Mapping Future Scenarios of Oyster Farming in Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts to Decrease Nitrogen Loading
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AbstractExcessive nitrogen loads in saltwater bodies along the East Coast of the U.S. are causing significant eutrophication of the water leading to species loss and water quality issues. These major impacts have led to calls for significantly reducing nitrogen loading. Many ideas have been put forward to decrease nitrogen loads, from lower fertilizer use, to more green roofs, and even to the use of new technologies such as urine separating toilets. One method that has been touted as particularly cost effective and environmentally friendly is the use of shellfish, particularly oysters from oyster farming. A call to use this method in Waquoit Bay in Massachusetts compelled me to use spatial analysis to examine how oyster farming at a large enough scale to effect nitrogen loads will impact the rest of the environment and other uses of the Bay. I hypothesize that spatial analysis of oyster farming in the Bay, taking into account environmental impacts, areas of nitrogen loading, current water uses, and economic benefits, will give a clear picture of how much oyster farming can be done while balancing the needs of other species and other human uses. The spatial analysis as well as some economic analysis will be useful to local officials and residents in deciding how much to rely on oyster farming for nitrogen reduction versus other methods. An analysis like this could be used in other areas looking at large scale shellfish farming.
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