1623 Whitesville Rd.
Toms River, NJ 08755
As we head into the dog days of summer, I imagine that you are all too busy to read this so I will try and keep it brief. The ECSGA continues to grow and, for a young organization, I feel we are finally coming of age. We have many accomplishments to be proud of, but new challenges keep popping up.
The earmarks we garnered for the East Coast Shellfish Research Institute are being put to good use as critical research projects are being initiated in Rhode Island and Long Island Sound. I just got a call from a staffer in DC to let me know that more funds are in the pipeline (unless the earmarks get vetoed.) We just completed our research priorities survey and we are looking for someone to help compile the results so we can focus or limited resources to the problems that count the most. We look forward to sharing those results soon.
Back in April, we held the first Invitational Oyster Tasting event in conjunction with the National Shellfisheries Association’s 100th Anniversary meeting in Providence. Both the meeting and the tasting were well received. Nineteen varieties of oysters were judged by a panel of celebrity chefs and ECSGA member Skip Bennett took home the top honors for his Island Creek Oysters from Duxbury, MA. We are trying to see if we can organize a clam tasting for the NSA meeting in Savanna, GA next spring.
Preparations are underway for our big annual fundraiser – The Milford Oyster Festival – on August 16th. I hope many of you will find time to participate. We need all the help we can get to serve tens of thousands of oysters to the throngs of people that always attend. The shucking contest is still looking for contestants and we still need oyster donations.
On a personal note, I have recently negotiated the sale of my farm. I am still going to be involved in the business as a shellfish dealer and will retain the trademark Moonstone Oysters name, but after 22 years it was time to move on. We are establishing a marketing cooperative to help local growers distribute their product. We have a good reputation and look forward to selling a variety of quality cultured shellfish from a number of growers.
As red tides threatened many northern growing areas again this summer, we tried to be proactive and sent out a flurry of editorial pieces, with the assistance of the PR folks from the National Fisheries Institute, pointing out that the shellfish in the marketplace is safe and that all of the press about the red tide simply shows that our monitoring systems work well to protect the consumers.
I also spent some time with a PR firm who gave me several tips on crisis management and dealing with the press. They pointed out that it is important for members to direct press inquiries to trained professionals (like Ed or me) so we can stay “on message” and make sure that the quotes that the press uses are the ones we want them to. The press is always looking for the inflammatory quote because good news doesn’t sell papers, so you need to be very careful about what you say.
Try and stay cool, Bob Rheault
A Commentary by Mark Luckenbach
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
After decades of largely unsuccessful efforts by state and federal agencies and numerous NGO’s to restore oyster populations and revitalize a wild oyster fishery in the Chesapeake Bay, many are finally coming to the inevitable conclusion that the future of oyster production in the region lies with aquaculture. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some successes with restoring oysters in the Chesapeake, especially in the context of creating reef habitat which provides valuable ecosystem services. And I expect that the future holds more successes as restoration efforts are improved through the use of such tools as increasingly sophisticated larval transport models that aid in proper siting of projects. We will likely find that many of the ecosystem services that we are seeking can be achieved from oyster reefs which are not capable of supporting a fishery. But there is now increasing recognition that aquaculture will be the basis of any production industry.
Perhaps nothing has made this clearer than the deliberations over the potential introduction of the Suminoe oysters (Crassostrea ariakensis). A draft E.I.S. considering such an introduction, nearly four years in the making, is scheduled for release sometime this summer. Though the final recommendations of the E.I.S. remain to be determined, one thing about it is certain. It will not identify the introduction of the Suminoe oyster as a silver bullet for restoring a wild oyster fishery in Chesapeake Bay. That myth should finally be laid to rest. One of the outcomes of years of industry-led aquaculture trials rearing triploid C. ariakensis alongside C. virginica has been the recognition that the native oyster can be cultured to market size, even in the presence of the endemic diseases. To be sure, some in the industry would prefer to include C. ariakensis among the species they culture, and that remains a possibility pending the outcome of the E.I.S. and subsequent permitting process. But most of the oyster industry, in Virginia at least, is now committed to aquaculture. In Maryland, where there is less of a tradition of private oyster cultivation on leased bottom, the head of the watermen’s association recently declared that many in the public oyster fishery are now ready to turn to aquaculture.
