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Partnership hopes to add 10 billion oysters to Chesapeake Bay by 2025

RICHMOND, Va. — The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is partnering with Rappahannock Oyster Company and more than 20 other businesses, organizations, and institutions to work towards a goal of adding 10 billion new oysters to Chesapeake Bay by 2025.  The partnership met Monday at Rapp Sessions, the Rappahannock Restaurant’s sister restaurant, to  establish the goal.

The 10 billion oysters will come from a combination of expanded restoration activities, fishery repletion activities, and the continued growth of the Bay’s oyster aquaculture industry.

In recent years, the pace and scale of oyster restoration has been greatly accelerated by state and federal agencies’ efforts, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources, working with groups including the Oyster Recovery Partnership to implement the Chesapeake Bay Program goal of restoring 10 Bay tributaries by 2025.

The partnership has established as its top three priorities, ensuring robust funding for oyster restoration, establishing sound science-based management that ensures sustainable harvest of the Bay’s oyster population, and expanding the oyster aquaculture industries in Maryland and Virginia.

“Scientists have been doing research on oysters in the Chesapeake for almost 150 years. The evidence continues to grow about the importance of abundant oyster populations for water quality, biological productivity and diversity, shoreline integrity and the resilience of this great ecosystem,” said Don Boesch, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Professor and President Emeritus.

Oyster aquaculture provides many of the same environmental benefits as wild oysters, including filtering algae and sediment as they grow to market size. Industry partners also note that aquaculture’s continued growth will create jobs and provide economic benefits to coastal communities.

“This partnership promotes small business, creates jobs and maintains oyster growers’ long-term viability,” said Johnny Shockley, Founding Partner, Hoopers Island Oyster Co.  “We see a future when the Chesapeake once again leads the world in seafood production with hundreds of oyster farms and a sustainable public fishery that preserves our heritage and builds a billion-dollar industry.”

The 10 billion oyster goal relies heavily on commitments that Maryland and Virginia made to restore oyster populations in five tributaries in each state by 2025. As the partnership creates new volunteer restoration opportunities, it will also provide new voices in support of state and federal efforts to restore oyster populations.

“We will never achieve a restored and healthy Bay until we restore the Bay’s oysters,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker.“This partnership will help make that happen.”

More information on the partnership can be found at www.TenBillionOysters.org