Chesapeake Bay Foundation
CBF has a long history of environmental activism and educational programs in the region. Working with CBF the Horn Point oyster hatchery has begun to assist CBF personnel with the production of oyster spat on shell through their oyster gardeners program. Combining efforts and expertise CBF and the University of Maryland plan on a continued expansion of oyster projects in the region aimed at oyster ecology and oyster restoration.
Cooperative Oyster Breeding Program
This program brings the talents from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), The College of Marine Studies (CMS), Rutgers University, Haskin Shellfish Research Laboratory (HSRL), and the University of Maryland together to investigate selected strains of the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, for resistance to disease. By combining forces we have been successful in obtaining significant funding from the Office of Maryland Sea Grant and others that have allowed a number of research studies to be conducted. Efforts along this line remain a high priority as the need to produce superior strains of disease resistant oysters becomes more and more important to the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
The Living Classroom Foundation, located in the inner city of Baltimore, has a cooperative program with the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery to educate students during their summer hands-on programs. Students and LCF educators visit Horn Point Lab for periods of one to two days during the summer and work hand in hand with University personnel in the oyster hatchery. Students learn about spawning oysters, caring for oyster larvae, how to set oysters, grow algae and maintain an oyster nursery. Depending on timing they are also allowed to participate in oyster planting and make oyster shell bags for their own oyster planting at Fort Carroll. Students get a real world experience working in an environmental research laboratory, they learn about oyster ecology, and they get to go home feeling like they have helped in some small way with the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort.
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
MDNR, the agency responsible for the protection and enhancement of the state’s fishery resources, has a long history of cooperative efforts with the University dealing with oyster hatcheries. Cooperative projects have gone a long way in understanding the problems and benefits of using oyster hatcheries as tools for oyster restoration.
Maryland Oyster Alliance
The MOA was formed in 1998 when the University, Oyster Recovery Partnership, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation joined forces to promote oyster restoration activities in Maryland. Initial efforts have centered around educational and oyster gardening activities. Alliance activities include a master oyster gardeners program, an annual oyster forum that bring together scientists, managers, and the public, and web-based activities that will provide interactive data for use by scientists and students alike.
Oyster Recovery Partnership
The Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) has played a major role in increasing oyster larvae production from the Horn Point hatchery by providing manpower to make and move oyster shell bags, stainless steel containers of oyster shells, and the resulting oyster spat on shell from the oyster hatchery setting systems. Working with largely volunteer labor and utilizing local watermen ORP has made and moved thousands of shell bags and stainless shell containers over the past few years. These shell bags and stainless steel containers have been used to produce over 1 billion oyster spat on shell that have been used in various oyster restoration projects. Data produced from these projects will play an important role in the development of new more efficient guidelines for oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay region. Continued support and cooperation from ORP will insure the success of increasing production of oyster spat on shell for a wide range of oyster rehabilitation projects in the future.
The Oyster Recovery Partnership is a not for profit corporation that was created as a result of the Maryland Oyster Roundtable held in 1993. ORP has been instrumental in coordinating oyster restoration activities among the partners and has worked tirelessly to increase funding for those activities. ORP has their field facility located at Horn Point Laboratory where all cultch handling and cleaning activities associated with the oyster hatchery are conducted. ORP’s field crew is responsible for stockpiling oyster shell which is provided by Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Shell left over from oyster shucking operations is trucked to HPL by MDNR and allowed to age in open piles for at least a year. Aging is an important step because it allows the tissue from unshucked oysters and other fouling organisms to rot away before use in our setting tanks.
Aged oyster shell is washed, screened, and loaded into specially constructed stainless steel containers which are then placed in setting tanks. Once the setting process has occurred, the ORP crew removes the containers and loads them onto planting vessels for oyster deployment to a nursery site or for final grow-out. The logistics involved in the cultch operation and in moving the hatchery produced oyster spat are significant and the ORP works effectively with the hatchery crew to insure maximum oyster survival rates and oyster production from the hatchery facilities.