Sunday, June 2, 2019

Coming to America

Are Mississippi's oyster farms facing a new threat?  Mike and Isabel Osinki are an oyster-farming couple in New York who recently sounded the alarm on the pages of the Wall Street Journal editorial page:


European oysters have herpes. It isn’t the virus that infects humans, but OsHV-1 kills up to 90% of juvenile oysters, making it a serious threat to the shellfish industry and ecosystems. Next month, ships full of live European Union oysters will arrive on American shores for the first time in a decade. All will be carrying the virus.

America banned imports of EU shellfish in 2008 because of concerns over norovirus, which can make people sick for short periods. In November the U.S. eased the ban, allowing Massachusetts and Washington state to trade with Spain and the Netherlands.

Our family runs an oyster farm on Long Island. In March we visited several European farms and were alarmed by what we heard and saw. The virus appeared in France in 2008 and has since spread throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand and China. The East Coast of the U.S. has remained free from the virus, but a milder strain has been a recurrent problem on the West Coast for 20 years. (KF Note: Google the farm)

The infected EU oysters are headed for American restaurants, but we see some possible vectors of transmission into our waters. Popular shell recycling programs gather used shells from restaurants and set them with oyster larvae, or spat, and place them in bays to build living reefs. Diners at restaurants built over the water sometimes toss shells overboard, another potential source of infection. I can see four such restaurants from our work dock here. National Geographic reported an English oyster farmer lost 80% of his crop to the OsHV-1 virus after using a piece of French equipment that had been out of the water for several years.

Scientists have detected susceptibility to the virus in Crassostrea Virginica, the oysters we grown on the East Coast. Out west they grow the same species as the Europeans: Crassostrea gigas. Introducing the virulent herpes strain from Europe into West Coast oyster beds would be catastrophic.

We are asking for common sense. No pig, cow or chicken—not to mention a tulip bulb—would be allowed into this country if it were carrying a virus as dangerous as OsHV-1. When we called the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, an aquaculture specialist told us to start a petition. After talking to her boss and industry lobbyists, she informed us that the USDA doesn’t consider oysters animals.... Rest of article.


Will our "Ag Senator" take an interest in this subject? 


15 comments:

Anonymous said...

When have we been able to buy Mississippi oysters in grocery stores? Years ago they stocked Gollott's from out gulf coast. They disappeared after Katrina and for awhile all we got were those the size of your hand from Washington State.

Mississippi raised or 'caught' frog legs is another story. Those are not legally sold in stores. We have to buy crap frog legs from foreign countries, same with talapia. We suffer at the hands of our federal ag people.

Anonymous said...

If the virus kills 90% how do they have enough left to sell to us? Seems the cost would be prohibitive!

Anonymous said...

I thought the administration wanted products to be "Made in America". Seems like oysters should be made here as well.

Anonymous said...

Sounds sort of fishy to me....

Anonymous said...

Our leaders are too consumed with demonizing people coming here to work. Meanwhile measles and poisonous oysters will do us in.

Anonymous said...

The world is my oyster.

Anonymous said...

I thought all regulations were bad?

RED said...

There may not be any oysters in the Gulf if the powers that be keep forcing flood waters into the Mississippi River and the Gulf changing the salinity. Thousands of miles of natural rivers that feed the Mississippi River have been channelized and the natural wetlands that absorb the heavy rain fall have been destroyed. To make masters worse the Corps of Engineers beside turning rivers into ditches have built levees and flood structures and PUMPS that increase the water being sent down stream .I’m sure no one down stream wants someone else’s flood water to come on them faster especially the commercial and recreation fishermen that depend on the health of the Gulf of Mexico.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, 8:35, but the safety of downstream states' residents and the preservation of crop lands takes precedence over your oysters and redfish. You'll just have to settle for drum and frog legs.

Please specify which 'wetlands have been destroyed'.

Anonymous said...

A kid kills his cat on Facebook and gets jail time (rightfully so). The Corps Of Engineers politically decides not to open the Morganza Spillway yet intentionally opens Bonnet Carre in a prolonged unprecedented manner that is destroying the Mississippi Sound. Hundreds of dead turtles and dolphins are washing up as a result. Dead oyster reefs everywhere. Who really belongs in jail?

Burke said...

I think the Morganza is about to open.

There's a good article in a recent "New Yorker" by Elizabeth Kolbert on the issue of land loss in Louisiana. Plaquemines Parish is almost gone, let alone all the land that has disappeared between there and Texas. Not a new issue I know, but Kolbert has a couple of maps that show the changes in a jaw-dropping way. When New Orleans sits on an island, maybe we will finally let the Mississippi roll down the Atchafalaya Basin into Morgan City.

Anonymous said...

mmm, raw oysters and a cold beer are certainly my love language...Y'all let me know if I can sign a petition or something...

Land Mass Above Louisiana and East of Arkansas said...

Nobody needs to go to the 'New Yorker' to educate themselves as to the current and ongoing destruction caused by flooding on the Mississippi River. Hundreds of photos and stories are updated with new ones posted daily and a majority of it involves your friends and neighbors, not people in New York or Arizona or Illinois or Plaquemines Parish. This disaster is bigger than oysters and larger than brackish water in The Sound. It's devastating large sections of the lower Mississippi Delta.

Do yourselves a favor and bookmark the facebook page linked below. And while you're at it ask yourselves why neither the national media or Mississippi politicians or our congressional delegation give a damn.

And, yes, Facebook is alive and well.

https://www.facebook.com/Forgotten-Backwater-Flood-242819096673705/

Anonymous said...

Land Mass (Delta Council lobbyist) People should read the New Yorker article because the Delta, Plaquemines Parish, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and our own Mississippi Gulf Coast are all in the same situation because of climate change. There may be floods like this every year in the Delta because we will have much larger storms and much more rainfall. Any changes in policy will involved all of the places involved not just the small number of landowners in the Delta.

Anonymous said...

The Louisiana Delta could actually use some fresh water and some silt to regenerate some growth. The salt water intrusion is killing the marsh. Yes it will come with a cost for a few years, but in the end, it is good for the estuaries. If new growth doesn't occur, then before long it'll be one big body of water all the way to land. Pick your poison. I personally want to know why they don't open the Bonnet Carre and Morganza until the water is lapping at the side. Why not let it trickle flow versus sending it down in one big wave once the water has been destructive all the way up stream. I'll never understand why the COE doesn't open these up way before it gets to this point.

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