Massachusetts has long standing historical, cultural, and economic ties to seafood and the seafood industry. Not only is the seafood industry often affected by aquatic invasive species (AIS), but it can also be a source of problematic species through the intentional and unintentional release of live organisms.
What you can do:
Massachusetts AIS Working Group partners at MIT Sea Grant have published pamphlets entitled Live and Fresh Seafood: Into the pan, not into the wild to raise awareness on proper seafood handling and disposal practices. The pamphlets are available in several languages and are intended to minimize the chances of invasive species introductions that may occur from live seafood.
The Massachusetts Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan contains information on these specific seafood pathways:
- Shellfish waste disposal - Shells and other unwanted materials discarded following shellfish processing (shucking) might harbor shellfish pathogens or other organisms. Disposal of this material in or near a water body can result in unwanted introductions as well as other types of water quality impairment.
- Bivalve wet storage - Holding shellfish in flow-through systems subjects the surrounding surface waters to pathogens and other organisms that may be contained in discharged waters. Packing and transport of shellfish in seaweed or other plant material also poses the risk of introductions through the improper disposal of packing materials.
- Creation of new fisheries - Several introductions of aquatic invaders, such as the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis), may have resulted from the intentional release of species that constitute commercially valuable fisheries in other countries. Seafood suppliers and commercial and recreational fishers, unaware of detrimental impacts resulting from their introduction, may be tempted to release these species into local aquatic systems to establish a self-sustaining population that can be harvested for consumption. The lack of understanding of the consequences of this activity points to the need for additional educational efforts specific to this source of AIS.
View the full text of this section on page 21 of the Massachusetts Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan.
If you have specific questions about seafood and AIS, please contact us.