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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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.
  • 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.
  • 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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