Clams and eelgrass at bay

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    Clams and eelgrass at bay

    An unattributed AP reporter, quite possibly Jay Lindsay working out of southern New Hampshire, reminds us of the ongoing eastern Massachusetts clam restoration project, now entering its seventh season. Although it is geographically centered around Boston Harbor, restoration sites are distributed along the Massachusetts coastline from Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod up through Salem Harbor and Ipswich Bay. [ Volunteers work to restore Boston Harbor clams, Boston Globe, July 26, 2012, at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/07/26/volunteers_work_to_restore_boston_harbor_clams/ ]

    Slippery reporters, as usual, have not done their own work but hide from readers their press-release source, which is of course a state agency. [ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, State marine officials and volunteers work to enhance Boston Harbor's soft-shell clam resources, July 25, 2012, at http://www.mass.gov/eea/pr-2012/press-release-boston-harbors-softshell-clam-resources.html ]

    The state, for its part, is "clamming up"--we might say--about root causes of coastal problems. They include over 200 years of raw sewage and industrial waste heaved into coastal rivers and creeks and washed out into the bays and harbors. The great MWRA sewage-treatment project and the several smaller projects, of which Cambridge in the late 1960s was first, have stanched most discharges. However, several feet of bottom muck retain filthy history from decades and centuries of neglect. That remains a critical, long-term problem, poisoning bottom waters and washing up onto shorelines, particularly after major storms. [ Andrea Cohen, Dredging harbors and disposing of contaminated sediments, NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, 2000, at http://www.oar.noaa.gov/spotlite/archive/spot_dredge.html ]

    Attempts to rebuild eelgrass beds in Boston Harbor have met with mixed but often unsatisfactory results, although more promising prospects were found at some distance away. so it is hardly surprising that clam restoration has yet to reverse a long-term trend of declining harvests. [ Division of Marine Fisheries, Restoration and enhancement of soft-shell clam populations in Boston Harbor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2009, at http://www.issc.org/client_resources/issc%20confrence_09__.pdf ]

    Unless one has the patience to wait at least several centuries for seafloors to rebuild through natural accumulation, it is hard to see how many such projects can work, until controlled dredging and restoration removes contaminated muck and installs caps, as has been done in some of the most damaged portions of California coast and small parts of Boston Harbor. That would be, of course, a very costly project, with few ready villains left to attack as rallying posts or tap as penalty-payers.

     
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    Re: Clams and eelgrass at bay

    As a trained coastal geologist I will say that the clam beds will be back a lot sooner than a century as will the eel grass. The sediment movement patterns are quite fast at these depths. 80% of all sediment movement will come from storm events at low tide. Maybe another twenty years for most areas.
     BTW clams are used to crap. That is what filter feeders eat. The reduction of actual crap to eat and cleaner food on each tide will bolster the growth. In fact it already has done so to a great extent. As to the toxicity it has been reduced to levels that should allow clams and eel grass in most areas in about 10 years. Based on the growth of areas that have been successful already adjacent to boston harbor. Few areas that are protected from new sediment or strong storm action will be the ones that take more time but no where near a century.
     All of your so called "bottom muck" contains a rich food source for a clam. Just the fact that it is in the tidal waters reduces the toxic effect on feeders who get their food by filtering the water, NOT eating dirt.
    The last report is what we call in research, a grant seed. They want to plant the idea that things will not get better without more ...Wait for it.... Research grants.

