VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A partnership of more than 20 organizations, businesses, non-profits, and educational institutions has established a bold new goal of adding 10 billion new oysters to the Chesapeake Bay by 2025.
They say the result will be cleaner water and creation of jobs that will help local economies.
Lynnhaven River NOW Executive Director Karen Forget says the more oysters in the water, the better.
“Oysters are amazing creatures. Oysters build habitat, they support biodiversity,” said Forget.
She and Jackie Shannon with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation say oysters also act as a natural filtration system.
“A single oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day and provide habitat to over 300 plant and animal species in the Chesapeake Bay.”
However, the population here is low — in large part due to pollution.
“Taking oysters out of the ecosystem is like turning off the filter in the aquarium in your house,” said Forget. “So getting 10 billion oysters in the Chesapeake and its tributaries is a big deal.”
In the last 16 years, about 4 million oysters have been added to the Lynnhaven, but there’s millions to be added.
It’s a big deal for hatcheries too, because that’s where the oysters will come from.
“We enjoy boating and fishing and just walking by the water, the water is such an important part of our lives here and water quality affects all of us.”
According to a release for the partnership, oyster aquaculture provides many of the same environmental benefits as wild oysters, including filtering algae and sediment as they grow to market size. Industry partners also note that aquaculture’s continued growth will create jobs and provide economic benefits to coastal communities.
An ambitious but important goal she says — to revitalize the natural treasure we call the Chesapeake Bay.