WASHINGTON – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05), and Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (all D-MD) have announced $800,000 in federal funding for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ partners to restore oyster habitats throughout the Chesapeake Bay.
This funding, provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will allow the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to work in conjunction with NOAA, the Oyster Recovery Partnership, and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Oyster Hatchery to place spat-on-shell on approximately 100 acres of oyster reefs in five target tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay – the Little Choptank River, the Tred Avon River, the St. Mary's River, the Manokin River, and the Harris Creek. This will increase oyster densities on the target sites, which are anticipated to be self-sustaining, and increase ecosystem services including water filtration, fish habitat for species including the federally listed shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, and increased oyster spawning capacity.
“It’s encouraging that Maryland will receive this critical funding for oyster restoration,” said Congressman Hoyer. “The health of the Bay and its tributaries is of the upmost importance to our region, and this funding will help restore oyster reefs critical to our watermen and our history. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to improve the health of our environment in Maryland.”
“The Chesapeake Bay is Maryland’s most important natural resource. The restoration of its oyster population will help preserve the health of the Bay, stimulate local economic activity, and protect the coastline from storms and erosion.” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “I will continue to advocate for strong federal funding for the Maryland institutions doing this critical work on the ground.”
“A thriving oyster population is central to a healthy Chesapeake Bay – and, in turn, the success of our economy and environment. This funding will help significantly increase oyster spawning, improve the overall health of the Bay, and boost our local economy,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committees. “I will keep working in Congress to ensure that innovative Bay restoration efforts like this have the resources they need, and that we protect and expand oyster reefs in Maryland and across the country.”
NOAA, which is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, is a scientific agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that focuses on the conditions of the oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere. Oysters are a crucial component of global ocean health, providing food, jobs, and habitat. Oyster reefs also provide important barriers to storms and tides, preventing erosion and protecting productive estuary waters. NOAA has identified oyster reef restoration as a conservation priority.