Target: Dr. James Wesson, Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC)
Goal: Applaud this collaborative approach to maintaining a sustainable fishery
Together, environmental groups, government agencies, regional fishermen and even commercial fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay have made the most recent season’s oyster catch the largest since 1987. The 406,000 bushels of oysters caught are estimated to be worth sixteen million dollars, and in total, make for catch that is a staggering seventeen times larger than that in 2001. Furthermore, while pollution and runoff have degraded the bay’s iconic oyster beds, a boost in oyster populations promises cleaner waters overall. Serving as natural filters, oysters remove excess nutrients when they feed, preventing algal blooms that can suffocate underwater life. Ultimately, this conservation partnership demonstrates how contributions by various interests have brought about dramatic improvements in ecosystem health in just over ten years.
The partnership thrives upon the leadership of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, which coordinates with several local and national partners that handle surveillance and upkeep of the 240,000 acres public oyster beds, while allowing local fishermen to partake of the oysters on a rotational basis, according to a recent article in National Geographic NewsWatch.
While conservation partnerships rarely make headlines over battles between policymakers and commercial fishing interests, Virginia’s oyster processing companies are actually vital to the restoration effort. By supplying and delivering recycled oyster shells, which will become the beds on which to lay oyster larvae, companies like Kellum Seafood and Omega Protein Corporation, which donates land as a staging area for the shells to be laid, are setting an example for how industries can aid instead of clash with conservationists.
By signing the petition below, you can applaud this unique and inspiring collaboration to revitalize the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and support a way of life for local communities.
Dear Dr. Wesson,
I am writing to applaud the efforts of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to revitalize the iconic oyster beds of the Chesapeake Bay. Your leadership makes possible this innovative collaboration among government agencies, commercial fishing companies, and local watermen alike, and it is my sincere hope that the example you have set may be inspire the creation of more sustainable fisheries throughout the United States.
In thanking you for your organization’s dedication to restoration of this vital marine ecosystem, I also seek to raise awareness about the successful conservation partnership you have cultivated. While antagonistic relationships surrounding fisheries make headlines more frequently, it is the battle for ecosystem health that I support, and I wish you and your partners the best of luck in the continuance of your project.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: United States Environmental Protection Agency via Wikimedia Commons