Demand for cultivating and farming of oysters has been increasing around the world due to growing food demand as well as practicing of sustainability. Potential threats to oyster aquaculture practices are numerous. These potential threats can be caused by disease “Dermo/MSX disease,” climate change, ocean acidification, pollution/eutrophication, and also invasive species.
Potential diseases to oyster can firstly arise through parasites, leading to Dermo or MSX disease. These two diseases have caused massive mortality to the Atlantic shellfish fishery. This pathogen enters through the blood stream of oysters after being filtered through their gills, becoming abundant throughout their tissue. The oyster will become stressed, reduce its growth rate, begin to produce non-fertile spat, and will decrease the integrity of its shell.
Rising ocean temperatures produce a potential threat to oyster aquaculture. Rising ocean temperatures allow for increased ocean acidification, which has the potential of impacting the integrity of oyster shells and in turn aquaculture practices. Rising temperatures coupled with inland run off of fertilizers and heavy metals allow for new and hazardous organisms to thrive. Microscopic planktonic dinoflagellates are known to thrive in eutrophication environments and can be linked to red tides and brown tides, both toxic and non-toxic blooms that at high levels cause death to marine organisms. Shellfish digest and filter out these dinoflagellates, which contain neurotoxins. Red tide formations are usually non-native to a naturally occurring system. The recognition of red tides causes paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP). Another influential algal bloom beginning to occur is brown tides. The occurrence of the brown tides causes densities to get so numerous that shellfish are unable to filter. Shellfish then become unable to filter particles leaving these sessile organisms to starve.
Oyster cultivating and farming plays a major role in benefiting the ecosystem and economy. Although, beneficial to ecosystem services and economic gain, potential threats cause integrity to this industry. This industry can be susceptible to disease, climate change, and pollution. Biotic and Abiotic factors both have the potential of influencing this dynamic cultivating practice.