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Oyster Gardening Project Revitalising Stocks

by Ellen Hardy
9 June 2008, at 1:00am

US - A new initiative is taking place on Chesapeake Bay to bring back an almost wiped out oyster population through amateur conservationists and a community desire to get to grips with home aquaculture.

According to the Associated Press, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation has sent out thousands of wire cages over the last decade to people in Maryland and Virginia willing to grow oysters under home docks for nine months and return them for "planting" on sanctuary reefs on the Chesapeake's tributaries.

The Associated Press say that although the Chesapeake oyster is at an estimated 1 percent or less of its historic bounty in the bay, a victim of water pollution and sediment runoff from development, the nonprofit environmental group and its volunteers have put roughly 7 million oysters in sanctuaries since 1997.

"They're dirty little guys, and they don't smell good, but you always feel really good after you plant them," said Tiffany Granberg, a CBF employee who loaded up several dozen buckets of homegrown oysters Thursday on a boat docked outside the group's Annapolis headquarters.

Volunteers pay $75 for four oyster cages and a seminar on how to raise them. In the fall, they get several thousand "spat" — baby oysters the size of the nail on one's pinky — and instructions on how to raise them. The volunteers tie the cages to docks, leaving them a few inches below the water, and haul them out twice a month or so to rinse them.

View the Associated Press story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy