Oyster Restoration

Oysters are an important natural resource. A mature oyster filters 30 to 50 gallons of water each day and their reefs provide habitat for other aquatic life. Sadly, the number of oysters in the Bay is less than 2% of historic levels. Partnering with the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Marylanders Grow Oysters, the Oyster Recovery Partnership, Project Oyster West River (POWeR), and nearly 100 waterfront oyster growers, the Federation places millions of oyster spat (baby oysters) into sanctuary areas in our rivers each year. Learn more about the oyster sanctuary reef on the South River here.

The Federation coordinates around 100 oyster growers near the rivers who care for square cages of oysters that they hang from their piers. This provides some filtration and micro oyster-reef habitat in the creeks. In early fall, the growers pick up their spat on oyster shells recovered from restaurants from designated locations. It only takes a few weeks for oyster-based aquatic wildlife like mud crabs, scuds, blennies, and gobies to find their way to the oyster cages. Each May, growers provide tens of thousands of year-old oysters, having grown to about 1 inch size, to sanctuary reefs. These oysters have much lower mortality rates than brand-new spat. See the details of this program below.

We are grateful to Chesapeake Bay Foundation for their assistance in seeding our local oyster reefs with millions of oysters.

 

Maryland Grows Oysters

Arundel Rivers participates in the Marylanders Grows Oysters Program where waterfront citizens care for oysters in cages hung off their piers until the baby oysters are mature enough to survive on an oyster sanctuary reef. Sign up for this program is mid-summer, so the oyster hatchery has time to produce enough oysters to meet the demand of the thousands of Marylanders Grow Oysters participants.

However, the oysters are delivered in late fall and the program runs through late spring.  Baby Oysters are delivered to oyster growers in October and are ready to be moved to the sanctuary reef in May. Growers need to shake their oysters cages once a month to knock any excess algae off the cages, so that the oysters have plenty of water circulation. Oysters cannot be grown in fresh water. If you have barnacles on your pier, it is probably salty enough to support oysters. View Oyster Growers Manual.

To participate, email Jesse Iliff, South, West and Rhode Riverkeeper.

Love to Eat Oysters?

Recycle those discarded oyster shells at the recycling drop off sites
and help grow new oysters to eat!

Recycling Sites