Engaging the Public
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the UMCES Horn Point Lab Hatchery, and local organizations are working with hundreds of Maryland waterfront property owners and students to grow millions of young oysters in cages suspended from private piers. In addition to tending to the oysters during their vulnerable first year of life, participants also learn about the importance of oysters in the Bay’s ecosystem. Initiated by Governor O’Malley in September 2008, Marylanders Grow Oysters program started in one tributary, the Tred Avon River, with a few hundred cages, has expanded 30 creeks and rivers with 8,000 cages. (See map http://www.oysters.maryland.gov/pdfs/MGOPartnerRiverslargetext.pdf)
In late summer and early fall, homeowners receive wire cages containing several hundred oysters each. The cages are hung from their home or community piers. The cages remain suspended until the following summer when the oysters are collected and planted on local oyster sanctuaries to augment the local wild oyster population.
The ORP works closely with UMCES Point Lab Hatchery to produce oyster spat. ORP then transports the spat to Bay tributaries, where local organizations work with residents to deliver the oysters and cages. The cages are produced by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections inmates.
Tributaries are selected each year by DNR through an online application process in early spring. Each tributary has a local sponsor who leads the program by organizing growers and distributing cages and oysters. There is no charge to participate in the program. Click here for more information.