Close-up of Suffolk: good food, good environment


“Kelp Help” is the title of an article in this summer’s issue of Sierra magazine, the Sierra Club publication. Its subtitle: “Can the cultivation of algae slow down climate change?”

“Seaweed farming,” the academic publication Frontiers in Marine Science reported, is “the fastest growing component of global food production.”

Seaweed cultivation has grown around the world and is currently being developed in Suffolk County as a way to counter a number of serious environmental issues.

Dr Christopher Gobler, co-director of the Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University and a professor in the university’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, explained last month how a small area of ​​kelp can soak up so much nitrogen as several new innovative / advanced septic tanks (I / A) being installed to reduce nitrogen emanating from sumps. Regarding climate change, he notes how kelp absorbs carbon dioxide.

His team collected kelp from trial “farms” in Moriches Bay, Great South Bay, Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound.

The kelp of choice – sugar kelp – is native to this region. A brown rubbery plant, it can grow surprisingly quickly underwater in fronds up to 15 feet long and. Additionally, sugar kelp appears, Dr Gobler said, to contain compounds that are deadly to red algae that can infect seashells and cause disease and even death in humans. Kelp can also be used as a fertilizer.

And, what’s more, it’s edible.

Charity Robey, writer and columnist for The Reporter, attended a Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program sponsored “kelp tasting” at Noah’s restaurant in Greenport, and she received, she noted, “an update. the much needed land in the current state of kelp farming, ”as well as learning“ a number of new ways to use kelp in the kitchen ”.

“Grilled kelp,” Ms. Robey wrote, “is like a blue-chip-of-the-sea corn tortilla. It is full of umami, a taste that is also associated with meat and mushrooms… ”

Frontiers in Marine Science said that “algae farming… offers a range of opportunities to mitigate” climate change. The biggest algae producing countries are China, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Sierra says, “Cultivation of seaweed is promising. In addition to sequestering carbon, it can provide habitat for fish and mitigate the local effects of ocean acidification. “

“Yet,” the magazine said, “the most effective way to sequester carbon is not to release it in the first place.” Absolutely correct, but this and the cultivation of algae are not mutually exclusive.

Meanwhile, in the field of aquaculture, there is a surge underway in many parts of Suffolk for the cultivation of oysters, not only because they taste delicious, but for the good of the environment. that they can do.

“Oysters eat cloudy water for lunch,” notes the Save The Great South Bay Oyster Project website. “If we bring them down in bulk, they’ll clean the bay better and faster than any human.” Did you know that an oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. What could this mean for The Great South Bay? It has been calculated that 5,000 acres of oyster farms in the bay would be enough to solve 147% of the nitrogen problem. A clean bay and 5,000 acres of oysters, each acre producing over $ 100,000 in revenue. A revitalized bay and a revitalized shellfish industry. And the resurrection of a way of life that has apparently disappeared.

To our west in New York, the “Billion Oyster Project” is underway, and there is a link to Suffolk. On tiny Fishers Island, northeast of Shelter Island and part of Southold Town, what is now Fishers Island Oyster Farm was founded in 1981 by Sarah and Steve Malinowski. “We started at a time when only a few people were exploring the possibilities of modern aquaculture, and it took a lot of determination, collaboration and a few fortuitous accidents to get to where we are now,” says Steve.

They started growing clams and published a manual on clam aquaculture. Then, in the mid-1980s, the brown tide wiped out the Peconic Bay scallop industry. And they started growing scallops “to replenish scallops in Peconic Bay.” Meanwhile, the hatchery where we got scallop seed mixed oyster seed into one delivery. So, we started to cultivate oysters!

Soon, Fishers Island oysters were being served in many restaurants. And not only were their oysters exported to the west, but their son, Peter Malinowski, a Suffolk native, co-founded and became executive director of the Billion Oyster Project. He has so far planted 45 million oysters, many of which have grown in a reef built by the project, “the largest reef in New York Harbor history.” The project states, “It took New Yorkers less than 100 years to wipe out the oyster population in New York Harbor. And the Billion Oyster Project is rebuilding this natural resource and this habitat. “

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