Hayden Cook, Fisheries Intern
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Posted on June 19, 2012 | Permalink
Tred Avon River Oyster Growing Program
Location: Tred Avon River
June 18th Sarah Burton and I went out with Chris Judy to participate in the free program to collect oysters. Residents along the Tred Avon River volunteered to have four baskets of oyster shells covered in spat (baby oysters) to be place on their docks. There are about 800 oyster cages spread out across different docks. Around 500 spats were placed in each cage (with about a fifty percent survival rate). The programs main goal is for the spat to grow on the oyster shells in the cage for nine months (September till June), then the shells are collected and planted into a half acre oyster bed under water in the Tred Avon.
Our job was to pick the oyster cages out of the water, open them, then dump the oyster shells into baskets. Sounds easy but after getting on and off the boat and lifting cages onto piers, it gets hard, muddy and leaving you smelling like nasty fish.
There are twenty four other rivers in the program, but the Tred Avon was the original test river when the program started back in 2008. On the Tred Avon for about 15 days Chris goes out gathering and planting all the oysters, then in September he goes back out for about 15 days to put spat and oyster shells back in the residents cages. No other river does this, all the other twenty three rivers have contractors or associations that do the program. In those rivers the residents with cages must gather the oyster shells themselves and boat them out to a marked off location to be planted. Then they must go to a facililty and gather spat and shells to be put back in their cages.
Although this is not the cleanest and easiest free program, it does in the end contribute to help the oyster population, which is highly needed to help out the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.