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Oyster Gardening Improves Water Quality, Featured by National Geographic

Published on: 12/11/2014
Research Area(s): Marine Spatial Ecology
Primary Contact(s): suzanne.bricker@noaa.gov

Theinnovative “Maryland Grows Oysters” program, designed to use oyster restoration for improvement of water quality in Chesapeake Bay, was featured in aNational Geographic video released on October 9. The project uses cages firstproducedby inmates atthe Hagerstown Correctional Facility and thenfilled with baby oysters (or spat), which are attached to docks atvolunteer study locations within the Chesapeake Bay. The oysters are transplanted onto reefs after they are full grown.

Oysters can help filter Chesapeake Bay's water and, if they grow on a reef, provide important habitat for other fish species. Credit: Maryland Sea Grant.

An oyster cage at a study dock. Oysters can help filter Chesapeake Bay’s water and, once transplantedon a reef, provide important habitat for other fish species. Credit: Maryland Sea Grant.

NCCOS researcher Suzanne Bricker was interviewed for the segment, highlighting NOAA research examining the use of oysters as an in-the-water nutrient management measure that boosts land-based measures through cleaning of the water by oyster filtration. This’oyster gardening’ project, in combination with feasibility studies of water quality improvements viaoyster aquaculture,evaluatesthe significance of shellfish aquaculture and restoration related improvements. It also addsto the discussion of if andhow growers could incorporatepotentialnutrient trading programs into the industry, with payment for the ecosystem service represented by the oysters filtering capabilities and water quality improvements. This research will help growers and resource managersmake informed decisions about whether to expand restoration and aquaculture activities in the Chesapeake Bay.

This program is run by the state of Maryland in partnership with NCCOS and the University of Maryland. View the National Geographic Video.

For more informationcontact Suzanne.Bricker@noaa.gov

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