Thank goodness it’s New Year’s Eve! In observance of what will certainly go down in history as one of the most challenging years ever, we want to look back and recount all the things that made 2020 noteworthy... We’re not discounting that the pandemic happened, just acknowledging the cool things that came along with it, including: reaching a major restoration milestone, partnerships new and old, our first foray into virtual – and paddling – events, and a ton of love for Chesapeake seafood. Please enjoy our 2020 year-in-review and consider a year–end donation to ORP as we embark on a very busy oyster planting year in 2021!
- Ward Slacum announced as new Executive Director of ORP.
- Our Shell Recycling Alliance celebrates a record-breaking 2019 collection year with over 36,000 bushels recycled!
- The 2019 Top 10 shell recycling restaurants are announced:
- Congressional Seafood Company 2,123 bushels
- Old Ebbitt Grill 1,524 bushels
- The Walrus Oyster & Ale House National Harbor 1,100 bushels
- Ryleigh’s Oyster Hunt Valley 750 bushels
- The Salt Line 725 bushels
- Boatyard Bar & Grill 716 bushels
- District Wharf Fish Market shared site: Captain White’s Seafood City, Jessie Taylor Seafood, Rappahannock Oyster Bar 686 bushels each
- The Walrus Oyster & Ale House 685 bushels
- Lexington Market shared site: Faidley’s Seafood, Kim’s Seafood 657 bushels each
- Sailor Oyster Bar 515 bushels
- Wither Hills wine officially partners with ORP to plant up to one million oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.
- The QG and ORP collaborate on a unique oyster neckwear collection, proceeds of which benefit Bay oyster restoration.
- COVID-19 pandemic begins:
- Shell Recycling operations shut down.
- Oyster restoration program paused.
- ORP staff begin teleworking.
- Positive news: Governor’s Executive Order green-lights public fishery seed and shell repletion.
- E-Reporting for the charter boat pilot program launches. Charter captains helped to develop the system before the start of the season.
- ORP’s public fishery seed and shell program proceeds on schedule.
- ORP launches new virtual campaign in support of Chesapeake Seafood. Relates COVID’s effects on Wholesalers and Retailers.
- Chesapeake Seafood campaign shares COVID’s effects on Restaurants and Watermen.
- First Sip ‘n Shuck virtual event celebrating Chesapeake Seafood and featuring partners Flying Dog Brewery, Hollywood Oyster, Gardner Douglas (aka The Oyster Ninja), and The Local Oyster/True Chesapeake.
- Oyster restoration program green-lighted. Operations resume immediately.
- Little Choptank River reef restoration completed thanks to partners Maryland Department of Natural Resources, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory, and the Chesapeake Bay Program.
- Shell recycling operations resume on limited basis.
- Second Sip ‘n Shuck virtual event celebrating Chesapeake Seafood and featuring partners Maryland’s Best Seafood, Wither Hills, The Walrus Oyster & Ale House, Dylan’s Oyster Cellar, Harry Browne’s Restaurant, and Bay Paddler Chris Hopkinson.
- Severn River Build-a-Reef plants 16.9 million oysters off of Weems Creek.
- Mermaid’s Kiss officially cancelled for 2020.
- The Flying Dog Bay Paddle official kick-off announcement.
- Internationally known big wave surfer Laird Hamilton shouts out the Bay Paddle!
- Choose Chesapeake on National Oyster Day! Campaign to support local oyster restaurants and suppliers.
- Smyth Jewelers partners with ORP on a “Bling for the Bay” Raffle. Sharon Guida wins gorgeous Lagos freshwater pearl necklace.
- Sip ‘n Shuck-off virtual event with Oysters XO!
- ORP and Oysters XO announce their partnership to provide direct-to-consumer oyster kits.
- Travis Pastrana (and his mom, Debbie) shout out the Bay Paddle on social!
- ORP began another round of ground-truthing in the Manokin River Sanctuary to assess existing habitat and determine appropriate restoration treatment. Over 400 acres of restoration are currently planned for the Manokin.
- ORP staff brief Comptroller Franchot on oyster restoration and public fishery.
- Bay Paddle launches from Havre de Grace, MD on Friday, September 18. Special thanks to title sponsors Flying Dog Brewery, as well as gold sponsors Allstar Pain Management & Regenerative Medicine, Old Bay, Jim Perdue, and TowBoatUS, and to our nonprofit partners ClearSharkH2O and The Nature Conservancy. We also want to mention the supportive efforts of board members representing Marriner Marketing and Phillips Seafood.
- Special thanks to all the dignitaries who produced congratulatory videos in support of the paddle: Comptroller Peter Franchot, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Senator Ben Cardin, Senator Tim Kaine, Governor and Mrs. Ralph Northam, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin, and Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer, and Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley.
- Bay Paddler reaches the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday, September 26. His efforts raise funds to plant 18.3 million new oysters in Maryland and Virginia waterways.
- Marylanders Grow Oysters shell bags and cages distributed to 23 Bay tributaries under strict COVID safety protocols.
- Annual monitoring of three- and six-year-old oyster reefs began in Harris Creek, Little Choptank, and Tred Avon, in coordination with partners USACE and NOAA. ORP Staff are pleased to see a heavy spat set!
- Eastport Yacht Club hosts ORP and Chris Hopkinson for a Bay Paddle celebration. Special thanks to Senator Sarah Elfreth for speaking at this event.
- Salt Life offers limited-release t-shirt benefitting ORP.
- Tasting & Tapas oyster and wine pairing event at The Curious Oyster.
- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Walton Family Foundation, and the Kingfisher Foundation fund ORP to integrate shellfish industry reporting into a comprehensive electronic reporting system.
- ORP staff successfully completed another year of shell and spat planting verification surveys on leased bottom through a partnership with the US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
- GivingTuesday Shuck-a-Thon: Volunteer shucker Dan Worrell successfully shucks 3,000 oysters in less than 12-hours! Special thanks to all of the guests who participated, including Maryland’s Best Seafood, Phillips Seafood Baltimore, Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company, Comptroller Franchot, Flying Dog Brewery, Bay Paddler Chris Hopkinson, The Local Oyster, Maryland Department of Agriculture, Maryland Watermen’s Association, Gardner Douglas of The Oyster Ninja podcast, Oysters XO, Smyth Jewelers, The QG, and Wither Hills.
- ORP and Phillips Seafood donate gallons of oyster stew and crab cakes to Paul’s Place
- ORP participates in Chesapeake National Recreation Area discussion spearheaded by Senator Chris Van Hollen and the Chesapeake Conservancy.
- The charter E-Reporting system was a great success. At the end of the charter season, we conducted a survey to get feedback about the reporting system. We also held a virtual meeting for our core pilot group for any additional feedback or suggestions that they might want changed for next year.
- ORP’s 2020 Annual Report released.