushed limestone) will be spread over 180 acres in Galveston Bay and 25 acres in Sabine Lake.

The Galveston Bay project alone will be the largest oyster restoration work in Texas history, breaking TPWD’s 2011 record of 175 acres. Together these two projects, covering 205 acres, represent the most area restored by any conservation organization in one year in Texas. Clutch plantings will attract oyster larvae that will settle on the reef and grow into adult oysters. That will help re-establish these previously productive oyster reefs.

The majority of the work, which will cost about $4.7 million, is being funded through a grant to TPWD from the Coastal Impact Assessment Program, a federal program that distributes fees from offshore oil and gas leases to states which have leases off their coasts.  Additional project funding was provided by Coastal Conservation Association Texas, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the NFWF Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund.

Prior to this year’s oyster restoration work, TPWD restored 30 acres on Dollar Reef, Galveston Bay, in 2013; 175 acres on six Galveston Bay reefs in 2011; five acres off San Leon, Galveston Bay, in 2009-2010, and 20 acres on Middle Reef in East Bay in 2009.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Bill Rodney, (281) 534-0127,bill.rodney@tpwd.state.tx.us, or Bryan Legare, (281) 534-0103, bryan.legare@tpwd.texas.gov.

Pdfs related to TX Restoration Efforts

Oyster Restoration in Galveston Bay
Oyster Restoration Project in Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake 2014

Let Oysters Get Sick to Clean Up the Chesapeake

The delicious oyster you love to slurp might be the best bet for clearing away pollutants: Smithsonian.com – February 11, 2015

Landscape-level variation in disease susceptibility related to shallow-water hypoxia

DeniseBreitburg, D.L., D. Hondorp, C. Audemard, R.B. Carnegie, R.B. Burrell, M Trice, and V. Clark, 2015
PLoS ONE 10(2):e0116223.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0116223. pdf

New Report “Inventory of Shellfish Restoration Permitting & Programs in the Coastal States (a timely summary of shellfish policies in 21 coastal states)”

MS-AL-SG-Permitting-report-coverMississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program, National Sea Grant Law Center, Troy University, 2014. Inventory of shellfish restoration permitting & programs in the coastal states. Prepared for The Nature Conservancy, under TNC Cost Center Number 1981203049 with additional funding from the NOAA, U.S. Department of Commerce, 189pp.
pdf and link

New Volume on Marine Community Ecology and Conservation

marinecomecol_2
Marine Community Ecology and Conservation, 2014, Mark D. Bertness, John F. Bruno, Brian R. Silliman, John J. Stachowicz, Eds., Sinauer Associates

Two Examples, Chapters 20 & 22. Ch. 20. Threats to marine ecosystems: overfishing and habitat degradation. B. Worm, and H.S. Lenihan, and Ch 22. Marine Restoration Ecology, Sean P. Powers and Katharyn E. Boyer (see TOC and link).

The book is organized into three parts. Part 1- general processes that generate pattern in benthic communities. Part 2- examines the ecology of specific marine benthic community habitats/systems/communities. Part 3- examines conservation and management issues of marine communities, emphasizing  ecosystem services and how impacted marine communities are by humans.

MD Oyster Restoration

Tons of fossilized oyster shells headed to Md.

The first of several shipments containing more than 100,000 tons of fossilized oyster shells was unveiled Friday as part of a public-private partnership to help rebuild habitat in oyster sanctuaries on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The Chesapeake Bay’s Harris Creek Oyster Restoration Tributary Plan targets 377 acres for restoration work. Since 2011, restoration initiated on 188.6 acres of bottom. In 2013, a total of 67.6 acres of reefs were constructed and/or planted with oyster seed from hatchery (spat on shell or SOS) in Harris Creek. The Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP), with funding from NOAA and MD DNR, planted nearly 712 million seed oysters in Harris Creek from the University of Maryland Horn Pt.’s hatchery. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District (USACE) constructed 34 acres of oyster reefs, using a mixture of shell and granite substrate. All 34 acres were then planted with oyster seed.

From the Port of Baltimore an estimated 2,750 tons of fossilized oyster shell in route to Harris Creek in the Chesapeake Bay. The initial barge was the first shipment of material from a FL fossil quarry and additional granite that will be used to construct habitat in several MD oyster sanctuaries. Perhaps 112,500 tons of the fossilized shell and granite shipped in by train will be used to complete the planned reef restoration in Harris Creek and nearby areas in the Little Choptank.

