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Oystering along Long Island has a long and complex history. For thousands of years, oyster beds grew in abundance in the bays and estuaries of the East End, but with European colonization came unsustainable harvesting practices that led to complete collapse of the oyster beds and the surrounding ecosystem. Now, at the start of a new century, the possibility for oyster-rich bays may be found not in re-establishment of the natural ecosystem, but through the practices of small oyster mariculture farms placed in areas deliberately set aside for shellfish industries. This thesis examines the possibilities for the re-emergence of the oyster industry, as conceptions of a public commons and the public trust come into conflict with historical fishing industries and the growing transformation of Long Island into a tourist enclave for the wealthy. Against these forces, a loose network of small oyster aquaculture operations have banded together seeking to re-establish oysters both as an economic and ecological activity within the bay.
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