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Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Native Oyster

For hundreds of years the native oyster, Crassostrea virginica, has played a key role in the ecological and economic health of the Bay. Over-harvesting, habitat destruction, and disease have reduced oyster populations to less than 1% of historic levels. The dramatic decline in oysters has had devastating effects on the ecology, economy, and culture of the Bay.

The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) is working to restore a healthy oyster population to the Bay. In 2006, NCBO provided $4 million in funding for native oyster restoration and almost $2 million for oyster disease research. Please see our native oyster web pages for more information on this ecologically and commercially important Bay species.

The Asian Oyster

Due to dramatic declines in Chesapeake Bay oyster populations, the states of Maryland and Virginia are considering an introduction of a non-native oyster species, Crassostrea ariakensis, to their tidal waters including the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coastal bays. C. ariakensis appears to be more resistant to the diseases that have devastated the native oyster population, and some hope that this Asian oyster will be able to revitalize the oyster industry and improve water quality in the Bay.

Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission
Established September 2007, the group is charged with developing new strategies for rebuilding and managing the Chesapeake Bay's oyster population.

Virginia Oyster Heritage Program's Oyster Management Plan for the Lower Rappahannock River

Virginia Blue Ribbon Oyster Panel's Final Report and Recommendations
The Panel's May 2007 Report to the Virginia Marine Resources Commission on pursuing innovative methods to restore the native oyster population and better manage its fishery.

Satellite Offices:

NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office
410 Severn Avenue
Annapolis, MD 21403
Phone: (410) 267-5660
Fax: (410) 267-5666

Cooperative Oxford Lab
904 South Morris Street
Oxford, MD 21654
Phone: (410) 226-5193
Fax: (410) 226-5925

1 Waterside Drive
Norfolk, VA 23510
Phone: (757) 627-3823
Fax: (757) 627-3827

Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Route 1208, Greate Road
Gloucester Point, VA 23062
Phone: (804) 684-7382
Fax: (804) 684-7910

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