The Oyster Forum, at Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Philip Merrill Center

Well, first things first. The Philip Merrill Center, a LEED certified green building, is pretty super fantastic.  I once watched a video online about it, but yesterday, I got to go inside for my first time – pretty cool. Everything about it is green. Minimal impact. Design wise, very modern, big open, industrial feel. New, green materials on every surface.

And the composting toilets – like at our neighbor’s home here in Mayberry, are wild. Open the lid and you hear the sound of a thousand winds blowing, with cold air swooshing all around. I think of my neighbor’s small children, growing up with such a thing. For those kids, composting toilets are just everyday, commonplace. I was surprised to read that these (collectively, all the composting toilets in this building) create eight wheelbarrows of compost at the end of their 2 year composting cycle. Wow, I would have guessed there would be more waste than eight wheelbarrows of compost in one whole year.

Here’s the view, looking out across the Chesapeake Bay (the building is in south Annapolis). We watched a group of people and dogs playing on the beach, and saw a dozen cargo ships, queued up for loading in Baltimore Harbor. The Mar Reina carries a flag from Panama.

CBF did a great job of putting on a day long forum about oysters, including talks by scientists, and lots of government reps, from the Assistant Director of the DNR Fisheries Service, to the MD Dept of Agriculture, NOAA, etc. Lots of talk about how government cooperates with each other. More interesting, (to me) – a couple of real-life aquaculture businesses with their stories, and a taste of Chessie Seafood’s (VA) oysters – which were a big hit.

Most interesting of all, was the results from the Fall Oyster Survey, which has been done annually since 1939, surveying 260 oyster bars in the Bay, with a focus on 53 key bars. Main findings – “best” spat set since 1986 – looking at overall distribution, not just raw numbers. Diseases are down, with Dermo below average for the 8th consecutive year. Total mortality down with the highest rate of survivorship since 1985. Young oysters are showing significant disease resistance. There was some data addressing the popular claim that “working” the beds with power dredges is a management tool and good for oysters  – data suggests that this claim is not true. Spat sets in beds that were “worked” were no higher than in beds that were untouched. There was an interesting underwater video of depleted oyster beds in the Patuxent River, and then video of a healthy oyster bed, giving a useful perspective of the function of oyster reefs. Dr. Ken Paynter of the University of Maryland made a strong case for focusing on growing reefs, not just oysters – showing that the life cycle of many species depends on healthy and productive reefs – with the structure of the reef itself as important as the filtering capacity of oysters. Mike Naylor of the DNR talked about the 2011 focus for restoration being on Harris Creek (right here) and Cox Creek on the north side of Eastern Bay – as both of these have the best oyster bars (spat set rates and survival rates). He  indicated that the Department’s new technologies include electronic fences around sanctuaries as well as cameras placed around the Bay that can track boats. It was an informative, useful day – I’m glad I went. There were maybe 60 people there – a lot of the folks involved with oysters and aquaculture for the past 30 years (government, Universities), and some teachers, community volunteers and young scientist types.

Thank you, CBF.

~ by kbosin on February 20, 2011.

One Response to “The Oyster Forum, at Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Philip Merrill Center”

  1. You’re perilously close to being labeled an oyster wonk!

    Yes, it was an interesting mtg… kudos to Megan and CBF.

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