    In Response to Clams and eelgrass at bay:
    [QUOTE]An unattributed AP reporter, quite possibly Jay Lindsay working out of southern New Hampshire, reminds us of the ongoing eastern Massachusetts clam restoration project, now entering its seventh season. Although it is geographically centered around Boston Harbor, restoration sites are distributed along the Massachusetts coastline from Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod up through Salem Harbor and Ipswich Bay. [ Volunteers work to restore Boston Harbor clams, Boston Globe, July 26, 2012, at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/07/26/volunteers_work_to_restore_boston_harbor_clams/ ] Slippery reporters, as usual, have not done their own work but hide from readers their press-release source, which is of course a state agency. [ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, State marine officials and volunteers work to enhance Boston Harbor's soft-shell clam resources, July 25, 2012, at http://www.mass.gov/eea/pr-2012/press-release-boston-harbors-softshell-clam-resources.html ] The state, for its part, is "clamming up"--we might say--about root causes of coastal problems. They include over 200 years of raw sewage and industrial waste heaved into coastal rivers and creeks and washed out into the bays and harbors. The great MWRA sewage-treatment project and the several smaller projects, of which Cambridge in the late 1960s was first, have stanched most discharges. However, several feet of bottom muck retain filthy history from decades and centuries of neglect. That remains a critical, long-term problem, poisoning bottom waters and washing up onto shorelines, particularly after major storms. [ Andrea Cohen, Dredging harbors and disposing of contaminated sediments, NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, 2000, at http://www.oar.noaa.gov/spotlite/archive/spot_dredge.html ] Attempts to rebuild eelgrass beds in Boston Harbor have met with mixed but often unsatisfactory results, although more promising prospects were found at some distance away. so it is hardly surprising that clam restoration has yet to reverse a long-term trend of declining harvests. [ Division of Marine Fisheries, Restoration and enhancement of soft-shell clam populations in Boston Harbor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2009, at http://www.issc.org/client_resources/issc%20confrence_09__.pdf ] Unless one has the patience to wait at least several centuries for seafloors to rebuild through natural accumulation, it is hard to see how many such projects can work, until controlled dredging and restoration removes contaminated muck and installs caps, as has been done in some of the most damaged portions of California coast and small parts of Boston Harbor. That would be, of course, a very costly project, with few ready villains left to attack as rallying posts or tap as penalty-payers.
    Posted by AppDev[/QUOTE]
     
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    Fortunes of eelgrass

    The training that reader "topaz978" cites in geology did not help much in understanding biological systems of the ocean. As usual, that reader lobbed broadbrush claims, cited no evidence and provided no references. There is some experimental evidence, however, about eelgrass regrowth near Massachusetts shorelines--spotty but more positive so far than regeneration of clam beds.

    The Hubline project by Algonquin Gas Transmission, installing a submarine pipline across Boston Harbor in 2002 to serve the Fore River generating plant being built by Sithe at the site of Boston Edison's former Edgar Station in Weymouth, contributed a fund that was used by the state's Division of Marine Fisheries to conduct an eelgrass restoration effort. [ Alison S. Leschen, Ross K. Kessler and Bruce T. Estrella, Eelgrass restoration project completion report, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, 2007, at http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/programsandprojects/hubline/hubline_5yr_eelgrass_restoration.pdf ]

    Monitoring has been underway before and since by the Department of Environmental Protection. Its latest analysis from 12 years of observing both natural and stimulated eelgrass regrowth shows an overall pattern of continued decline, mitigated only by modest recovery after relocation of the Deer Island sewage outfall to nine miles offshore. [ Charles T. Costello and William Judson Kenworthy, Twelve-Year mapping and change analysis of eelgrass (Zostera marina) areal abundance in Massachusetts, Estuaries and Coasts 34(2):232-242, 2011, available at http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/resources/egtrends.pdf ]

    The drastic eelgrass decline from which Massachusetts still suffers occurred in the early 1930s and affected the entire Atlantic coastline of the United States. [ Jay Lindsay, Associated Press, Scientists try to restore Atlantic water meadows, Boston Globe, August 15, 2011, at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/08/14/scientists_try_to_restore_devastated_water_meadows/ ]

    Those dieoffs were not associated with recent global warming trends and were not a uniquely North American or Atlantic Ocean phenomenon. A counterpart to the North American eelgrass dieoff, during the early 1930s, began during the early 1920s in Western Europe. Species and strains were affected to differing degrees. [ D.M. Davison and D.J. Hughes, Eelgrass wasting disease, U.K. Marine Special Areas of Conservation Project, 2001, at http://www.ukmarinesac.org.uk/communities/zostera/z4_2.htm ]

