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TNC’s shellfish restoration
efforts on Long Island NY:
Achievements, lessons
learned, and next steps
Baird Symposium: The
Future of Shellfish in RI
Nov 14, 2013
Carl LoBue, clobue@tnc.org
Ultimate objective
Restore LI estuaries to thriving, healthy, naturally
productive, self-sustaining ecosystems that benefit
people and nature
Key estuarine/coastal biogenic
habitats
Why Shellfish?
No clam
s

2 clam
s

4 clam
s

8 clam
s

Great South Bay NY, circa 1976

16 clam
s
Four main challenges to bay-wide clam recovery
Water quality / clam food quality

Predation

Yum
Clams!

Recruitment limitation

Effective, coordinated
harvest management and
enforcement
Fishing and predation mortality
“Whether the clams were abundant or
scarce, commercial clammers on the Great
South Bay have always been free to take as
many as they want.”
Newsday 12/22/2009
Increasing production of
wild-born clams
Clam seed abundance and
distribution
Clam seed
abundance and
distribution
2008 Brown Tide hits hard
GSB BT cell counts 2004-2012
Clam seed abundance and
distribution
9

10

C ondition Inde x
Y-M e a n
G onadaR ank
Y-M e n

6
3

8
2

7

1

0

G onad R ank

5
Jan04
A pr04
Jul04
O ct04
Jan05
A pr05
Jul05
O ct05
Jan06
A pr06
Jul06
O ct06
Jan07
A pr07
Jul07
O ct07
Jan08
A pr08
Jul08
O ct08
Jan09
A pr09
Jul09
O ct09
Jan10
A pr10
Jul10
O ct10
Jan11

C ondi tion Index

Clam condition and spawning 2004-2010
4

G SB - T ran splan t Site A
Conditions in GSB in 2011
Toxic algae bloom dashed hopes for
2012 scallop season
“Scallops Suffer Massive Die-Off:
Red Tide May Be To Blame” EHS 10/23/12
Just a few weeks ago, baymen and shellfish
experts were brimming with optimism about
what was expected to be a banner bay
scallop harvest when the season opens next
month. Some pointed to the predictions as a
sign that the local scallop population had
finally gotten past the devastation wreaked by
brown tides in the 1980s and 1990s.
This week, much of that optimism has
evaporated.
Scientists from Long Island University.., said
they found as much as 90 percent mortality
rates in the mammoth “set” of bay scallops
that they recorded at the start of the summer
Sources of reactive nitrogen to
coastal waters
County land
use data
N-Load and
ELM models
quantify
sources of
Nitrogen
loaded to LI
bays
2008 Kinney and
Valiela + 2010 USGS
33 GSB sub-watersheds
˜ 1M people live in the GSB
groundwatershed

SWSD has ocean outfall

20% GW to Ocean
N loads to GSB from watershed
(684,000 kg N / yr)
Fire Island
2%

golf courses
lawns
2%
7%
agriculture
1%

atm to land
20%

septic/ 
cesspool
67%

atm to 
STPs
water
1%
0%
Total N Loads to Great South Bay
(908,000 kg N/Yr)
lawns
5%
agriculture
0%

golf 
Fire Island
courses
2%
1%
atm to land
15%
atm to 
water
25%

septic/ 
cesspool
51%
STPs
1%
Linking development to groundwater N,
case study, Bicycle Path (Suffolk County 2011)
Other impacts of excessive algal
growth from nitrogen pollution
LIS hypoxia
Algae symptoms are island-wide
Nitrogen enrichment impacts on
seagrass from Butler (1999)
Eelgrass is Essential Fish Habitat

Thousands of acres of eelgrass have already disappeared
Nitrogen pollution impacts
on saltmarshes
Images from Nature 10/2012

CAT scans of marsh roots:
Failing
Stable
Healthy marsh Impacted marsh
Population gains still possible

Clam Seed Abundance and Distribution
New Sandy caused
Inlet in eastern GSB
Increased water
clarity
Lower dissolved
nutrients
Increased
circulation with
ocean water
Transit of marine
animals (fish and
seals)
Positive response
to new inlet /
impacts not
estuary wide
Unusually good growth near new
inlet (Bellport Bay July 2013)
Defining “RESTORATION”
Future of shellfish in RI?
• Articulate goals (fishery vs production
vs ecosystem)
• Address all major threats
• Think ahead
• Monitor / adapt
• LI vs VCR
• Commitment / Scale
Questions?
Development of the 2013 GSB
brown tide

