Hope on the Halfshell: CBF issues report on oyster industry in the Bay

February 20, 2024
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The following is a report issued by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation:

Oyster reefs provide food and shelter to more than 300 other species of fish and invertebrates, and prior to the 19th century, the population could filter the entire volume of water in the Bay in a matter of days.

Oyster reefs also served an integral role in the tapestry of natural systems, including underwater grasses, marshes, and maritime forests, that historically buffered the Chesapeake Bay’s shorelines from storms.

The loss of oysters and their reefs has resulted in reduced ecosystem services, species diversity, and economic opportunities for the region. These ecosystem services are extremely valuable.

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A single acre of restored oyster reef is estimated to provide services worth up to $40,000 in annual economic benefit, not including harvest.

Without healthy reefs, local economies suffer, as do other critical estuarine habitats like marshes and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV).

The success of recent large-scale oyster restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay, which are among the largest in the world, show that concentrated and coordinated work can bring back oysters and provide many ecological and economic benefits.

Now is the time to ensure oyster restoration can realize its full potential to support the ecological, economic, and social resilience of our estuary and vibrant communities where people and nature can thrive together.

Oysters have shaped the history, culture, and wellbeing of the Bay and its communities for centuries. With our help, they can also play a critical role in shaping the region’s future. Now is the time to ensure oyster restoration can realize its full potential to support the ecological, economic, and social resilience of our estuary and vibrant communities where people and nature can thrive together.

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