Disease and over-harvesting have contributed to the “functional extinction” of oysters in many places. An international research team studied oyster reefs in 144 bays and 40 ecoregions, finding that most of these reefs are at less than 10 percent of their prior abundance. The study suggests those reefs be closed to further harvesting to allow the mollusks to repopulate. Five North American locations are home to some 75 percent of the remaining wild oysters in the world—in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, only one percent of the former oyster reefs still exist.
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