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Finally, you might ask the inevitable question. So who gets sick? We have only one well-established episode, to the best of my knowledge, which traces typhoid to such pollution. However, we know the potential exists and who is to say that some of the un-explained cases of infectious hepatitis or other enteric diseases might not be attributable to this problem.

I do not want to leave you with the impression that we are concerned only with pollution from pleasure craft. In some areas commercial shipping, naval vessels, or fishing boats may constitute an equal hazard. Under the provisions of the Interstate Quarantine Regulations, the Public Health Service is required to take necessary action to prevent the spread of a communicable disease from one State to another. The Service has for many years met this responsibility through surveillance and control of health problems incident to the interstate movement of vessels. The problem of proper disposal of sewage wastes from vessels was highlighted with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway which resulted in increased traffic on the Great Lakes by vessels of both American and foreign flag registry. At that time it was feared that this new traffic would greatly increase the possibility of sewage being discharged in the proximity of municipal waterworks intakes in the Great Lakes. In August 1960, a new section was added to the Interstate Quarantine Regulations restricting the discharge of sewage, ballast or bildge water from vessels within a three mile radius of some 150 potable public water supply intakes of that great fresh water resource.

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There has been an increased interest on the part of local, State and Federal authorities in problems created by sewage discharges in local harbors, the intercoastal waterways, and the inland rivers. To provide a mechanism to consider this problem, the Public Health Service established in 1960 an Interdepartmental Committee on Sewage and Waste Disposal from Vessels, consisting of representatives from the Corps of Engineers, Department of the Army; Bureau of Ships, Department of the Navy; Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy; U.S. Coast Guard, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Department of the Army; V.S. Maritime Administration, Department of Agriculture, Conference of State Sanitary Engineers, and Public Health Service. The Committee has met five times and has arrived at a recommendation that all new vessels, or vessels undergoing major conversion, subject to the Regulations, should be provided with sewage treatment or retention facilities.

At this time, our Division is proceeding to amend the Regulations so that all new vessels undergoing major conversion, that will operate in interstate traffic under the terms of the Regulations, must be equipped with facilities to treat wastes from toilets, urinals, facilities in hospital areas holding fecal material, and wastes from garbage grinders when such grinders are installed. It would require that these facilities be designed, constructed, operated, and maintained in a manner to produce effluents meeting minimum criteria. Instead of treating wastes, it would also be permissible to provide holding tanks properly equipped with pumps and piping so that the wastes can be discharged to approved shore-based or floating installations or in restricted areas, such as the high seas. These Regulations should become effective early in 1965.

Fishing boats are also cause for concern. These boats are usually small and can carry no disposal facilities. But this does not repeal the biological laws of nature! Recently we had a small outbreak of typhoid fever which was apparently attributable to the sanitary practices --insanitary practices is a better term--of a tonger who was a typhoid carrier. While this is not a major pollution source, in terms of numbers, the absence of the safety factors of dilution and die-out gives it public health significance.

Septic tanks, and their poor cousins, the cesspool or overboard disposal, imperil shellfish areas in some parts of the country. Nationally, much of our concern with such disposal systems has been in the suburbs of our great cities. However, we also know that--to mix up an idiom-some times entire estuaries are islands in great seas of individual sewage disposal systems. While it is relatively easy to check on the operation of a few of these systems, the task takes on staggering dimensions when an entire watershed becomes populated. To some extent this problem can be limited through the applications of stringent controls on the construction of the units and the firms responsible for their maintenance and cleaning; however, even this approach has its limitations.

We are truly on the horns of a dilemma when we must choose between septic tanks, ground water pollution and local environmental health hazards, and the water quality problems which we associate with effluents from sewage treatment plants.

Last is our concern with chemicals--and I include in this term radioactive materials, pesticides and waste chemicals from industries. We know that many of these chemical materials have long half-lives, and that they may be accumulated by shellfish from the water. It is only within the last few years that we have really become concerned with this problem. We do not yet know as much about it as we should; however, the studies and monitoring programs which are now being carried on do give us some information on the extent and nature of the problem. At least, we recognize this to be a problem and are moving in the direction of establishment of baselines and water quality standards. The experiences with pesticides during the past few years demonstrates this situation quite well. We realize that shellfish have an unusual ability to concentrate many materials from the water and we must be prepared to undertake and maintain programs which will measure levels of these materials if we are to continue to use shellfish as food. I want to add that the word shellfish may be too narrow in this context. Chemical contaminants may have an adverse effect on all marine foods. In summary, the day in which shellfish growing water criteria can be defined solely in terms of microbiological parameters has passed. We have necessarily, perhaps unwillingly, entered a new and more complicated period.