    Whether particular pathogen strains were consistently associated with massive, early 1930s eelgrass dieoffs might be tested today by using forensic DNA techniques, if a set of plant samples can still be found. A comparison of Massachusetts Bay eelgrass between about 1890 and 1990 shows the extent of the local dieoffs. [ Mark D. Flora, Boston Harbor islands water resources scoping report, National Park Service, 2002, at http://nature.nps.gov/water/Scoping_Reports/boha_wrsr_screen.pdf ]

    The 1930s eelgrass dieoffs were not closely associated with commercial fertilizer use, which increased rapidly between 1880 and 1910 in the United States but changed only slightly between 1910 and 1940. The article by Mr. Lindsay oversimplified U.S. Atlantic coast dieoffs. For example, eelgrass largely recovered in Chesapeake Bay by 1938, only to be wiped out again in 1944. [ Lisa K. Muehlstein, Perspectives on the wasting disease of eelgrass Zostera marina, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 7:211-221, 1989, available at http://www.int-res.com/articles/dao/7/d007p211.pdf ]

     
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    Re: Fortunes of eelgrass

    As I am not a big fan of links I propose my opinion based on the literature as you are willing to point out is fundamentally correct. A: the eel grass die off is based on other factors than bay pollution, B: the eel grass recovery is better in some areas than anticipated. So what off the cuff comments were you refering to?
    In Response to Fortunes of eelgrass:
    [QUOTE]The training that reader "topaz978" cites in geology did not help much in understanding biological systems of the ocean. As usual, that reader lobbed broadbrush claims, cited no evidence and provided no references. There is some experimental evidence, however, about eelgrass regrowth near Massachusetts shorelines--spotty but more positive so far than regeneration of clam beds. The Hubline project by Algonquin Gas Transmission, installing a submarine pipline across Boston Harbor in 2002 to serve the Fore River generating plant being built by Sithe at the site of Boston Edison's former Edgar Station in Weymouth, contributed a fund that was used by the state's Division of Marine Fisheries to conduct an eelgrass restoration effort. [ Alison S. Leschen, Ross K. Kessler and Bruce T. Estrella, Eelgrass restoration project completion report, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, 2007, at http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/programsandprojects/hubline/hubline_5yr_eelgrass_restoration.pdf ] Monitoring has been underway before and since by the Department of Environmental Protection. Its latest analysis from 12 years of observing both natural and stimulated eelgrass regrowth shows an overall pattern of continued decline, mitigated only by modest recovery after relocation of the Deer Island sewage outfall to nine miles offshore. [ Charles T. Costello and William Judson Kenworthy, Twelve-Year mapping and change analysis of eelgrass (Zostera marina) areal abundance in Massachusetts, Estuaries and Coasts 34(2):232-242, 2011, available at http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/resources/egtrends.pdf ] The drastic eelgrass decline from which Massachusetts still suffers occurred in the early 1930s and affected the entire Atlantic coastline of the United States. [ Jay Lindsay, Associated Press, Scientists try to restore Atlantic water meadows, Boston Globe, August 15, 2011, at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/08/14/scientists_try_to_restore_devastated_water_meadows/ ] Those dieoffs were not associated with recent global warming trends and were not a uniquely North American or Atlantic Ocean phenomenon. A counterpart to the North American eelgrass dieoff, during the early 1930s, began during the early 1920s in Western Europe. Species and strains were affected to differing degrees. [ D.M. Davison and D.J. Hughes, Eelgrass wasting disease, U.K. Marine Special Areas of Conservation Project, 2001, at http://www.ukmarinesac.org.uk/communities/zostera/z4_2.htm ] Whether particular pathogen strains were consistently associated with massive, early 1930s eelgrass dieoffs might be tested today by using forensic DNA techniques, if a set of plant samples can still be found. A comparison of Massachusetts Bay eelgrass between about 1890 and 1990 shows the extent of the local dieoffs. [ Mark D. Flora, Boston Harbor islands water resources scoping report, National Park Service, 2002, at http://nature.nps.gov/water/Scoping_Reports/boha_wrsr_screen.pdf ] The 1930s eelgrass dieoffs were not closely associated with commercial fertilizer use, which increased rapidly between 1880 and 1910 in the United States but changed only slightly between 1910 and 1940. The article by Mr. Lindsay oversimplified U.S. Atlantic coast dieoffs. For example, eelgrass largely recovered in Chesapeake Bay by 1938, only to be wiped out again in 1944. [ Lisa K. Muehlstein, Perspectives on the wasting disease of eelgrass Zostera marina, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 7:211-221, 1989, available at http://www.int-res.com/articles/dao/7/d007p211.pdf ]
    Posted by AppDev[/QUOTE]
     
