By Linda Hunter
“I do not weep at the world I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”
-Zora Neale Hurston
People are often seduced by oysters. And so was the case at The Watershed Project’s third annual Bubbles & Bivalves event to support our Living Shoreline Program– a program that celebrates the humble and wondrous native oysters as the unique ecosystem engineers that they are. Oysters have the ability to transform drab and murky Bay waters into a veritable rainforest– a cornucopia of life for critters of all shapes and sizes. They provide safe hiding and dining places for salmon, gobies and seabirds to name just a few critters that benefit from the restoration of oyster reefs in our Bay.
Bubbles & Bivalves was held at the Aquarium of the Bay last Thursday, May 17th. The Watershed Project was joined by exuberant osteophiles– some celebrating their third year of everything oyster, some joining us for the first time. Our illustrious emcee, Wendy Tokuda, exclaimed, “It was a fantastic event! Fun and exciting in a perfect location to illustrate the connection between healthy watersheds and the San Francisco Bay!”
Our keynote speaker, Paul Greenberg, expertly connected the dots between the history of humans fishing exclusively upstream and, as fisheries were depleted and pollution destroyed healthy fisheries in our watersheds, venturing farther and farther afield to the present day– where with our gargantuan fishing machines, we chase a pelagic fish (Bluefin Tuna) to the brink of distinction.
Paul is the author of the James Beard Award-winning Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food and a regular contributor to The New York Times. He has also written for National Geographic Magazine, GQ, The Times (of London), Vogue, and many other publications. Paul explains in his book that we have become such proficient fishermen that the world’s fish catch has quintupled since the end of WWII to the present day. We now remove more wild seafood from the oceans every year than the weight of the entire human population of China. And we’re turning to domestication to keep pace with demand. Paul asks the essential question: do we have to destroy the sea at the same time as we are taming it or can we strike a balance by encouraging the farming of more sustainable fisheries rather than the protein-loving four fish that we have come to expect?
Paul’s next book will explore the role that the humble oyster, our estuaries, bays and coastlines can play to address this challenge. Perhaps the bivalve is key to feeding the world? For a taste of Paul’s writing, check out this piece he wrote in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, a landmark piece of legislation that has helped to keep our watersheds healthy and will protect our beloved bivalves.
He writes, “Thanks to the Clean Water Act the Cuyahoga River no long catches fire as it did in the 50s and 60s. This year the Act turns 40. It’s not going to buy a red sports car and shack up with a law half its age, but it is having a mid-life crisis. Here’s an essay I have on the anniversary.”
Thanks to all who came to Bubbles & Bivalves or supported us with a donation. We are putting the first reef balls into the water at Point Pinole this fall and we couldn’t have managed that without your encouragement and support.
Special shout out to the restaurants whose chefs took time to support The Watershed Project at Bubbles & Bivalves: Farallon, WaterBar, Slow Club and CleanFish and Achadinha Cheese Company and fresh, delicious oysters from Drakes and Tomales Bays.
If you were unable to attend but would like to support our Living Shoreline Program, click here and type the word “Oyster” in the On Behalf Of box.
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Photos by Ronald Retamales