Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Scientist Drops Petition to Have Eastern Oyster Added to Endangered Species List

One of the news items that came in over the weekend was a report that the scientist from Maryland who had wanted the eastern oyster declared endangered or threatened has withdrawn his petition. Wolf-Dieter Busch said his proposal drew more opposition than he had expected, and that his case was damaged by inaccurate portrayals in the press. Here's the story, as reported by a paper in Annapolis.

Plenty of people are happy that he's backed off but I'm not necessarily one of them. In this post (which includes excerpts from his petition) I explain what Busch wanted and why. A lot of his arguments still make sense to me, particularly his concern that an Asian relative of the eastern oyster might be introduced into Chesapeake Bay. And if you read the excerpts, you'll see that his analysis of the larger ecological problem facing the eastern oyster is on the mark.

Busch did win a consolation prize though:

... the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agreed to finish the studies they started after Mr. Busch's petition. Part of the research focuses on whether there are different subspecies of the eastern oyster in different areas.

If that can be proved true, any future endangered species applications could focus on only the bay's eastern oysters, as opposed to the Gulf Coast or Long Island eastern oyster.

That might keep the oystermen around here happy while still protecting oysters in Chesapeake Bay.


Blogger John said...

Among the various indicators for the health of the Chesapeake analyzed by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the eastern oyster had the lowest rating. I think they gave it a 3 out of 100.

2:03 PM  

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