Methodological Issues and Case Studies
Edited by K. N. Ninan
Chapter 16: Fishery enhancement and coastal protection services provided by two restored Gulf of Mexico oyster reefs
Oyster reefs are a key structural and functional component of many of the world’s estuarine systems (Lenihan and Peterson, 1998; NRC, 2010). For millennia, oyster reefs have supported a wide range of human uses, including harvesting of oysters for food or construction material. This is the case in the Gulf of Mexico where oysters have been harvested by humans for thousands of years (Wallace et al., 1999). However, oyster reefs directly support a wide range of additional human uses (see Appendix 1 in Kroeger, 2012). Pollution, destructive harvesting techniques, overharvesting, habitat destruction and other human activities have reduced oyster reefs by an estimated 85 per cent globally – more than any other marine habitat (Beck et al., 2011). This has led to a concomitant massive loss in terms of forgone benefits from the destroyed reefs. As is true for many natural resources, such losses can be partially explained by institutional–economic factors (Norgaard, 1990; Dietz et al., 2003; Acheson, 2006). However, in the case of oyster reefs, one important contributing factor is the fact that – apart from oyster harvests – the services these systems provide have been understood and quantified only fairly recently (Brumbaugh and Toropova, 2009; Beck et al., 2011).
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