Department Develops Maryland Oyster Sustainability Project

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is working to establish an economically-productive and sustainable oyster harvesting cooperative in Anne Arundel County.

With funding from the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the comprehensive private-public partnership will enhance the long-term business and economic viability of watermen while addressing oyster restoration and water quality goals.

The effort supports the Hogan administration’s commitment to enhancing, protecting and restoring Maryland’s environment and natural resources while simultaneously fostering economic opportunity and job growth.

“The cutting-edge cooperative hopes to become a national model for oyster recovery and restoration,” said Deputy Secretary Joanne Throwe. “By working directly with stakeholders and watermen, we hope to develop and maintain an economically successful and ecologically sustainable oyster bar in the heart of the Chesapeake Bay. The aquaculture pilot project seeks to address both conservation goals and real-time harvesting needs.”

The partnership hopes to provide a community of watermen with supplemental income harvesting oysters while providing environmental benefits to the bay. Oyster aquaculture is considered a best management practice for nutrient reduction in the Chesapeake Bay.

The essential components of the program include: forming an oyster cooperative to manage a targeted oyster bar; developing and maintaining a sustainable system of harvesting and planting; coordinating a rotational harvest of market-size oysters; and establishing a revolving investment fund to finance and grow the program.

Management partners include the Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, University of Maryland, Anne Arundel County and Oyster Recovery Partnership.