SRA Board Meeting Minutes
SRA August 18, 2009 Meeting Minutes
Severn River Oyster Committee will distribute oysters to waterfront owners and community associations on the Severn River. Table below list the people to contact.
Chris Judy from MD Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spoke on Maryland Grows Oysters Program. This was an idea from Governor O’Malley to increase the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay. Last year the program was initiated in Tred Avon with 1000 cages. Six months ago, DNR outreached to expand the program throughout the Chesapeake Bay. They now have 11 rivers committed. DNR’s goal was to have 500 cages on the Severn. The Severn River has surpassed that goal by requesting 1250 cages.
Maryland DNR is going to increase oysters, which in turn filter the rivers, by providing cages with oyster spat (baby oysters) to waterfront owners/community associations. The Severn River volunteers will distribute. Volunteer oyster “parents” will provide the habitat and labor. In the spring the oysters will be moved to an established oyster reef sanctuary in that river. Yes your oysters stay in the Severn.
Chris showed us a cage – a green wire mesh box -- about 2’ x 1’x 1’, with a rope, oyster shells in the bottom two inches, and a clamp. The oyster shells will be inoculated with oyster spat. They estimate each cage will have about 500 spat. The cage needs to be hung where it does not get exposed during low tides and does not sit on the river bottom. Care of the cage requires the volunteer to dunk it like a teabag every two weeks. This will prevent the oysters from growing into each other, and also remove sediment and algae that may accumulate. If the box becomes very dirty (covered in algae) it can be hosed off.
The cages are being built by prisoners. DNR have a need for 5000 cages. The cages will be filled with oyster spat by Oyster Recovery Partnership (ORP) and transported to the Rivers Distribution points (see table above). Each person will then be able to disseminate the cages to volunteers (foster homes) who will lovingly care for the babies until they are ready for life on a sanctuary. DNR is still working on a collection scheme. They anticipate that the volunteers will keep their cages for a new batch of spat.
Where do the oyster shells come from? They come from shucking houses. DNR/ORP has sufficient amount of oyster shells for this “Marylanders Grow Oysters” program. The shortage of shells is with the large scale programs such as creating reefs and sanctuaries. We are causing our oysters to be scarce. ORP is working with restaurants in Baltimore and Annapolis to recycle oyster shells.
How many of the oysters will survive? They anticipate that the Severn River will have a 15% mortality. Other rivers could be as high as 50%. Do not put crabs in your oyster cages as live boxes. Crabs eat oysters? One hopeful measurement is that when volunteers become oyster stewards, they will become more involved in caring for the water quality of the river.
How much do the oysters filter? Each cage will have ~500 spat and the cage can filter up to 50 gallons an hour. That is of course older oysters. But do the math 1250 cages times 500 spat equals 625,000 spat/oysters.
John Farrington, from Jonny Oyster Seed talked about his oyster cage design – patent pending. His cage was designed to make growing oyster easy. He is the only commercial grower of oyster spat in Maryland. The turns itself and costs $500. But it is essentially free because you get a Maryland Tax Break. Filling jointly – can get a tax break of $1000.
(Revised Nov 2009)