Out of Service…Maybe FOR EVER

According to piece of news released this month in Washington, a survey of oyster habitats around the world found that the succulent mollusks are disappearing fast and 85 percent of their natural reefs have been lost due to and over-harvesting.

The most imperiled marine habitat on Earth is not coral reefs or . Its indeed reefs. are considered as functionally extinct in many places of the world. But of course it does not mean they will be out of our plates; as most we eat are farmed, but its quite different than having them at their natural habitat.

People do not value so much what they have near by, except if their survival depends directly on a certain resource. Maybe thats why the massive disappearance of the oysters mostly during the 60’s in estuary, bathing Lisbon () seemed not to be such a dramatic event, despite the enormous breakdown in the profitable exportation business provided by the oysters. A business which was owned by the State, operating at a large oyster cleansing station also owned by the State, now transformed in a event venue center, private-owned, after some years of sad abandonment. The very same State that allowed domestic and heavy industrial pollution to impact dramatically the waters of the for so many decades.

The oyster collectors, people of rural communities living by the margins of the estuary since , did not feel after all the impact, as they also were shifting their way of life – so to say their real “habitat” – to new jobs in the implanted in the region. Nobody seemed to loose, except the environment and the oysters. The concept of biodiversity and was unknown at the time.

While putting the oysters back on the map again may not seem a priority, at least one could calculate how much it would be worth having them back as well as the biodiversity and ecosystem services they provide. In the case of Tagus, the new waste water treatment plants – still under construction – give us some hope that in near future the oysters can be back on service.

Read more at Nature Conservancy‘s website.

About the author

Paula Lopes da Silva Graduated in Biology, with training in Quality and Management. Project coordinator at Quercus ANCN. Civil servant at Moita Municipality. Environment activist, ex-board member in national and european NGOs. Also interested in good governance, transparency and accountability of NPOs. Likes history and historical recreation, drawing, cartooning and performing. Roman Catholic.

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Note: this article was last updated in February 16th, 2011

One Comment to “Out of Service…Maybe FOR EVER”

  1. Sonja Samons 10 February 2014 at 22:15 #

    Howdy! This blog post could not be written any better!
    Looking through this article reminds me of my
    previous roommate! He continually kept preaching about this.
    I will send this article to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read.
    Many thanks for sharing!

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