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.


Distribution Point


Upper River

Whitehall, Scotty’s Boatyard, Middle Creek

Don Carren


Maritime Museum

Burnell Vincent (

Middle River


Bob Whitcomb

Lower River

Smith’s Marina, Crownsville

Ray Dumentat (
Charlotte Luppert

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.
Stephan Abel, from ORP and Chris Judy, from DNR answered questions. 

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. 
Will we see improvements with water quality?  Monitoring programs have not been established.  Measured improvements will depend on how close monitoring is done to the reef/site. 

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.
Can home owners keep their oysters over the summer?  If they choose to keep their oysters, they need to remember that the cages will start to become heavy and dirty.  This will be more work – that is why the oysters are provided at the end of summer and collected in the spring.

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. 

Old Business
Proposed Bylaw Changes

  1. Kurt Riegel  moved  for adopting the revised By-laws.  The motion was seconded.
  2. Gene Milgram motioned to amend the Bylaws by striking the sentence from Article X, Section A “Written approval by both President and Treasurer shall be recorded for items above valued at more than $100.”  Bob vom Saal seconded.   Gene thought this was too cumbersome.  Discussion was that it was not a big deal to get approvals, good idea for President to have knowledge, concurrence can be done via email, President can get and “Acting” when away.  Amendment motion did not pass
  3. The motion to adopt the revised By-laws was passed by a vote of the Board members present.  Because of the significance of this.  Board members present were Bob Whitcomb, Betsy Love, Don Morris Jones, Bob vom Saal, Stevie Wilding, Thistle Cone, Pat Lynch, and Kurt Riegel.

New Business
                Bob vom Saal, motioned to pay church $300 for use of the room and $125 to accountant to pay for reviewing taxes.  Motions were seconded, no discussion, both passed.

(Revised Nov 2009)