A few days ago we brought you the urgent and terrifying news report that bananas as we know them are likely to disappear altogether in the next few years. Now it seems Chesapeake Bay oysters may join them in the mausoleum of deceased epicurean delights, as a $58 million program aimed at saving the bivalves has backfired completely.
Which means in 10 years I won’t be able to enjoy my favorite summer drink — the famous banana oyster smoothie.
According to the Washington Post, the federal government has spent millions re-seeding the formerly oyster-rich part of the bay with more oysters since 1994. Unfortunately, the numbers just aren’t working in their favor:
But at last count, oyster numbers appeared to have declined since 1994. One EPA estimate found they had fallen about 20 percent, although some officials say that’s too pessimistic. And watermen have left the oystering business as harvests have declined. More than 2,000 of them harvested oysters in Maryland in the 1980s. The average number of watermen from 2002 to 2006 was about 530.
Those in charge of the program say environmental conditions and disease are mostly to blame, but the article seems to indicate that the government’s approach to solving the problem was to grow oysters in protected areas of the bay, then move the healthy ones to areas where the watermen simply scooped them up and sold them.
Wouldn’t it have been easier and cheaper just to buy off the watermen directly and let the oysters reproduce for a while?