Citizens Working to Enhance Maryland's Oyster Reefs
Welcome to Marylanders Grow Oysters, where hundreds of waterfront property owners are growing millions of young oysters in cages suspended from private piers. Their goal? To protect young oysters during their vulnerable first year of life, so they may be planted on local sanctuaries where the oysters enrich the ecosystem and our oyster population.
There is no charge to participants, but the rewards – both personal and ecological – are significant. By fostering these young oysters, our citizen partners are also generating an abundance of fish and other aquatic life and creating live bottom, populated by oysters and other creatures, on sanctuaries closed to harvesting.
Initiated by Governor Martin O’Malley in September 2008, Marylanders Grow Oysters is managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in conjunction with the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and local organizations. Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections inmates produce the cages for the program.
Students Take Part In Marylanders Grow Oysters Program
November 2012 – Approximately 1,000 Anne Arundel County middle school students participated in an extensive oyster field trip focused at City Dock Annapolis and the Annapolis Maritime Museum in Eastport. They sampled water quality, spoke to a waterman, and established over 50 oyster cages to grow oysters for the Severn River sanctuary. Read more. (See 6th Grade Oyster Partnership at the bottom of the page.)
Tred Avon Oysters
Reach 1 Million!
From July though August 2012, DNR collected the fourth year’s batch of oysters grown under the program in the Tred Avon River. The oysters were cared for by over 150 committed volunteer oyster growers who tended over 800 cages. View a map of cage locations on the Tred Avon River. About 250,000 oysters were collected, but final numbers are still being tabulated. With the close of the fourth year, approximately 1 million oysters have been planted to date in the Tred Avon sanctuary.
“Our citizen stewards in Talbot County have not only done a terrific job giving these baby oysters a head start on life, but they also have been a source of inspiration for other conservation minded Marylanders,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. Thanks to the participation of local organizers, the program, which uses cages built by Maryland inmates, has expanded from 1 river in 2008 to 30 creeks and rivers in 2012.
In the News
- DNR to Hold St. Mary’s River Oyster Leasing Public Meeting DNR 11.30.12
- DNR Invites Marylanders To Join Oyster Growing Program DNR 3.26.12
- DNR Releases Preliminary Oyster Mortality Rates For The Upper Bay DNR 11.9.11
- Students Take Part In Marylanders Grow Oysters Program DNR 9.19.11
- Citizen Oyster Growers And DNR Meet To Plan Marylanders Grow Oysters Program For 2011 DNR 3.14.11
Oyster Cage Update
In 2012, Maryland oyster stewards tended about 8,000 cages, exceeding the goal of 7,000. Each year the program has expanded to additional rivers and creeks. Plans are underway to add more growers in 2013.
Program Expands in 2012. Plans Beginning for 2013
In 2012, Marylanders Grow Oysters expanded to an additional 6 areas: Oyster Creek, Rhode River, Popes Creek, Crab Alley Bay, Swan Cove in Harris Creek, and the Little Choptank River. There are now 30 creeks and rivers participating in Marylanders Grow Oysters, up from 1 in 2008. Tributaries are selected each year through an online application process which occurs in early spring. Each tributary has a local sponsor who leads the program by organizing the growers and distributing cages and oysters. DNR works closely with the local sponsor, providing guidance, advice, cages and oysters. View a map of all the tributaries.