Federal, State and non-governmental partners working together to rebuild Maryland’s native oyster population include: The EPA, NOAA, US ACOE, UMD CES, MDDNR, MD ET, CBF, CSX Corporation, MD Environmental Service, NFWF, and Oyster Recovery Partnership.
Link / PDF / 2013 update
FL fossil shell from Bay J

Harris Creek Project On Maryland’s Eastern Shore: Largest Oyster Restoration Effort On The East Coast

Harris creek new mapAs planned, billions of baby oysters will be placed within the protected sanctuary in Harris Creek, rebuilding more than 370 acres of reef. To date, 110 acres have been planted. This project will also establish a blueprint to expand large scale oyster restoration efforts to other tributaries in the Bay ultimately restoring native oysters in twenty Bay tributaries by 2025. Link / PDF

Large-scale oyster restoration continues in 6 MD tributaries

By Karl Blankenship on October 05, 2015 (excerpted from Bay Journal)
A crane moves substrate to help rebuild part of a reef on VA’s Great Wicomico River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

A crane moves substrate to help rebuild part of a reef on VA’s Great Wicomico River. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

With construction completed at Harris Creek, biologists have proved they can build massive oyster reefs unimaginable a few years ago. Now, the question is: Can they complete nine more in the next decade to meet the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement goal of restoring oyster populations in 10 tributaries by 2025? Large-scale projects are under way in six other tributaries, but many of those are years away from completion and will absorb much of the available resources — from funding to oyster shell — to complete.

For some of those tributaries, the final restoration size has not been established. No decisions have been made about where the final three projects might take place. In general, Maryland projects tend to be further ahead than those in Virginia. The Maryland work started with several large designated sanctuaries, and teams were established for each tributary to develop plans and set restoration goals.

So, while work began in Harris Creek in 2011, major construction started in Virginia only last year. Nonetheless, VA’s progress has been jump-started as two rivers have been identified that had been left largely unharvested for decades — the Lynnhaven and Lafeyette — which are approaching restoration status.

Still, substantial obstacles remain to meeting the 10-tributary goal. Oyster restoration is hugely expensive, with projects often costing tens of millions of dollars. Lessons learned from Harris Creek and other projects so far have provided insights on how to ramp up projects and reduce costs — Harris Creek came in at roughly $6 million less than its original $31 million price tag.

But it’s unclear whether past funding levels will continue in the future. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which spends about $5 million a year on Bay oyster restoration, will meet its spending limit within two years unless Congress authorizes additional money. Funding is especially important for the VA projects. Whereas MD DNR has invested millions in oyster restoration VA support comes from excavated fossil oyster shell donated for restoration projects. While oyster reefs are popular with biologists and environmental groups, the large-scale projects have brought opposition from concerned boaters worried that reefs could affect navigation, and from watermen who were already angered that the sanctuaries used for restoration shut them out of areas that had traditionally been harvested.

Finding suitable — and acceptable — material as reef substrate has been difficult. Watermen have objected to the use of material such as granite that has been used in MD contending it interferes with crabbing and other fishing gear. The supply of oyster shell for reefs is very limited, and its cost is growing as restoration projects face competition from the growing aquaculture industry for the remaining supply. MD DNR even began importing fossil shell from FL to meet demand for oyster shells in Harris Creek and the Little Choptank.

In MD, the DNR is trying new high-tech methods to monitor reefs and prevent poaching. VMRC to revoke fishing licenses for up to 5 years and levy fines of up to $10,000 on poachers.
See http://www.bayjournal.com/article/14395 for more information.

Ocean Acidification

acidification
IGBP, IOC, SCOR, 2013. Ocean acidification summary for policymakers – Third Symposium on the ocean in a high-CO2 World. International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, Stockholm, Sweden, 25pp.

NOAA declares fishery disaster for Apalachicola oysters

image001
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today declared a commercial fishery failure of the oysters in Apalachicola Bay, paving the way for federal assistance to oyster fishers. link

Recent Apalachicola Bay Oyster Situation Report that describes a University of Florida Oyster Recovery Team assessment of conditions in Apalachicola Bay, Florida, prior to and after a historic collapse of the oyster fishery in 2012.   The document reviews possible causes for the fishery collapse, and outlines a plan for future monitoring, research and fishery management.

Executive Summary (pdf) (link)

Full Report (pdf) (link)

The Blue Carbon Initiative

http://thebluecarboninitiative.org/

Mitigating Climate Change Through Coastal Ecosystem Management

image001 (3)
The Blue Carbon Initiative is a global program working to mitigate climate change through the restoration and sustainable use of coastal and marine ecosystems.

Estimate 30% loss of seagrasses globally, 50% loss of tidal marshes globally, and 50% loss of mangroves in the last 50 years.

link
The initiative (link)

Highlighted Articles (library)

link

Coastal Habitats are Crucial for Storm Protection

Arkema, K.K., G. Guannel, G. Verutes, S.A. Wood, A. Guerry, M. Ruckelshaus, P. Kareiva, M. Lacayo, and J. M. Silver, 2013. Coastal habitats shield people and property from sea-level rise and storms. Nature Climate Change 3:913–918 (includes oysters as one of the 7 habitats).

