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

03.21.17 - The history of oystering in Hampton Roads

03.19.17 - Chesapeake Bay's booming oysters industry is alarmed by Trump's EPA budget cuts

03.19.17 - Bay group, public oppose cut to oyster sanctuaries

03.17.17 - MD House votes to keep current oyster sanctuaries

03.11.17 - 90-year-old volunteers to save the Bay

03.10.17 - Oyster sanctuaries

02.22.17 - Video Maryland may shrink oyster sanctuaries

02.22.17 - Commission proposes rotational oyster harvesting, expanded sanctuaries

02.21.17 - Talbot, QA meetings set to discuss state's oyster management proposal

02.21.17 - Chesapeake oyster proposal alarms environmentalists

02.20.17 - The View of an Oyster Sanctuary

02.17.17 - Chesapeake Bay advocates alarmed by plan that could open oyster sanctuaries to watermen

02.16.17 - Video Sanctuaries on the half-shell

02.14.17 - MD DNR drafts plan that would shrink state's oyster sanctuaries

01.08.17 - Foundation leads effort to seed oysters in Hampton River

01.06.17 - Audio available Hampton River is full of oysters, just don't eat them

11.19.16 - Foundation leads effort to seed oysters in Hampton River

11.13.16 - Video Chespeake Bay Foundation leads effort to seed oysters in Hampton River

10.31.16 - Stevenson's Reef Ball Project

10.29.16 - Volunteers work in Canton 'oyster garden'

10.27.16 - Happy Homes for Oysters

10.21.16 - Oyster aquaculture forum set for Nov. 3 in Easton

10.13.16 - Saving the Bay, One Oyster at a Time

10.10.16 - Audio available Bringing up baby oysters in Baltimore's Inner Harbor

10.09.16 - Brendan Leary awarded Eagle Scout after leading Chesapeake Bay oyster recovery project

10.08.16 - Oyster Stroll crowd takes note of Bay Foundation shell recycling

You may also be interested in:
  • 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.
  • Maryland Oyster Gardening Help restore oysters in Maryland. Start your own oyster garden.
  • 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.
  • Building a Future for the Chesapeake's Oysters Today, there are important new reasons for hope for the Chesapeake Bay's keystone species.
  • 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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