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Drought in '06, '07 may mean fewer '08 oysters; And higher prices

By DEBORAH GATES Special from The (Salisbury) Daily Times

Published: Monday, November 3, 2008 5:05 AM CST

PRINCESS ANNE Drought-like conditions one and two years ago could nudge up the price of oysters this year, said industry observers applying the elementary reasoning of supply and demand.

"The 2008 harvest looks like we're on a downturn," Olivia Campbell, a spokesman at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said Friday. "Drought increases salinity in water, and that causes diseases and the impact of diseases affects oyster mortality."

Below-normal rainfall increases salt levels and salinity that trigger typical diseases as MSX and DERMO that in turn threaten the health of oysters coming of age a growth cycle of about two or three years, Campbell said. An increase in rainfall between 2003 and 2004 reduced salt levels and the mortality rate for oysters in the Chesapeake Bay during the 2005 season. "It takes time for oysters to reach market size, and oysters had a better chance to be harvested in 2005 because they reached the three-inch catch size," she said. "Increased rainfall lowers disease. If there is lower salinity, it decreases the impact and more oysters make it to market."

Rainfall was lower in 2006 and 2007, meaning that oysters harvested this year had less chance to survive to maturity. "We are feeling the impact now," Campbell said.

Harold Whitelock, an on-and-off-again Dames Quarter waterman, said the lower Chesapeake Bay has been filled with watermen from other regions tonging oysters since early October. Most are concentrated in the Tangier Sound off Deal Island's Wenona and Crisfield with hopes for better luck. "There has got to be 100 boats coming from all over the Chesapeake into the Tangier Sound; when a hundred-some boats are working here every day, there must be no oysters in other parts," Whitelock said. "It ain't been 30 years since I've seen that many boats in here."

Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Watermen's Association, is cautiously optimistic. "There is not an overabundance of oysters, but it's too soon to tell," Simns said Friday. "We have not seen any disease yet. Sometimes we lose, sometimes we don't."

An expected average of $32 per wholesale bushel is a modest $2 increase over last year, he also said. "The price to boat is a little higher than last year, and that means consumers will have to pay a little more," he said.
 

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I read this article this morning in the local paper. Absolutely amazing that MD DNR will admit we could be in for trouble, but guess what, no reductions in harvest. Crazy, and the fact we are at 1% of historic levels.....holy smokes. One if the best examples of stakeholder management, that will lead to oysters totally being wiped out, I have ever witnessed.
 

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I read this article this morning in the local paper. Absolutely amazing that MD DNR will admit we could be in for trouble, but guess what, no reductions in harvest. Crazy, and the fact we are at 1% of historic levels.....holy smokes. One if the best examples of stakeholder management, that will lead to oysters totally being wiped out, I have ever witnessed.
I agree.

Why, oh why are we still harvesting them?
It's almost as if MD DNR is trying to wipe them out. :confused:
 

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In other breaking news, oysters are about at 1% of historic levels, which may push up prices for those who still purchase and eat creatures whose job it is to filter and store all of the bad stuff from the Chessie.
 

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We ought to import the Chinese oysters to revive this fishery and clean the bay at the same time
Is there a good reason why this cant happen?
 

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http://www.cbf.org/site/DocServer/1015_CBF_EIS_Position__3_.pdf?docID=13243

I'm nowhere near knowledgeable enough to know whether Asian oysters are worth the risk, but try the above link for one point of view.

One fact is clear: we have not yet taken significant steps to restore oysters Bay-wide, but where serious native reef restoration efforts have occurred, in waters of both low and high salinity, the native oysters have thrived when left unmolested by harvest.
 

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We ought to import the Chinese oysters to revive this fishery and clean the bay at the same time
Is there a good reason why this cant happen?
Because the State hasn't spent enough time and money studying the issue yet.....last I know they are only up to around 15 million and going on 10 years.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK !!!!!
 

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Will the waterman who catches the last Oyster please turn off the light :eek2:.

Sad to see it getting so bleak.
 

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Well golly that is very surprising! Too many jobs associated with studying the oysters to issue a finding, eliminate the harvest, and allow them to come back. Back to your normally scheduled program, 'as the stomach turns'.
 

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I see those oyster boats off Sandy Point, and all I can do is shake my head. You would think there would be some kind of oyster farming that the state could get the watermen involved with. It could get oysters back in the bay, and maybe get some $ in the pockets of watermen. I'm sure its not just that easy, but something needs to be done.
 

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There are some commercial oyster growers in Md who are making a PROFIT with no government hand out :thumbup:.People pay MORE for them then the ones tonged/dredged from the bay bottom.

The oysters grow very fast to market size and taste GREAT (first hand).
Each year more oysters are being grown this way.Makes alot more sense then tearing up the few live oyster bars we have left in the bay.

Give the oysters a break from harvest and nature will beat the diseases :yes:.
 

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Too bad we can't get the Zebra Mussel to grow in the Bay. High filtration capacity and ZERO commercial value.....with the key point being zero commercial value. So long as people can make a dollar off of it, people will exploit it.
 

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Will the waterman who catches the last Oyster please turn off the light :eek2:.

Sad to see it getting so bleak.
--How many Oyster harvesting Licences were sold this August , kinda like a Moratorium for the raw bar -
 

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Well golly that is very surprising! Too many jobs associated with studying the oysters to issue a finding, eliminate the harvest, and allow them to come back. Back to your normally scheduled program, 'as the stomach turns'.
The studies at this point are like a magic sponge it soaks everything up but when you squeeze it nothing comes out.
 
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