Reclaim the Bay

Oyster Recovery Partnership

Oyster Recovery Partnership

Nearly 20 years ago, the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) was commissioned as a coalition of partners that contribute toward a large-scale restoration program that plants disease-free oysters back into the Bay. Specifically, ORP facilitates wide-ranging interests, including scientists, conservationists, watermen, businesses, government, as well as state and local partners, to work together to make oyster restoration a reality. “Large-scale restoration” includes the use of cutting-edge technology and machinery, site preparation, mass plantings, habitat protection and monitoring.

As a result of this successful partnership, nearly 4 billion oysters have been planted on 1,500 acres of oyster reefs and approximately 1,200 tons of shell have been recycled to provide homes for new oysters. As Maryland’s leading nonprofit restoring oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, ORP also operates the region’s Shell Recycling Alliance, supports the State’s Marylanders Grow Oysters program and provides shellfish aquaculture and fishery support services.

Oyster shell is a limited natural resource that provides crucial natural habitat for new oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and is used by the University of Maryland Horn Point Lab Hatcheryfor its oyster setting process. Maryland’s shell supply, as it stands now, will deplete within just a few years – jeopardizing Bay restoration and aquaculture efforts.

The Oyster Recovery Partnership officially launched the region’s first ”Shell Recycling Alliance” in March of 2010 after local oyster shuckers came to ORP with concern from their observation that thousands of oyster shells were simply being tossed in the trash at events where they shucked oysters.

ORP, collects used oyster and clam shells weekly from the hundreds of restaurants, caterers and seafood whole sellers throughout Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Delaware for ultimate delivery to the Horn Point Lab Hatchery. This recycled shell is used as setting material for new spat (baby oysters) to be planted back into the Bay and tributaries. Each recycled shell can become home to 10 new oysters in the bay. Since inception, the SRA has recycled more than 30,000 bushels of shell or the equivalent to 1,200 tons.

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