This newly emerging oyster aquaculture industry is employing several approaches. There have been recent successes in Virginia using remote setting of spat-on-shell of triploid native oysters from strains selected for disease tolerance. In Maryland, the Oyster Recovery Partnership has demonstrated successful production of oysters from hatchery-produced spat-on-shell planted on the bottom. Demonstrated success with intensive culture, generally in off-bottom cages or floats, has been more widespread in both Virginia and Maryland. With these efforts, the industry is learning that with ongoing selective breeding and good culture practices it is possible to grow oysters to market size in the presence of the diseases. This is, of course, what the literally hundreds, if not thousands, of non-commercial oyster gardeners around the bay have known and been demonstrating for more than a decade.
Within the past two years, Virginia’s
Blue Ribbon Oyster Panel and Maryland’s Oyster Advisory Commission have
each made strong recommendations in support of the further development
of oyster aquaculture. Changes in Maryland’s bottom leasing laws and,
perhaps, a water column leasing law in Virginia are on the
By Kathy Rhodes
On February 6th, Gavin Robertson, Editor of the very slick on-line “Organic Guide” (www.organicguide.com) posted an article titled “Shellfish - a more sustainable option?” He talks about both mollusks and crustaceans. And, although he spends quite a bit of space expressing concerns about shrimp (which he calls “prawns”) farming, he is enthusiastic in his support of oyster and mussel culture. In his discussion of organic standards he writes, “Organic standards for farmed shellfish are slowly coming into effect, and there are predictions that bivalves such as oysters and mussels will be highly successful in terms of their sustainability, cost efficiency and popularity with consumers.” He goes on to say, “Consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental damage and health risks associated with conventional farming practices. They are looking for healthy shellfish raised in controlled environments, unaltered by chemical toxins, genetic modification, or antibiotics.”
The Organic Guide’s home base is Brisbane, Australia. Their target audience is in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland and the US.
If you want to read the blog, it’s here: www.organicguide.com/food-drink/seafood/shellfish-a-more-sustainable-option/
by Kathy Rhodes
According to an Associated Press report in June, Virginia's growing hardshell clam industry produced more than 200 million of the bivalves in 2007 and 90 percent were shipped to out-of-state buyers.
A survey conducted by the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences Sea Grant Extension Program reports that hardshell clam aquaculture growers increased their plantings in 2007 by 77 million clams.
Aquaculture specialist Mike Oesterling says “Virginia has the largest shellfish aquaculture industry on the East Coast, and it continues to grow.”
In Virginia, the growing of hardshell or littleneck clams occurs primarily on the ocean side of the Eastern Shore.
The 34th Annual Milford (Connecticut) Oyster Festival will take place Friday evening, August 15th and all day Saturday, August 16th. This has bcome the ECSGA’s most important fund raising event. Last year we sold 20,000 oysters and introduced hundreds of individuals to the varieties of oysters available along the East Coast.
As I mentioned, this event is the biggest source of funds that ECSGA gets – and needs! Last year we earned about $12,000 doing this, and we hope to top that this year.
Here’s the deal. We need at least 12 growers to step up to the plate and provide between 500 and 2,000 oysters each. We can pay up to $0.30 apiece for them, but the less you charge the more ECSGA makes. Some growers last year donated oysters without charge, others had us pay the freight; eight of the 12 companies that provided oysters charged us the $0.30.
Please let me know ASAP if you can provide oysters and how many. We really appreciate it! Best to reply to firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a smaller event planned for Friday night August 15th for which we also need oysters. And if you can come to Milford for the Festival and help us shuck or talk to a bunch of people about your oysters and how you grow them, we can find an inexpensive hotel room for you for a couple of nights. The Festival draws over 100,000 people and has music (headliner this year is Foghat), food, lots of activities for kids, arts and crafts, etc. See: www.milfordoysterfestival.org/ for more festival info (Click on “Entertainment and Events” then “Food Court” to see our oysters featured.)
And finally, we run an oyster shucking contest as part of the festival events on Saturday and offer prizes of $1,000 - $500 - $250. For legitimate shuckers, who work the food booth, we can pay $300 for travel expenses, and another $150 to shuck on Friday evening, as well.
See you there!
by Bob Rheault
NOAA hosted a National Symposium on Shellfish and the Environment in Warwick, RI, back in June. Organizer, Sandy Shumway, decribed the meeting as a way to address the environmental issues surrounding shellfish aquaculture. Participants included about 60 representatives from the industry, NGOs, researchers, and federal and state regulators, while speakers included international scientific and policy experts who addressed a range of topics focused on the environmental effects of shellfish culture including carrying capacity, habitat, genetics, disease and harvest impacts (among others.)
