Federal funding for oyster restoration awarded to UMCES scientists

June 23, 2023

This morning, Maryland U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen joined oyster experts from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science to celebrate a nearly $1 million federal award for oyster restoration and resiliency research and roundtable discussion on the future of oyster research for restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. Oysters are iconic in Maryland and critically important to the culture and the recovery of Chesapeake Bay.

“I am so proud that we are gathered here today to celebrate a new research funding initiative on the resilience of oysters,” said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science President Peter Goodwin. “UMCES’ oyster hatchery is the largest on the East Coast and serves a critical role in supplying oyster for restoration, aquaculture, and the public fishery. Our oyster team consists of over a dozen scientists, graduate students, post-docs, and more working on this issue every day.”

Earlier this year, Senators Cardin and Van Hollen secured $960,000 in Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations for oyster restoration and resiliency research at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. The funding is part of Senators’ ongoing effort to help restore Maryland’s oyster population and protect the Chesapeake Bay, and the project will bring together teams of researchers across labs to study the oyster's ability to protect shorelines and improve the habitat of the Bay bottom while recovering overall oyster populations, enhancing both the ecological and economic well-being of the Bay and its citizens.

“The Chesapeake Bay is an incredible national treasure, and we look for every opportunity to help,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “We are proud that Senator Van Hollen and I, working together, were able to get federal funding to advance UMCES’ oyster restoration program. We are going to continue to make the Chesapeake Bay our priority.”

“Oysters are a central part of Maryland’s environment and economy–not only do they naturally filter our waters and strengthen the Bay’s diverse ecosystems, but they also help spur our local Bay economy. It’s important that we protect them and ensure they have a strong future in Maryland. That’s why we fought for this funding to invest in the critical work being done by UMCES on oyster restoration and resiliency,” said Senator Van Hollen.

UMCES oyster experts discussed how this funding could be used. Elizabeth North discussed the the Impact of Sanctuaries on oyster populations in surrounding areas of the Bay, Michael Wilberg led a discussion on the impact of sanctuaries on blue crabs and finfish. Lora Harris and Jeremy Testa touched on the Impact of oyster aquaculture on ecosystem health, and Bill Dennison shared insights on communicating research results.

Maryland’s university for the environment, UMCES is a research institution with a legislatively mandated mission to provide and assist the State in understanding, conserving, and restoring Maryland’s environment, particularly Chesapeake Bay.