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Chesapeake oysters. (Photo Credit: Tony Weeg)

Millions of baby oysters will aid restock Chesapeake banks

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Thursday, July 18, 2013, 04:00 (GMT + 9)

In an attempt to change the drastic fall of the former numerous oyster stock in Chesapeake, fossilized oyster shells have started to be dug up from beneath a river as part of the largest oyster replenishment initiative in state history. Federal and state agencies are hoping to naturally encourage oyster breeding by providing the larvaes with suitable places to attach themselves so that they can grow into adults.

The project, which will cost about USD 30 million, will target water quality improvement and shore stabilization in the 3,200-square-mile.

“By the time this year’s replenishment initiative concludes at the end of July, an anticipated 1 million bushels of empty oyster shells will have been deployed on public oyster grounds,” remarked Natural Resources Secretary of Virginia, Doug Domenech. “That’s roughly 1 billion individual empty oyster shells, enough to fill approximately 4,000 dump trucks,” he added according to Delmarva Now.

Watermen and scientists are also working on an artificially bred triploid oyster which is more resistant to disease and grows faster. These oysters are sterile, which means all of their ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is used to grow and not to reproduce. As a result, they reach the market with double the size of other species.

"It stays fat all the time," notes Tucker Brown, one of several oystermen participating on the project.

It’s a long term shot as it will be years before results can be observed.

Overfishing, pollution, disease and silting have caused havoc in the oyster population of Chesapeake Bay. And the shortage of oyster shells is the main obstacle that prevents oyster reproduction.

It is hoped that other places could follow this example, if this project succeeds.

By Gabriela Raffaele


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