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Record spat production aids Maryland's oyster restoration
The Horn Point Lab Oyster Hatchery is currently producing record numbers of baby oysters—or "spat"—to be used in Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration efforts. Maryland's restoration program--a partnership between the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and others—is helping to bring healthy oyster populations back to the Chesapeake Bay.
"We are excited to have reached such a high level of production of spat on shell early this season," said Hatchery Program Director Mutt Meritt. "We can continue to provide oysters for State restoration programs to help rebuild our historic oyster industry and bring back a healthy and productive Chesapeake Bay."
The Chesapeake Bay oyster industry was the envy of the world until the oyster stock collapsed due to disease, habitat loss, declining water quality and historic over-harvesting. Oysters are a "keystone" species in the Chesapeake Bay. They not only filter and clean the water, but they also provide habitat for other important marine life such as blue crabs and striped bass. Oyster reefs are one of the most endangered habitats on the planet and critical to Chesapeake Bay recovery.
The largest oyster hatchery on the East Coast, the Horn Point Lab Oyster Hatchery produces a variety of disease-free oyster larvae for use in oyster research, oyster restoration, educational projects, and the private aquaculture industry. Over the past decade, spawning oysters at the hatchery have resulted in the deployment of more than two billion oyster spat to the waters of the Chesapeake Bay to aid in restoring the health of the Bay.
The Oyster Recovery Partnership has successfully joined together state and federal government agencies, scientists, watermen, and conservation organizations towards the common goal of oyster restoration and is Maryland's leading nonprofit actively restoring oysters into the Chesapeake Bay. Restoration efforts have produced and returned nearly four billion oysters into the Bay, resulting in the reestablishment of more than 70 oyster reefs on 1,500 acres of bottom.
To learn more about the Oyster Hatchery and oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, click here.
Pictured: Oysters spawning in the hatchery (above); Moving oysters into tanks for deployment into the waters of the Bay (right).