Oyster reef to be removed from too-shallow waters

The Baltimore Sun

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will spend about $40,000 to remove a concrete oyster reef that contractors placed in waters near the Magothy River that are too shallow to support it.

The reef, which was planted in Sillery Bay near Gibson Island in Anne Arundel County two months ago, is part of the agency's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay's struggling oyster beds by growing oysters on artificial surfaces.

For decades, the state planted oysters on shells dredged from the bay but is now using concrete because shells are scarce.

"This is one of the few reefs that we have put out in tributaries," said DNR fisheries director Howard King. "We put it in an area that we really should not have."

The DNR's permit requires an 8-foot clearance between the top of the reef and surface of the water. King said much of the site is shallower than that requirement.

The reef did not cause any accidents but did prompt numerous complaints from recreational boaters in the area, who feared it could damage a boat bottom. Representatives of the Magothy River Association, which requested the reef, told DNR officials they wanted it to stay in place.

King said the agency will require a bottom scan and depth measurements before placing any more artificial reefs in the bay.

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