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Identification and Prioritizing Research Required to Evaluate Ecological Risks and Benefits of Introducing Diploid Crassostrea ariakensis to Restore Oysters to Chesapeake Bay

Published: December 01, 2003

Heavy fishing pressure, habitat degradation and high disease mortality have driven native oyster (Crassostrea virginica) populations to historic low levels in Chesapeake Bay. In response, the states of Maryland and Virginia are considering introducing the Asian Suminoe oyster (C. ariakensis) with the goal of establishing a naturalized, self-sustaining population.

Neither the potential risks nor the potential benefits of such an introduction are adequately known at this time. The scientific community agrees that an introduction of diploid C. ariakensis is likely to be irreversible (NRC 2004), and that the spread of C. ariakensis beyond the borders of Chesapeake Bay is inevitable if a self-sustaining population is established. Further, the potential for novel interactions between oyster pathogens? those resident in the Bay and others that may emerge?and C. ariakensis is uncertain and impacts may be unpredictable both for this oyster and for other species over time. Given the long-term implications of an introduction, sound scientific information must form the basis of the environmental impact statement (EIS) that will assess the proposed introduction as well as other alternatives.

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