The authors assessed which coastal habitats were most critical to preserve for storm protection, mapping hazards, residential properties, and human populations (particularly the poor and elderly) along the U.S. coast.  Oysters were one of the habitats emphasized (PDFs click for articles and related data)

Summary of Arkema et al. Input Data Sources:

Guerry, et al., 2013.  Coastal Defense and Climate Change:  An overview of NatCap work and a plea for help (see Natural Capital Project Annual Meeting 2013: Coastal Defense and Climate Change)

Arkema et al. 2013 Nature
Natural Capital Project and Others

Coastal Habitats Defend U.S. Communities (see http://www.naturalcapitalproject.org/decisions/arkema_coastdefense.html)

Arkema et al. 2006.Marine ecosystem-based management: from characterization to implementation. Front. Ecol. Environ. (http://bio.research.ucsc.edu/people/carr/labmeetingpapers/winter2007/arkema_etal.pdf)

Arkema and Samhouri, 2012. Linking ecosystem health and services to inform marine ecosystem-based management.  American Fisheries Society Symposium 79:9–25 (see http://www.naturalcapitalproject.org/pubs/arkema2012.pdf)

Palumbi et al., 2009.   Managing for ocean biodiversity to sustain marine ecosystem services. Front. Ecol. Environ, (see http://mcbi.marine-conservation.org/publications/pub_pdfs/Palumbi_etal_Frontiers_2009.pdf)

Delaware Bay Oysters: A Quiet Resurgence

October 9, 2013

– See more at: http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2013/10/09/delaware-bay-oysters-a-quiet-resurgence/#sthash.98hFAmBY.dpuf

Audio from the show: http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2013/10/09/delaware-bay-oysters-a-quiet-resurgence/

And here is a link to our Facebook page with pictures: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152247290952004.1073742012.240373527003&type=1

Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane

No easy answers to restore bay’s oyster population

gazette1

gazette2

No easy answers to restore bay’s oyster population – MD CapitalGazette

Pathogens and Disease Processes in Marine Molluscs

A dedicated issue on Disease Processes in Marine Molluscs in J. Invert. Path. 131:1-256, 2015

JIPLDC

This Special Issue focuses on new knowledge about the pathogens of commercially- and ecologically-important marine molluscs. It contains articles on viruses and bacteria, as well as protists in the Haplosporidia (including Bonamia), Marteiliidae and Perkinsozoa and includes topics that are important to the study of pathogens and disease processes of marine molluscs such as: (1) comparative pathology; (2) immunology; (3) diagnostic methods; (4) genetics, genomics, proteomics, and selective breeding; (5) parasite transmission; (6) ecological impacts of disease and mathematical models; and (7) legislative issues pertaining to molluscan diseases.
(see pdf or link)

Ecology of Infectious Diseases –  Oysters and Estuaries

An upcoming special issue of the Journal of Marine Research contains one overview and 11 research articles that describe the results from a NSF-funded Ecology of Infectious Diseases Program in Delaware Bay. This program focused on host-parasite relationships in eastern oyster populations that are affected by MSX and dermo diseases and how these might be altered by climate change.
The papers in this issue provide historical perspectives of MSX and dermo diseases in oysters, the role of local water properties and circulation patterns in establishing and maintaining zones of refuge from disease in an estuary, mechanisms that may influence the rate at which disease resistance develops, the movement of oyster genotypes conferring disease resistance or susceptibility in the estuary, the role of oyster food supply in regulating disease, and the impact of disease on sustainability of oyster reefs and the implications of this for restoration and management.

A table of contents and links to all of the articles in this Journal of Marine Research special issue are available at http://hsrl.rutgers.edu/research/EID%20paper%20list.htm.

Historical ecology with real numbers: past and present extent and biomass of an imperilled estuarine habitat

Oyster shells outside an oyster shucking house Credit: Gulf of Maine Cod Project, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries; Courtesy of National Archives

A new analyses for US entitled: “Historical ecology with real numbers: past and present extent and biomass of an imperilled estuarine habitat”, in (2012) Proc. R. Soc. B 279:3393-3400.

This paper presents the first quantitative and comprehensive estimate for the declines in wild oyster habitats across the U.S. Using available and sufficiently detailed historical records, the paper documents declines in areal extent and biomass (64% and 88%, respectively) using ca. 1900 baseline. Note that changes in area and biomass are not tightly linked, therefore areal loss may be a poor proxy for habitat decline. Although habitat degradation is a global problem, this study is the first to quantify marine habitat degradation over such a large spatial and temporal scale.

Paper can be accessed at http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/279/1742/3393.full