More than 2,000 new oyster cages are expected to be added along seven new creeks and rivers as part of a popular citizen oyster restoration program called Marylanders Grow Oysters.
The new tributaries, located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and in Anne Arundel County, are:
Marylanders Grow Oysters involves waterfront homeowners in oyster restoration by supplying them with cages full of baby oysters, called oyster spat. By raising oyster spat in cages on residential piers, the oysters are protected while they are young and vulnerable to predators.
Participants keep the oyster cages for about nine months. The oyster spat are then planted in a sanctuary located on the same creek or river. Oyster sanctuaries are closed to harvesting, allowing the oyster reefs to filter pollutants in the water and provide habitat for other fish and shellfish.
Through the program, more than 61,000 oyster cages have been deployed off residential piers on 23 Maryland creeks and rivers.
Marylanders Grow Oysters began in September 2008 as a joint effort among the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and several local organizations. The first oyster “graduates” of the program came from more than 800 cages tended to by nearly 200 volunteers, and were planted on a sanctuary on the Tred Avon River in August 2009.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced the program’s expansion at the recent Chesapeake Executive Council meeting in Baltimore.
“The Marylanders Grow Oysters program has become quite a movement,” said Gov. O’Malley. “It shows how committed Maryland citizens are to cleaning up the Bay and taking care of the tributaries that flow through their backyard.”
Visit the Marylanders Grow Oysters website for more information, including a list of all the tributaries that are part of the program and if you’re eligible to grow oysters.