Oysters are the Answer to Chesapeake Bay Restoration

They are beneficial to both the environment and the economy.

shuck, slurp, return to sender

Eating oysters and recycling shells is the easiest way to get involved!

WIYO Save the Date 9-26-24


The Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) is the nonprofit expert in Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration. We’re restoring the Bay’s native oyster population by building sanctuary reefs, rebuilding public fishery reefs, supporting the aquaculture (oyster farming) industry, recycling oyster shell, and getting the public involved through hands-on volunteering and events. Since our founding in 1994, and with the support of major partners like the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point LabORP has planted more than 11.5 billion oysters on 3,000 acres of reef and recycled more than 300,000 bushels of shell!

Why Oysters

Oysters are beneficial to the Chesapeake Bay and the regional economy! As filter-feeders, oysters’ eating habits clean water of excess nutrients and sediments, improving clarity and quality. Oyster reefs provide valuable habitat, food, and protection for other marine species so they can grow and prosper. And oyster harvesting, distribution, and dining supports thousands of businesses Bay-wide.

Shell Recycling

Oyster shell is the best, most natural material used to rebuild oyster reefs and it’s in short supply. To save this ecologically important byproduct, ORP created the Shell Recycling Alliance in 2010 to reclaim shell, free of charge, from restaurants and other seafood businesses. Shells that otherwise would be dumped in landfills are now recycled, cleaned, treated with baby oysters and put back into the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

ORP is now the nation’s largest shell recycling network, annually collecting tens of thousands of bushels of shell from approximately 200 restaurants and 70 public drop sites in the mid-Atlantic region. Since the Alliance’s launch, ORP has reclaimed 300,000 bushels of shell, enough to support the planting of over 1.3 billion oysters in local waters.

Volunteer to Grow Oysters

Want to improve the health of your local waterway by growing oysters at your dock or community pier and then planting them on sanctuary reefs? Join ORP’s free Marylander’s Grow Oysters (MGO) program and be part of a powerful network of 2,000 volunteers growing oysters in 35 Bay tributaries!

Sustainable Fisheries

ORP promotes the responsible harvest of fish and shellfish from the Chesapeake Bay, contributing to a flourishing seafood sector, bolstering the regional economy, and safeguarding the vibrant heritage of waterfront communities. Our efforts encompass advancing the stewardship of Maryland’s fisheries while providing assistance to both watermen and the expanding aquaculture sector. Our objective is to establish a harmonious outcome that benefits everyone participating in the Chesapeake Bay seafood industry.

Dine at Shell Recycling Restaurants.

Visit the Bay-friendly businesses who go out of their way to recycle oyster shells.

Recycle Shells at Public Drop Sites.

With over 70 locations in Maryland, there’s a public drop site near you!


See the strong network of partners who work together to restore the Chesapeake’s keystone species.

Top Ten SRA restaurants 2024

Top Ten SRA Contributors of 2024

ORP’s Shell Recycling Alliance is comprised of Bay-friendly businesses that go above and beyond, dutifully recycling oyster shells to be used in Chesapeake restoration efforts. Shell is an increasingly limited,…

Read More
On-water shot fo boat loaded with oysters. Cloudy sky background.

Eight Million Oysters Planted Using Funds from the M/V Ever Forward Cargo Ship Grounding

Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Oyster Recovery Partnership Plant Eight Million Oysters using Funds from the M/V Ever Forward Cargo Ship Grounded in Anne Arundel County Waters in March 2022…

Read More
Oysters planted
Bushels of shell recycled
Acres of restored reefs
Of restored reefs highly successful
Local community reef-building projects