|Locally raised oysters being "planted" in West River|
Oysters are an important natural resource. They filter the water and oyster reefs provide habitat for other aquatic life. Sadly, the number of oysters in the Bay is near 1% of the historic levels. To help bring more oysters to our rivers West/Rhode Riverkeeper partners with two programs, the Marylanders Grow Oysters Progam in the Rhode River and Project Oyster West River (POWeR) in the West River. With both of these programs we work to get the public involved in taking care of their own "mini oyster reef" where wildlife of all kinds thrive.
In the Rhode River
In 2012 West/Rhode Riverkeeper was accepted into the Marylanders Grow Oysters program. We work with our members who volunteer to grow oysters off of their private and community docks in the Rhode River. We work with Maryland Department of Natural Resources to acquire cages and spat, baby oysters, for all of our volunteers. Volunteers then pick up their spat in the late summer or early fall. Our volunteer growers then care for the spat over the winter during the first delicate months of their lives. By spring the spat are considered oysters and are strong enough to be taken out and planted on local oyster reefs. To do this West/Rhode Riverkeeper organizes events, usually in mid-June, to collect the oysters and goes out to plant them on the reef. The oysters then live out the rest of their lives providing great habitat for fish and crabs along with filtering the Chesapeake Bay's water.
The Rhode River Oyster Growers Standard Operations Procedures tells you everything that is involved in caring for oyster cages at your dock.
To learn more about oyster gardening as a whole try out this resource about the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Program. This resource is filled with good information on how to care for your oysters and why you are doing it.
For more information on the Rhode River MGO program or to learn how you can participate, please contact Joe Ports, at 410-867-7171 or email@example.com.
In the West River
POWeR works with local citizens and groups to grow oysters from spat (baby oysters) in order to place them in non-harvested reefs in the West River. If you would like to learn more about POWeR, please visit their website, http://www.westriveroyster.org. If you are interested in oyster gardening in the West River then visit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's website.
Don't forget to recycle your oyster shell!
Leave your shells at a drop off point close to you so that they can be used in restoration work. Or if you buy your oysters from a local waterman see if they'd like the shell back. If they use aquaculture to harvest their oysters then getting shell can be an expensive part of the aquaculture process. Please visit this link to find a drop off point close to you (we have one right outside our office): http://www.cbf.org/how-we-save-the-bay/programs-initiatives/virginia/oyster-restoration/save-oyster-shell