To complete our background discussion we must also mention the concept of multiple use. This idea as it applies to our fresh water resources has generated much discussion among the professions and the public. While there has been less discussion of the problem as it applies to the es tuaries, I suspect that the same forces exist. Just as with fresh water it is improbable that any one single interest group will be able to reserve a major portion of the water resources for their exclusive use. By the same token, it also seems unlikely that any single group will be able to maintain the right to so modify these waters as to make them unsuitable for other uses. I think this will mean the shellfish industry can expect acceptance of their water quality needs by other groups also interested in the use of these waters, but that there is little hope that they can have what amounts to exclusive rights to use of these waters. One can argue the merits--or hazards--of such a situation; but, I do not think that the shellfish industry will be especially successful in effecting "exclusive jurisdiction." In fact, they may find they will be faced with real difficulties in keeping their own needs sufficiently in the public view to assure their survival.

Initially, the goals of the Cooperative Program were to assure that shellfish would not make people sick and, from the industry standpoint, result in a loss of the consumer market. This was accomplished by sanitary surveys of the growing areas. Those few areas which were not of suitable quality were than put off limits to the shellfish industry. Thereby--and this is an example of twenty-twenty hindsight--the founders of this program committed themselves to a course of negative action insofar as sustained water quality of the estuaries was concerned. Let me emphasize that this decision was made--apparently by accident and likely without the realization that a policy decision was being made or a precedent established--by a committee with representation from the States, the shellfish industry, other Federal agencies, and the Public Health Service.

This passive policy has been maintained by the Cooperative Program throughout its history. We find not any real evidence that any of the several parties to the agreement have challenged this position or suggested a more positive course of action. At no point in the several editions of the Shellfish Manuals is there anything which suggests that this Cooperative Program should modify its passive position in favor of one aimed at preserving the qualities of the estuaries, Now this is not the same as saying--and I want to emphasize this point--that these same agencies have not been interested in pollution control. They have and we all know it! But their concern has frequently been with the general concepts of pollution control rather than the specific water quality needs of shellfish production and harvesting.

Recently, many of the groups interested in the sanitary quality of shellfish have come to the realization that the generalized goals of the pollution control were not quite the same as the consumer-oriented goals of the shellfish sanitation program. In the Public Health Service we became acutely aware of this through the program for providing financial assistance for construction of sewage treatment plants. In some cases communities expected more of minimal (or even more complete) sewage treatment facilities in terms of water quality in nearby shellfish growing areas, than could reasonably be expected, and were disappointed, and sometimes embarrassed when these expectations were not fulfilled. In a few instances the construction of new sewage treatment plants resulted in the closure of additional shellfish growing areas,

because the design did not seem to deal specially with the unusual problems of estuarine waste disposal as related to shellfish harvesting. In any event there has been an imperfect exchange of information between the pollution control and the shellfish sanitation agencies. This was apparent to us several years ago in our attempt to develop the Conditionally Approved Area concept when we surprisingly found a lack of enthusiasm on the part of many State control agencies and the shellfish industry.

The 1963 Oyster Institute meeting seemed to be a turning point insofar as industry interest in pollution control was concerned. It seemed that a major part of the discussions--both formal and informal--related to the pollution problems. A bench mark was laid down in October 1963 at hearings before the House Subcommittee on Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation, House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee in which most of the witnesses testified that pollution was the major problem facing the shellfish industry.

in the Division of Environmental Engineering and Food Protection we have given a great deal of thought to this problem and have had numerous conferences with our coworkers in the Division of Water Supply and Pollution Control and Division of Radiological Health. As a result of our past experiences and recent discussions, we feel that we have an understanding of the problems and of possible corrective actions. These are the things that we think need to be done:

1. We need to formulate precise definitions of water quality criteria, in

cluding those elements of sewerage system design which will determine the effectiveness of the system in terms of water quality objectives, as related to shellfish needs.

2. We need to make a determined effort to see that water pollution control

agencies and design engineers understand the water quality criteria of
the shellfish program.

3. We need to see that these water quality needs of the shellfish program

receive proper recognition in long-range water pollution control planning or water resource planning.


We need to support and encourage programs for the prevention and abatement of pollution.


We need to support programs at the State and Federal levels which will
assure that waste treatment plants are operated in accordance with the
design goals of the shellfish programs--and we do not feel that the
agency responsible for the shellfish program should take the word of
another agency (State or Federal) that these plants are, in fact, operated
effectively. The shellfish control agency must necessarily have a "show
me" attitude, although we recognize that it is not the responsibility of
the latter group to oversee the operation of treatment plants.

