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Loss of oyster reefs a global problem, but one with solutions
Date:2/3/2011

proximately 1% of their peak levels (an annual harvest of 25,000 metric tons in the Virginian "ecoregion" today compared to harvests of 800,000 metric tons per year around 1890.)

They also call for more widespread mapping of reefs, noting that in many places the distribution of oyster habitat was better documented 100 years ago than it is today. They say the availability and relatively low cost of side-scan sonar, LIDAR, and other modern mapping techniques would facilitate this effort.

Funding & Return on Investment

The research team notes that current funding for oyster restoration is directed mainly toward enhancing oyster fisheries (and regaining fishery production following hurricanes), with the "return on investment" measured mostly by near-term harvest values.

A better approach, they say, would be to measure the long-term value of the reef's ecosystem services, which can easily exceed the value of the harvested oysters. "The desired investment outcomes," they write, "should include rebuilding the natural capital of reefs for long-term sustainable harvests and greater resilience to storms."

"We have to recognize oysters for the reef habitat they provide," says Luckenbach. "We need to work with regulators and resource managers to ensure that oyster conservation and restoration efforts are designed not just to sustain a fishery, but to provide a vibrant reef and the ecosystems services if offers."


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Contact: David Malmquist
davem@vims.edu
804-684-7011
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Source:Eurekalert

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