Build-a-Reef Campaign Aims to put 10 million Oysters in the Severn River this Summer

Boat on Severn planting oysters

Organizations call on community to sponsor bushels of spat-on-shell

The Severn River Association (SRA) and Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) today launched a campaign seeking community support to plant 10 million oysters in the Severn River this summer. The fundraising campaign, Operation Build-a-Reef, presents a unique opportunity for the public to purchase bushels of juvenile oysters to create water-filtering reefs that will further enhance and protect the river.

ORP and SRA are asking area residents and businesses to purchase bushels of spat on shell (juvenile oysters) at Every donation will directly support the production, transport and planting of spat this August on Wade Oyster Reef located between the Naval Academy and Severn River bridges. Each bushel contains thousands of spat that will grow and provide valuable habitat and water-filtering services.

“Within the local community, we continually hear neighbors, friends, families, organizations and businesses asking how they can tangibly support a healthier Chesapeake Bay,” said SRA President David Barker. “Build-a-Reef was created to give all of us the opportunity to take ownership of our river and directly support a cause near to our heart and home.”

Last July, ORP was able to expand three protected oyster reefs in the Severn River thanks in part to the first Build-a-Reef effort. Individual donors helped add an additional 5.14 million oysters to the 40 million the State of Maryland funded.

Using only public donations this year, the campaign aims to build upon the success of last year’s effort, which has seen positive oyster survival and growth among the newly planted sites. Despite 2018’s record rainfall, the spat are not only surviving, but thriving. Results revealed low oyster mortality, abundant spat survival and growth, as well as large, healthy oysters from 2009 plantings. For more on historical and recent plantings, view the 2018 Severn River Spat on Shell Status Report.

Maryland’s largescale oyster planting projects typically take place on the Eastern Shore as part of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, which calls for restoration of native oyster habitat and populations in 10 Maryland and Virginia tributaries by 2025.

“Build-a-Reef was created to help support smaller oyster restoration projects,” said ORP Executive Director Stephan Abel. “With the help of other watershed communities, we hope to carry out similar oyster plantings in Chesapeake Bay waterways throughout the state.”

For more information or to donate, visit Operation Build a Reef at


The Oyster Recovery Partnership is the region’s largest nonprofit dedicated to large scale restoration of oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay, planting 8 billion oysters on more than 2,460 acres of oyster habitat in Maryland since 1993.

Established in 1911, the Severn River Association, is a group of individuals and community organizations, advocates, educates, and acts to protect and improve the health, ecological integrity, and quality of life for humans, flora and fauna living in the Severn River Watershed.

Media Contact: Karis King | 410-990-4970 | [email protected]