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    Eelgrass restoration challenges

    Eelgrass restoration has been pursued in the U.S. since the 1970s--only a few reports of success, with typical failures of implantation within a year and so far with no large-scale, sustained recovery. Reports of extended monitoring of eelgrass habitats, at least ten years, are particularly scarce. Monitoring reports have not been encouraging so far. As previously noted, overall along the Massachusetts coastline, eelgrass has been in continual decline for most if not all of the last twenty years. [ S.F. Treat and R.R. Lewis, III, ed., Seagrass restoration (symposium report), Mote Marine Laboratory (Florida), 2003, available at http://www.seagrassrestorationnow.com/docs/Treat%20and%20Lewis%202006%20Seagrass%20Restoration-6.pdf ]

    The main enemies of eelgrass appear to be fungus, unnatural levels of nutrients, chemical pollution, fine sediments, crabs, seaworms, waterfowl, ocean waves and currents--which may combine in harmful ways. A few restoration efforts at well-chosen sites appear to have created small, permanent colonies, but they have spread only slowly and have been monitored for less than ten years. The Hubline efforts a few years ago in Massachusetts Bay are among those, but well over nine-tenths of that area was ruled out for those efforts because of anoxic seafloors--likely results of prolonged exposure to pollution from the former MDC Nut Island plant and untreated outfalls. [ Leschen, Kessler and Estrella, op. cit., Fig. IVA.21, p. 95 ]

    The time scale for unassisted recovery is not known, but measurements in the Charles River basin suggest it could be centuries or longer. Thirty years after Cambridge installed secondary sewage treatment, an attempt to accelerate the biological turnover of sediments downriver had to be halted when aeration produced noxious hydrogen sulfide emissions. Similar turnovers and emissions result after major storms disturb anoxic layers of contaminated bay, harbor and ocean sediments. Hydrogen sulfide is toxic to eelgrass and causes rapid dieoff. [ Mary Kathryn Thompson, Description of the environmental problem in the Charles River, MIT Sea Grant Program, 2005, at http://web.mit.edu/mkt/www/Artificial-Destratification-paper.pdf ]

     
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    Clams and eelgrass at bay

    An unattributed AP reporter, quite possibly Jay Lindsay working out of southern New Hampshire, reminds us of the ongoing eastern Massachusetts clam restoration project, now entering its seventh season. Although it is geographically centered around Boston Harbor, restoration sites are distributed along the Massachusetts coastline from Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod up through Salem Harbor and Ipswich Bay. [ Volunteers work to restore Boston Harbor clams, Boston Globe, July 26, 2012, at http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/07/26/volunteers_work_to_restore_boston_harbor_clams/ ]

    Slippery reporters, as usual, have not done their own work but hide from readers their press-release source, which is of course a state agency. [ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, State marine officials and volunteers work to enhance Boston Harbor's soft-shell clam resources, July 25, 2012, at http://www.mass.gov/eea/pr-2012/press-release-boston-harbors-softshell-clam-resources.html ]

    The state, for its part, is "clamming up"--we might say--about root causes of coastal problems. They include over 200 years of raw sewage and industrial waste heaved into coastal rivers and creeks and washed out into the bays and harbors. The great MWRA sewage-treatment project and the several smaller projects, of which Cambridge in the late 1960s was first, have stanched most discharges. However, several feet of bottom muck retain filthy history from decades and centuries of neglect. That remains a critical, long-term problem, poisoning bottom waters and washing up onto shorelines, particularly after major storms. [ Andrea Cohen, Dredging harbors and disposing of contaminated sediments, NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, 2000, at http://www.oar.noaa.gov/spotlite/archive/spot_dredge.html ]

