OP-ED: Oysters Again

By Robert Wemyss ~ In response to your recent article, “Mighty Mollusks Make Comebacks,” published on September 8, 2019:  An artificial oyster-reef five-hundred-square-foot is only about 1/100th of an acre – that’s nice, but what does this cost the taxpayer. Please fact check your sources – sources – the claim that a “little oyster” filters 50 gallon a day is simply false the maximum filtration rate for a 3.5 inch market size oyster is about 7.4 gallons a day and the seed oyster planted filter a fraction of that. Nitrogen is identified as the cause of coastal eutrophication. Nitrogen sequestration in estuaries takes place in sediment through the mineralization process. The effectiveness of this process depends on sediment health and the host of organisms that live in the mud- deposit feeders, bacteria … in this way sediment health determines whether nitrogen will be recycled back to the water (negative outcome may feed algae blooms but also normal when in balance), returned to the air as NO2 (positive outcome) or mineralized (positive outcome sequestered in sediment). Proponents of expanding commercial shellfish aquaculture have been controlling aquaculture science through state Sea-Grants for decades. Big aquaculture advocates for funding of research that consistently falsely claims ecosystem benefits without objectively measuring impacts. Using outrageous filtration and mineralization rates in models of nitrogen removal is not a public service. Do we really want our children to believe planting oysters is saving the bay if it is just not true or do we want them to learn to seek out objective science? Big-aquaculture is desperate to protect damaging practices such as inshore hydraulic shellfish dredging and high-density shellfish planting that are demonstrated to pollute and is seeking exemption from the Clean Water Act. State and federal regulators have not been honest about the lasting damage done to the bottoms of long Island bays – in GSB Bluepoint’s Company and those other leaseholders who dredged the bay into oblivion transporting huge quantities of muddy sediment. Hydraulic shellfish dredging continues Oyster Bay today the same entities behind the small pilot projects have a privatization agenda that involves just this type of propaganda to create broad public support for floating cage-based cultivation on the promise that is the greenest of activities. It’s all about the grant money, private control of public land, and avoiding environmental regulation. Robert Wemyss is the secretary of North Shore Baymen’s Association, as well as secretary of the North Oyster Bay Baymen’s Association, and previously served on the Citizens Advisory Committee for Long Island Sound Study and on New York State Shellfish Advisory Board. The is an op-ed sent by a reader- contributor, and not necessarily the opinions of Fire Island News.