Information gathered at the symposium will be used to guide public policy and resource management decisions for shellfish culture in the United States. All of the presentations from the meeting can be viewed at the website: aquaculture.noaa.gov/news/shellfishsymposium.html
Source: Gary Jensen
Several new fact sheets from the USDA Northeast Regional Aquaculture Center (NRAC) are posted on their website (www.nrac.umd.edu). Click on “Publications” and then “NRAC Fact Sheets”
Planning for Success in Your Aquaculture Business (Webster et al.) NRAC 101-2008
Freshwater Aquaculture Species for the Northeast (Buttner et al.) NRAC 102-2008
Marine Aquaculture Species for the Northeast (Buttner et al.) NRAC 103-2008
Aquaculture Systems for the Northeast (Flimlin et al.) NRAC 104-2008
Environmental Effects of Shellfish Aquaculture in the Northeast (Rice) NRAC 105-2008
Fish Health Inspections (Bowser) NRAC 106-2008
Aquaculture Risk Management (McIntosh) NRAC 107-2008
The Aquaculture Situation and Outlook Reports for each of the twelve states within the northeast region (NRAC 101 to 112-2007) are also available on that website. Click on “Publications” and then “2007 State S&O Reports”. Extension and outreach personnel from throughout the northeast developed these publications and will update them on a regular basis. These reports summarize industry trends and prospects along with emerging issues and critical needs affecting industry sustainability. Other sections include a list of commercial species, research, extension, education and state agency descriptions and contact information and relevant online resources.
The Northeastern Regional Aquaculture Center (NRAC), headquartered at University of Maryland College Park, is one of five Regional Aquaculture Centers established by the U. S. Congress for the United States. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and representing twelve states and the District of Columbia, NRAC develops and sponsors cooperative regional research and extension projects in support of the aquaculture industry in the Northeastern United States.
by Kathy Rhodes and Gef Flimlin
Two new legislative actions in New Jersey might be of interest to shellfish growers. The first would establish aquaculture development zones (ADZs) in the lower Delaware Bay and the second gets rid of several licenses by making them into one.
The New Jersey State Senate passed legislation that would remove the current prohibition against aquaculture leasing in the lower Delaware Bay. The move clears the way for aquaculturists to begin experimenting with different ways of culturing shellfish farther south in the Bay. The Division of Fish and Wildlife has obtained state and federal permits for four different ADZs in the Bay. The Bureau of Shellfisheries submitted the information for the permits with assistance by Dr. John Kraeuter who compiled numerous examples of shellfish culture gear that could be used in the ADZs. Prospective culturists would sublease from the state, which holds blanket permits for the sites.
State Senator Steve Sweeney and Assemblyman Doug Fisher sponsored this legislation, which requires the governor's signature to become law. Essentially, the State of New Jersey is at least two levels of technology behind the rest of the world with respect to oyster culture by growers, primarily because, if an activity is not expressly allowed by NJ law, it is considered illegal. There has therefore, been absolutely no innovation if the arena of oyster culture for the half-shell market.
“This legislation removes outdated provisions in the laws that have been irrelevant to the state Department of Environmental Protection's shellfish management programs for years,” Senator Sweeney said. Although this legislation may have some impact, there are many who feel that the NJDEP is not truly supportive of shellfish culture since they approach the entire process in terms of regulation and not promotion. As an example, growers on the Atlantic Coast side of NJ are presently trying to plant shell on leases for bottom oyster culture. Although the US Army Corps of Engineers seems to be covering the activity, divisions within NJDEP would still require the applicants to get permits to lay down shell. Unlike other states who have instituted a blanket permit for these kinds of activities, NJ has not, leading to more confusion and consternation.
This legislation also slightly changes the makeup of the Shellfisheries Council, an advisory board to the DEP, providing three members from Cumberland County and one each from Salem and Cape May counties.
A change to the NJ shellfish statutes (Title 50) went into effect on June 17. A clamming license is now called a Shellfish License and is required for the harvesting of all species of benthic mollusks (except conchs, which are covered by commercial marine fisheries regulations) and a new non-resident Commercial Shellfish License has been established. Shellfish Licenses can be obtained on-line at: www.wildlifelicense.com/nj/. Those who have already purchased a Clamming License for this year will not need to purchase the new Shellfish License (until next year.)
By Kathy Rhodes
Researchers in Spain have patented an innovative method to remove organic pollutants, such as pesticide residues, from bivalve molluscs. The new technique greatly increases the rate of removal of organic compounds with respect to other methods currently available.
