Oysters are “functionally extinct” in my locations around the globe due to disease and overharvesting, a new study has found.
The wide-ranging survey, published in BioScience, the journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, compares the past and present condition of oyster reefs around the globe.
The international team of researchers led by Michael Beck of the Nature Conservancy and the University of California found that more than 90 percent of former reefs have been lost in most of the “bays” and ecoregions where the prized mollusks were formerly abundant.
In many places, such as the Wadden Sea in Europe and Narragansett Bay, oysters are rated “functionally extinct,” with fewer than 1 percent of former reefs persisting.
The declines are in most cases a result of over-harvesting of wild populations and disease, often exacerbated by the introduction of non-native species.
“Overall, we estimate that 85% of oyster reefs have been lost globally,” the study says. “Most of the world