National Fisherman


In 1608, John Smith started mapping the Chesapeake Bay. However, it was very different from today's bay; the water was cleaner, the diversity of animals astounding and the landscape dominated by forests and marshes. Huge oyster reefs were plentiful throughout the bay and made navigation for Captain Smith difficult, leading to him remark that the oysters "lay as thick as stones."

Flash forward nearly 400 years and the story is completely different. Oyster populations have been decimated. Overharvesting, diseases and poor water quality have led to a sharp decline in oyster populations. However, there are many dedicated people and organizations encouraging the resurgence of the oyster.

In oyster hatcheries like Horn Point Lab, the future of our oyster population is being born and raised. Mature oysters will release sperm and eggs in a tank. The eggs become fertilized and are then moved to another tank, where they will grow into veligers. The veliger phases are the only phases in an oyster's life cycle where it is at least partially ­mobile.

The oyster will go through several veliger phases before eventually turning into a pediveliger, which has a muscular foot, similar to a clam, which allows it to crawl. At this point, the pediveliger will be placed into a different tank where weathered oyster shells have been placed. The pediveliger will eventually settle onto these old shells and mature into spat on shell.

Once the spat establishes itself, it will no longer be mobile and will start to mature into an adult oyster. The entire process, going from free-floating sperm and egg to settling down and turning into spat on shell, takes anywhere from two to three weeks. Once the spat is established, it can take one to three years for it to turn into a mature oyster capable of reproduction. Mature oysters can live for decades in the right conditions, and during this time they can even switch genders if needed for ­reproduction.

Read the full story at the Ocean Pines Independent>>

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

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Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

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