Md. Oyster Population, Reproduction up for 2nd Year - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Md. Oyster Population, Reproduction Increase for 2nd Straight Year

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP/WBOC)- Maryland's Department of Natural Resources says the state's oyster population and reproduction rates are up again.

Fall oyster survey results released Wednesday show increases for the second straight year. The survey also found that Dermo and MSX, the two diseases that have decimated Maryland oysters, remained far below long-term averages.

DNR Secretary John Griffin credited the increase in part to survival among the large number of oysters hatched in 2010. Griffin says the bay's oyster population remains at less than 1 percent of historic levels, but the increase is encouraging because oysters are filter feeders that help improve water quality.

The survey found a 93 percent survival rate in samples, which DNR officials said is the highest since 1985. They added that oysters may be becoming more resistant to diseases, helped by the establishment of oyster sanctuaries.

"The goal is to foster natural disease resistance, which can only be achieved through disease challenges that resistant oysters survive. The low disease mortality rates for 2012 may be a result of this resistance," said DNR Fisheries Service Director Tom O'Connell. "Additionally, Maryland's oyster sanctuaries continue to provide adults with a safe place where they can handle the stresses of disease and the ups and downs of reproduction."

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