County Executive Steve Schuh, along with environmental leaders and state government officials, recently led a round table discussion on Anne Arundel County’s growing oyster restoration and aquaculture programs.
“The waterways of Anne Arundel County are part of our heritage,” said Schuh. “Helping restore our struggling oyster population will ensure that these waterways can continue to improve.”
The event was organized by the Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP), a 22-year old, Annapolis-based nonprofit organization that manages much of the state’s oyster restoration activities. It builds and rebuilds oyster reefs, plants reefs with baby oysters (spat), recycles shell from 220+ restaurants, manages an aquaculture training program, and offers classroom-based instruction in middle and high schools.
Before the discussion, the County Executive took part in ORP’s shell recycling program, which collects shells from Maryland, Northern Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Delaware. Schuh joined two volunteers as they collected shells from the Boatyard and Carroll’s Creek Restaurants in Eastport.
Locally, ORP picks up shell from 24 restaurants in Anne Arundel County; last year, 3,015 bushels recycled in Anne Arundel County were reused to build and populate reefs in the Chesapeake Bay. Anne Arundel County was the first county in Maryland to establish public drop off locations for residents to recycle their used shells, including a site at the County landfill in Milllersville. In addition to the benefits of reusing shells for oyster reefs, the shells are kept out of the landfills. The State of Maryland offers a $5-per-bushel tax credit for recycled shells.
Annually, ORP’s aquaculture efforts have helped plant between 500 and 600 million oysters in the Bay and its tributaries. To date, it has planted 5.9 billion spat on more than 2,200 acres of reefs. ORP also manages a program that places cages filled with baby oysters from the piers of waterfront property owners (“Marylanders Grow Oysters” program).
For more information on oyster restoration in Anne Arundel County go to www.oysterrecovery.org/.