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Carl LoBue, "TNC’s shellfish restoration efforts on Long Island NY: Achievements, lessons learned, and next steps," Baird Symposium

  • 1. TNC’s shellfish restoration efforts on Long Island NY: Achievements, lessons learned, and next steps Baird Symposium: The Future of Shellfish in RI Nov 14, 2013 Carl LoBue, clobue@tnc.org
  • 2. Ultimate objective Restore LI estuaries to thriving, healthy, naturally productive, self-sustaining ecosystems that benefit people and nature
  • 4. Why Shellfish? No clam s 2 clam s 4 clam s 8 clam s Great South Bay NY, circa 1976 16 clam s
  • 5. Four main challenges to bay-wide clam recovery Water quality / clam food quality Predation Yum Clams! Recruitment limitation Effective, coordinated harvest management and enforcement
  • 6. Fishing and predation mortality “Whether the clams were abundant or scarce, commercial clammers on the Great South Bay have always been free to take as many as they want.” Newsday 12/22/2009
  • 8. Clam seed abundance and distribution Clam seed abundance and distribution
  • 9. 2008 Brown Tide hits hard
  • 10. GSB BT cell counts 2004-2012
  • 11. Clam seed abundance and distribution
  • 12. 9 10 C ondition Inde x Y-M e a n G onadaR ank Y-M e n 6 3 8 2 7 1 0 G onad R ank 5 Jan04 A pr04 Jul04 O ct04 Jan05 A pr05 Jul05 O ct05 Jan06 A pr06 Jul06 O ct06 Jan07 A pr07 Jul07 O ct07 Jan08 A pr08 Jul08 O ct08 Jan09 A pr09 Jul09 O ct09 Jan10 A pr10 Jul10 O ct10 Jan11 C ondi tion Index Clam condition and spawning 2004-2010 4 G SB - T ran splan t Site A
  • 13. Conditions in GSB in 2011
  • 14. Toxic algae bloom dashed hopes for 2012 scallop season “Scallops Suffer Massive Die-Off: Red Tide May Be To Blame” EHS 10/23/12 Just a few weeks ago, baymen and shellfish experts were brimming with optimism about what was expected to be a banner bay scallop harvest when the season opens next month. Some pointed to the predictions as a sign that the local scallop population had finally gotten past the devastation wreaked by brown tides in the 1980s and 1990s. This week, much of that optimism has evaporated. Scientists from Long Island University.., said they found as much as 90 percent mortality rates in the mammoth “set” of bay scallops that they recorded at the start of the summer
  • 15. Sources of reactive nitrogen to coastal waters County land use data N-Load and ELM models quantify sources of Nitrogen loaded to LI bays 2008 Kinney and Valiela + 2010 USGS
  • 17. ˜ 1M people live in the GSB groundwatershed SWSD has ocean outfall 20% GW to Ocean
  • 18. N loads to GSB from watershed (684,000 kg N / yr) Fire Island 2% golf courses lawns 2% 7% agriculture 1% atm to land 20% septic/  cesspool 67% atm to  STPs water 1% 0%
  • 19. Total N Loads to Great South Bay (908,000 kg N/Yr) lawns 5% agriculture 0% golf  Fire Island courses 2% 1% atm to land 15% atm to  water 25% septic/  cesspool 51% STPs 1%
  • 20. Linking development to groundwater N, case study, Bicycle Path (Suffolk County 2011)
  • 21. Other impacts of excessive algal growth from nitrogen pollution LIS hypoxia
  • 22. Algae symptoms are island-wide
  • 23. Nitrogen enrichment impacts on seagrass from Butler (1999) Eelgrass is Essential Fish Habitat Thousands of acres of eelgrass have already disappeared
  • 24. Nitrogen pollution impacts on saltmarshes Images from Nature 10/2012 CAT scans of marsh roots: Failing Stable Healthy marsh Impacted marsh
  • 25. Population gains still possible Clam Seed Abundance and Distribution
  • 26. New Sandy caused Inlet in eastern GSB Increased water clarity Lower dissolved nutrients Increased circulation with ocean water Transit of marine animals (fish and seals)
  • 27. Positive response to new inlet / impacts not estuary wide
  • 28. Unusually good growth near new inlet (Bellport Bay July 2013)
  • 30. Future of shellfish in RI? • Articulate goals (fishery vs production vs ecosystem) • Address all major threats • Think ahead • Monitor / adapt • LI vs VCR • Commitment / Scale
  • 32. Development of the 2013 GSB brown tide