At the Federal level we have proposed a course of action which, if the necessary resources can be obtained, should be effective in each of the above areas. Specifically, we expect to utilize our research resources to the maximum extent possible to define water quality goals; to get better publicity for the program at professional meetings; to take a more active part in the water pollution control enforcement actions and comprehensive studies; and, to review applications for construction grants under P.L. 660. In the Public Health Service during the past year we have had a constructive response to these ideas from the Water Pollution Control Division and we hope to progress at a higher rate during the next fiscal year. We commend a similar course of action to the States.

We are also considering the development of a system which will give us better intelligence on the water quality trends in the Nation's shellfish growing areas. In the past, our program planning has been handicapped by a lack of information on the extent of the Nation's shellfish growing resources, the quality of these areas, and of the trends in both quality and productivity. We feel that sound planning requires sound information.

Our thinking in this area is not fully developed, but we expect that the States would be able to provide the basic data, both through contract and through the Cooperative Program, and that one of the other Federal agencies would probably handle the data processing. For example, we have had several meetings with the Basic Data Branch, Division of Water Supply and Pollution Control, on the deve lopment of a uniform system for the identification of sampling stations in the estuaries. If the States can agree to the use of such a system, the entire problem of keeping track of water quality problems in the Nation's shellfish growing areas will be greatly simplified. Incidentally, such a system would also be of material assistance to PHS in the evaluation of State programs and would help assure that valuable data would not be lost due to sheer volume and lack of a suitable system of data handling.

Last, perhaps most important, is the need for the people involved with shellfish programs to declare a position on this whole subject of maintaining water quality. This is undoubtedly a long overdue action. Mr. Jensen has made such a proposal in connection with the revision of the Shellfish Manuals.

Finally, I want to say a few words about depuration. We have talked about this quite a bit in recent years and we realize there are many unanswered questions . However, is is our opinion that we have no other real choice unless there are some un imaginable breakthroughs in waste treatment technology. In general, we think our technical goal should be to require all shellfish, which might be consumed raw, to be submitted to such a process before marketing. This is not a substitute for effective control of pollution any more than a municipal water treatment plant is an argument against pollution control! Instead it is a consumer-protective device which seems to us to be the only feasible way to maintain a satisfactory confidence factor in the Cooperative Program. Admittedly, this is a great departure from past commercial practices in this country.

In summary, we cannot and need not take a defeatist position on the problem of maintaining satisfactory quality in estuaries used for shellfish culture. There are, in fact, many positive steps which the shellfish interested groups can take to work more effectively with the pollution control agencies. These steps, coupled with the depuration process, should insure a safe supply of shellfish into the foreseeable future. But they will not be cheap, and they will not be easy!




David H. Wallace
Division of Fish and Game
New York State Conservation Department

Oakdale, New York


Production of oysters on the East Coast of the United States has declined gradually since about 1900. This downward trend has been most drastic in the area from Chesapeake Bay north through New England. The quantity of shucked meats produced in Chesapeake Bay has dropped from about 115 million pounds in 1880 to over 18 million pounds in 1963. The drop in production in the Long Island Sound area took place more recently, but has been precipitous and disastrous to the industry. Landings in New York as late as 1951 amounted to 1,252,000 bushels. in five years production dropped to less than 150,000 bushels, and the harvest in 1963 amounted to only 53,000 bushels.

The industry and State conservation agencies have been forced to evaluate their conservation practices, and to analyze the reasons disccused here, although some production problems will be mentioned to emphasize the motivations for advances in oyster culture. While some progress was made in limited situations, our oyster cultural practices have been far behind those of some major oyster-producing countries. Pollution, predators, destruction of the environment by dredging, and diseases have been other contributing factors, and in some situations have eliminated oyster production.

In the last twenty years there has been a strong resurgence in thinking on the part of biologists, administration, and indu try leaders that new techniques of oyster culture must be developed and perfected if the oyster is to retain any semblence of its former position as one of the most valuable fishery products in the United States. In this report an attempt will be made to point out some of these recent advances and to project their significance in terms of future productivity.

One of the paramount problems of the industry and the States has been the failure to produce adequate seed oysters for planting on the fine growing grounds. This condition has been particularly acute in New England. The consistent failure of the private and public seed grounds in Long Island Sound off Connecticut for the past twelve years has resulted in the reduction of oyster production to a mere trickle as compated with the late 1940's and early 1950's.

While there has been a period of pessimism in the industry, this thinking is becommng more optimistic with the development of new seed-growing techniques perfected in the last five years.


In 1897, H. F. Moore of the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries wrote:

There are indications, however, that in certain portions of our oyster belt it may be necessary to follow some method of pond culture ... Should the feasibility of this be domonstrated under conditions prevailing in the United States, a vast increase could be made in our oyster supply..." Moore further stated, "By some modification of pond culture it may also be possible to raise seed oysters in regions in which few or none are now produced, thus adding another considerable item to the wealth-giving powers of our coasts."

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