Organizations teaming up to help restore reefs, while giving back to oyster growers who’ve been hit hard by the pandemic

BIVALVE, Md.- Wednesday, at the Cedar Mill Marina, organizations like The Nature Conservancy and Oyster Recovery Partnership teamed up to collect surplus oysters from growers.

“Because people have not been able to eat in restaurants as much , there’s definitely been a huge decline in their sales and their ability to reach those markets,” Jen Aus, Oyster Recovery Partnership, said.

With the help of the PEW Charitable Trusts and funds from an anonymous donor, The Nature Conservancy was able to make the purchase.

Once the oysters were brought to the marina, they were loaded onto a boat to be replanted on a nearby oyster reef to help restoration efforts.

“By doing that we are helping support the lack of a market right now for the aquaculture industry and also putting oysters back into the bay to help enhance the water quality,” Aus said.

Fred Tull, the owner of Somerset Surf and Turf LLC,  said this partnership is a big help to his oyster business because even during the pandemic both expenses and employees still needed to be paid.

“It’s been a great coordination of events and if you’re like all the watermen it’s a blessing right now to be able to move some oysters and get some cash flow going back in the business,” Tull said.

He added this funding will help him to repair equipment and buy much needed materials.

“This is the time of the year where I have to buy seed that’s going to be sold from for another 18 to 2 years from now,” Tull said.

Going forward, organizations involved in this effort want the growers to know they are there to lend a helping hand through these trying times.

“We want them to feel like you know we are helping them, we are on their side too, yea there’s conservation but there’s also supporting the industry and community that exists there,” Aus said.

This initiative is through The Supporting Oyster Aquaculture and Restoration Program.

They are aiming to extend $2 million in payments to oyster farmers to support more than 100 shellfish companies in northern New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Washington state.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, Maryland