To date, decontamination of bivalves has consisted of depurating them in filtered water trated with UV or ozone or by applying hydrostatic pressure at high temperatures for forty-eight hours. However, complete removal of pesticides from the tissues of the bivalve molluscs takes several days, so the conventional treatment may not be sufficient. One of the authors of the study, Roque Serrano said, “The method that we have developed allows us to improve this process and means that pesticides can be removed from the tissues of molluscs twice or even four times as quickly, depending on the type of pollutant.”
The method, tested in mussels, consists of using N-acetylcysteine to stimulate the intracellular synthesis of glutathione, triggering glutathione S-transferase and glutathione reductase activity. Glutathione, an antioxidant, protects cells from toxins such as xenobiotics and free radicals. The importance of the work carried out by the Universitat Jaume I and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas researchers lies in the fact that it proves that administration of N-acetylcysteine enhances glutathione activity in molluscs and, therefore, has significant potential as a technique for removing pollutants from mussels.
The researchers responsible for the invention of the method are Roque Serrano Gallego, from the University Institute of Pesticides and Waters at Universitat Jaume I, and Samuel Peña-Llopis and Juan B. Pena Forner, from the Department of Biology, Culture and Pathology of Marine Species at the Spanish Research Council’s Torre de la Sal Aquaculture Institute.
based on an article by Dan Lorenz of seacoastonline.com
Hear ye hear ye, many of the classic recipes from the nation's oldest restaurant have been published! Jean Kerr, a resident of Kittery Point, Maine, is the author of the “Union Oyster House Cookbook,” a recipe collection based on fare from one of the most historical sites in the city of Boston.
As a seafood fanatic for as long as she can remember, writing a cookbook about one of the most famous oyster houses in the country was a natural fit.
Whether you prefer your oysters stewed, fried, roasted, or on the half-shell, Kerr's cookbook has you covered. For crustacean fans, consider the lobster ravioli, the soft-shell crabs, or the lobster a la Newburg. The cookbook also includes classics such as cornbread, rice pilaf, and Boston cream pie. Kerr recommends the Boston baked beans, which she says is one of the best side-dishes at the restaurant.
Built in 1716, the oyster house building has been designated the oldest brick building in Boston. The restaurant first began serving oysters as “Atwood's Oyster House,” in 1826 and has had many political connections since. According to legend, Daniel Webster would put away three dozen oysters in one sitting, washed down with tumblers of water and brandy. Today, a plaque on booth 18 designates the seat as “the favorite booth of John F. Kennedy when he dined at the Union Oyster House.” More recently, celebrities from Pavarotti to Tiger Woods have visited the landmark.
Working closely with the Milano family, who are only the fourth to own the restaurant since its opening, Kerr was able to uncover historical paintings, photos, and documents, many of which she includes in her cookbook. One of her particularly interesting finds is a menu from 1846, when fried scallops would set you back 35 cents and a half-dozen littleneck clams cost 15 cents.
Union Oyster House's executive chef, Bill Coyne, helped modify the restaurant's jumbo-sized recipes down to more manageable portions. As the restaurant goes through a staggering 750,000 oysters and 60,000 pounds of lobster per year, this was a more-than-necessary step.
Kerr is no stranger to writing cookbooks, her first collection of recipes, "Mystic Seafood," gathered together salty recipes and saltier tales from Connecticut's Mystic Seaport.
34th Annual Milford Oyster Festival, August 15-16, 2008 in Milford, CT
Cultured Aquatic Animals: Use and Implications for Stock Enhancement, Fisheries Management, and Species Diversity 138th meeting of the American Fisheries Society, August 17-21, 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario.
Physiomar 08 “Physiological aspects of reproduction, nutrition and growth, Marine molluscs in a changing environment,” September 1-4, 2008 in Brest, France.
4th National Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration, October 11-15, 2008 in Providence, Rhode Island.
International Conference on Shellfish Restoration (ICSR), November 19-22, 2008 in Charleston, South Carolina.
Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Exposition (NACE), December 3-5, 2008 in Portland, Maine.
Aquaculture CanadaOM 2009, May 24-27, 2009 in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
Links to more information are available on the Upcoming Events page of the ECSGA website. www.ECSAG.org
By Ed Rhodes
At the end of May, Ed Rhodes attended a two-day workshop in Washington as part of a UN-FAO process to develop guidelines for the certification of aquaculture operations. This workshop was the sixth in a series of meetings through which FAO is seeking stakeholder input toward the development of international guidelines for aquaculture certification.
