WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) today announced the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released over $1 million to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help restore the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population. The funding, secured by Senator Mikulski in the FY2012 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) funding bill, will allow for targeted oyster restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, and will help monitor oyster health.
“The Chesapeake Bay is part of who we are as Marylanders – it is part of our heritage and part of our culture – and it’s our greatest natural resource. This funding is a federal investment in the lives and livelihoods that depend on the Bay,” said Senator Mikulski, Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science which funds NOAA. “I will continue to fight to keep the Bay and Eastern Shore communities priorities in the federal checkbook.”
“The health of Maryland’s oyster population is critical to the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s environment,” said Senator Cardin, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and author of legislation to reduce pollution and improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. “We know that oyster restoration efforts work and this new funding will allow for additional restoration of oyster beds to help bring back this important species to our watershed.”
DNR was awarded $1,080,000 to implement a multi-year oyster population restoration process, which includes reseeding, monitoring, and evaluation of different restoration methods. To make this happen, DNR works directly with the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science to produce the oyster seed, or “spat on shell,” and then with the Oyster Recovery Partnership and local watermen for on-the-water operations to rebuild reefs. When complete, the project will place up to 300 million seeds in targeted Chesapeake Bay tributaries to aid with oyster population recovery.