2016 NOAA Oyster Reef Monitoring Report

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The 2016 Oyster Reef Monitoring Report indicates that oyster reefs restored in Harris Creek in 2013 are highly successful. The Report provides data and analysis that show that 97% of those reefs met the requirements for oyster density (at least 15 oysters per square meter) and biomass when they were monitored in 2016.

Data acquired for the report also show that the average oyster density on reefs that were constructed using stone as their base was roughly four times higher than on shell-base reefs.

The 30 reefs studied, totaling 90 acres, were constructed in 2013 and are part of the 350-acre Harris Creek oyster restoration project planned and implemented by the Maryland Interagency Oyster Restoration Workgroup (NOAA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Oyster Recovery Partnership).

Reef construction consisted of either seeding existing reefs with spat-on-shell oysters, or constructing reefs out of hard substrate (like stone or mixed shell) and then seeding them with oysters.

Initial restoration efforts on the 350 acres wrapped up in 2015. 2 billion seeds were planted onto the reefs, which now cover 8 percent of the 4,500-acre Harris Creek oyster sanctuary.

Following the plan for the Harris Creek restoration, each restored reef will be monitored at three years, and again at six years, after restoration. A report released last year noted that 100% of the 12 reefs covering 102 acres where initial restoration was completed in 2012 met oyster density and biomass success criteria.

Harris Creek was one of the first areas selected for large-scale restoration under the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement (2014), which calls for restoration of native oysters to 10 Bay tributaries by 2025.

Oyster restoration projects are also under way in the Tred Avon and Little Choptank rivers in Maryland and in several tributaries in Virginia, including the Lynnhaven, Lafayette, and Piankatank rivers.

source: NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office

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