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Letters to the Editors

Efforts of two scientists help save scallops

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 1, 2001

Editor: Re: Local bay scallops bounce back, March 23 Times:

I recently read an article in the St. Petersburg Times announcing that bay scallop harvesting in the waters off Citrus County may be resumed. As a former resident of Citrus County and a research scientist who has conducted studies on bay scallop culture, this was particularly good news.

Because of my interest in bay scallop culture and past ties to Citrus County, I have followed very closely the efforts at bay scallop culture being conducted in the county by Dr. Norman Blake of the University of South Florida and Don Sweat from the University of Florida. Unfortunately, their efforts were largely unrecognized in the aforementioned newspaper article.

While the resumption of bay scallop harvesting in Citrus County is desirable, I would encourage continued efforts toward restoration and enhancement. Scallop populations are somewhat ephemeral -- here today, gone tomorrow. The recovery of the bay scallop population offshore of Citrus County most likely was the result of numerous factors, environmental and man-induced. The potential beneficial impacts of the restoration efforts by Blake and Sweat cannot be ignored; nor should they be discontinued too soon.

The resumption of harvesting may serve to increase the importance of continued enhancement efforts in providing adequate numbers of new individuals to support subsequent harvests. Nobody wants to see harvesting begun, only to be curtailed the next year. A viable bay scallop fishery will take a combination of restoration/enhancement and monitoring efforts, along with prudent environmental stewardship to ensure future bay scallop populations.

I wish you luck in your bay scallop restoration and look forward to visiting Crystal River, to once again spend a relaxing day on the Gulf of Mexico collecting those tasty morsels.
-- Michael J. Oesterling, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary,Gloucester Point, Va.

Protect scallop habitats from shrimpers, pollution

Editor: Re: Local bay scallops bounce back, March 23 Times:

Because of a vigorous seedling program in the area of Homosassa, there seems to be a resurgence of scallops where there were diminishing populations over the past 10 years. The original decline was because of a loss of habitat. The loss of habitat resulted from the shrimping industry's method of harvesting and human pollution.

As their watercraft scrape the bottom of our pristine Gulf waters, they destroy necessary sea grass that enables the scallops to thrive. The question now will be if we, as a whole, can replenish the scallops faster then the shrimping industry can destroy the natural habitat.

We have to wonder if this is a long-lasting return for our beloved scallops. It is a simple case of cause and effect. The shrimping industry and human pollution causing the destruction of the scallops' natural habitat vs. the effect the aforementioned specific damage has on the scallops' ability to thrive in what should be their rightfully protected environment.

Waterfront communities need to talk more about this, that is for sure.
-- Joseph Milne, Hernando Beach

Be a good neighbor, don't blind with outdoor lights

Editor: Outdoor Light pollution is rapidly degrading our sky's quiet majesty and our night environment. Excessive, misdirected outdoor illumination wastes precious energy, resources, and dollars, and increases power plant generated air pollution, causes glare that blinds everyone, intrudes onto our property without permission and invades our privacy and personal security.

Action should be demanded from our lawmakers to pass comprehensive legislation to eliminate all night-light pollution for its adverse effects.

Good lighting is fully shielded, low wattage and pointed downward. Basic lighting should benefit people. Controlled, efficient lighting is best. Poorly installed, overly bright lighting is not.

Check your site at night before installing lighting. Be a hospitable neighbor. Keep lighting uniform; eliminate or reduce glare. Bright "hot spots" and glary lights are hard to see well, especially for older people.

Light fixtures have different lighting patterns. Select fixtures smartly. Prefer motion detection lights for effective security with minimal energy use.

Well-designed, properly installed outdoor lighting is an asset to everyone. But glare creates hazards instead of increasing safety. Light can trespass and be intrusive if it shines on neighboring properties, into bedroom windows, invades privacy, hinders sleep, jeopardizes well-being.

Good lighting characteristics include:

Choosing lights to meet your needs without illuminating the neighborhood and in accordance with county code.

Using "fully shielded," no-glare fixtures, and keeping the light within the intended area.

Staying within the targeted property borders.

Citrus County is in dire need of a comprehensive outdoor lighting ordinance so we all can benefit from a clear, dark, night sky, abundant with stars. Most importantly, return our inherent right to the dark of night for our personal privacy, safety, security, and proper sleep.
-- Della A. Bruens, Crystal River

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