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1 September 2015 Success in Rapidly Restoring Two Failing Oyster Industries: A Personal Account
Clyde L. MacKenzie
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Practical and aggressive programs were developed and implemented that enhanced the productivity of two oyster industries, whose landings had been declining for many years. One industry was in Connecticut-New York, Long Island Sound, and the other was on Prince Edward Island (PEI), eastern Canada. Both industries were far smaller than they had been and were in a state of degradation. The programs featured identification of factors that limited oyster abundances on the beds, and then taking immediate steps to reduce their effects. They also featured using information and ideas from the oyster managers in Connecticut, and oystermen and public fisheries officials on PEI. The programs included observing the beds and oysters using scuba. The Connecticut beds received too few shells to collect seed oysters, and mortalities of seed were high. The oyster beds on PEI had been scarcely cultivated. The restoration program in Connecticut lasted for 5 y, 1966 to 1970, and on PEI was for 1 y, 1972 to 1973, but it continued afterward. The Connecticut oysters increased in abundance when oystermen effectively spread more shells to collect seed and reduced mortalities of the seed by controlling starfish Asterias forbesi (Desor, 1848), oyster drills Usosalpinx cinerea (Say, 1822), and Eupleura caudata (Say, 1822), and ‘‘winter-kill.'' The Connecticut-New York landings rose from 62,000 bushels in 1965 to 348,000 bushels in 1975, an increase of 5.6-fold. On PEI, surveys found large quantities of oysters in nonharvested locations and also large deposits of fossil oyster shells. The island's first oyster-dredging boat was constructed to transplant oysters and shells to previously barren bottoms for oystermen to harvest. During the summer of 1973, a total of 53,000 bushels of oysters and shells were transplanted. Prince Edward Island oyster landings increased from 17,000 bushels in 1972 to 97,000 bushels in 2005, a 5.7- fold increase. Individual PEI oystermen did not increase their harvests substantially, but employment in the industry increased from about 200 to 500–700 men over that time. The two programs showed that oyster abundances and their landings can be raised rapidly in oyster industries under both private and public control by following their approaches that feature solving immediate production problems and using a holistic management approach.

Clyde L. MacKenzie "Success in Rapidly Restoring Two Failing Oyster Industries: A Personal Account," Journal of Shellfish Research 34(3), 867-878, (1 September 2015).
Published: 1 September 2015

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