Oyster Restoration

Photo by CBF StaffVolunteers plant young oysters on an oyster reef. Photo by CBF Staff

Getting the Community Involved

CBF's oyster restoration programs offer citizens the tools and information needed to help restore native oysters, Crassostrea virginica, to the Chesapeake. Until the 1980s, oysters supported the most valuable fishery in the Bay. Today, as a result of decades of pollution, overharvesting, and disease, the Bay's native oyster population has been estimated at as low as one percent of historic levels.

Yet oysters remain a keystone species in the Bay's ecology. They filter algae, sediment, and other pollutants and in the process improve water quality and clarity. Their large reefs provide habitat for fish, crabs, and other Bay organisms. Restoration is critical to help improve the Bay's water quality and increase its economic viability.

See program information below or program links to the left.

Students set oyster cages at a local dock.  Photo by CBF StaffStudents set oyster cages for an oyster gardening project.  Photo by CBF Staff

Hampton Roads Oyster Gardening Program

CBF's Oyster Gardening program allows citizens and students to grow oysters alongside their docks. Gardeners raise the oysters from juvenile to adult, and plant them onto sanctuary oyster reefs after one growing season.

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Collecting oyster shells for CBFs Save Oyster Shell program. Photo by CBF Staff.Collecting oyster shells for CBFs Save Oyster Shell program. Photo by CBF Staff.

Save Oyster Shell

Save Oyster Shell logoThe Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) needs your help–and your oyster shells–to restore native oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. Donate your empty shells to CBF so we can recycle them into more oyster reefs and repopulate the Bay with more oysters.  Oyster shells are literally the foundation of our reef restoration efforts!

Oyster shells are becoming increasingly scarce.  Through CBF's Save Oyster Shell program, shells that would typically be thrown away are saved and used in a variety of oyster restoration projects.

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CBF staffers Tommy Leggett and Jackie Shannon examine oysters from CBFs oyster farm. Photo by CBF StaffCBF staffers examine oysters being raised on CBF's oyster farm. Photo by CBF Staff

Virginia Oyster Restoration Center and Oyster Farm

In support of re-establishing this keystone species, CBF has established the Virginia Oyster Restoration Center (VAORC) in Gloucester Point. The VAORC operates a small scale commercial oyster farm to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of oyster aquaculture to watermen and other entrepreneurs. The VAORC is also the homeport of the innovative oyster restoration vessel Chesapeake Gold, used for the aquaculture program and for assisting partners with restoration and research projects.

We rely very heavily on volunteer help to make our oyster restoration program work and we are always looking for volunteers.

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You may also be interested in:
  • S.O.S. - Save Oyster Shell Donate your empty shells to CBF so we can recycle them into more oyster reefs and repopulate the Bay with more oysters.
  • Maryland Oyster Restoration Center CBF's Oyster Restoration Center serves as the central location for all of CBF’s oyster restoration activities in Maryland.
  • Virginia Oyster Restoration CBF's oyster restoration programs offer citizens the tools and information needed to help restore native oysters
  • Building a Future for the Chesapeake's Oysters Today, there are important new reasons for hope for the Chesapeake Bay's keystone species.
  • Great Shellfish of the Bay Now, thanks to increased awareness, extensive restoration efforts, resisting the introduction of a non-native oyster species, and favorable weather conditions, there is hope for the mighty oyster yet.

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