Just this morning, more than 30 community groups, oyster growers, universities, and non-profits came together to commit to a goal of adding 10 billion water-filtering oysters to the Chesapeake Bay by 2025. We're thrilled to be a part of this bold, unprecedented partnership.
Scientists say the Bay is a model of water quality improvement. While it is certainly not saved, it is making progress, thanks in large part to improving oyster abundance. But to fully save the Bay, we need more oysters.
The goal of the Chesapeake 10 Billion Oysters Partnership is an ambitious one, but we believe achievable, if we work together to get it done. It is a goal that will be realized if we do the following: use science as our guide, embrace innovation, promote aquaculture, and fund restoration.
Oysters are a true icon of the Bay's historic seafood industry. And as a keystone species, oysters provide a multitude of other benefits. They are elegant filter feeders, consuming algae, removing sediment, and clarifying the water. And they provide habitat for crabs and fish and other important Bay species.
From students growing oysters, to increased expansion of aquaculture, to lawmakers appropriating funds for large-scale restoration, everyone can contribute to oyster restoration.
Here is the good news: This work builds on success. Real gains have been made, thanks to federal and state funding, and agencies like NOAA and the Army Corps, which hope to fully restore 10 Bay tributaries by 2025. Aquaculture businesses in Virginia and Maryland have experienced strong growth in recent years, and we are moving toward the Bay's first oyster stock assessment.
Now here is the bad news: Federal funding for the environment is under intense pressure in Washington. And the resources needed to just maintain our current efforts are in short supply. To succeed, we must make the case to Congress that this funding is critical. The benefit will be a triple bottom line: clean water, more jobs, and strengthened economies.
The Chesapeake Bay has the potential to be the most dramatic example of environmental recovery ever seen. By every measure, the Bay is healthier than it was even five years ago. Now it is time to finish the job. The Chesapeake 10 Billion Oysters Partnership is doing just that. Thank you for all that you do to help us get there.