Oyster Restoration Centers

Staff member posts sign on the ORC building in Shady Side. Photo by Beth Lebfevre/CBF Staff

About CBF's Oyster Restoration Centers

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation recognizes that saving the Bay is uniquely tied to restoring the native oyster, Crassostrea virginica. Historically, Chesapeake oysters were the Bay's most valuable fishery. Ecologically, native oysters are equally important: they filter algae, sediment, and other pollutants. Oyster reefs also provide habitat for fish, crabs, and other Bay organisms. The Bay's native oyster population has been estimated at as low as one percent of historic levels, making restoration critical to help improve the Bay’s water quality and increase its economic viability. In support of re-establishing this keystone species, CBF has established three facilities devoted to restoration of Crassostrea virginica.

The R/V Patricia Campbell deploys millions of spat-on-shell in a new area on Cooks Point Sanctuary Reef. Photo © Erika NortemannThe R/V Patricia Campbell deploys millions of spat-on-shell in a new area on Cooks Point Sanctuary Reef. Photo © Erika Norteman

Maryland Oyster Restoration Center

The Maryland Oyster Restoration Center was established in 2002. The Center houses several large tanks for use in producing juvenile oysters, called 'spat.' It is also home to CBF's restoration vessel Patricia Campbell. The 60-foot boat transports and places hatchery-produced seed oysters onto sanctuary reefs throughout Maryland waters and carries oyster shell and other materials for reef construction.

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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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In the News

06.16.16 - Video Hampton students spend year growing oysters for Elizabeth Lake reef

06.01.16 - Chesapeake Bay Foundation to Teach Seminars on Oyster Gardening

05.20.16 - Video After 10 months of nurturing, volunteer oyster gardeners cut 'youngsters' loose

04.14.16 - Students gain concrete skills by building oyster reef balls

04.13.16 - Maryland set to conduct more detailed oyster survey after Assembly passes controversial bill

04.13.16 - Maryland lawmakers act on climate change, land preservation, pollinators, and oysters

04.13.16 - Reef ball construction at CAT North

04.06.16 - Oyster study debate heats up in Maryland

04.06.16 - Senator: Oyster bill addresses a serious problem

04.05.16 - Video Maryland Watermen Head to Annapolis for Oyster Bill Hearing

04.04.16 - Oyster study bill advances despite watermen objections

03.24.16 - OysterFutures project kicks off discussions about fishing and restoration

03.18.16 - MD wants to take shells for oyster project from prime fishing reef

03.14.16 - Bill could pay Harris Creek boat damages

03.08.16 - Watermen oppose oyster study

03.04.16 - Thumbs up for reef balls

02.03.16 - Maryland loses $1M in oyster restoration funding after Tred Avon River project is delayed

02.02.16 - Video Schuh backs bill to raise cap on oyster shell recycling tax credit

01.21.16 - Oyster restoration work should continue

01.17.16 - Scientists, watermen work together in new study to preserve oyster industry

01.15.16 - Congress responds to delay in Tred Avon oyster restoration work

01.13.16 - Watermen seek, win, halt in Tred Avon oyster restoration project

01.13.16 - Video Hogan Administration halts plans to bring oysters back to Chesapeake

01.13.16 - Bay groups react to halted oyster restoration

01.11.16 - Reef ball project aims to return habitat, fish to Smoots Bay area of Potomac River

01.08.16 - Tred Avon oyster restoration delayed

12.27.15 - Maryland DNR asks Army Corp to delay Tred Avon oyster restoration work

12.24.15 - State seeks to delay Eastern Shore oyster restoration

12.20.15 - Why we should care about oysters

11.27.15 - Questions loom over effects of state's oyster recovery efforts on watermen's bottom lines

11.24.15 - Audio available Is Climate Change a Threat to Oyster Dressing?

11.23.15 - Recycling program aims to repurpose Virginia oyster shells

11.23.15 - Oyster Expo airs fishery woes

11.09.15 - 'Oyster Expo' set for Easton Nov. 18

10.22.15 - Oyster restoration effort underway in Patapsco River

10.22.15 - Baltimore Oyster Partnership to Plant 5 Million Baby Oysters by 2020

10.21.15 - 5 million oysters to be planted in the Patapsco River by 2020

10.20.15 - Saturday: The Great Baltimore Oyster Festival

10.12.15 - Large-scale oyster restoration under way in 6 tributaries

10.06.15 - Harris Creek reef restoration at 350 acres, is largest ever

09.23.15 - Scientists say Maryland's gigantic new oyster reef is a pearl that could save the Chesapeake Bay

09.15.15 - A final oyster planting in Harris Creek

09.13.15 - For Chesapeake Bay Foundation manager, the oyster is her world

07.17.15 - Crews replenishing Wicomico oyster reefs

07.14.15 - Group collects shells in effort to save the Chesapeake Bay

07.13.15 - Corps begin rebuilding Great Wicomico sanctuary reef

06.09.15 - Workshop being held Tuesday for volunteer oyster gardeners

06.03.15 - Video Joe's Job: Oyster Restoration

05.27.15 - Watermen win changes to oyster reef restoration

05.27.15 - Video Thousands of oysters find new home in the Lafayette River

05.27.15 - New law aims to protect oyster farms from poachers

05.22.15 - Train to be an Oyster Farmer

05.14.15 - Oyster restoration continues in Tred Avon

05.12.15 - Scientist to speak on oyster restoration

04.14.15 - Lowly oyster says a lot about health of Chesapeake Bay

04.08.15 - Tuscarora High biology students plan to protect the oysters

04.05.15 - Tangier oystermen thank those who helped them recover lost oyster cages

You may also be interested in:
  • Maryland Oyster Restoration Center CBF's Oyster Restoration Center serves as the central location for all of CBF’s oyster restoration activities in Maryland.
  • A New Day for Oysters Maryland's Harris Creek is host to one of the largest oyster restoration projects ever undertaken in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Oyster Gardening in the Inner Harbor CBF and the Waterfront Partnership have created The Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership as art of the Healthy Harbor Initiative to make Baltimore's Inner Harbor swimmable and fishable.
  • Virginia Oyster Restoration CBF's oyster restoration programs offer citizens the tools and information needed to help restore native oysters
  • Spat Catcher Program Each spring, volunteers from the Lafayette River area hope to attract swimming oyster larvae to special cages suspended from piers and docks.
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