Oyster Restoration Efforts in Worcester County - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Oyster Restoration Efforts in Worcester County

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OCEAN CITY, Md.- Local companies on Saturday joined a non-profit that specializes in oyster restoration to raise awareness about the role of oysters and the importance of recycling their shells.

Fagers Island hosted an Oyster Garden event to support Oyster Recovery Partnerships, ORP, and its shell recycling program. Representatives from a few companies were assigned to tables where they shucked oysters and served them. 

John Apple works for Bay Landing Shellfish Co., and he shared some of his knowledge on oysters and their vital role beneath the Chesapeake Bay.

"Their [oyster] beds provide habitats for different forms of sea life, " Apple said. "All in all, the more oysters you put back into the water, the better the waters become."

The oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay has declined dramatically over the years. Bryan Gomes, manager of the Shell Recycling Alliance, under ORP, said over-harvesting and predation contribute to the population's decline among other factors. 

"We have 17 million people that live in the bay's watershed, and [when] lots of silt and sediment [seep] into the bay, it prohibits the oysters from spawning and repopulating the water naturally, " Gomes said.

On average, one adult oyster shell filters 50 gallons per day. According to the National Oceanic And  Atmospheric Administration, oysters were once able to filter the entire Chesapeake Bay in one week. Today, it takes the current oyster population one year to filter the same amount of water. 

People who came to Oyster Garden filled their stomachs with oysters and their conscience with this message, " Shuck Responsibly," which was on display at ORP's table. Organizers encouraged consumers to recycle their oyster shells from this day forward.

"The new oysters need the shells to grow on," Ben Savage said. "Whenever anyone eats oysters , they should recycle the oysters and give them to an organization that will put them back in the bay."

Gomes said ORP recycled 14,000 bushels of shells last year.

 

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