Sediments 2-0ysters 0: The Case Histories of Two Legal Disputes Involving Fine Sediment and Oysters


  • R. Kirby


Court case, dredging, sediment reworking, suspended sediment monitoring, core sampling, grain size analysis, long-term tidal flat evolution, short-term tidal flat dynamics, oyster cultivation, salt marsh defoliation, hindcasting, Mya arenaria erosion


The essential elements of two prolonged legal disputes concerning fine sediment and oysters are reviewed. One relates to extensive subtidal oyster cultivation by traditional methods and alleged losses due to modern oyster farm using fixed structures installed on a muddy tidal flat. In the latter case, a major stock kill due to mud incursion was indisputable but the Plaintiff claimed the source was mud liberated after a small scale experiment to eradicate Spartina from an adjacent embayment some years earlier. The evidence successfully amassed to resist both these actions is outlined. The judgements and the lessons arising from them are described. The shellfish industry in the U. K. and Eire will urgently require proper sedimentation engineering design criteria if the trend for large commercial enterprises on fixed structures continues.