The Domino Sugar refinery has installed an oyster garden at its Locust Point facility in an effort to help purify the waterways of the Chesapeake Bay.
The Domino installation is the latest coordinated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Oyster Gardener program, according to ASR Group, the Florida-based sugar conglomerate that owns the Baltimore plant.
The program encourages “planting” oysters because of their capability to filter as much as 50 gallons of water per day. Over the years, the bay’s oyster population has dwindled, especially in the Inner Harbor, which is polluted with fecal matter from the city's aging sewage infrastructure that often allows raw sewage to seep into waterways during heavy rains.
ASR hopes to double the number of oysters grown in the oyster garden by next year, said Kelly DeAngelo, the Domino Sugar refinery manager, in a statement.
Domino Sugar employees built 50 wire mesh cages, each of which has now been filled with dozens of baby oysters and oyster larvae, called spat. The cages were installed this week below one of the facility’s piers, where they will grow protected for several months.
Volunteers from Domino will periodically clean the cages until the oysters have grown large enough to survive outside them next summer. The foundation will collect the matured oysters and place them in a sanctuary reef near the Key Bridge.