A recent summary of Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration efforts by the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP), University of Maryland Horn Point Lab Hatchery (UMD HPL), Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Army Corps of Engineers Baltimore District outlined progress towards boosting oyster populations in the estuary.
As part of a Maryland Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan, the Army Corps of Engineers Native Oyster Restoration Master Plan, and President Obama’s Executive Order 13508, Harris Creek, a tributary of the Choptank River, is the first river targeted for large-scale, tributary-based oyster restoration.
The area was chosen collaboratively by Maryland DNR, Army Corps Baltimore District and NOAA because of its high likelihood to succeed.
During the 2012 season, the coalition of partners deployed 634 million spat on shell in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay, with most of those deployed into the Harris Creek oyster sanctuary. Nearly one third of the 360 acre goal for Harris Creek has been planted with enhanced substrate and spat on shell.
Oyster habitats in the Upper Bay were also restocked due to wide-scale mortality from excessive fresh water in 2011.
The goal is to restore 360 acres in Harris Creek. Funds for these restoration activities are provided primarily by
Maryland DNR, the Army Corps and NOAA.
2012 oyster plantings will begin the process of fulfilling goals set by federal agencies to restore oyster habitat and populations in 20 Bay tributaries by 2025.
During 2012, ORP recruited 70 new participating restaurants to the Shell Recycling Alliance effort and collected nearly 15,000 bushels of shell that will be recycled to provide future substrate on which new oysters will attach
Meanwhile, University of Maryland Horn Point Lab Hatchery produced a record number of oyster spat (880 million). 2012 marks the fifth year in a row that Horn Point Lab Hatchery production exceeded half a billion spat on shell.
Also during 2012, the first agreed-upon definition of a “restored oyster reef” has been adopted by the Chesapeake Bay Program Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team based on recommendations from the Oyster Metrics Team, a Bay-wide group of scientists and fishery managers.
According to the new guidelines, after six years post-restoration activity, reefs should have a minimum of 15 oysters and 15 grams of biomass per square meter covering at least 30% of the reef, with at least two year classes of oysters on each reef.
source: Oyster Recovery Partnership