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July 29, 2005

Richard Hildreth: When the World is Not Your Oyster

When the World is Not Your Oyster

Ocean and Coastal law center director Richard Hildreth commented on the introduction of non-native oysters to the Chesapeake Bay in a letter published in the journal Science on July 8, 2005.*

The Eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica in Chesapeake Bay is in decline, and efforts to restore populations of this economically and ecologically important species have been unsuccessful.  The Chesapeake Bay states of Maryland and Virginia are proposing the introduction of an Asian oyster, Crassostrea ariakensis, into the bay as a means of increasing bay oyster populations.  Delaware and New Jersey, which border nearby Delaware Bay, object to this introduction of nonnative species out of concern that reproductively viable populations in the Chesapeake Bay would very likely lead to the spread of C. ariakensis to other bodies of water. Under the current federal regulatory framework, New Jersey and Delaware cannot prevent or alter such an introduction.  Federal law could be changed, however, to permit governors of states potentially affected by intentional introductions to appeal to the appropriate federal agency, which could block the introduction and trigger judicial review in the federal courts. With the pending reauthorization of the federal Invasive Species Act, the time may be ripe for discussion of these and similar changes.

*J. Jed Brown, Richard Hildreth, and Susan E. Ford.  Letter. “When the World Is Not Your Oyster.Science, July 8, 2005, p. 244.
Richard Hildreth is a professor of law at the University of Oregon and director of its Ocean and Coastal Law Center.
This year, Dick Hildreth  presented the regulatory aspects of the recently-released National Academy of Sciences Report on Nonnative Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay at congressional and media briefings in Washington DC and Annapolis, Maryland.
As part of his just-completed sabbatical leave, Hildreth presented seminars on managing marine resources at the University of Tasmania, Griffith University in Queensland, and the Australian National University in Canberra. 

He and his coauthors are working on the third edition of Coastal and Ocean Law and their Nutshell on Coastal and Ocean Management Law.

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