Comprehensive South River and Herring Bay Tributary Scale Oyster Restoration, Maryland

Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Funded in FY2022 through the National Fish Habitat Partnership.

Once the Chesapeake Bay’s most valuable fishery, the native oyster population has been severely depleted by overfishing, sedimentation, and pollution. Overfished reefs are subject to sedimentation because of the reduced vertical profile and density of live oysters. These low profile, sediment-laden reefs make it difficult for free-swimming oyster larvae to settle and grow. Reefs that are still functional suffer from fragmentation resulting in lower reproductive potential and less support for fish habitat and other biodiversity.

This project will augment existing hard bottom within two existing protected oyster sanctuaries along the mainstem and in a tidal tributary of Chesapeake Bay. Herring Bay will increase from 0.68 acres to 2 acres, and Glebe Bay (South River) will increase from 0.86 acres to 3 acres. Restoration of reefs in this area is designed to combat the threat of historic overfishing and sedimentation and add live native oysters to suitable reef substrate supporting the oysters themselves, adjacent aquaculture operations, and the broader estuarine food web. Chesapeake Bay Foundation will engage two communities through their existing local partnerships to expand oyster gardening efforts, design a tributary-scale oyster restoration plan, inform the process with surveying, and produce permitting documents for larger scale restoration.

Text and images provided by Chesapeake Bay Foundation.