Chesapeake Bay oyster population on the rise

Chesapeake Bay oysters appear to be becoming more resistant to diseases that have harmed their populations in recent years.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is calling for Virginia and Maryland to create sanctuaries protecting approximately 40 percent of historical oyster grounds, greater funding to rebuild and restore reefs, and stepped-up efforts to prevent oyster poaching from protected reefs.

Oyster farming is becoming increasingly popular in the Chesapeake Bay and the CBF is urging Virginia and Maryland to encourage the aquaculture through training programs, fee waivers, and other incentives.

A surging aquaculture industry could produce millions in new revenue and provide many new jobs in the region.

Scientific research is suggesting that natural selection is driving increased resistance to diseases and producing hardier oysters, especially in the southern Bay. The natural disease resistance will accelerate is oysters are allowed to repopulate on protected sanctuary reefs.

Reefs can be protected Baywide over time by protecting more existing oyster bottom from harvest and rebuilding and maintaining oyster reefs that once existed decades ago but were destroyed by overharvesting or smother by siltation.

CBF Virginia Oyster Restoration and Fisheries Scientist Tommy Leggett says, "With the right help and incentives, oyster farming could really take off. That would be a win for the seafood industry, the Bay, and the Bay's wild oysters. It's where we need to be heading."

Virginia has already established retraining programs for watermen and the number of farmed oysters in the Commonwealth has jumped to nearly 10 million, with a market value of $2.8 million and total economic impact estimated at about $7 million in 2008. Experts predict that income could increase tenfold in the coming years.

    Sheila Sheila 09/07/10 01:23

    I remember years ago when my parents would take us ( me and my 4 brothers ) under the Lesner Bridge to pick up Oysters. They had friends who lived in that area. We also crabbed a little farther down where there are neighborhoods and marinas now. I don't recall having to pay anything but, I do know we spent hours on the water and it was truly innocent, healthy FUN! We spent a lot of time together as a family. Maybe once the protected areas for Oyster Farms are put into place someone will create a family type fun program that will be valuable to people who really want to spend quality time together.

    Crow Crow 09/07/10 01:24

    The Chesapeake Bay oyster is making a return ? If so I would take this as good news. I do not believe that it means our Bay is recovering from the toxins and pollutants we pour into her daily. I only hope that my children and grandchildren will still be able to swim and fish in the Bay the way Sheila describes. It is now no longer possible to get to the Bay in many area's due to restrictions from land owners who feel they own the Bay from the back of their deck to the waterline. The only thing keeping these selfish hoarders from erecting fences to the waterline is public access laws. That still doesn't stop them from glaring at you with there hands on their hips and complaining loud enough so you can hear them while walking along what they consider as their backyard and Ocean. They believe the beach belongs to them yet demand the City replace the sand washed away from a storm at the City's expense. You can not own what belongs to the public.
    Sorry for getting off subject but this just $##(*& me off.

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