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Washington College's new partnership sets goal of 10 billion new oysters by 2025

Kent County News

March 2, 2018


In less than 10 years, a large-scale partnership of organizations, businesses and colleges from Maryland and Virginia hopes to add 10 billion oysters to the Chesapeake Bay, improving water quality and helping the local economy.

According to a news release from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the 10 billion oysters will come from a combination of expanded restoration activities, fishery repletion activities and the continued growth of the Bay’s oyster aquaculture industry.

“Oysters are so much more than the tasty bivalves that many know them to be,” said John Racanelli, CEO of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, a partner on the project. “They help keep our waterways clean by removing harmful pollutants and they provide a hospitable place for other animals to live — from the backwaters of the Chesapeake Bay to the vast Atlantic Ocean."

Washington College announced its participation in the Chesapeake 10 Billion Oysters Partnership, stating in a news release that the collaboration to fully restore the keystone species. As filter feeders, oysters are historically vital to improving the Bay’s water quality, as well as providing the foundation for a sustainable fishery, the college release states.

“This kind of ambitious yet achievable goal is precisely what is needed in so many of our environmental restoration efforts,” said John Seidel, director of Washington College's Center for Environment & Society. “To realize such a lofty objective, to have real impact, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach. We at Washington College will do everything we can to help meet the partnership’s goal, using the power of bivalves to filter the Bay’s waters.”

The partnership has established as its top three priorities: ensuring robust funding for oyster restoration, establishing sound science-based management that ensures sustainable harvest of the Bay’s oyster population and expanding the oyster aquaculture industries in Maryland and Virginia.

“Scientists have been doing research on oysters in the Chesapeake for almost 150 years. The evidence continues to grow about the importance of abundant oyster populations for water quality, biological productivity and diversity, shoreline integrity and the resilience of this great ecosystem,” said Don Boesch, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science professor and president emeritus.