08 Sep '11, 4pm
Why disappearing oysters is bad news for Chesapeake ecosystem, reports @Barry_Estabrook
In 1701, a visitor to Chesapeake Bay wrote that oysters were so numerous that the reef they made posed a hazard to navigation. By the late 1800s, the bay was yielding 15 million bushels of oysters a year, making it the world’s largest oyster fishery and the most valuable fishery in the United States. Today, Chesapeake’s oysters hover on the brink of extirpation. The authors of a University of Maryland study (PDF ) say that an immediate halt to fishing in Maryland’s waters is the only way to save the oysters there -- and even that might not be enough for some areas. “The magnitude of the decline raises concerns about the potential for continued loss of natural oyster beds throughout much of Maryland waters,” Michael Wilberg, the study’s lead author, told Darryl Fears of The Washington Post . “We recommend a moratorium on fishing until reefs and self-sustaining populations a...