This particular workshop focused on getting comments from the seafood marketing side, so the attendance included a lot of representation from leading US seafood companies, supermarkets and restaurant chains. Companies participating included Darden (Red Lobster, Olive Garden, etc.), Sysco, WholeFoods, Harris Teeter, Sodexho, Gorton’s and many others. Four of the previous workshops were held in Asia and Latin America and focused on the production side, and another workshop in London also sought to engage European seafood retailers and processors.
The draft aquaculture certification guidelines will be presented by FAO to its member governments for discussion and consideration at the upcoming Fourth Session of the COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture that will convene in Chile in October. The draft guidelines can be found on the FAO website: www.fao.org/fishery/about/cofi/aquaculture
The certification guidelines include some significant details of what should be included in an evaluation of an aquaculture operation seeking certification. But they do not contain actual standards. The goal is to provide a framework for a certifying entity to consider when developing a certification scheme. Then, hopefully, the FAO will evaluate the certification scheme and if found to be consistent with the guidelines, give it its blessing.
Of particular interest in this workshop was the emphasis by the participating companies to ensure that the guidelines recognized the costs of doing business and that the protection of capital be considered. There was some reluctance too, on the part of companies at the workshop, to embrace the concept of preferential or deferential treatment for small-scale, poor, rural farmers. It was suggested that certifying schemes be encouraged to consider how to include these producers, but not to demand that every certifier do so.
We will continue to track this FAO process and have another report at the end of the year after the meeting in Chile.
By John Ewart
Dr. Harlan Halvorson, an internationally respected research scientist, Director Emeritus of the Marine Biological Laboratory (1987 -1992) and ardent supporter of aquaculture in Massachusetts and of the US aquaculture industry passed away at his home in Woods Hole, Massachusetts on June 17, 2008. Dr. Halvorson experienced a long and distinguished career as a scientist and scholar in numerous fields including chemistry, microbiology, microbial ecology, biochemistry, marine biotechnology and marine aquaculture policy development.
He served as the Director of the Policy Center for Marine Bio-sciences and Technology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Dr. Halvorson was instrumental in the establishment of the Center in 1992 to facilitate collaboration among researchers, government officials and policymakers to address a broad range of problems, issues and opportunities in the marine biosciences and in particular the development of aquaculture and marine biotechnologies.
Dr. Halvorson’s leadership and involvement with the Center’s Sea Scallop Working Group, created in 1994 to explore in more depth the policies necessary to promote scallop aquaculture in Massachusetts, led to issuance of the first permit for aquaculture in federal waters. More recently, Dr. Halvorson was actively involved in a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary research effort coordinated by the Center for the Study of Marine Policy, University of Delaware to develop a policy framework for offshore aquaculture in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Harlan Halvorson firmly believed that the public is best served when policy decisions are based on sound, scientific information and a broad consensus. He was an advocate for the importance and economic contribution of aquaculture to coastal communities and he dedicated his efforts and influence to foster communication and consensus on the issues among environmentalists, scientists, coastal industries, public groups and local, state and federal officials. His important contributions to this ongoing process and his support for the shellfish aquaculture industry will be sorely missed.
The city-owned McNasby Oyster Packing Co. building, which houses the Annapolis Maritime Museum, will undergo a $1 million renovation this summer, according to museum officials. The museum plans to use government funding and private and corporate donations to transform the oyster-packing plant, damaged in Hurricane Isabel in 2003, into the interactive Bay Experience Center. The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company began the work in May and plan to finish in October.
The finished building is scheduled to house an “Oysters on the Half Shell” exhibit on the area’s past oyster industry, public programs, temporary displays and a curator's workshop.
During renovations, the museum site's Barge House will host the museum's educational programs, lighthouse tours, concerts and seminars. For information on the renovation or museum activities, see:
by Bob Rheault
I have to wonder what the next big crisis will be. It would be nice if we could just work on the farm, but it seems that every year we are faced with issues that threaten our livelihoods. As if weather, predators, disease and theft were not enough to worry about!
The ECSGA is covering your back, but we need more resources to do the job right. Our membership has expanded every year as more growers hear about us and recognize the value of the work we have been doing. But we need to do better.
We need every member to recruit one new member this year. If you know of a grower or a dealer who is not a member yet, ask him why he is not investing in the future of his business.