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NOAA awards $156,101 grant to Chesapeake Bay Foundation to help increase oyster population

Ten to 16 million oyster spat are planted on the Turtleback Bar, a public oyster bar in the Choptank River in July 2016.
Ten to 16 million oyster spat are planted on the Turtleback Bar, a public oyster bar in the Choptank River in July 2016. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Maryland’s senators on Tuesday said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded a $156,101 grant to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to support its efforts to boost the native Eastern oyster population.

The federal grant money will go toward the foundation’s restoration project in a section of the Choptank River identified by NOAA as a habitat focus area. The grant will support the foundation’s work increasing the number of oysters in the Little Choptank River and the Tred Avon River, as well as its plan to install a shoreline surrounding Hambleton Island to curb erosion in the area.

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In addition to trying to revitalize the oyster population, NOAA and its partners are restoring fish habitat and “researching the benefits of oyster reef ecosystem services” in the Choptank area, according to a news release from Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen.

Thousands of oyster shells coated in spat were dropped from the deck of the Robert Lee into the Severn River west of the Naval Academy Bridge on Monday. The project is a cooperative effort between Severn River Association and the Oyster Recovery Project

“We cannot allow our commitment to oyster restoration waver, because a healthy Chesapeake Bay means a healthy economy,” Cardin said in a statement. “This federal investment in our oyster restoration efforts demonstrates a commitment to both. Our oysters filter our water, provide an important source of food for our families and an important source of income for our watermen.”

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Van Hollen said the Chesapeake Bay “is vital to the environmental and economic success of our state — and a thriving oyster population is central to a healthy Bay and the livelihood of our watermen.”

Van Hollen said the senators are “fighting hard for federal investments in programs like the Choptank River Habitat project.”

A new partnership of educational, business, non-profits and other organizations are hoping to add 10 billion oysters to the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.

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