The Associated Press story “Scientists struggle to save seagrass from coastal pollution” (Dec. 22), about New Hampshire’s Great Bay, made me realize that many people can’t see the critical linkages within marine ecosystems.

Decades ago I realized I wanted to make meaningful improvements to the Maine coastline. I learned that eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) filter approximately 50 gallons of water per day and allow a plethora of flora and fauna to thrive. I saw growing oysters and building oyster reefs in Casco Bay as a great place to start.

I now grow oysters in Maine on my family farm and over the years, I’ve seen an explosion of seagrass growth around our farm. Other Maine oyster farmers are experiencing the same robust growth of seagrass around their farms. As part of a complex ecosystem, oysters remove particulates from the water, allowing sunlight to reach deeper to the seagrass and provide structure for a plethora of organisms to hide and live. The seagrass story directly relates to the recent decision to award an oyster farm lease in Maquoit Bay.

The big winner in that decision is the bay itself. The Maine Department of Marine Resources and Army Corps of Engineers experts did their scientific due diligence and balanced the needs of commerce and nature; both will come out ahead. The harmful effects of pesticides, herbicides and fossil fuels can be partly offset by the restorative benefits of oysters, kelp and other species. Shellfish and algae aquaculturists can help get seagrass growing in New Hampshire like we did in Maine.

Keith Butterfield


Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: