Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership Surpasses 1 Million Oysters Grown in the Baltimore Harbor

| July 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership release: 

Today, the Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership, a collaboration between the Waterfront Partnership’s Healthy Harbor Initiative,Chesapeake Bay Foundation and downtown businesses, announced that they have grown their 1 millionth oyster in the Baltimore harbor – a big step towards accomplishing its goal of planting 5 million oysters by 2020.

“We rely entirely on our dedicated volunteers to take care of thousands of oysters hanging in hundreds of cages each season in order to give the spat a head start,” said Tiffany Kim, Program Manager for the Healthy Harbor Initiative. “Oysters raised this way are more likely to survive than spat grown in the wild.”

Corporate volunteers from downtown Baltimore businesses raise juvenile oysters, known as spat-on-shell in the Inner Harbor for nine months by routinely scrubbing algae and sediment from their cages, and then transplant them to a non-harvest or sanctuary reef in the Patapsco River.

“The Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership’s success is two-fold,” added Carmera Thomas, Baltimore Program Manager for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “We’re putting more oysters in the Patapsco River and educating volunteers about their value to the ecosystem.”

The partnership began in 2014 with five downtown businesses – Brown Advisory, Constellation, Legg Mason, T. Rowe Price and BGE. Over the years, the program has grown to include Morgan Stanley, MOM’s Organic Market, RK&K and Whitman Requardt & Associates.

“T. Rowe Price is proud to help replenish of the oyster population and improve the health of our natural treasure, the Patapsco River,” said Kevin Shea, Vice President at T. Rowe Price, a founding member of the program. “Together, with other prominent Baltimore companies, we have made a significant contribution to the goal of planting 5 million oysters at the Patapsco River oyster sanctuary.”

The Partnership grew 44,000 oysters in the first year (2014), and as the initiative grew, so too did the number of oysters. In 2019, over 300,000 oysters were grown, contributing to the health of the Harbor by filtering pollution and sediment from the water.

Oysters grown by volunteers contribute to the goal of planting 5 million oysters in the Patapsco River by 2020. The Patricia Campbell, an oyster restoration vessel owned and operated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, has already seeded the reef with 3 million oysters and will return by 2020 to meet the planting goal.

“Oysters are one of the most important components to restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries,” said Alexandra DySard, Environmental and Partnership Manager for MOM’s Organic Market, which joined the program last year. “Our team formed a deeper connection to the Inner Harbor and adoration for our incredible friend, the oyster.”

In Maryland, oysters are at perilously low levels. The state’s 2018 stock assessment showed that since 1999 the adult oyster population in the state has dropped from 600 million to 300 million. Oysters are a keystone species in the Chesapeake Bay. Their reefs provide habitat for fish, crabs and other marine life. An adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day and the bivalves also sequester nitrogen and phosphorous in their shells and tissue.

Photos courtesy of Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership

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News releases from various sources around South Baltimore.