Oysters may harm bay's species

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
27 November 2006, at 12:00am

US - Researchers have concluded that Asian oysters are susceptible to a parasite that could wipe them out if they were ever planted in the Chesapeake Bay, raising new concerns about a proposal to use the foreign species to revive the region's struggling seafood industry.

The research found that Asian oysters experienced "almost total mortality" when exposed to the parasite Bonamia from the earliest stages of life, said Ryan Carnegie, a scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, where the study is being done.

Upon taking office four years ago, the Ehrlich administration said it planned to introduce Asian oysters into the bay to help filter the increasingly polluted water and to give struggling watermen a crop to harvest. Diseases and overharvesting have all but destroyed the native oyster populations in the bay.

But researchers and officials in neighboring states criticized the plan, saying Maryland was moving too fast on an endeavor that could jeopardize the health of the ecosystem. Environmentalists were alarmed when Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. wrote a letter to the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asking him to have government scientists stop calling for additional research. But the state eventually agreed to postpone action while waiting for the results of more studies.

Source: Baltimore Sun