A rift in West Bay – Oyster Bags

A rift in West Bay (March 5, 2007)

“Strung out across the water at high tide was a half-acre of what looked like thousands of black floating purses, each almost 4 feet long. Filled with oysters, the bags were laid out in a grid held together with 5,000 feet of plastic line and 400 feet of chain. The bags were tethered to the ocean floor by eight anchors.”

Cape Cod Times today has a story about angry waterfront property owners in Osterville looking to ban floating bags in West Bay put there by a local aquaculturist. The guy who put the bags out claims they have been used for a “forty years” in the Three Bays area, but I’ve never seen them. The Cotuit Oyster Company has grants in Cotuit Bay, and in the area known as the Narrows, but I’ve never seen them use the bags in the past. Time was the only evidence there was an oyster bed was a black and white stick in the water, and years ago, a tree branch stuck in the mud.

Aquaculture is a growing business on the Cape. A buddy has a quahog grant outside of the harbor on the SW side of Dead Neck, but oysters do better inside where the salinity is lower due to the fresh water springs and rivers running into the bay system.

Here is the Three Bays Preservation report, or rather point of view to the town opposing the bags.

update: a reader sent a link to the Friends of West Bay’s website. It has an amazing photo, scraped here.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

0 thoughts on “A rift in West Bay – Oyster Bags”

  1. Fresh water springs & rivers? How about fertilizer, leeching field overflow, golf coarse & all the other flotsam & jetsam in that tiny little harbor. Yikes I hope they aren’t selling those oysters commercially… Oysterfarming is big business in the Pacific Northwest & oysters do filter & clean an area’s water, but the farms are located in protected areas; places where there is very little, if any,boat traffic & the “bags” hang down in the water from floating dock platforms that aren’t unsightly. What you describe sounds similar to planting tomatoes in the outhouse. That harbour is awfully crowded already. Imagine an incoming tide on a summer weekend w/ all the island clowns urinating recycled beer all day. Until the Cape has sewer lines, there’s going to be an intestinal disaster, never mind the warm water 4-5 months a year. I know Cotuit has a rich oyster history, but that was 5000-people & 3000 boats ago. Would you eat anything that floated down one of those ‘fresh’ water springs? I’d rather munch down a cold, raw linguica omlette from the ‘Kettle Ho’! Cheers & Bon appetit! HD

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