Domino Sugar and Chesapeake Bay Foundation Deliver 116,000 Oysters to Sanctuary Reef

| June 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

Sponsored post from Domino Sugar

Domino Sugar and Chesapeake Bay Foundation Deliver 116,000 Oysters to Sanctuary Reef

The sustainability initiative is helping to restore the Bay’s native oyster population.

BALTIMORE, Md. (June 6, 2019) – After seven months of growing more than 116,000 baby oysters in the waters near its Inner Harbor facility, employees from ASR Group’s Domino® Sugar refinery transported the mollusks to their permanent home on a sanctuary reef in the Patapsco River on May 22.

The employees were members of the refinery’s oyster gardening team—a partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and one of the latest sustainability initiatives at the plant. The  Chesapeake Bay Foundation transported the Domino Sugar volunteers and their oysters to the reef near Fort Carroll on their 46-ft workboat, Snow Goose.

“We’ve been glad to make use of our waterfront location to help improve the health of the Bay,” said the refinery’s Environmental Manager, Karen Bakker. “Our employees have been so enthusiastic about this project that we’ve decided to double the size of our oyster garden next fall.”

As one of the Chesapeake Bay’s important natural filters, adult oysters can filter 50 gallons of water per day. With the Bay’s oyster population estimated to be only a small fraction of what it once was, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation manages an oyster gardening program throughout the region and in Baltimore through the Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership, collaborating with Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, waterfront businesses and residents to help restore the Bay’s native oyster population. The foundation’s goal is to plant 10 billion oysters in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries by 2025.

“It’s encouraging to see Domino Sugar employees’ efforts paying off in the form of thousands of new oysters being added to the Bay,” said Carmera Thomas-Wilhite, the Baltimore Program Manager for Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “And we’re pleased to hear they’ll be expanding the oyster gardening program later this year. We hope their example will encourage other businesses in the region to implement programs to improve local waterways.”

To begin the process, last fall, Domino Sugar employees built 50 wire mesh cages and filled them each with thousands of baby oysters, or spat, and lowered them into the water beneath one of the refinery’s piers. Every few weeks, nearly 40 employees volunteered to pull the cages out of the harbor and scrub off sediment and algae to ensure the continued flow of oxygen and phytoplankton to the growing oysters.

Now that the oysters are larger and less susceptible to predation, they were able to be safely planted at the sanctuary reef. The latest survey of the reef discovered new spat and found the reef was flourishing.

The oyster garden at the Domino Sugar refinery is the latest sustainability project at the 97-year-old facility and local landmark. In recent years, ASR Group has installed a 35 kW solar panel array, created a half acre of new greenspace, planted 16 trees and installed a biofiltration system that cleans stormwater from a one-acre parking lot before it reaches the harbor.

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