||Marine Bivalve Shellfish Conservation Priorities for the Delaware Estuary.
D. Kreeger ;
P. Cole ;
D. Bushek ;
J. Kraueter ;
||Partnership for the Delaware Estuary., Wilmington, DE.; Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA.; Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC. National Estuary Program.
Estuary conservation ;
Conservation strategies ;
Ribbed mussels ;
Tables (Data) ;
Bivalve mollusks ;
Delaware Estuary ;
Target species ;
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
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||The purpose of this study was to identify current and future protection, enhancement and restoration activities that might be implemented to boost bivalve shellfish populations in the Delaware Estuary and to prioritize the best areas for implementing these tactics. Only native species of marine and estuarine bivalves are included in this analysis (excludes tidal freshwater mussels and exotic species). This characterization of bivalve restoration priorities should be considered a first step in an iterative process whereby priorities are updated in the future as conditions change and new information comes to light regarding needs and tactics for the various marine bivalve species. Prioritizing marine bivalve shellfish restoration is important so that limited resources are invested strategically to maximize net benefits to both people and the environment. The prioritization framework applied in this study was designed to focus on ecologically significant species, which includes commercially valuable oysters. Both historical information and future (climate) projections were considered so that priorities are informed by our current understanding of ecological trajectories of change in the system. American oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are the kingpin of the commercial shellfishery in the Delaware Estuary. Oysters are also valued as a cultural and historical iconic species that resonates with the public. Oyster reefs benefit water quality, provide fish habitat and can help buffer coastal flooding. Strategic shell planting is the top recommended conservation tactic for oysters. Shell planting has been a proven success in Delaware Bay by boosting recruitment, sustaining a positive shell budget, and enhancing overall productivity. Ribbed mussels (Geukensia demissa) are of major ecological importance in the Delaware Estuary. This salt marsh species is valued for its role in salt marsh food webs and biogeochemical cycles (Jordan and Valieda 1979) as well as its filtration of large water volumes (Kreeger and Bushek 2008). Marsh protection and enhancement is the top recommended conservation tactic for ribbed mussels. Many other marine species exist in the Delaware Estuary, but either they are not abundant or restoration opportunities are limited. Priorities for native species of freshwater bivalves were not considered for the purposes of this report; however, they are also part of a watershed-wide conservation and restoration strategy being developed by the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. The strategies and recommended bivalve restoration priorities in this report inventory an array of conservation strategies for oysters and ribbed mussels in the Delaware Estuary. Traditional tactics are presented in this paper as well as new and experimental options to restore shellfish. General recommendations are furnished for each conservation activity in this inventory section, but should not be considered as formal project designs. Projects should obtain the proper permits, permissions, and the details should be drafted by those with appropriate expertise. Finally, various policy impediments and other implementation considerations are summarized because some activities might not be possible under current management and regulatory constraints.
||Sponsored by Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA. and Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC. National Estuary Program.
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||98F; 48B; 57H; 57Z; 47; 68D