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UMCES joins 10 Billion Oyster Project as Scientific Advisor

February 26, 2018

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science joins the Chesapeake 10 Billion Oyster Partnership —a multi-year collaborative effort to add 10 billion oysters to the Bay by 2025—as a scientific advisor committed to sound science-based management of the Bay’s oyster population.

The partnership, which includes more than 25 community organizations, universities, NGOs, and corporate and private partners, as well as watermen and aquaculturists from Maryland and Virginia, aims to improve water quality, engage new constituencies, and drive economic benefits across the region to accelerate ongoing oyster recovery efforts in the Chesapeake Bay.

In recent years, recovery of Chesapeake Bay oyster populations has been accelerating due to state and federal agencies’  large-scale efforts to restore 10 tributaries along with improvements in water quality, increasing disease resistance, growth of aquaculture on leased bottom, and scientific management of wild harvest.

“Oyster reef restoration efforts over the past five years have been very successful in producing dense populations that are surviving, reproducing and adding greatly to the supply of oyster larvae in the Bay,” said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Professor Don Boesch. “Particularly where we are restoring dense oyster populations, scientists are seeing growing evidence of increased tolerance to the diseases that used to ravage them.”

By generating new partnerships and sparking innovation, this coalition will accelerate efforts that already show tremendous promise for the Bay’s oyster populations, while also bringing new partners and approaches to this rapidly evolving field.

“Oysters are the iconic species of the Bay,” said Mike Roman, Director of UMCES’ Horn Point Laboratory, location of the oyster culture facility. “They’re so important as nature’s engineers—building reefs, creating biodiversity, creating habitat--and they have a tremendous ecological impact on the Bay.”

 The 10 billion oysters will come primarily from large-scale restoration efforts in Maryland and Virginia that support the Chesapeake Bay Program objective of restoring 10 tributaries by 2025, but will also include oysters planted in the aquaculture industry and wild fishery. The goal represents a 15% to 25% increase in production.

“We have greatly ramped up the ability of culture facilities to produce a few billion spat and hundreds of billions of larvae per year, placing this ambitious goal of 10 billion more oysters in the Bay within reach,” said Boesch.

For more on scientific oyster research at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, spanning reproduction and population biology, ecology, genetics, diseases, aquaculture and economics, click HERE.