Oyster Restoration

Photo by CBF StaffVolunteers plant young oysters on an oyster reef. Photo by CBF Staff

Getting the Community Involved

CBF's oyster restoration programs offer citizens the tools and information needed to help restore native oysters, Crassostrea virginica, to the Chesapeake. Until the 1980s, oysters supported the most valuable fishery in the Bay. Today, as a result of decades of pollution, overharvesting, and disease, the Bay's native oyster population has been estimated at as low as one percent of historic levels.

Yet oysters remain a keystone species in the Bay's ecology. They filter algae, sediment, and other pollutants and in the process improve water quality and clarity. Their large reefs provide habitat for fish, crabs, and other Bay organisms. Restoration is critical to help improve the Bay's water quality and increase its economic viability.

See program information below or program links to the left.

Students set oyster cages at a local dock.  Photo by CBF StaffStudents set oyster cages for an oyster gardening project.  Photo by CBF Staff

Hampton Roads Oyster Gardening Program

CBF's Oyster Gardening program allows citizens and students to grow oysters alongside their docks. Gardeners raise the oysters from juvenile to adult, and plant them onto sanctuary oyster reefs after one growing season.

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Collecting oyster shells for CBFs Save Oyster Shell program. Photo by CBF Staff.Collecting oyster shells for CBFs Save Oyster Shell program. Photo by CBF Staff.

Save Oyster Shell

Save Oyster Shell logoThe Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) needs your help–and your oyster shells–to restore native oysters in the Chesapeake Bay. Donate your empty shells to CBF so we can recycle them into more oyster reefs and repopulate the Bay with more oysters.  Oyster shells are literally the foundation of our reef restoration efforts!

Oyster shells are becoming increasingly scarce.  Through CBF's Save Oyster Shell program, shells that would typically be thrown away are saved and used in a variety of oyster restoration projects.

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CBF staffers Tommy Leggett and Jackie Shannon examine oysters from CBFs oyster farm. Photo by CBF StaffCBF staffers examine oysters being raised on CBF's oyster farm. Photo by CBF Staff

Virginia Oyster Restoration Center and Oyster Farm

In support of re-establishing this keystone species, CBF has established the Virginia Oyster Restoration Center (VAORC) in Gloucester Point. The VAORC operates a small scale commercial oyster farm to demonstrate the commercial feasibility of oyster aquaculture to watermen and other entrepreneurs. The VAORC is also the homeport of the innovative oyster restoration vessel Chesapeake Gold, used for the aquaculture program and for assisting partners with restoration and research projects.

We rely very heavily on volunteer help to make our oyster restoration program work and we are always looking for volunteers.

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Last oyster roundup and new-gardener seminar registration now open

You may also be interested in:
  • S.O.S. - Save Oyster Shell Donate your empty shells to CBF so we can recycle them into more oyster reefs and repopulate the Bay with more oysters.
  • A New Day for Oysters Maryland's Harris Creek is host to one of the largest oyster restoration projects ever undertaken in the Chesapeake Bay.
  • Great Shellfish of the Bay Now, thanks to increased awareness, extensive restoration efforts, resisting the introduction of a non-native oyster species, and favorable weather conditions, there is hope for the mighty oyster yet.
  • Building a Future for the Chesapeake's Oysters Today, there are important new reasons for hope for the Chesapeake Bay's keystone species.
  • Spat Catcher Program Each spring, volunteers from the Lafayette River area hope to attract swimming oyster larvae to special cages suspended from piers and docks.

In the News

04.13.17 - Video Results of oyster restoration efforts in Chesapeake tributaries seem promising

04.12.17 - Maryland Assembly session gives environmentalists 'reason to celebrate'

04.06.17 - Oyster sanctuaries to be left alone for now under new Maryland law

04.06.17 - Ban on oyster sanctuary harvests becomes law without Hogan's signature

04.06.17 - Legislation passes to prevent harvesting on oyster sanctuaries until science complete

04.06.17 - CBF Press Statement Precaution Prevails; Oysters Won't Be Harvested from Sanctuary Reefs without Complete Science

04.04.17 - Oyster gardening seminars available to help waterfront homeowners with restoration

03.28.17 - MD Assembly votes to block opening oyster sanctuaries to harvest

03.21.17 - The history of oystering in Hampton Roads

03.19.17 - Chesapeake Bay's booming oysters industry is alarmed by Trump's EPA budget cuts

03.19.17 - Bay group, public oppose cut to oyster sanctuaries

03.17.17 - MD House votes to keep current oyster sanctuaries

03.11.17 - 90-year-old volunteers to save the Bay

03.10.17 - Oyster sanctuaries

02.22.17 - Video Maryland may shrink oyster sanctuaries

02.22.17 - Commission proposes rotational oyster harvesting, expanded sanctuaries

02.21.17 - Talbot, QA meetings set to discuss state's oyster management proposal

02.21.17 - Chesapeake oyster proposal alarms environmentalists

02.20.17 - The View of an Oyster Sanctuary

02.17.17 - Chesapeake Bay advocates alarmed by plan that could open oyster sanctuaries to watermen

02.16.17 - Video Sanctuaries on the half-shell

02.14.17 - MD DNR drafts plan that would shrink state's oyster sanctuaries

01.08.17 - Foundation leads effort to seed oysters in Hampton River

01.06.17 - Audio available Hampton River is full of oysters, just don't eat them

11.19.16 - Foundation leads effort to seed oysters in Hampton River

11.13.16 - Video Chespeake Bay Foundation leads effort to seed oysters in Hampton River

10.31.16 - Stevenson's Reef Ball Project

10.29.16 - Volunteers work in Canton 'oyster garden'

10.27.16 - Happy Homes for Oysters

10.21.16 - Oyster aquaculture forum set for Nov. 3 in Easton

10.13.16 - Saving the Bay, One Oyster at a Time

10.10.16 - Audio available Bringing up baby oysters in Baltimore's Inner Harbor

10.09.16 - Brendan Leary awarded Eagle Scout after leading Chesapeake Bay oyster recovery project

10.08.16 - Oyster Stroll crowd takes note of Bay Foundation shell recycling

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