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Willapa Bay Oyster Bed Abandoned As Burrowing Shrimp Take Over


The eel grass that is being displaced by the colonies of burrowing shrimp in the Willapa Bay not only provides growing oysters a place to live above the mud, but also holds the mud together, allowing oyster workers to walk along the beds with relative ease.

The eel grass that is being displaced by the colonies of burrowing shrimp in the Willapa Bay not only provides growing oysters a place to live above the mud, but also holds the mud together, allowing oyster workers to walk along the beds with relative ease.

Damian Mulinix/EO Media Group

Imagine your once-profitable farm is now covered with tens of thousands of mole burrows, a desert of holes and naked dirt. Now imagine needing a government permit to control this population explosion — a permit issued and then withdrawn last year, and now once again creeping through the bureaucracy.

Transfer this scenario to Willapa Bay and substitute burrowing shrimp for moles, and you have some idea of the anxiety gripping local oyster growers.

Last week, prominent Willapa oysterman Dave Nisbet’s crew hurried to evacuate oysters from a vital bed near the mouth of Cedar River, racing to move them before they smother and die in loose muck churned up by the prolific shrimp.

“We’ve got a bed up there at Cedar River, actually at this time it’s our best fattening bed,” said Nisbet, 65. “There’s a lot of infestation all around that bed in the Tokeland area … So we’re abandoning. We’re in the process of moving all the oysters off the bed. It’s 80 acres, so it’s a big bed and it’s going to be a big hit.”

Read more at the Daily Astorian.

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