It was with great excitement that we planned the combined meetings of Northeast Aquaculture Conference and Exposition (NACE) and the International Conference on Shellfish Restoration (ICSR) with the 33rd Milford Aquaculture Seminar (MAS). Bringing these different but complementary audiences together resulted in a meeting that combined many different aspects of fisheries restoration and aquaculture under one umbrella.
Four hundred attendees including government representatives, research scientists, industry, and academia at both the university and vocational high school levels attended this event. The meeting commenced on Wednesday December 12th 2012, with over eighty people attending seven field trips to area aquaculture farms and research facilities. The formal program began on Thursday, December 13th with a plenary session including invited speakers Eric Schwabb, Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management at NOAA; Sebastian Belle, Executive Director of the Maine Aquaculture Association and Boze Hancock from the Nature Conservancy, who discussed the role of aquaculture in fisheries restoration. John Bullard, the Northeast Regional Administrator of NOAA Fisheries Service, addressed the group during the luncheon the following day. The technical papers and workshops presented were divided into 35 sessions over three days of the meeting and included topics such as the history of aquaculture, aquaculture hatchery innovations, siting and planning issues, risk management, aquaculture business management, ocean acidification, climate change, as well as aquaculture disease issues and potential remedies. Having persons present who have experienced problems and successes, along with those in manufacturing and government responsible for addressing concerns and sharing best practices, was invaluable. Discussions among this cross-section of persons who represent different aspects of aquaculture were as important as the well-presented and interesting formal papers and poster sessions. These discussions were facilitated by the many opportunities presented during the large trade show, reception, breaks, lunches, banquet and lobster bake held throughout the meeting.
The importance of and need for aquaculture were made evident by all who were in attendance. We are grateful to the twenty four meeting sponsors and to all those who participated and made this such an important and memorable meeting.
While oyster restoration efforts have been under way in the Chesapeake Bay for more than two decades, until recently, varying reporting methods and success criteria made it difficult to determine how much progress had been made. A goal to “Restore native oyster habitat and populations in 20 out of 35 to 40 candidate tributaries by 2025” was set in the 2010 strategy to implement the Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order (signed by President Obama in 2009). This goal made it a priority for state and federal fishery managers, academics, and scientists working on oyster restoration to collaboratively define a “restored tributary” and a “restored reef” to enable them to track progress. A team of these people, led by NOAA staff, agreed on “oyster metrics” in 2011 ( http://preview.tinyurl.com/8kmbdpm) that specify key metrics and target ranges for them, including tributary size, how to determine how much restorable bottom a tributary contains, how much of that restorable bottom needs to be restored, and the minimum oyster density and biomass in that restored bottom to count a tributary as restored. These new metrics enable experts to clearly see how oyster restoration efforts are working and use adaptive management to improve these efforts. These metrics serve as a tool to plan and evaluate oyster restoration consistently across the Chesapeake Bay, and the c