As a part of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay
Watershed Agreement, Maryland committed to restoring oyster populations in five
tributaries in Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay by 2025. Responsibility
for achieving this goal rests with the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Sustainable
Fisheries Goal Implementation Team (Fisheries GIT). In 2012, the Fisheries GIT
established the Maryland Interagency Workgroup consisting of representatives
from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Army Corp of
Engineers Baltimore District, Oyster Recovery Partnership and the Maryland
Department of Natural Resources to facilitate oyster restoration by
coordinating efforts among the state and federal agencies, in consultation with
the scientific, academic, industry and oyster restoration communities. The tributaries chosen for restoration
in Maryland are Harris Creek, Little Choptank, Tred Avon, Upper St. Mary’s and
Harris Creek Restoration Project
Harris Creek was
selected as the first tributary for large-scale oyster restoration by the
Maryland Interagency Workgroup based on water quality, available restorable
bottom, protection from harvest, and historical spat set. It was established as
a sanctuary in 2010 and restoration began in 2011.
Little Choptank River Restoration Project
The Little Choptank
River was selected as the second tributary for large-scale oyster restoration
by the Maryland Interagency Workgroup based on water quality favorable for
oyster growth and reproduction, a large amount of restorable bottom, and good
historical spat set. It was established as a sanctuary in 2010 and restoration
began in 2014.
Tred Avon River Restoration Project
The Tred Avon River was selected as the third tributary for
large-scale oyster restoration by the Maryland Interagency Workgroup based on water
quality favorable for oyster growth and reproduction, available restorable
bottom, and historical presence of oysters. It was established as a sanctuary
in 2010 and restoration began in 2015.
Upper St. Mary’s River Restoration
The Upper St. Mary’s River oyster sanctuary was selected
as the fourth tributary in Maryland waters in 2017 for large-scale oyster restoration.
Historically strong oyster recruitment, favorable water quality, its location
in the Western Shore, as well as strong support from the local environmental community
led to its selection for restoration. It was established as a sanctuary in 2010
and restoration is slated to begin in 2019.
River was recommended as the fifth large-scale tributary for oyster restoration
in Maryland waters in September 2018. The Fisheries Goal Implementation Team
accepted it as the fifth large-scale tributary for restoration in June 2019. Currently,
a draft blueprint is being written with potential restoration areas and
treatments. It was established as a sanctuary in 2010.
The department allocates a small amount of funds annually for investment in small-scale restoration in sanctuaries outside of the five tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement. These funds go towards planting hatchery spat-on-shell.
Nanticoke River Restoration
In a December 15, 2017 press release, the department announced the intention to design and develop oyster management plans for other sanctuaries in addition to the five tributaries. Specifically, the press released stated the Nanticoke River would have a plan developed to determine how the strategic use of state investment and resources could restore oyster populations, using planted seed, shell and spat to spur natural oyster growth and reproduction.
Anne Arundel Complex Restoration- Magothy, Severn and South Rivers
In a September 5, 2018 press release, the department announced the intention to study and survey existing state oyster sanctuaries in Anne Arundel County, including the Severn River Sanctuary and to work with the local watershed associations to maximize the restoration potential in the tributaries.
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