Because oysters are filter feeders, they are effective at removing nutrients and improving water quality, and researchers see opportunities to expand their economic value. Suzanne Bricker and her colleagues with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science are measuring the amount of nutrients removed by oysters along the East Coast to help states develop nutrient management plans that include oyster farms.
NOAA says that in the Chesapeake Bay, harvesting 1 million 3-inch oysters is equivalent to removing 198 pounds of nitrogen and 22 pounds of phosphorus. The researchers are assessing the value of the removed nutrients that might be paid to oyster growers in a nutrient credit trading program for the Chesapeake Bay.
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