Keep a watchful eye on the oysters

When the protected status of oyster sanctuaries is threatened by hostile legislation, the health of our entire Chesapeake Bay is threatened. I therefore urge the people of Virginia to remain vigilant towards oyster- and Bay-related issues.

As an individual who has spent a large amount of time with oyster aquaculture, I have come to appreciate the great value these creatures lend to the Bay. Did you know a single oyster can filter 50 gallons of water every day? When John Smith explored the Chesapeake in 1607, there were so many oysters they filtered the entire Bay every day!

But oysters have suffered massive population loss, and some of our legislators disregard the plight of this humble mollusc. Just last month, we narrowly avoided House Bill 1575, which would have made it legal to carry harmful dredging equipment through oyster sanctuaries, essentially meaning that those sanctuaries would no longer be protected. With the help of the James River Association, the bill was defeated. However, this is not to indicate that nothing more is at stake!

I implore that our representatives keep the health of North America's largest estuary a high priority, and that the citizens of the Virginia coast carefully watch so that no more of these bills disregarding the oysters or Chesapeake life slip through and harm our true aquatic gems.

Jack M. Newton

James City County

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette