$800K going to Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration efforts

MARYLAND – Maryland Congressional Delegation announces $800,000 in new federal funding for Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration of reefs that are said to be vital to the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

“It supports larvae production at the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery, we are all working together to restore five large scale oyster sanctuaries,” Chris Judy, the Shellfish Division Director with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said.

The federal dollars coming through NOAA Fisheries will go to MD DNR to support the placement of spat-on-shell, or oyster larvae, on up to 100 acres of reefs in tributaries of the Bay. “The goal is really to improve broodstock, increase the population, and get a robust oyster population on the bottom,” Judy said.

We’re told higher oyster density is expected to lead to increased environmental benefits, such as water filtration and more habitat for fish. Michelle Dietz, Director of Gov. Relations for the MD, DC Chapter of Nature Conservancy, said in partnership with other organizations one of the largest restoration projects was completed, which studied the impacts of the oysters. “The oysters that were included in this Harris Creek Restoration project had the potential to remove one million pounds of nutrients over a decade,” Dietz said.

Judy said funding like this doesn’t go unnoticed, especially when projects can be costly. “When you have a tributary that has 100 acres to be restored, 200, 300, these per acre values which are very doable, very manageable add up to a large sum and these are 3, 4, 5 year projects in some cases,” Judy said.

But while the support is welcomed, one person we spoke with hopes going forward funding will spill into other areas as well.

“I think the oyster industry, the aquaculturists, and the environmental community, or those working in the restoration arena, I think we really need to work together on getting oyster shells for Maryland; we have a tremendous lack of oyster shells availability here in Maryland,” Jim Mullen, with the Maryland’s Oysterman’s Association, said.

Judy added the department tries to look at oyster restoration as a balanced approach, meaning not just focusing on projects for sanctuaries, or fishery, or aqua-culture, but rather looking at all three.

Categories: Local News, Maryland