    Attempts to rebuild eelgrass beds in Boston Harbor have met with mixed but often unsatisfactory results, although more promising prospects were found at some distance away. so it is hardly surprising that clam restoration has yet to reverse a long-term trend of declining harvests. [ Division of Marine Fisheries, Restoration and enhancement of soft-shell clam populations in Boston Harbor, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2009, at http://www.issc.org/client_resources/issc%20confrence_09__.pdf ]

    Unless one has the patience to wait at least several centuries for seafloors to rebuild through natural accumulation, it is hard to see how many such projects can work, until controlled dredging and restoration removes contaminated muck and installs caps, as has been done in some of the most damaged portions of California coast and small parts of Boston Harbor. That would be, of course, a very costly project, with few ready villains left to attack as rallying posts or tap as penalty-payers.

     
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    Fortunes of clams

    Boston Harbor's soft-shell clams, prolific until less than twenty years ago, remain in decline. The massive MWRA sewage-treatment plant, costing over $4 billion, has not helped so far. In 1997, before completion of the plant and its 9-mile-offshore outfall, recorded soft-shell clam landings from the Harbor were 2.48 million pounds. In 2008, eight years after completion of the plant, recorded landings had dropped by more than a factor of five, to 0.47 million pounds. However, the comparison may not be statistically reliable. The state's Division of Marine Fisheries has long been a notorious non-communicator. On the Web, it has not released any regular statistics for shellfish landings since the year 2000.
    [ Tom Shields, Status of the soft-shell clam fishery in Boston Harbor (see page 4), Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, 2009, available at http://www.issc.org/client_resources/issc%20confrence_09__.pdf ]
    [ Massachusetts Shellfish Statistics, 1996-2000, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, 2001, at http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/commercialfishing/5yr_shoff.pdf ]

    Environmental insults remain chief causes of clam dieoff. Soft-shell clams cannot survive on silty bottoms left by dredging and from decades of heavy pollution, and they are still being poisoned by industrial discharges. Two years ago a careless worker at Logan spilled thousands of gallons of aircraft fuel that destroyed one of the Harbor's few surviving and productive, historical clam beds. [ Local clammers proceed with lawsuit against jet-refueling company and Massport, East Boston Times, August 1, 2012, at http://www.eastietimes.com/2012/08/01/local-clammers-proceed-with-lawsuit-against-jet-refueling-company-and-massport/ ]

    Silt stirred up by dredging during the Hubline project by Algonquin Gas Transmission, installing a submarine pipeline across Boston Harbor in 2002, may have killed off a large fraction of Boston Harbor clams, but the state's Division of Marine Fisheries either did not have detailed monitoring at the time or has failed to publish its records. Only in 2006 did it react, with a pilot project using some of the Hubline mitigation money, trying to restore devastated clam beds. The project was largely a failure. No science was applied in selecting test areas or methods of seeding. Only the clams in one area survived for even a single season. [ Thomas Shields, Shellfish stock enhancement project, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, 2008, at http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dmf/programsandprojects/hubline/hubline_5yr_shellfish_stock_enhancement.pdf ]

    Today there are no open clamming areas north of Cohasset. Relatively small attempts to restore clam beds continue, but the efforts appear largely directed by social factors, such as where volunteers can be recruited, and they are being reported on a "feel good" basis rather than as environmental science. [ Boston Harbor shellfish beds (see Fig. 3), Boston Harbor Habitat Atlas, Massachusetts Bays Program, 2011, at http://www.mass.gov/envir/massbays/bhha_shellfish.htm ]

     
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    Re: Clams and eelgrass at bay

    Well since you have only annecdotes why are you concerned? Some of the sources in your previous posts say that the sediment is cleaner and the clams are coming back. You focus on an area with no history in one part of your rant, and then no data on the other areas that you spout about. One easy take away from what you spew is that things are worse from reduceing stormwater runoff and installing the deer island plant. This is not in fact true. Sewage outfall reduction has made the beaches far better than 20 years ago.
     The clam beds in areas of dredging take time to recover. No soft shell clam has an issue with soft silty sediment being difficult to live in. That is the most moronic thing you stated. Have you ever dug clams? It seems you are just ignorant.
     
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