Oysters Losing the Battle – Food Security Threatened
Are oysters losing the battle? Most of the oyster reefs have been destroyed due to various factors and it seems that the food security of the world is at stake. Oysters are molluscs that are categorized into some of the most exclusive and tasty group of foods. Relished in various cuisines, they are a favorite among seafood lovers. Oysters were once available in plenty and many places depend on them as a main source of protein. Recent times have seen a drastic dwindling of oyster numbers along areas where they were once abundant.
Decrease in Oyster Numbers:
Oysters reefs are disappearing quickly, with less than 1% currently still enduring the battle. The decline in numbers can be attributed to many factors, such as:
Over harvesting of wild populations.
Introduction of non-native species.
Acidification of seas and oceans leading to erosion of reefs and changes in marine ecosystem.
Oyster Herpes and Food Security
Recent declines in oyster numbers have a direct bearing on food security. The most current threat to food security and seafood seems to be the invasion of oysters by the virus, Herpes. Farmed oysters are being infected by a virus similar to Herpes. The virus has successfully eliminated almost 20% to 100% of the oysters in the Pacific along the French bed. The spread of virus has reached the shores of UK, where reports of oyster herpes is coming in.
Oyster harvesters are appalled at the dead oysters that continue to surface. This incident had not spread beyond the sightings in France until Osyters began resurfacing off the coast of UK, indicating that Oyster herpes could have spread via infected gear or equipment, thus putting food security at risk. Though the UK government has put policies into place to restrict the movement of oysters, there could be infected Pacific oysters in the surrounding water that can, in effect, become the reservoir of this infection.